Little Dot MKII Tube Headphone Ampsearch

Little Dot MKII Tube Headphone Amp

Little Dot MKII Tube Headphone Amp

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(24 reviews)
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I'm having issues with this amp. When I plug my headphones into my DAC which is USB connected to my computer, there is no background noise of any type. When I connect my DAC into my amp and listen through it, I get noise when doing any activity on the computer - e.g. opening a program, scrolling my mouse wheel and watching a video. This noise increases when I increase the volume on the amplifier. I don't think it's a ground loop.
I got a 110V version but I live in the EU. Will this work with a simple 110-230 tanfsormer? Because is the frequency also not different? 60hz vs 50hz in EU.
Would the Russian 6H6P-I Power Tubes and Voshkod 6ZH1P-EV work well for this AMP?
nvroom
I have Russian 6N6P driver tubes and Voshkod 6ZH1P-EV tubes for the pre and it made a remarkable improvement in sound
Amplifier: Little Dot Mk. II Power Tubes: Soviet 6N6P Gold Grids (matched) Driver Tubes: Soviet Voskhod 6J1P-EV / 6ZH1P-EV (matched) Components: Gain switched to Medium Impedance (Switch 1 On, Switch 2 Off) DAC: Topping D30 Headphones: AKG 7XX Massdrop Exclusive Source: Linux Mint using DeadBeef, utilizing USB direct to output, and FLAC ≤ 24bit audio Listen, this amp is great, especially with the power of the former Soviet Union; however, I wanted to post something just in case someone is having the same problem I was. I was under the illusion that my amp was just defective. Audio was unbalanced to the left side. I tried so many things; I even took my Littledot MKII to a supposed audio expert. It ended up costing 70 dollars, and the only thing I got was some fixed cold solder joints, which I could've done myself since that's pretty much what I do for a living. The guy apparently didn't know how to google, because he said that he couldn't find the schematics online. Well, I had been afraid to mess with the gain switches that I had heard about, given my knowledge of audio equipment was sparse. That was until I decided to read the damn manual. After I learned exactly what the gain switches did, I opened the unit up to discover that they were set for high impedance. Now, most of the websites I could find listed high impedance as being greater than 25 ohms, so this led me to believe I had hit a dead end. That is absolutely not true though. This random blogger seemed to be the only one who actually had a clue as to what ohm rating correlated to what impedance level: WHAT’S CONSIDERED “HIGH IMPEDANCE”? I’m not aware of any hard rule but generally it’s safe to say 100 ohms and higher qualifies as “high impedance”. Such headphones are usually not designed for portable use. And it’s safe to say 32 ohms and lower qualify as “low impedance” and typically work well for all applications. That leaves a gray area between 32 and 100 ohms where other factors determine how suitable the headphones are for a given source. As it turned out, my AKG 7XX headphones had an impedance rating of 62 ohms, and according to "nwavguy", that would put it into the medium range. Utilizing this new found information, I referred to the table in the manual:
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I set it to a gain level of five from the default setting three, and jesus tapdancing christ it works. I no longer have to adjust the balance levels because I had apparently taken the time to learn the meaning of a single word. I only hope that this helps someone who is just as uninformed on this as I was. Do your research. Thanks for coming to my TED talk.
(Edited)
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I'm afraid the manual I have gotten very recently with my amp says gain 10 is for high impedance headphones and gain 3 is for high sensitivity headphones. Sorry if I have misunderstood you in any way.
racsorrac
Then that clarification is indeed important. No apology necessary! It might be from an earlier or newer run, not sure.
