Line Magnetic 219ia vs. 518ia

I have been interested in the difference between these 2 integrated amplifiers from Line Magnetic for a while now, and thought that some members might be as well. Given the difference in their size and price, and the very enthusiastic review of the 518ia by Herb Reichert in Stereophile, I was hoping that the difference would be minimal. That was not the case
I went to audition both amps this afternoon at Arizona Hi Fi on a pair of DeVore 0/92 speakers with  Luxman CD player and Nordost Odin interconnects (!). Both were fully broken in. First the less expensive 518ia. Sounded good, not great. A little harsh almost on some loud sax breaks, but then again, I never heard these speakers before. PRAT, which was highly touted in the Stereophile review didn't seem any better or worse to me than what I get from my Audio Note Kit1.  Listened to Jazz, Cream, Jethro Tull and Squeeze.
Next up was the 219ia. Instant difference, no need to lean forward and squint. Very obvious that there were 300bs in the circuit. Smoother, much more layered, detailed and refined. A real wow moment. Listened to all of the same again and was very rewarded.
I love my Audio Note but have been considering a change because besides my horns, I have small inefficient monitors that I would like to use occasionally. Both amps had very good bass reproduction due to the 845 tubes. The reason I felt the need to write about this is that in one of the major reviews of the 219ia, the reviewer compares the two and seems to say that the difference isn't much and that he'd be happy with either. Not me. There is a very big difference.
The dealer also had a new amp not on their website, the 508ia which uses 300bs in front of 805 tubes and some 6sn7s I think. I didn't have time to hear it today and the salesman was tired of lifting!
As an aside, I finally got to audition the Sugden A21 class A integrated on his recommendation, and that its a great little amp. As good as the 219ia? No, not quite as colorful and a little bit drier on the top end, but excellent musical sound in most ways and a great value.
I thought that I would want to keep my Audio Note no matter what else I might buy, but if I buy the 219ia, I can let the Audio Note go. It's a great amp.   
roxy54 thanks for a very straightforward and informative post that proves as always, you just gotta listen! And "the salesman was tired of lifting" love that!
Hi Roxy54,

Thanks for posting your listening impressions of the Line Magnetic 845 SET amplifiers. I know the high admiration you have for your Audio Note. If the LM 219ia impressed to the degree you express it must be quite special.
Hi Charles, 
I was very impressed, BUT, before I would buy it, I would bring in the Audio Note to hear them side by side. 
By the way, the Nordost Odin interconnects and speaker cable didn't make the earth move. I was really glad that I heard the Devore 0/96 speakers though. I always lusted after them, and they were very good, but I like mine better. The music was somewhat living in the box at times.
Thanks for your comments. Glad you like it. There is a shortage of comparative information about these 2 amps and I wanted members to know that these is a big difference between them. I know it isn't a new idea, but after hearing the 219ia, I think that putting a 300b in front of the 845 is really brilliant.

You comments about the Devore Orangutan O/96 are astute. I heard this speaker at RMAF in 2011. I thought overall it was pretty good but the sound did seem to remain in the speaker vicinity somewhat. Granted this was under show conditions and may have been room related. To be fair I’d need to hear it under different circumstances.

I could be spoiled as my speakers seem to disappear with nearly every recording. Roxy a direct comparison of the Audio Note and the Line Magnetic 219ia would be very interesting. High quality 300b versus high quality 845 SET.
roxy in the for what it is worth catgeory,

 I haven't heard the 219 but do have the 518ia and therefore can only offer that in my case swapping in NOS - GE 6L6GCs, Mullard 5AR4 rectifier and Tungsol 5751s took  the 518 to a different level (have it driving Daedalus Argos V2s). Not saying that doing this would place the 518 ahead of the 219, just that the amp offers more with better tubes, as I expect the 219 likely would.
I don’t doubt that at all. Some amplifiers can dramatically be improved with the substitution of better quality tubes. I suspect that the LM 219ia upgrades the parts quality, transformers and power supply in addition to the 300b as the driver tube. The 219ia compared to the Coincident Turbo 845 SET would be another very interesting listen. It also uses the 300b as the driver tube. 
I agree completely. Having tube rolled every tube in my Audio Note, I understand the profound difference it can make. I was only commenting on the amps in their stock form. 
The 518is is a solid design by all the comments from those who know and I'm certain that its very good perfomance can be elevated to excellent.

