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Line Magnetic 219IA Integrated Amplifier Review

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Opening the Crate

I hate crate opening day because it reminds me that I have an amp that is heavy enough to be put in a crate! Fortunately, the amp is packed well and all the tubes are in place upon opening. Further the amp has been tested and biased allowing me to make the connections and start playing music. I like plug and play. No one wants to read the instructions first, right? On turn on the amp’s volume flashes for 30 seconds as the amp warms itself up.

“They Do Build Them Like They Used To After All”

First impression out of the box is of superb build construction. This isn’t particularly new to me as I’ve reviewed Grant Fidelity and Shengya amplifiers in the past and they offer battleship build for sane money. The LM 219IA is even better with an old school retro look (I mean 1930s retro) to amplifier build construction. If you ever hear anyone say “they don’t build it like they used to” well my friends, you can point them to this amplifier because they most certainly do build them like they used to.

The 219IA uses 8 tubes in dual mono configuration so each channel uses 4 tubes. The preamp stage uses two 12AX7s followed by a dual driver stage that employs two 310A (Western Electric Replicas) and two 300B tubes driving two 845 power tubes. The amplifier comes with a well-constructed tube cage, a solid steel milled remote control with three buttons (volume up and down, and mute). There are four bias adjustments on the top of the amplifier near the tubes, and 4 hum balancer adjustments.

The front of the amp has a dual channel meter to see the power going to both channels; a white meter for the left channel and an orange meter for the right channel. There is a switch to illuminate the meter as well as to turn off the light for audio purists who think it matters. Hell maybe it does, but you’re going to want the thing illuminated. Speaking of switches, the LM 219IA has two others; there is a switch for feedback and a direct in switch that allows the 219IA to be used as a dedicated dual mono power amplifier. The thinking is that the weakness of any integrated amp no matter how good is typically the preamp stage. And hey the Audio Note Jinro at $26k has one too so this is an important feature for upgrading purposes.

Also on the front panel is the input selector knob (3 inputs), which is nicely made of what looks to be stainless steel. On the left side are two bias meters to make adjustments for each channel in a kind of cross-hairs approach to adjusting the bias. It’s not difficult but you should definitely read the manual and ask your dealer about making the adjustments on this amplifier if you’re not used to the extra driver stage. Above the two small bias adjustment meters is the bias control knob to select which tubes will be biased. The large volume knob on the bottom right is solid in feel and has an orange light that stays on allowing you to see where your volume is in level. Now, this is a small thing but it’s not too bright or annoying like a lot of gear on the market. It’s also the same colour as the backlight on the bias meters and the LM CD-215 power on light. The amp and CD player are an aesthetic match all the way through.

Last, below the meter to the left is a nice spring-loaded metal power button, not some cheap plastic push button you get from most makers. Around the back there are three line inputs as well as pre in (direct in) as well as rather impressive speaker binding posts for 4, 8, and 16 ohms taps, as well as a phase selector allowing one to change the phase of the power socket.

The layout is clear and everything is easy to access. The quality across the board here is excellent and so it should be given the price but at the same time there is a lot of gear out that, most of it in fact, that costs considerably more and isn’t nearly as robust. One passerby in a shop commented to me that this amplifier would not look out of place if it were $50,000 and having seen a lot of $50,000 products he isn’t really wrong.

Magnets also Repel

All is not completely perfect. There are only three line inputs so you don’t get to connect a lot of sources and there is also no phono stage, though most on board phono stages are quite mediocre and not a whole lot better than the old $50 Radio Shack “Little Rat” battery operated variety. A phono stage would have made this thing truly unruly in size and weight so leaving it out was probably a good idea. Further, because this is an old school amplifier there are no balanced inputs or outputs or on board DACs – if you’re looking for features you’re out of luck.

31 Responses to Line Magnetic 219IA Integrated Amplifier Review

  1. Jack Roberts says:

    Richard you are right, Line Magnetic is not anything like any other Chinese company I know of. I own their little two watt amp and it is an amazing little amp. By the way I hate tube rolling but it is necessary to get the best sound from most tube amps. Thanks for a nice review of a great product.

    • Dan says:

      Hi Jack,

      Could you give us the model number of the amp you’re describing (their little two watt amp)? And will you be writing a review of it? I hope so! I’d love to hear more about other Line Magnetic products.

    • Jorge Serrano says:

      Dear Jack, I would like to congratulate you by the excellent tube amplifiers articles wrote during last years, I am a recent newcomber to the tube world after more than 20 years with SS amplifiers. I love the Line Magnetic 219ia look and I wonder if you would recommend me to drive a pair of Sonbus Faber Amati Homage; some french friends of mine are driving them with 24 watt SET amplifiers with excellent sound results.