I did not purchase this item from massdrop which I am guessing is a requirement for leaving reviews, so I will post it here. A review for the rest of us: If you are a hardcore tube amp user then I would suggest you skip this because this is not for you, this is for those people that are like me, a noob with tubes that has no clue. First let me say that this was not my first tube amp, the first time I purchased a tube amp I figured I would go big, buy the best rated, expensive, and best reviewed with the most tubes because all of that would mean I am getting the best tube amp I could get... correct? Maybe.... but I wouldn't know because I had no clue what I was doing, listening to or listening for. Tube amps are not as simple as plugging in your headphones and BAM! all new sounds and stark differences. I quickly found out that no matter what I did or what tubes I put on it, I wasn't getting that, so of course I had a faulty tube amp and immediately sent it back swearing that everything I read about tubes was a bunch of crap and a waste of time and money. After spending some time with high end headphones and a decent dac/amp, I began to hear the changes in music quality and when going back to my $30 and $80 headphones I could immediately tell the difference and understand what I was and was not hearing. It was at this point that I thought back to the tube experiment and decided to try it again, but instead of going all out and spending top of the line money for top of the line equipment I decided to look around for what was believed to be a good starter tube amp, enter the LD MKii. (all explanations from here forward are my noob terms and do not require expert dissection and argument) LD MKii - black box with box and four tubes on top. Blue power led, audio jack and volume on the face. [what the smaller black box encases is beyond me, nor do I care at this point. All I know is it works for me] Tubes - Large tubes are power tubes, Small tubes are pre-amp tubes. [This is where the magic happens, there is more to it but it was in *"tube rolling" that I found my sound] Headphones - Here is another thing that I did not understand where tube amps are concerned, for best results, dynamic driver headphones are the way to go. So now that I was armed with my HD800s, HD6xx, 1More triple driver and the LD MKii I started plugging things in and checking the sound. First thing I did was try it with my Sanskrit pro and then with my Aune X1S while cycling through my headphones on each. There was a slight difference between the two but to my ears (which are admittedly compromised) it wasn't enough for me to say you should use one over the other. Next I took a few days to listen to different types of music and compared it between the tube amp and Aune X7S because the X7S has an balanced xlr connection that I love on my planars. As I did this I began to hear the subtle differences and where the tube shined and where it did not. To me, the tube and my HD6xx were the best match based on what I like. Lastly, I began the task of *tube rolling. I did some research and found some of the more popular tubes that are paired with this amp. I eventually settled on the 7-Pin GE JAN 5654W for my pre and the Novosibirsk 6N6p / 6H6pi for my power. This pairing gave me the most amazing improvement on sound, again, based on what I like. I love all genres of music and have found that when listening to jazz, blues, quartets, trios, Cello, and classic rock (AC/CD, Metallica, Eagles and many others) that the combo flourished. The beauty of the sound in its fullness, warmth, separation and clarity was absolutely stunning. I will listen to other genres such as EDM and others that actually sounds better on my LCD 2 Closed to my ears. I have watched movies and it performs great in that space as well but again, it depends on the the type of movie it is, would I use it for Jurassic park or an MCU movie, sure, but again, I would prefer the LCD 2 Closed for that. The point to all this is that while you can buy a dac/amp combo or individual unit pairings and get perfect sound and balance, the tube will take the edge off of the perfection and dirty it up but in a most wonderful way. Tube amps are more about the perfection of imperfection like smudges on charcoal art and mayonnaise in a cake recipe. You wouldn't expect it to work but then you try it and you get that WTF moment when you realize how good it is. To me, the beauty of this amp is its simplicity and ease of use. Are there better amps out there, sure, but from personal experience, the LD MKii is the most inexpensive, easy to use introductory tube amp that will give great results. Annotation *Tube rolling does not mean place it on your desk and roll the round tubes across it over and over (you laugh but that is exactly what I thought it was until I looked it up). As best I understand it, rolling is when you install different types of tubes (they come with different materials and resistances) to get a different sound profile. You can mix and match different power and pre tubes to one another, but, never mix and match them to itself. From what I understand, you want your pre tubes to be the same to itself and power tubes to be the same to itself. Mixing them across brand and type to itself could have catastrophic consequences for your tubes and even the amp. Next thing of note is that you will want your tubes to be tested and matched, I can not explain the how, what and why but from everything I read, that is the best practice. Tested and matched means that the type of tube (pre or power) will be a tested and matched pair to itself not across types. Last thing I will say is that there is a jumper inside the unit that will effect the power output. I have not tried it and would suggest that if you feel you need to do this, go check out some of the reviewers that do a deep dive into the LD MKii, there is a lot of good information about this unit out there so don't be afraid to look it up or even ask questions because it is better to ask when you don't know than to assume and possibly cause irreparable damage. I hope this helped and congratulations for making it to the end of my never ending post. Ethan
