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Little Dot MK III

100% Positive Reviews
Rated #35 in Desktop Amps

Posted

Pros: Sound,Value,Build,Design,Support

Cons: Picks up interference from phone sometimes.

First let me declare that I am new to the head-fi world and this is my first dedicated amplifier. But with that said I would like to give my subjective review of the Little Dot MK III. Testing equipment is a MacBook Pro i7 (newest model if it matters) running to a HRT Music Streamer II DAC and then into the Little Dot MK III. Also I am using the AKG 702s with a gain setting of 10x on the amp. 

 

A quick note the 702s only have roughly 80 hours of burn in and the amp only has about 6 hours as of this writing and i will update accordingly to the changes that burn in presents. With all of the formality stuff out of the way I can get into this exciting review!

First off as you can likely see the build quality and looks are simply wonderful and built to top notch standards. Everything got shipped perfectly no damage or anything and was packaged well. It came with some useful cables though I already had some so I just hooked it up to pre existing cables. First thing I did was set the gain to 10x for my 64 Ohm AKG 702s.

Starting it up I was impressed too say the least. I was presented with warmth and musicality and a nice soundstage. The soundstage managed to feel nice and wide on the songs that deserved it but also managed to stay nice in close when that was needed as well. Very adaptable to your taste of music and is definitely not limited to conventional classical, or jazz. In fact it worked quite well even with things like pop or heavy rock. It manages to retain great detail at the same time bringing the 'tube" sound too the table. Just for fun I turned off music and cranked the knob up the whole way and what I heard was pure silence and that is reflected in the great noise floor during music that can show it. 

Day 2 and 20 hours of burn in later. 

Much much more detail is now present and I am now hearing things that are extremely subtle with accuracy and detail. Bass has tightened up considerably and is now very present and and is not now as smudgy as it was before although I did not think it was at all bad in the beginning. Highs are not as bright as they first were and that is very pleasant cymbals now have striking detail,realism, and musicality and are not as harsh as yesterday. Separation of instruments also appears better.

This amp continues too impress me. I feel as though they have brought musicality too the 702s which were a little analytical but are now very musical and soothing too the ears. On another note this tube amp easily drives these phones, I rarely move the volume past half way if ever. I love the way pianos and guitars are rendered on this they sound stunning too say the least. 

Day 4 and about 35 hours of burn in 

I now feel that the burn is complete and I am getting the most from this amp excluding tube rolling and other mods.The signature tube sound is now more transparent and is a welcome audition to the sound. Musicality has also increased listening too jazz and classical is truly a delightful experience it sounds astonishingly realistic. I am blown away by the sound quality and since I lack the vocabulary terms to describe it I will end here. What this device is able to transcend from music is beautiful and must be heard. If your considering a tube headphone amp in or close to this price range definitely put this on your list to consider. 

My only complaint is that I wish David would start making speaker amplifiers :). I hope I was of use to somebody with this review. With that said good luck on your audio journeys and enjoy the music!

Posted

Pros: great value for the money, slightly warm sounding, leans toward detail and clarity, handles treble really well, great wide soundstage

Cons: build quality, may run into some restrictions when looking to tube roll, picks up mobile interference, gets really hot

Little Dot the title can be telling in many different ways - I read one head-fier refer it as a small and unimportant smear (when comparing to the Darkvoice). But in this case the Little would be how much you'd pay for something, but in return you get more than you could have bargained for. Here's why:

 

If you've considered to try out tube amps then the LDMKIII could be either a good or not so good start for different reasons. If you're after considerable warmth and alteration of sound toward the darker side then the LDMKIII can supply you with that, but only to some extent - this amplifier is not all about warmth but also detail. If you're going from a transparent or clinical sounding amplifier then you'll definately hear the difference. It certainly makes the mids more smooth and the bass hit just slightly deeper. But rather than smoke and fire - I would define its warmth as cozy ember, it's not overly aggresive and alterating, but you feel its presence; and in a good way. However, it is not only nice in the midrange it extends and smoothes the treble a little bit. If you've decided to pair the DT990 with the LDMKIII then definately look into tube rolling (stock tubes rarely sound good in any case). With the Voskhod tubes it made the highs on the DT990 slightly more bearable in that they felt smoother, while they were considerably less promiment with the Mullard M8100. At the moment I have my HD650s paired with the LDMKIII and the Audio-gd NFB-3 (all of which are considered to be 'warm') and still what I feel I get most out of the LDMKIII in the system is detail - you could almost say its leaning toward the transparent side for being a tube amplifier - even with the warm tubes like M8100. Whatever I listen to the bass is never muddy or bloated, and the mids are not smeared in any way - there is considerable clarity and detail, and some of it is thanks to the treble extension. Its 'warmth' is not overpowering... it's there, as a companion to the clear detail and soundstage that this device furnaces. And if that is what you want from your amplifier then the Little Dot is a great choice. However, I have read that compared to some other tube amps in its price range it has less tube rolling options (might have changed in the years), nontheless you have options and quite a few of them - all offering different things and not just slight differences.

 

For me it's hard to comment on the design - I generally liked it and prefered it to other tube amps. But it might not rock everyone's boat (it shares similar shape as the other post MKII products, ie the half-cylindrical shape).

