or Connect
Head-Fi.org › Head Gear › Headphone Amplifiers › Desktop Amps › Little Dot MK II

Little Dot MK II

100% Positive Reviews
Rated #52 in Desktop Amps

Posted

Pros: Beefy sound, extended low end, amazingly obvious sound improvement over stock interface headphone amps

Cons: PITA gain adjustment

Hi all, 

 

Preface:

 

I was debating selling my HD600's because they seemed to have no low end straight out of my "pro" audio interfaces.  They lacked character, and did not sound better (they sounded inferior) then my modded grado sr60e's (bass vented, Amazonbasic pads=basshead grado).  I was skeptical about the possibility of adding an amp to a headphone I didn't like.  However, eventually succumbing to the notion I have never owned a "real" headphone amp, I bought this little dot mk ii from amazon for about $180 USD and a pair of Voshkod 6ZH1P-EV tubes from ebay (Yen Audio, They are great and prompt) for around $40-$50 USD for the pair.   I chose this amp (rightly so, now that I have it and use it may I add) and tube combo because I would have many configurations to work with / chances to obtain a good sound synergy with my HD600's.  I did not use the stock tubes at all however, because the voshkod's arrived before the amp :)   .  

 

Do you need one:  (read: you need one)

 

This amp demolished my idea I didn't need a "real" amp.   I am aware of the honeymoon phase and false judgements used to rectify one's purchases.  I'll put it this way:  any of my fairly mid-high end recording focusrite audio interfaces or mixer headphone outputs sound like airplane-supplied radio outputs when compared to the Mkii.  It is not subtle.  I also appreciate I have no understanding on why this is- according the output ratings on other gear I have, the response across the frequencies should not change this drastically based on amplification source, i.e.  the bass/low end shouldn't suddenly become epic on my hd600's while somehow still maintaining EQ-frequency-equilibrium...?  Anywho, this is evidently completely possible and demonstrable with electricity, case to point=this amp (and quite honestly I bet most other proper headphone amps prove this electrical fact too, I just have experienced it for the first time...) 

 

Random listening notes:

 

The amp makes cymbals "splash" in a nicer way (read: acutely noticeable and impressive way).  It is hard to describe, but when listening to metal and post hardcore recordings through tidal and a competent focusrite dac, the lack of grittiness on the cymbals is the most profound change (besides the walloping low end) 

 

Vince guaraldi, my favorite jazz pianist of all time, does great with the amp.  The double bass in the trio and group recordings of his really pop and thud with the mk ii.  And those jazz ride cymbals decay with just the right amount of... whatever they need to sound as full as they do now.  

 

Dirty loops, kimbra, singer songwriters, etc (the usual new stuff on the block) all benefit from the new low end I am hearing, but that timbre and decay really livens up recordings I don't usually call "spicy". 

 

I can critically listen (and maintain more or less focused attention) on albums/hours at a time, which is great.  What a way to relax and be intellectually stimulated at the same time!

 

MOD NOTES:

 

I tested my Voshkod tubes at all the gain settings.  please note the are a PITA the get to, (remove the bottom plate with the front and back plate screws- the whole bottom will come off with the feet still attached).

 

with a setting of 1 on both switches, the sound is perfect.  Nuff said.  No background noise, the beefy extended response I wanted. 

with all switches off = high gain = bad internal buzz problem (not my power, I have an excellent power conditioner)

With a setting of 2 on both sides: sounded like the mids were raspy, I have got no idea why.

WIth a setting of 1+2 on both sides: sounded weaker than just a setting of 1, like a cup of joe with too much milk  (I digress, I'm running out of audiophile likenesses)

 

The amp gets REALLY hot (what do you expect, you have 4 while-hot burning things on your desk)

 

let the tubes play for a while before making conclusions, but I mostly find they just need to warm up for a few minutes before a listening session (like, the sound is unintelligible until the tubes hit 88mph and go into warp speed mode, or something.) 

 

ALL IN ALL:

 

I am now a believer in good amplification.  The timbre, decay, and bassy-goodness I can now hear while keeping a relatively flat response (to my ears) makes HD-600's truly worth it.  The sound is non-invasive but lets the listener hear as much of what they turn their attention to- just like a concert at an intimate venue.  