Below is my brief review of the Little Dot Mk. II v. 4.0 which I purchased in June of 2018 from somewhere other than Massdrop, hence why I'm not posting this in the reviews section. Amplifier: Little Dot Mk. II Power Tubes: Soviet 6N6P Gold Grids (matched) Driver Tubes: GE Jan 5654w (matched) Components: Stock DAC: Schiit Modi 3 Headphones: Sennheiser HD58x with custom Canare cable and Dekoni Elite Hybrid earpads Source: PC streaming Tidal HiFi Exterior Build Quality: 7/10 The Little Dot's exterior is a bare bones affair, there are exactly eight Phillips screws required to separate its two aluminum halves. The front and back panels have their text thinly etched in and don't match up perfectly with the aluminum shell. The four rubber feet on the bottom of the unit are good enough that I don't worry about the amp sliding around. This little guy is dense and I generally like the exterior, but I don't like that it is sized such that it doesn't really sit atop any DAC I've used thus far. Board and Component Build Quality: 4/10 This thing has some old school Made-in-China build quality when you crack the two halves open! After one week of normal use with a pair of Sony MDR-7506 and the amp set to the second lowest gain, the rectifier let its smoke out and died. This was a known problem with the newer LD's. I opened the amp to discover a cheap and undersized full wave bridge rectifier rated for between two and five watts. That is completely unacceptable, I replaced mine with a 10 watt unit. I also discovered poor solder joints throughout the board and tube sockets, but the components are generally decent. I re-soldered every connection on the board, sockets, and power plug. All of the components are standard, off-the-shelf items which could be easily upgraded for very little money. The stock vacuum tubes are nothing special, I replaced mine shortly after purchase. Tube Rolling: 10/10 I can't give the tube rolling ability for the Little Dot anything less than a 10 considering price vs. performance vs. availability. The 6n6 and 6j1 tube layout opens the door to a large selection of tubes across the price spectrum. Vacuum tubes manufactured in the former Soviet Union ($10/EA-$100/EA) are well liked, as are the GE 5654 ($10/EA.) Sound Quality: 8/10 This is entirely subjective and based on any number of other variables, take anything I say with a grain of salt. My two go-to artists are Mark Knopfler and Daft Punk, both are particularly well mastered. I personally like my Little Dot a lot paired with the HD58x. Bass reproduction is tight with just the right amount of 'kick' for my taste. Mid's are sufficiently clear, I don't have a strong opinion one way or another; I have nothing to complain about. The combination of LD Mk. II and HD58x does result in slightly rolled off treble. This is another positive for me as I'm not a big fan of ultra-high treble that makes my ears feel like they're ringing. Overall sound is clear, perhaps not crisp. This is a OTL vacuum tube amplifier after all, it's slightly muddled by nature. The Little Dot Mk. II as I've configure mine does a good job of adding the human aspect to music we can so easily lose in a highly analytical solid state system. Speaking of analytical, I was not impressed by the performance of my trusty MDR's when powered by the Little Dot. Everything seemed muddy and over-saturated while the headphones seemed under driven. My experience with the MDR-7506's is pretty normal when using lower impedance headphones through a vacuum tube amplifier. The Sony cans simultaneously pick up every little fault in the system while being fed insufficient current. Returning to the listening experience with my HD58x's, Daft Punk's work on the Tron: Legacy soundtrack is simply mesmerizing. From the driving beat of 'Recognizer' and the punchy bass of 'Arena,' I was thoroughly impressed. Listening to Dire Straits' live work in Live at the BBC and Alchemy: Dire Straits Live I really enjoy how forward Mark Knopfler's masterful guitar playing is through my system. The drum, cymbal, and high hat really drive their music while reinforcing Knopfler's guitar work. Note: If you're wanting to pair this amp with headphones rated for less than 80 ohms of impedance, look elsewhere. This is an output transformer-less vacuum tube amplifier, it outputs a bunch of voltage and not much current. Your low impedance headphones need a bunch of current and not much voltage. Your needs would be best met by a solid state amplifier, or a hybrid tube amplifier if you must have the vacuum tube sound signature. TL;DR: If you're not a hobbyist with a basic knowledge of electronics repair, I wouldn't recommend the Little Dot Mk. II. The quality control leaves a lot to be desired, especially if you're in the feet wetting stage of audiophilia. If you are a hobbyist like me, this little guy is a great entry into modifying audio equipment in our conquest of all things music listening. The sound quality is what I wanted in a tube amp with a low price and excellent customization potential.
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Super Disappointed with this drop. Amp showed up DOA. I just opened a support request so will have to see what my options are.
crizzle
no response yet from Massdrop suppprt. Is that normal?
crizzle
Now over a week. One comment, asking me to be patient because they are experiencing high contact volume. Meanwhile I have a DOA tube amp and I am considering a chargeback. This is absurd.
I tried using this unit sideways due to space constraints for about 2 hours.
Long story short, i cleared my desk for more space and is now upright. The somabeech gets wicked hot sideways.
This or dark voice?