 

Build quality can be argued over as well. I've read that some people had some faulty ones shipped to them. In my case I haven't had much trouble except that the back AC connect is a little loose (not that it's on the verge of falling off because it won't, it's just not entirely 'plastered' there, you know) it's not something that is an error in just my device but a general build issue - no biggie. Other than that the tubes run very hot - speaking of the power tubes that can run to 120 degrees according to the user's manual. And in turn the entire device runs quite warm - even the case is fairly warm to touch. I don't see its heat problem as a big issue unless you live in a really hot place and have little ventilation. Tubes do run hot in general, but for its size I would think that the LDMKIII is a tad warmer than it should be. Lastly, some have reported that they have heard interference noise that the Little Dot picked up from their phones. I had only one case of this happening to me and it was just slight and quite brief (mobile phone in pocket) - but it actually happening does prove true to others' finding and perhaps not something you would find ideal in an amplifier, even if it's budget oriented.

 

Generally I would recommend this amplifier on the condition that you change the tubes for something more approriate and better sounding. And again, the sound on this device is pleasent sounding and full of detail. It might even bring out flaws in your source - cause it did in some of my tracks which unfortunately are around 192kbps and 128kbps until I buy and rip the CD quality of just these hard-to-get tracks. With my FLAC files on 900-1200kpbs the LDMKIII really brings out a new layer of sound without any terrible distortion. And while it brings warmth to the table it's not necessarily dark, deep and powerful, but smooth, sweet and mellow - which I think complements the HD650 well if you feel that you could use just a little bit more warmer tones to your tunes.

 

Also note that some users have found distinct differences in sound signature when switching between the gain setting on this device. To my personal liking I prefer the gain 10x and 5x over the 4x and 3x. But depending on your taste it might be different - it just requires experimenting, just like the tubes.

 

I've run both Beyerdynamic DT990 600ohm and Sennheiser HD650 through the Little Dot MKIII and found it to work well with both - of course with different tubes to alter the sound in different ways.

Posted

Pros: powerful, tube rolling, style, price point, sound quality, high resale ability, popular

Cons: shipping is pricey

Heya,

 

If you're looking for a beast of a tube amp that will output enough power to satisfy volume and push those drivers to get what you can out of your headphones, the Little Dot MK III is the best performer for the price out of the little dot line. I got mine used so I saved over $70 compared to new, but otherwise, be prepared to pay $244 for the unit because they're essentially $199 with $45 shipping. Build quality is solid, it's very heavy, very tight, and you don't hear any rattles or weird creek noises. Style is nice, the face is brushed, the rest of the body is black and so the tubes just stick out when you're listening in a dark room with their little lights. Gain switches are under the unit (you do not have to remove any covers). Tube rolling is easy. Just find the tubes, plop them in, and you're golden to roll. Mullards are highly regarded as the tubes for the Little Dot MK III and reviewed over and over as making the amp sound much more like something that costs twice or more the cost. But note that the stock tubes it comes with are very good tubes as it is. Sound is very good. It's tubey and warm, but not overly bloomy. It has a musical hint to it, but doesn't turn into a concert hall of echos on your music. That's the stock tubes. You can alter it of course with other tubes, which is part of the fun of having a tube amp that can roll tubes. Power is enough to push basically any headphone you plug into it. Those headphones with sensitivities and high impedance can be pushed to high volume with this amp. Warm up time is about a minute before listening, you can hear it expand through your headphones if you have them on when you initially power up as she heats up. I like to hear it, it's interesting, but if you don't, don't listen on your headphones until about a minute after turning the unit on. Then leave her on for as long as you wish.

Posted

Pros: Smooth clear sound at any volume level. Great looking, very well made.

Cons: Collecting / swapping tubes is addictive. Rather sensitive to RF sources eg DECT phones

This is a nicely made and great-looking amplifier. Solid construction, good quality connectors and although I have not opened it up, from the pictures the innards/PCB look very well built. An opening in the bottom provides access to the gain DIP switches, if you want to try tweaking these.

 

My Audio Technica A700 phones sound great anyway. My only sound source is a PC and I prefer to use a proper volume control... the boost to sound quality from this outboard amp is definitely well worth having - and I now can't imagine living without those nice glowing tubes.

 

The pre-amp function meant I could trade in my amazing Rotel RA1412 integrated amp for a Quad 303 power amp (vintage, without modifications) - I just felt sure that the combination would work well. I am happy to say that the LD MkIII and Quad 303 combination is an absolute winner. My speakers are B&W DM602 S3 if anyone's interested and the whole system just sings (and kicks ass too).

 

The only issues I have had are:

 

1: The amp can easily pick up RF noise and for any proper listening I basically need to switch off the DECT cordless phone and base station I have in my basement office. I will just need to move them further away when I get the chance

 

2: Tube collecting / tube swapping (all this "tube rolling" business) is addictive. If you're the kind of person who will blow the required cash on audiophile headphones and a headphone amp, you are going to end up "tube rolling". I'm sure I've blown £60 / $100 on tubes already. They make great photographic subjects though - and they are just nice objects in their own right. I've had one tube go bad on me (a military spec Mullard - I suspect the seller might let me swap it...)

 

All in all a beautiful product and highly recommended.

 

 

Little Dot MK III
Description:

The Little Dot MK III succeeds our Little Dot II++ by improving upon it in every possible way. Tracking precision with low distortion is provided by an ALPS-16 potentiometer, and Rubycon, German WIMA and ERO capacitors which ensure the internal circuitry is built with quality in mind. The Little Dot MK III also adds in user-tweaking options such as two gain switches to delivery maximum compatibility with all your headphones, regardless of impedance or sensitivity. Also available for the very first time in a Little Dot amplifier, is an internal jumper to allow use with a wider range of driver tube-rolling, including the EF92, CV131, WE403A/B, GE5654, M8100, CV4010, EF95, 6JI as well as all equivalents to these vacuum tubes!

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