A taste of Western Electric (or the Line Magnetics take on it)

billfort

Administrator
Staff member
I’ve been going through my phone cleaning out old pics, and came across these I’d taken last summer in Calgary at Loyalty Sound, a kind of underground audio store Airdronian put me onto.

They seemed closed when I peered in the window (it is covid times after all), but the owner opened the door and invited me in for a look around and listen. My time was limited but wow – what a great place for a guy into the kind of esoteric off-beat audio I am into!

I can’t begin to list all the very cool audio I saw in there and didn’t take near enough pictures, but did take a few as this is the first time I had seen so much of the Line Magnetics offerings, which in this location, went from the experimental Western Electric ‘tribute’ pieces to full racks of their tube gear and several field-coil speakers.

I spent some time listening to these speakers – field coil WE copy drivers on the horns, driven by a Melody 45 amp using 345s which they swore were the best 45s available (well, not really available). The turntable sure brought back memories; a series 1 Oracle, a table I had owned years ago.

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I listened to unfamiliar music, but the sound of this system was just sublime – maybe the best midrange I have ever heard; the singer was right there living and breathing between those big speakers. The material didn’t really push the bass or highs so I don’t know if real full-range was happening, but man, that midrange!

Not a great environment to listen in either (kind of a corner of an open warehouse) but wow, I think I’m starting to get the obsession some have with these old Western Electric designs.
 

billfort

Administrator
Staff member
I never got to hear this pair which used all field coil drivers including the woofers, but marveled at the beautiful machine work done by Line Magnetics to produce those tweeters and mounting slides (one-off experimental stuff or something).

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I had to take a pic of this jewel of a 300B amp – apparently a discontinued LM model that was there gathering dust on a side rack. I was real tempted to give them a listen but was scared of what I might hear (they were priced right), so settled for a few pics to inspire a build down the road.

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When times get better, I’ll have to go in again for an extended listen, and there is those CD and record racks I didn’t go through.
 

billfort

Administrator
Staff member
Ah yes, I remember that system at that show! Didn't go real low, didn't have those zippy hifi highs, and sort of un-impressive from a price-tag perspective, but it made music like no others there to me. I'd go around and listen to things that cost 10, 20 times what this system did, and leave quickly to go back to this room, wondering what record he was playing now. Best of show for me, I just loved it.

After hearing the music in that room, I always wanted to make the trip to Montreal to visit coupdefoudre, as if you look at their equipment list, I bet they would have many more systems that could do what this one did.
 

prime minister

Site Owner
Staff member
Ah yes, I remember that system at that show! Didn't go real low, didn't have those zippy hifi highs, and sort of un-impressive from a price-tag perspective, but it made music like no others there to me. I'd go around and listen to things that cost 10, 20 times what this system did, and leave quickly to go back to this room, wondering what record he was playing now. Best of show for me, I just loved it.

After hearing the music in that room, I always wanted to make the trip to Montreal to visit coupdefoudre, as if you look at their equipment list, I bet they would have many more systems that could do what this one did.
I did make the trip to Coupe de Foudre last year, and it was awesome. One of the best audio retail experiences of my life. And Grahame is just the coolest guy ever. In the pics above, he would plug his guitar into the system and play along with the records. And he's a fine guitar player. And while most places handled the records as if they were some fragile, historic relics, he had them scattered around the floor. Just a cool place to hang out.
 

billfort

Administrator
Staff member
Yes, the vibe with both these dealers was much the same; a kind of a haphazard 'lets try this' approach that was totally focused on the music at hand, and if it meant Lps laying around, tubes, boxes and parts here and there, so what. Both the shots above where you can see the turntable speak to this, and it really was easy going, friendly and fun talking and listening with these guys.

I look at my system now from last night and it's the same; tubes laying around (various 2A3s but ended on 245s...so nice!), records scattered around, a notepad of music leads I harvested while listening to RadioParadise, a box of ratty old records cracked next to the record cleaning machine in another room - fun times with music and not what I would see in one of those 'boutique' high-end retailers. Not sure what the groove in the coupdefoudre retail store is like, but if Grahame at that audio show is any indication, it is something like that Calgary dealer.

Surprisingly effective too; the laid-back check everything out attitude of the owner (while knowing I wasn't buying those speakers no how) had me leaving that Calgary store determined to go back and listen to that 300B amp - I wanted it.

Now if I can just avoid stopping in there when I get off the plane around the corner from that shop tomorrow. :)
 

airdronian

Radar Member
Yeah, Loyalty Sound isn't your typical hi-fi shop. I don't stop in very often these days, keeps temptation at bay, You never really know what you're going to see there. I've bought several things there, since about 2007. They used to be located in downtown Calgary, and I'd make a trip every now and again on the weekends. Rents went crazy and Albert relocated next to his other shop. This location is actually easier for me. They've been in business since the 80's.

They have had used pieces that have sat around literally for years. Sonic Frontiers, Canary, and all kinds of other stuff. I think that they aren't interested in quick turnover. My last purchase was the Harbeths I have. Not on display, I had to ask about Harbeth to learn about this pair. I never see them advertise, and their website is minimal.

I might have mentioned before, but on those last visits I saw one of Albert's latest creations. He'd had a large pair of cabinets with nice veneer made in China and shipped here, added what seemed to be Altec 420a woofers, on top was a Heil type tweeter and a custom crossover. Nice sound, I would have liked to spend more time with them in a better room.

More to the point of Line Magnetic, you can also look for "Analog Sound" now. Maybe this is old news. There were two halves to the Line Magnetic puzzle, the more modern integrated amps, etc and the WE replica designs. Rachel at Grant Fidelity has a new website and posts about changes in the Line Magnetic family. The two brothers who started that have apparently passed away. The link below explains better than I can. The Analog Sound equipment maintains that vintage approach, although unfortunately well above my pay grade.

 
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