The Line Magnetic LM-502CA changed my view of modern digital playback. So this is what's possible? If I had the coin-age the LM-502CA would be mine. It's a game changer. - Positivefeedback
Xmos USB audio technology
High Speed USB 2.0 @ 32 bit / 192kHz
designed with top grade ESS 9016 DAC chips
AES/EBU, BNC, USB, Optical and Coax inputs
Tube and solid state outputs
Positive Feedback Conclusion DACS come in all shapes and sizes and price points these days, from flat silver slabs that resemble an alien's lunch to Spartan boxes that look like they were made from tossed-off tin and surplus wire. The Line Magnetic Vacuum Tube Audio DAC Unit LM-502CA achieves a level of clarity in physical design that's echoed in its performance. It looks handsome but unobtrusive. It reminds me of some Sonic Frontier gear, that gold and silver combination that results in subtlety and beauty. The Line Magnetic LM-502's sound was consistently sweet, its delivery transparent and spacious, yet when the recording provided the goods the Line Magnetic was also very weighty and dynamic. Perhaps most importantly, it never sounded mechanical. It never drew attention to itself or separated music into different parts. It provided all the characteristics I consider essential in a musical performance: texture, dynamics, timbre, tonality, and flow.
Flow is a magical element, a state we all desire to be in. As a musician the greatest things happen when your mind disappears and you simply flow within the music. The Line Magnetic LM-502CA made me forget the reviewer's job and surprised me with its ability to flow with the music. The 502 didn't editorialize. Beyond a penchant for a spicy, tart delivery of brass and cymbal sounds—it does have personality after all – the Line Magnetic LM-502CA had me returning to albums I know very well to hear its new way with color, drama, and texture. It gave me the same, if different, rush of discovery I get when hearing a new (or old) vinyl LP. At $1800, I'd say the LM-502CA is a bargain, maybe a steal. You can go loco and tube-roll the 502. And I imagine dabbling in power cord fetishes might get you somewhere.
The Line Magnetic LM-502CA changed my view of modern digital playback. So this is what's possible? If I had the coin-age the LM-502CA would be mine. It's a game changer. Ken Micallef
Here is about as dramatic beginning as I can get for my first review: The LM 502CA DAC – I bought the review sample - HIFI Today