  2. alan trahern says:

    Any chance you might be willing to divulge the price of this little nugget? It seems like this might be germane to the review, after all. Mea culpa if I missed it but I looked twice before commenting.

  3. Adam says:

    Hi Alan,

    The amplifier is $7500US, I believe. And price has been added to spec list. My apologies for overlooking that.

  4. Charles Wasson says:

    That was called interesting and well written review, you effectively describe the essence of SET amplifiers. I’ve heard many highly regarded SS amplifiers, Pass, Jeff Rowland, D’Agostino, Soulution, DartZeel etc. I understand why many listeners would praise them, not me. SET done to a proper high standard is simply more natural, realistic and far more emotionally satisfying . You review conveys what I’ve experienced first hand. It would be quite interesting to compare your amplifier with the Canadian Coincident 845 SET stereo amplifier.

  5. Glen says:

    Enjoyed reading the review, it seems to be a great product. Would enjoyed seeing more pictures as always. Yet have concerns over the what if it breaks on not well known Chinese products. But this gives pause to take a chance.

  6. Richard Austen says:

    Hi Dan

    The amplifier Jack is referring to is the LM Mini 218 which is a 3 watt headphone amp/integrated amp. You can see it here

  7. Gavin Hadley says:

    “And that’s largely why I bought one”…yeah and who wouldn’t at that accommodation price? 🙂

  8. Mr. Hadley,

    Thank you very much for your readership and comment. One of the perks of being a Dagogo Reviewer is discount on reviewed products after spending many hours of diligent auditioning and writing. Some DRs have no problem disclosing their eventual ownership of products they reviewed, while others prefer to keep their ownership a private concern, regardless it was the post-review purchase of a $65k pair of speakers or $500 worth of accessories. However, when disclosed, fact of ownership is the ultimate endorsement meant to express confidence in the quality and its compatibility of the reviewed product in the context of the DR’s audio system.

    The Dagogo Comment section is constructed to encourage readership involvement toward a higher level of appreciation of the hobby we are so passionate about. While we love praises and constructive comments, we also value criticism where it is due. Your comment, Mr. Hadley, requires more elaborate content in clarifying whether it is a sarcasm towards the reviewing profession or the pricing structure of the products that you want but cannot afford. We at Dagogo do not publish comments that are mere pun.

  9. Gerry Gassman says:

    H x W x D?

  10. Robert says:

    Wonderful review, Richard. How does the 219 compare against the new 518i? Thanks again. Very tempting to pull the trigger on one of these great LM amps!

  11. Greg Armstrong says:

    Nice review Richard. I’ve been to Hit Audio in Mong Kok a few times and heard the 219IA with ATC speakers. I was hoping it would be good with my Rethm speakers. I was thinking the 210IA might be better but they don’t keep it in stock. The 219IA might be too ‘honest’ for my Lowther derived speakers. Do you know where the Line Magnetic classic stuff is in Hong Kong? There’s no mention on Line Magnetic’s website (there’s only one 852 number) and they don’t answer my emails.

  12. jorge says:

    Dear Richard,

    I want to congratulate you by the excellent review of the Line Magnetic 219 ia and I wonder if you would recommend it to match my demmandinf Sonus Faber Amati Homage speakers?, I am not quite sure if those splendid 24 watts will move with authority these italian demanding speakers.

    Best Regards,

    • Hi Jorge

      Without matching them up I could not say for sure. The LM is still a 24 watt per channel amplifier and it has 4 ohm taps. It drives my KEF LS-50 well but the KEF is a two way two driver loudspeaker. Once a speaker starts adding crossovers to 3-4 or more drivers it generally asks for more from the amplifier. Still what you could do is try and find a similarly powerful amplifier and see how it goes. Personally, I prefer going with SET friendly speakers if the plan is to go with SETS. Sonus Faber really isn’t designed with SET in mind. I get the sense they’re more designed for 200+ watts of solid state.


      • Jorge Serrano says:

        Hi Richard, Thank you for your promptly answer. As you know the ATC 100 are also very demanding speakers with their 88 dB and 8 ohms and I normally see them always amplified by very powerfull SS amplifiers; by your review the LM219ia seems to offer a lot good current albeit being only 24 watts. I think 92 dB and 4 ohms is the equivalente to 89 dB and 8 ohms so maybe the magic will occur, nevertheless the best solutions is to test it at home as I will do next month.

        I love the magic of SET amplificacion better than the pushpull one and if possible would like to match my Amati with a good SET integrated amplifier. Regards

    • Stump says:

      I demo my LM 219 with SF and here is a feedback!