 

 

Peace, Jay

Posted

Pros: Power, Value, Tubes, Great sound

Cons: Some noise at times

Little Dot MK II

 

Introduction

 

The Little Dot MK2 is and oldie but goodie, having been around since 2008. The MK2 is a testament of a solid, affordable tube amp. The tube selection, gain choices, and overall quality have stood the test of time, and it is well past time I’ve tried a pure, non hybrid tube amp in my music chain.

 

I’d like to thank George at Gearbest for providing me the MK2 for review. The MK2 price at Gearbest is one of the best on the net right now.

 

**NOTE** I was provided a 220v version of the MK2, as the 110v was not available during the review. If you are in the US or a country that uses 110v, it is strongly recommended to order the 110v and not run the 220v off of a voltage converter like I did (although it does work just fine this way).

 

 

 

 

About Me (Click to show)

About me

 

I’m a price/performance value shopper in everything I purchase. I spend an extensive amount of time researching purchases and always look for a good value.

 

I have also spent many years as an A/V and music enthusiast. I have owned some high end audio equipment, from amps, speakers, subs, to just about anything audio related you can think of. I eventually moved on into building my own DIY custom speakers, as I felt the value and performance of most commercial speakers were lacking. I found out through this process that you could create high end setups from equipment costing thousands less than most branded commercial setups.

 

Since I cannot play music at 100+ decibels all day and night in an apartment complex, I started looking for similar values in the Headphone/Earphone/IEM world. In a Beats dominated setting, I was very disappointed.

 

I then found out about some excellent headphones/IEMs at great prices being made by Asian companies that are not known of here in the US. It renewed my interest in headphones and became the basis of the Asian audio thread.

 

My love of quality audio continues to this day, and I enjoy sharing my opinion of the gear I listen to. I have been guided toward purchasing some life altering, fantastic gear from great reviewers, and I feel if I can guide someone in the same way in which they truly appreciate what they have found, I’ve done what I wanted to accomplish.

 

REVIEW

 

 

Specifications

 

  • Input: Gold-Plated Unbalanced Phono (RCA) Jacks
  • Output: 1/4" Gold-Plated Stereo Headphone out, Gold-Planted RCA pre-amplifier out
  • Driver Tubes: 6JI
  • Power Tubes: 6N6
  • A newly designed SEPP (single-ended push-pull) circuit, which improves the output dynamic range
  • and sound quality far better than the old LD II++, which used a cathode, output circuit.
  • High quality ALPS-16 Potentiometer provides far better tracking between channels, which
  • translates into more precise sound imaging.
  • Upgraded circuit components include high quality NICHICON and German WIMA/ERO capacitors.
  • Improved Pre-amp functionality
  • Includes transient voltage suppression diode to shunt off voltage spikes.
  • Frequency Response:
  • 20HZ - 50KHz (-1 dB)
  • THD+N: 0.1% (50mW into 300 ohms)
  • Suitable Headphone Impedance: 32 - 600 ohms
  • Input Impedance: 50K ohms
  • Pre-Amplifier output impedance: 600 ohms
  • Pre-Amplifier Gain: 3-10x (also controlled via gain switches)
  • Pre-Amplifier Voltage: 10V RMS
  • Pre-Amplification circuit includes both driver and power tubes
  • Power Output:
  • 300mW @ 300/600 ohms
  • 200mW @ 120 ohms
  • 100mW @ 32 ohms
  • Power Consumption: 28W (228V * 0.124A)
  • Measurements:
  • Metric: 210mm (L) by 110mm (W) by 130mm (H)
  • English: 8.26 inches (L) by 4.33 inches (W) by 5.18 inches (H)
  • Weight: 2.5 kg or 5.5 lbs

 

Accessories

 

Tubes

RCA Cables

Power Cable

 

Tube and Gain Selection 

 

EF91

EF92

EF95

6N6/6H6P power tubes

 

4 Gain settings- default setting best for iems.

 

 

 

Design

 

Shiny, simplistic, effective. The black gloss matches my black tempered glass desk perfectly. The tubes are easy to install and remove (try not to touch them much), and the RCA inputs were easy enough to see during installation.

