A few months ago I got in the Line Magnetic 211IA EL34 powered integrated amp from US importer, Tone Audio. Not your typical Chi-Fi that’s banged out in a OEM factory and sold on the internet. Line Magnetic are the only company I know of who are faithfully reproducing classic Western Electric systems. I see my future system and it is BIG! I covet one of these throw back systems. It’s a whole new world of Audio Nervosa and I want a ride. I must take baby steps. That doesn’t mean I’m not trying to figure out how to suspend the 22A horns in the shop. Yes, tiny little baby steps..
The next logical amp to get on the floor was the 218. I had never even heard of a 845 SET amp until I saw it on their site. Hmmm 22 watts? Not a flea watt amp, but not a behemoth either. The first thing I noticed unboxing it was that the amp is a lot bigger in person. 845 tubes are freakin’ Big!
You must realize that up until about five years ago, I thought tubes were stupid. It seemed to me that tube amps were tweaky and would probably break a lot. Flat Earth solid state all the way man! I had tried out a tube amp 17 years ago when I first got into this biz. and learned a few good lessons. Don’t do business with unreachable people and make sure there is a service plan in place! Ah, the good old days! It took a couple more failed partnerships until this all sunk in of course.
After moving a few things around, I heave the 218 onto a Quadraspire Sunoko Vent bamboo rack and proceed to hook it up. Thankfully, I just got in some 5 meter A23 cables so I can use them on more set ups in the shop. Well Tempered Amadeus with Dynavector 20X-L cart and DV P-75 phono pre. Rega Apollo-R / DAC, A23 interconnects and DeVore’s new 88′s quickly fell together.
Time to power up! Yowza! These tubes are bright! They actually put out some lumens! Who needs a fireplace when you could have these in your room? Nice soft glow and heat! Yeah, this amp does generate some major heat! What you’ll save in heating costs in the Winter will even out what you spend cranking the AC down a notch during the warmer months…at least in the hell that is Texas!
The music I’ve been throwing on has been all over the map. Bill Evans Trio Sunday at the Village Vanguard, David Bowie Man Who Sold The World, Lucinda Williams Essence and Antony & the Johnsons Crying Light, to name a few. Ok, (reviewer mode) the first words out of my mouth would be “lush and gripping with an extremely revealing presentation that envelopes you in music”. Something that really jumped out at me was how the 218 reproduces the double and electric bass. Incredibly realistic, tight and tuneful. Some amps play bass, but they don’t have the fine nuances that the 218 reveals. I found it very hard to leave work for the evening. This amp had gotten ahold of me and didn’t want to let go! Ahhhh, just one more cut! After meeting up with friends and a few drinks later I proposed we all go to the shop to continue the party and hear “the new amp I just got in”.
I’m lucky that I “need” to buy gear “for the shop”, but it’s always a bonus if “le wife” thinks it was a good idea. After I threw on Dr. John’s new record, Locked Down. I turn and ask her, “wudduya think?”. She beams back and says, “there is something very special going on here”. “Yeah, and it’s only a few hours old and still cold”. whew.. the real test was passed. One baby step closer to those horns!