Coup de Foudre audio was there from Montreal and had on audition the Line Magnetic LM 518IA 845 integrated amp & LM755i speakers. I never got to hear the CD player in the room as we kept jumping from LP to LP so all the music I heard was served up from a Clearaudio Innovation Compact turntable/EMT cartridge and a Leben phono preamp.
The room had an air of chaos about it (as seen in the above pic on 6moons) but this had to be one of the most engaging and enjoyable times I’ve spent in a regular show-hours listening room. Graeme would ask what kind of music I’d like to hear next, jump from disk to disk to zero-in on specific aspects of the sound we were discussing or just step back and let me take it in in closed-eyed bliss – a lot like how it goes when you have friends over for a listen. This is the kind of dealer I love and the kind of salesmanship that got me hooked on certain aspects of high-end audio all those years ago. Pretty cool to experience this at an audio show and it’s a good thing Coup de Foudre is far away from me – my audio budget couldn’t take this on a regular basis.
I was intrigued by these speakers as I first thought they used Western Electric full-range drivers – they looked exactly like the Altec/WE 755 drivers I had at home for a while. I’ve since learned they are a field-coil take on the 755 design by Line Magnetic in a unique, beautifully built, retro-look cabinet that seem to mate extremely well with the 518IA 845 SET (also a very attractive piece with a real sense of solid build quality about it).
I don’t know what to make of the components individually but when viewed as a ‘system’, I was mightily impressed. There was an incredible sense of realism here with a mix of immediacy and detail along with big tone and the illusion of real instruments and humans in the room – the kind of presence that sucks you into the recording and lets you forget about the equipment and everything else for that matter.
Price was around $15k for the speakers and amp and I bet objective evaluation would be a little disappointing as the LM755is seamed soft on top and don’t go very low – but I honestly liked this system overall better than almost all the other systems I heard there, and many where much more expensive. Want to hear DSOTM with the bass & volume pounding your body into submission? That was there in other rooms, but if inclined to sink into a chair and be transported to a good seat up front in a cozy bar for some great acoustic jazz – this Line Magnetic system delivered.
So again I get a little confirmation that there might be something to the WE worship thing and understand a little more the fringe Japanese/Asian obsession with SET based systems and antique gear from America’s past. I keep ‘getting it’ when I listen to a WE91 circuit or a simple 2A3 build, maybe a pair WE300Bs or some crusty old alnico Altec speakers – now I can add 755s to that list. This really makes me sorry I never bothered to stick those Altec 755s into cabinets for a listen when they sat at home for all that time!
The LM755is are ultimately not for me as their compromises aren’t something I could live with overall but that LM 518IA; well, maybe…(I can dream). I sure was impressed by Line Magnetic and if searching out new equipment – LM (and Coup de Foudre) is probably where I’d end up.