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Little Dot MK II

100% Positive Reviews
Rated #94 in Desktop Amps

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!

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