Line Magnetic 218a vs Leben CS600 -- am I insane? (aka when good beats great)

I first got into hifi around 2012. After a lot of listening sessions, I bought a Line Magnetic 218ia, a Shindo Aurieges (preamp), a Rega RP-10 and some Davone Rays. For about five years, I was completely in love with my system. Every new piece of vinyl felt like I was hearing a record for the first time.

As I got older, I had kids, and played the stereo less. Somewhere along the line, I also upgraded my Line Magnetic to a Leben CS600. Everyone I knew and trusted assured me that the Leben was a significant step up, and although I didn’t get to test it before buying, I was so sold by their recommendations (as well as the reviews that I found online) that I figured it’d be a no brainer.

But still, over the years, my interest in hifi waned. That was until, for reasons I can’t fully explain, I decided to pull the LM out of storage last week and fire it back up.

And what can I say, the thrill is back. Everything just sounds so much more alive, a little more punchy, a little more wild. Yes, the Leben was more ’musical’ but to me it also sounded a little more restrained. The Line Magnetic, in comparison, just charges everything up again.

So I guess my question is: am I insane? I can’t find a single person anywhere online or off that considers the LM superior to the Leben. Am I alone here? Are my ears broken? I feel crazy thinking about selling the Leben when it’s so highly regarded, but man, to me, there’s just no comparison. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

(Also.. as a way to make this thread more useful/practical, please chime in with your own stories of when you preferred a piece of gear to something provably ’better’. I’m curious how often this happens!)


I would think a SET 211 amp might sound better than a PP EL34/6L6 amp regardless of manufacturer.

Not crazy.  I love my tube rolled Dennis Had Inspire 300B and Klipsch AL5’s.  A combination that keeps me coming back.  The Klipsch sounded great with different tube and SS amps, but there is something about the synergy of this pairing that is unique.

I agree with @jond .  It’s not Leben vs Line Magnetic.  It’s a SET vs a push pull.  I have a Line Magnetic 34ia which is a PP EL34 based integrated — similar to your Leben.   I really like my amp but I think your Leben might be a little better.  But what you’re liking about your 218 is that single 211 tube sound and how it sings with your speakers.  

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All the reviews, opinions etc are meaningless, all that matters is what your ears are telling you.