TheBlueDuck
dark voice
if i choose a different set of driver tubes are the stock 6j1 still included?
jordym
Nope
I bought these last time to drive my 6XXs and I was very disappointed. I've never owned a tube amp, but there was a pretty loud buzz present when there were quiet parts to music, and it occasionally would bleed into louder parts of the music. When there was nothing playing it was VERY loud and distracting. Was I doing something wrong?
bluestank
That sounds like a ground loop. Are you feeding the amp from a source that isn't plugged into an outlet? If not, try running it off your phone or an audio player. If that fixes it, you need to plug the amp into a different outlet or buy a ground loop isolator. If the buzz isn't fixed when trying a source that isn't plugged in, try different tubes if you've burned yours in for a while. If different tubes don't solve the problem, open it up and dig in with a multimeter; something is inducing electrical noise in the system from your description.
bluestank
Chances are, you've got a ground loop issue.
Are the jumpers pre-installed? I found what looks like a jumper in RCA cable bag. Just one.
pvherm
Jumpers should be pre-installed.
Hoping someone can help me or at least point me in the right direction...
I experienced a failure with my Little Dot Mk II today. I was listening to my 6XX at pretty low volume (10:00 on the dial approximately) when the volume completely cut out... I turned the volume way up and barely heard the sound, though it was just barely there...
What I did to debug:
0. turned power off and then back on to the source, dac, and little dot. No difference 1. tried different headphones. No difference (not the headphones) 2. moved the source to my O2 amp - works perfectly (not the source) 3. changed out my tubes to the stock tubes (the small ones, not the big ones since I had not rolled those) - no difference
My Little Dot is only approximately 4 months old and barely gets used (a couple of hours every other week), and always at low volume.
Anyone have suggestions?
jsmiller58
Is the blue power light still coming on? If not, check the fuse to confirm it's intact. If the fuse has blown, ohm-out the rectifier. If it's bad, replace it with a 5w-10w full wave bridge. The most recent LD MkII's have poor quality rectifiers in them. If the light is still on, you need to open it up and start ohming-out your caps. Based on your description it sounds like you've got a bad cap, hence why there's no amplification of the signal.
Motologist
Blue power light is on.
Good advice, and I greatly appreciate you taking the time to respond to my post!!
I will do just as you advise and check out the caps to see if any have shorted out.
Thank you!!
I accidentally ordered the 220v variant (i I’ve in the USA) I‘ve contacted massdrop service but as the drop has just loses an hour ago, they can’t change much. does Anyone know how to contact the vendor? Or would they see a US address and fix my good up? Really hoping I don’t have to cancel :(
Can someone please explain how I can tell if I can use this as a preamp? The LD instructions say to NOT USE it as a preamp if the power amp it's connected to is "direct coupled" . I've seen reports if people using it with all sorts of amplifiers, some of them being brand new. Its my understanding that virtually all power amps made today are direct coupled??
Looks like lots of people are using it (unknowingly) successfully with DC (direct coupled) amp. I'm not sure what makes an amp a DC one. I want to use the little dot as a preamp for my class d/t - SMSL SA-98E amplifier, or SMSL SA-36A. I am unsure whether it would be compatible with those??
I've had this for about a year, with the upgraded tubes. Also bought some gold grid 6N6P and Siemens 6AK5W. Sounds great, but I've joined the La Figaro 339 drop and am looking to sell my LD2 to an enthusiast who will give a good home. PM if interested.
Oh wow! $1.01 PRICE reduction, better get it before they sell out! Better hurry...
Xpfreaky
EXACTLY what I noticed! What a total joke! I'm sure the shipping cost is likely $20 more than other places, making it $19 more expensive to buy here :p
WHAT DEAL!!!!
Hey all, so I tried connect my Google cast to the mkII and have also tried to connect my record player to it, before connecting it to audio engines S3 - the volume is really low, and I have to turn the gain up really high before I hear anything. Anyone has any idea why?
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Don't record players require a phono amp before an amp?
Heavyboxer
Oops forgot to mention, using headphones while working the problem out. But my record player has a built-in phono amp. Thanks for replying so quickly man
Just received mine yesterday. Blown two fuses already. I just want to get it working before my hd6xx's arrive.
So I need some guidance, I have oppo ha2se and sennheiser hd6xx, if I get this amp, do you expect that I would hear a quality improvement (assuming I buy a separate dac with similar performance as the dac on my ha2se?) Any advice or guidance is greatly appreciated.
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The hd6xx responds great from what I hear with this amp. I went ahead and got the upgraded tubes, hope you did the same! Happy rolling!
iknowyounaut
Did you got your MKII ?. I just bought it with the CV4010 tubes, and i want to pair it with my HD6XX. Just wondering how does it performs with these cans.
If I want to buy the amp with both tube as additional, hlw can i add that to my order?? Anyone know how to do that?
