Line Magnetic LM-502CA DAC & Alternatives...

Hi all,

I'm looking for feedback from people who've heard the Line Magnetic LM-502CA DAC and have done some thorough shopping and compared it to other DACS.

Here's my deal...I'm building my system, and I've got the speakers I want - B&W PM1 - and the amp I want - ARC VSi55 - and would like to upgrade my DAC from the Audioengine D1 I currently have.

I haven't heard a lot of DACs, though I've done enough reading and research to discover that I have about 100 good choices in the $400-1500 price range. My dealer let me home demo the Line Magnetic DAC (the cheapest DAC they carry), and I loved what it did for music - using the solid state side it added a little extra liveliness and heft over the Audioengine D1, but using the tube side the difference was dramatic and awesome. Everything was better, I really loved listening to it (mostly streaming Pandora and JRiver from computer).

My dilemma is that because I haven't heard many DACs I'm having trouble mentally going from the $150 D1 to the $1800 Line Magnetic without knowing if the sound I heard from the LM is available at a lower price point. If I don't have to spend $1800 for a DAC, I don't want to. I know, I know, $1800 for a DAC isn't out of line considering both my speakers and amp cost more than that. It's not a money thing in absolute terms, it's just that I have this weird skepticism that a DAC should cost as much as speakers or an amp.

So has anyone here had the same experience with the Line Magnetic (loving it) and found other less expensive DACS that sound just as good? Or is the inevitable conclusion that I'm going to realize that $1800 for a DAC is par for the course and I should just suck it up?
BCGator, trust your ears.

I've heard alot of terrific DACs over the years, have owned quite a few (Berkeley, Wadia 581i, Mytek, ARC Dac 8, Playback Designs MPD3) and once you hit a certain level, the law of diminishing returns kicks in. I've heard the Line Magnetic DAC for a very brief period of time however it is the real deal. So many DACs today would have been unaffordable for most of us just a few short years ago.

So....the dilemma, is it worth $1800 to you and only you can make that call. I think the biggest problem with the Line Magnetic DAC is that it doesn't cost enough....too many won't consider it because its "only" $1800.

This Line Magnetic DAC is pretty special but let your ears decide.
You seem to like the sound with tube output stage. Very few DACs under $2000 have this. Peachtree audio comes to mind. Good advice from Ghasley.
Thanks for the input Mesch and Ghasley, much appreciated!