      It’s been fun to listen and compare.
      The Line Magnetic was amazing with the CH2s. I thought it sounded pretty good with the Sonus Fabers as well, but after comparing back and forth, I’d still have a slight preference for the Moon. The amati’s are not an easy load to drive, and I just wonder whether the 300W solid state just provides that little bit of extra control needed. On the other hand, I thought Line Magnetic worked better with the CH2s than the Moon.

      With the Sonus Fabers, the tonal balance with the valves was a touch warmer, but the decay of the notes ( especially with violin and cello) seemed more natural with the solid state ( slightly more distinct with regards to the start and finish of a note, compared to very slight overhang or smear with the valves) – fairly small print stuff… Rod stayed around for a while longer last sunday and also listened back and forth and had similar thoughts. Probably fairest to say that the sound from both amps was different, rather than one being better or worse. I guess I’m used to what I’m hearing from the Moon.

      The line magnetic is a lovely amp, and great value for money. The build quality looks top notch. If I was looking for an amp now, it would be a very strong contender.

  13. Miguel says:

    Great review!
    I’ve been a couple of times at Hit Audio in HK and last time I was there was to bring home my pair of Zu speakers.
    I also got amazed by the huge 219ia and after more than one year listening to it in different shoppes, I’m thinking seriously in taking the step and buying one. I’m running my Zus with a very nice push-pull amp (a KT88 based Cayin), but since I’ve heard the magic of the SET amplifiers – especially the 219- I’ve been growing the bug in me for a single ended.
    My question to you is: after all these months are you happy with your 219? We read a lot of nice reviews from when people are auditioning the amp for the first time, but I never found an opinion from someone owning it for a long time.
    Is it a keeper?

  14. Richard Austen says:

    Hi Miguel

    Yes I have had it now for a few years and I am still quite happy with it. Best of all it sounds even better as a dedicated power amp so there is some upgrade ability with the amp as well. For most sane audiophiles (are any of us) the 219IA is more amp than one should probably realistically ever need.

    Richard Austen

    • Richard Austen says:

      Hi Miguel
      One of the bigger advantages of the 219IA is that it is dual mono and thus when used as a power amp will be the next best thing to monoblocks. The 518IA operates as a stereo power amp with obviously lesser transformers. But yes the 219IA is big.

      I am planning to go a bit upscale soon on my system with separates and am contemplating adding to the 219IA or replacing it.

      If you e-mail me personally we can discuss my 219IA.


  15. Miguel says:

    Hi Richard,
    Thanks for your answer.
    I was at Hit Audio last week again to listen to the amplifier, but this time I got a bit biased. Besides the 219ia, I also enjoyed the sound of the 518ia. And they have now a new model, the 508ia that I didn’t have the chance to listen to, but it seems (and they told me it is) a musical monster!
    My reason tells me to go for the 518ia, is more suitable in every aspect; But my heart is still with the 219ia. My wife, though, keeps saying that she kind of sees some beauty in the 518ia while for her the 219ia is a horrible beast – the eternal Wife Acceptance Factor…. So at this moment I’m not sure yet. I’ll keep visiting the place until I have my decision made.

  16. Miguel says:

    Hi Richard,
    Email sent!


  17. Burak says:

    Dear Richard,

    Thank you for the great review.
    Could you tell us how you biased your LM-219iA afternyou change your tubes?
    Can you set different bias levels with other sound characteristics?

    I’m interested in your experience.

    Thanks and best regards

  18. stefan says:

    Im currently playing with SF guarneri Memento and It’s underpowered with a Electrocompaniet EC-i5.
    Im wondering or the 219ia would do the job since the memento’s crave for power (like pass lab mono blocks) So any advice on this one since i cant test them together (they both weigh a ton)

  19. Socrates says:

    Great review,
    Rookie question: Would the 219 amplifier take 12AX7A tubes even though they’re 12AX7 from stock?
    Cheers thanks

  20. Hi Socrates.

    From my reading the 12AX7A is interchangeable with the 12AX7. You can check with your dealer to be 100% sure tough.


  21. Hi Stefan

    I would stick to speakers that are designed for single ended triode amplifiers. Sonus Faber is no such speaker maker.


  22. Hi Burak

    The bias level is explained in the manual – when knew tubes are put in you bias the tube such that the meter aligns to the middle point in their range.


  23. Sangeet says:

    Do Vienna acoustics motzart grand match well with 219 or 518?

  24. Would Gallo floorstanding loudspeakers be S.E.T.-friendly?

  25. Brian says:

    Another lead-eared Canadian raving about Anne Bisson. Listening to this woman sing is pretty much the same as listening to my wife sing and she is, admittedly, utterly tone-deaf. I don’t care about the quality of the recordings, or her ‘jazz-styling’. This woman cannot carry a tune. I am an embarassed Canadian.

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