Just bought this on Ebay, I know it was from Massdrop because the RMA slip from the original purchaser was in the package lol. Unit would not power on (broken fuse). I replaced the fuse and it powered on. However, when connecting to the input RCA, I get no sound out of the HP out. BUT, when I run from my DAC to the output RCAs (preamp), I get sound from the headphones, but no volume control with the pot. Very very weird. Did the factory switch the input and output? Anything I can do to fix the volume pot?
Got this amp yesterday. Arrive undamaged. One packing complaint. Why the hell would they use foam with 3 tube holes and just tape the last tube on??? Guessing some dipstick in China can’t count tubes lol.
Well made unit and to be frank it sounds awesome out of the box. I will be rolling Mullard drivers and Voskhod powers as soon as $ allows.
Very happy with this. Next up 300ohm cans prob Senn 650.
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Packaged just arrived today! Sadly...I ordered the 220v instead of the 110v and I'm living in North America. I'm assuming the entire unit/amp is for a 220v cable only and I can not just use a normal power cable that would fit my wall socket instead?
Awaiting a response from customer support right now, but I thought I'd clarify with the discussion thread anyways.
KillerFloyd
Hey how did this turn out for you??? Same shit happened too me and CS were dicks, hopefully they were keen enough to see the discrepancy and give the 110v instead. However I hear you can do a simple mod for and covert it to 110v.
iknowyounaut
Did you ever get this to work? I wired the primary windings of the transformer in parallel but my fuse keeps blowing. No response from little dot at all and CS does nothing. What a joke
I got notification that mine has shipped. I wasn't expecting this till late June. Now is great if it is really happening. Fedex is in the label creation process. Further details will be available when the item starts to move. Anyone else from the last drop also get this notification?
How will a headphone tube amplifier like this work with a pair of studio monitors. I have 2 yamaha hs7's and a yamaha hs8s subwoofer.
JossaFossa
The HS7 are powered so why would you use an amp
sadiq
Mainly for the tube sound
Testing mine now. Only had it on for like 20 minutes so far. The stock tubes have not had their burn in yet (some people say tubes need at least 100 hrs on them and say the stock tubes are not great) but I can say the stock tubes sound pretty good so far.
First impressions is that the bass is clean and stronger than my little bear b4 (example: song: the weeknd call out my name on youtube has very distorted bass and this amp does it very clean which is good for a low quality youtube video). It does sound spacious which I wonder will change (a bit recessed maybe burn in will help or aftermarket tubes).
I have some ge 5654. Russian power tube and russian voshkods on the way, will test once I burned the stock tubes in first to see how awesome the new tubes are (have to burn them in too cause I got the new versions).
Issues so far: - Mine was shipping by fedex and the box was damaged on the side. Unit is working fine so far tho. - Already known issues: Up to like volume 10 the left channel is louder then once you raise the volume it gets balanced. - With nothing playing you can hear hiss above volume 50. Barely noticeable around volume 30. I hear burn in will fix the hiss or trying higher quality tubes than vs the stock.
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Try "The Pizza Tapes" (Jerry Garcia, David Grisman, and Tony Rice) : All guitar and some serious jams.
sucram65
Good :D
Testing mine right now from previous drop! :) Stock tubes are better than I through.
Would this make a great preamp for JBL's lsr305 monitors? Has anyone tried?
Little Dot makes great value and performance products! I've owned the MKII and MKIII for years, and have even used them both as main stereo preamps, driving McIntosh amps going into Magnepan planar speakers. The sound is warm, detailed, and lush... perfect for my high level tastes and expectations! And they sound phenomenal with cans! What a steal!
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I have no experience using 'active' speakers. Only old school passive speakers hooked up to my McIntosh amplifier, being driven by the MKIII (currently). I have not attempted to see if I can listen to my 'cans' while the preamp is driving an amplifer. I have no need to, since i'm either listening to my cans, or my speakers. I would imagine, what you need to look for is RCA inputs in back of your active speakers (that you can connect the preamps RCA outs to), or a mini-plug that serves as an input. Hopefully, that would disable any physical volume control on your active speakers, and allow you to use the MKII or MKIII's volume knob.
HamRadioANDAudioNut
Ok, so I know the answer now. Pre amps are great for powered speakers, I would even say that powered speakers can take anything, even headphone amped signal. The LD mk II does modify the sound (makes it tubey) and it does amplify it too, the volume knob works. You got to have the amp on for the Pre amp here to work. My solid state amp Topping A30 works different, the Pre amp works even when the amp is off, no amplification, volume know does know, it is basically just pass through here.