Yes, the outrageous weight of The 219is is due to the dual mono design. It took 2 of us to move it into place. I know these are many heavier amps, but few wouldn't want to drop that amp on your toe!

@roxy54 what Audio Note amps are you running? Thinking my next pair of speakers will be from Audio Note.
Roxy, let us know your opinion after hearing the 508ia.
I already auditioned those 3 amps in the same room, same day, same speakers. Immediately out of my equation was the 518ia and then it was a difficult choice between the 219ia and the 508ia.
I love the 219ia, it is a marvelous piece of HiFi! But I think I do prefer the 508ia, it fulfills me - matching my system and the music I usually play.
But let us know your opinion.
No doubt that those are two exceptional sounding amplifiers and it will purely be a matter of taste as to choice. What speakers were being driven?
The truth is  that I was really dying for him to hook it up but I had been there for several hours (no other customers came in during my visit) and I knew that he just wasn't up for it. In addition, I'm not ready to buy for a couple of months, so I didn't need to hear it now, but I was so damned curious! Mostly because the topology was similar to the 219ia. I don't really need that much power. And let me say that this is a beautiful piece of equipment! Between Melody and Line Magnetic, I think the page has turned and it can no longer necessarily be considered second best to be from China. These pieces are built to a standard that puts some other brands to shame. When I get to hear it, I will report back.  

I use a Kit One Tenth Anniversary form Audio Note Kits which I had professionally built. Check out their website for details. 
I agree that Melody and Line Magnetic are examples of high quality Chinese products. They dispell the idea that everything from China is by default 2nd rate junk. There's a hierarchy there as in other countries. 
When I first heard the 219ia, it was driving a pair of bookshelf Aurum Cantus - gorgeous mellow sound. Later (about a year ago) I heard the 518ia and the 219ia connected to a pair of big ATC speakers (maybe the SCM100). The sound was powerful! More recently I auditioned the 3 amplifiers connected to a pair of Zu Souls. Very dynamic, very alive.
I keep going there to listen to these amps while waiting for the right timing to bring one home. It will be soon, I guess. Maybe Christmas gift to myself :)
@roxy54 Looked at the website that amp looks awesome congrats! I would be shocked if Line Magnetic can beat it, but as always the proof is in the listening. Have fun!
Roxy mentioned that he has a 2nd pair of speakers that are less efficient so the higher powered LM amplifier would be an advantage.  In terms of more efficient and sensitive speakers the comparison of LM 845  and AN Kit 300b becomes very compelling. You can not lose with either of these choices. 
Yes Charles, I have a pair of Celestion sl6si and a pair of Ceslestion Kingston, and who knows, there may well be others in the future . I want to be able to hook them up occasionally, and they are sealed box 86db efficiency. I've already tried the Audio Note with them, and it just doesn't cut it. They need more power.
Yes, the Audio Note has proved to be all that I hoped for and more. Like Charles, I still shake my head as I read comments about "wimpy" 300b amps. It really is not the case if you use the right speakers. Everything about the presentation is so far superior to any solid state I have ever heard that it makes them sound like the equivalent of a pixilated photograph.  
Ping me about 219IA if you want. 
Given that you want to drive 86 db speakers then the Line Magnetic 508 (45 watt 805 tubed SET) could be the ticket Roxy my 300b SET has elevated my listening involvement to an entirely different level as you attest to with your similar experience.
@roxy54 I totally agree with you and always agree with Charles lol, I find a good tube amp with a beefy power supply can drive far more speakers than people realize. My own speakers are either 89 or 90 db, I forget exactly, and I drive them spectacularly well with my 17 watt amp. I’ve thrown a variety of amps on them over the years, various loaners from Deja Vu including a PP 45 amp that was pushing maybe 5 watts and drove my speakers just fine! As always its quality not quantity and the first watt is always the best watt.