SET vs Push-Pull (Line Magnetic vs Primaluna)


I have a Primaluna Dialogue Premium (non-HP) driving my Acoustic Zen Crescendo II loudspeakers.  It's a push-pull Class AB design.  
I am intrigued by the possibility of trying a Class A SET design.
Has anybody tried a Line Magnetic Class A SET amplifier with these speakers?
If so, what are your impressions?
Where can Line Magnetic amps be demoed or bought in Southern California (San Diego area)?
Thanks for your responses.


mabonn
A lot depends on which Line Magnetic amp you are talking about. Your speakers are only 90 db with a minimum 6 ohm load. LM manufactures SET amps from 18 watts to 50 watts. You might get by on the lower end of the spectrum if you room isn't terribly large or you don't listen at very loud volumes. But I will say that Line Magnetic amps are very well built and sound great, at least that is true of the 518ia that I used to own.

Oz



It's about amp/speaker synergy. I find the LM SET amps sound best with a flat, higher impedance load speaker.  My LM805ia sounds way better through my 10 ohm DeVores compared to using my Cary SLI-80HS through the same speakers.  Conversely the Cary amp sounds much better paired with my Klipsch Forte III's than they do when paired with the DeVores.

Personally I suspect those Acoustic Zen speakers will not coax the full potential out of the LM amp and in fact they may sound better through your Prima Luna.
To answer your question regarding dealers you may want to contact Jonathan Halpern of Tone Imports , he is the US distributor. Below is his email address
shindo.usa@mac.com

I have a LM 518IA (22 wpc) which easily drives and sounds wonderful with my Daedalus 6ohm 97.5db speakers; so different experience than 3 easy’s
@mabonn  Forget it. Your speakers are not efficient enough to allow you to really hear what an SET is really all about. Almost any SET should not be driven past 20-25% of full power if you want to hear what they do in their best light; on top of that getting full bandwidth like your speakers have now means that a 7 watt SET might be the limit. This would limit you to only low level listening.

IOW if you want to hear what an SET does you really should have a speaker that's about 8-10dB more efficient.
Venice Audio sells LM but i agree with the above, your speakers are not efficient enough.
@mabonn,
There is an excellent store called Pitch Perfect Sound located in Palm Desert CA. They have Line  Magnetic, Leben, Shindo etc.

3 years in a row I attended the C.E.S. in Las Vegas. The Acoustic Zen Crescendo each time shared a room with Triode Corporation of Japan.
The Crescendo was paired with the Triode Corporation Parallel SET TRX M845 mono blocks that are 50 watts per channel.

This combination filled the generous sized room in the Venetian Hotel gloriously. Each year this demonstration room was always one of the better sounding rooms at C.E.S. I don’t know your listening room size but the Ventian space was again far from small /cramped.

Line Magnetic 805ia /508ia (805 output tube) class A SET is 48 watts per channel and could be a serious candidate based on what I heard with the 50 watt Triode Corp TRX M845. The sound was big/spacious, beautiful and very natural and nuanced.
As ozzy62 stated above, Line Magnetic is very good quality.
Charles
I currently have a Line Magnetic which I purchased a few months ago. I have the LM805iA paired with my Golden Ear Triton Reference and they sound amazing together!  I actually use all Acoustic Zen cables. I was really interested in the Crescendo but was out of my price range. Anyhow I think they would make a good pairing since it is 48 watts per channel.  With my current setup I never go past 12 oclock when listening to music. I found a dealer in Florida called Wellington Audio which Johnathan from Tone Imports recommended. 
I have a LM-218ia, 845-based 22-watt SET amp. When I first got it, it was pushing hungry Polk Lsi15 speakers. I was amazed at how good it sounded as the measly 22-watts simply wasn't supposed to make them (a sub-4Ohm 87db speaker) sound that good.

I then picked up a pair of Omega Outlaw Super3XRS speakers with active 8" subs built-in -- 94db and 8Ohm. When I fired up the Line Magnetic all I could say, was, "oh!"

My take way was that those 22 SET watts can push a stubborn speaker pretty well, but when paired with a much more efficient speaker, wow, it shines.

-Chris  
I can't answer your question in regard to LM amp. I can only say I ran Coincident Turbo 845 SET with Merlin VSM-MM, a similar load to your speakers, quite satisfactorily for years. I doubt any other SET tube type would provide enough power.

I  have a Prima Luna Dialogue Four modded with Takman resistors and a variety of boutique caps. I also have custom built 300B SET monoblocks and the Coincident 845 SET which all rotate through system. The largest difference between the SET's and PL push pull is the sense of immediacy, a greater illusion of performers in my listening room with the SET's. Whenever I listen to push pull tube or solid state setups I always get a sense of being more distant from performers, I'm taken to the recording venue rather that the recording venue being brought to me as with SET. My mind interprets these systems as high fidelity. I always hear live performers in room with my system, just slightly less with the PL (this all with my highly modded Klipschorns which excel here). I've not listened intently with all three amps with my Merlin VSM-MM, a speaker more similar to yours. Based on memory I recall hearing this same jump in immediacy when I went from Cary SLM 100 monoblocks, Conrad Johnson MV-55 and Nirvana Electronic Works A-60 (battery powered class A solid state) to Coincident 845SET with Merlins.
Contrarian opinion here- just never have gelled with the LM sound (my Devore dealer carries them). It’s a vintage, slightly soft sound. Tri (which I have owned) that was mentioned before is not vintage, but still flavored less than dynamic sound as well. I believe they are both made in the same OEM factory. At this price I prefer Melody which is more objective. 
Or upgrade the tubes in your Prima Luna to KR quality and stick with it. 
@keithr  - Which LM amp(s)did you listed to at your dealer?
Obviously meant listened to
I find theorising about about amp-speaker pairings to be a fairly futile excercise. Too many times I have heard pairings that should have been made in heaven sound fairly ordinary, and rather unlikely bedfellows sound entrancing.