 

I wish I could easily get to the gain switch and jumpers without needing to remove screws and the housing. That's the one knock I have against the design and the MK II in general.

 

 

Sound Review

 

Equipment used

LH Labs Pulse X Infinity 2.0

 

Music used for testing

Gojira – Magma

Tiesto – Discography

Katatonia – The Fall of Hearts

Megadeth – Dystopia

Lamb of God – Discography

Blink 182 – California

Nonpoint – The Poison Red

Stone Temple Pilots – Core 24bit/96kHz FLAC

Tech N9NE, YG, Drake, Wu-Tang Clan

 

 

Sound Signature

 

Like most tube amps, the MK2 adds a touch of warmth to the music over what a solid state amp would provide. This both can elevate and hurt the sound depending on the earphone/headphone used. There are also noticeable differences switching between the different gains, in which each earphone/headphone also responds differently. This is just with the stock tubes as well. Tube rolling would bring a whole new plethora of sounds. Stock tubes will only be used for testing.

 

The most noticeable addition is the enhancement of “presence” in the music. Compared to the single ended headphone output of my Infinity (which is no slouch), there is an extra analog thickness added to the music. Purists may prefer more analytic Solid State amping, but the MK2 was very enjoyable as the amp to use out of the Infinity. Some iems that seemed cold from the stock amp (Qingyin-20 hybrid) came alive via the MK2. This is via the stock tubes, which many deem neutral. A tiny bit of detail seemed to be lost via the tubes compared to the Infinity amp, but the sound was smoother.

 

Since the MK2 has been around awhile, I’d suggest researching tube rolling results to get an idea of what kind of sound you would like. You could end up spending far more on rare tubes that what the MK2 costs.

 

Another big pro of the MK2 is the power it has available. I had no trouble powering everything in my collection. Aside from the most power hungry planar headphones, the MK2 can handle just about anything you can throw at it, which is quite a feat for the price.

 

There weren’t many large differences in soundstage, imaging, and resolution via my amps and the stock tubes. I believe the headphones/iems are far more important in that than the amp. A good amp will allow these to be heard as intended. These results can vary wildly between sources and tubes, so YMMV.

 

 

Comparisons

 

This is my first true tube amp (outside of my Laney Cub 12R guitar amp), so I can only compare it against some hybrid tube amps.

 

Compared to the Aune T1 and Bravo Ocean (both nice little amps), the MK2 has more power on tap, along with a warmer, livelier, and more engaging sound. You can tell the difference between the pure tube and hybrid sound/setup. Unfortunately, I could not use my extensive tube collection that worked in the T1, as the tube families are incompatible.

 

Conclusion

 

 

 

There is a reason the Little Dot series has been around for a long time and beloved by many. With the extensive tube rolling options available, multiple gain modes, quality internals, strong amplification, and great sound quality, the MK2 would make an excellent entry into Tube Amps. It’s an entry I should have made a long time ago, and now with the discounted pricing found at Gearbest, it’s an affordable entry as well.

 

You can purchase the Little Dot MK2 from Gearbest here:

 

http://www.gearbest.com/headphone-accessories/pp_368032.html?wid=10

Posted

Pros: Multiple gain settings, many tube rolling options, great value

Cons: Volume knob feels a bit cheap

The Little Dot MKII is a great little tube amp for the price. Increases soundstage and musicality of any headphone I threw at it. If you are looking to start in the world of tube amps, the mkII is an awesome place to start.

Little Dot MK II
Description:

An SEPP (single-ended push pull) OTL circuit operating in Class-A, the Little Dot MK II greatly increases sound quality, dynamic range, output impedance, and harmonic distortion over the celebrated Little Dot II++. The Little Dot MK II now also provides gain control of 3, 5, and 10 via internal DIP switches for fine-tuning so you can maximize synergy with almost any headphone you have, whether it be 32 ohms or 600! The Little Dot MK II also gains the driver tube-rolling options from the rest of the MK-series with the ability to roll 6JI, WE403A/B, GE5654, M8100, CV4010, EF95, etc at its factory jumper setting, and with jumper pins shorted, EF92, CV131, and all equivalents and drop-in replacements!

Details:
DetailValue
Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
Head-Fi.org › Head Gear › Headphone Amplifiers › Desktop Amps › Little Dot MK II