There‘s only one way to find out….
"Too many times I have heard pairings that should have been made in heaven sound fairly ordinary, and rather unlikely bedfellows sound entrancing."

@pesky_wabbit,  absolutely and unequivocally an astute observation. My experience as well on numerous occasions. 
Charles 

Melody is now located in the UK. Doesnt have any North American Distributor/Dealers according to their website so do they even have USA 120 Voltage option? Prices are DOUBLE in some cases vs LM amp with same tubes.  They list a link to reviews of several of their amps on their website AND the reviews for the 34, 2A3 and 211 amps pretty much say they cant Rock and bass is deficient. Wonder which amps KeithR is referring to above.
I find theorising about about amp-speaker pairings to be a fairly futile excercise.
Science can often give you a good idea of what to expect but there's a lot to be said for the empirical method.


In the case of the OP, the room is the big variable. If its a smaller room a 50 watt SET might work, although it will be unable to show off the bandwidth of the speakers (where a 7 watt unit could...).  If a bigger room with nice carpets and the like the SET will be pushed past its 20-25% rule of thumb limit and/or may well just fall right flat on its face.


(In order to find out a fair bit of $$$$ might have to flushed down the loo; if you can arrange for an audition prior to purchase!)


Many people push SETs past this 20% rule; that is where the idea that SETs have such great dynamics comes from; the 'dynamics' is actually distortion although the amplifier isn't being overloaded.



No question an audition is the ideal scenario if it can be arranged.  As I wrote earlier the demonstration rooms at the Venetian Hotel were pretty good size and with probably 10 or 11 foot ceiling height.  The 50 watt PSET amplifiers -Crescendo speaker  filled the space with beautiful sound. So certainly a viable possibility. 
Charles 
Thank you for all your responses!
The feedback from the community is quite helpful. 
I thought I would provide more detail about my listening environment.  The room measures 20x24x9.  The 24 dimension is because the room is open to a staircase and a hallway.  The listening area is more like 20x16.  The speakers are about 9’ apart, and my listening position is about 9-10 feet from each speaker.
My average listening level, measured  at the listening position with a decibel app on the iPhone, measures 70-75 dB, with peaks rarely above low 90s.
I agree that the best way to make the decision would be to arrange an in-home demo.  This may not be possible, so I might have to take a trip to the nearest dealer (2hrs away) and make a leap of faith.
In the mean time I’ll probably change the output tubes in my PL from EL34 to KT150, just to see how that sounds.
Thanks again!!
You’re not doing bad with your PL upgrading your power tubes. Start with KT-88’s. Psvane or even Gold Lion tubes are fabulous. 
@making,
At your typical listening levels of  70-75 db at your listing distance you are not even using 1 watt of power, just fractions of a watt. Your listening levels are very comfortable and satisfying for most anyone not suffering with a hearing deficit. I hope you get the chance to hear the Line Magnetic 805 output tube based amplifiers and compare to your push pull PL amplifier.

Charles
If you were looking to get closer to SET sound, move to KT will be move in somewhat opposite direction, imo. I prefer the  EL34 house sound to KT 88 in my PL Dialogue Four. KT presents as more precise sound, less euphonic. PL amps are in modern sound class of PP, KT put it over the edge in my system. With change to KT I'd expect you'll get better bass control and extension, greater treble extension, but you'll lose a bit of the EL34 mid range magic.
I don't know which EL34 you're using, but the best I've heard are 1990-early 2000's Svetlana and/or SED. I presently use  SED Black Sable (early 2000's, cryo'd and closely matched limited production), really not that far off SET sound with these tubes. Present production Svetlana is not the same tube as these, ones I'm talking about are now sold as vintage.
Still, do try the KT, although I'd suggest the KT77, seems many prefer the lower powered KT's as best sounding.
@mabonn 

You could give Mike Rose @ Excel Audio on Newport Beach a call, where he carries the Line Magnetic line, and he may have some ideas, but it is a bit of a drive.
I did some more listening this afternoon with the decibel app on my iPhone.
I find that when I am listening at what I would consider a fairly loud listening level, it’s reading average levels around 80-85 dB, with peaks around 90.
this is measured at around 3 meters from the speakers.
Newport Beach is closer (and cooler) than Palm Desert, so I might make a run up there (Excel Audio).
thanks….
As far as I know, Hugh @ Angel City Audio is still the Melody distributor here. Prices are still fairly reasonable. I've heard the AN845 in my home as well as the M845 monos at a friends house. The 2688 preamp has also been in my room. They do need a full retube to sound best- the stock tubes stink.

re: LM, I've heard the KT 120 (which now is KT150 i believe), the basic 845, and the huge 845 amp...all on Devore speakers at two local dealers (including my former Gibbon X). Have not heard the 805 integrated. 

I've also owned the Tri 845SE integrated amplifier. It sounded best with the 845C tube. And Sophia Electric, Dehavilland, and some others I'm probably forgetting.