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Little Dot Micro+ initial impressions

post #1 of 432
Thread Starter 
I picked up this amp at the post office on the way to work this morning (came in yesterday, they tried to deliver but of course I wasn't home). So because I'm at work, my two best headphones aren't available, the K271S or the MDR-V6. Also I don't have a good source here either, just two computers (listening from a Dell Dimension 3000). I don't have a cameraphone either, so no pictures, sorry. Onwards!

Details on this amp available at: http://www.little-tube.com/forum/for...sp?TID=22&PN=1

Included in the package
- the amp (duh)
- AC power adapter
- 4" mini interconnect
- 3 replacement screws for the enclosure

Construction/Design
Instead of starting with the sound, I want to mention a few points about the amp itself. The enclosure looks to be made of tough, brushed aluminum, and feels like it could survive a good 6' drop onto just about any surface (er...the internals aside). I like the "grille" finish to it, it provides tactile feedback when handling and makes it less likely to fall out of your grip.

I'm going to have to say having the audio jacks and volume knob all on the front is inconvenient, especially since there's not much space between them - makes it kinda crowded.

The LED indicating that it's on is a bright blue. Not overly bright, but it's definitely not a "background" light either. About 2X brighter than the LED on my SuperMini-3, could easily double as a mini-flashlight.

Kinda nitpicking here, but I don't like that it doesn't have a "plugged-in" indicator unlike for example my SuperMini-3. When you plug the SM-3 into AC power, its LED lights up even if the power switch is set to off. I wish the LDM+ had that feature. Also, since this is the first known amp to use a lithium-ion battery, you'd think it would have some kind of way to let you know the charge status on the battery (and if it needs to be charged), but it doesn't.

Sound Quality
Sorry I can't comment on this much, given my lack of good headphones and a good source right now. I've tried it with my KSC 35 and ATH-ES5. It works better with the KSC 35. Clearer sound, better highs. I can't tell if it's extending the highs, but there's more presence. It definitely brings out the subtle details, which unfortunately get kinda masked by the limitations of the KSC 35. Bass response is a lot more controlled.

I asked a co-worker who has the PortaPros and an iPod with base station to test it too, and he commented the sound was "flat." So take that as you may.

Further impressions will be posted when I get a chance to listen with my K271S or MDR-V6...
post #2 of 432
Nice. I just got mine a few days ago as well. Mine has had it's gained lowered since I will be using mostly IEMs with it.
I too kinda wish there was an indicator to know when it has been fully charged. There's a red light on the AC charger but that always on as long as it's plugged in.

My first impressions with Ety ER4Ps was much stronger bass presence. I usually listen to my 5G iPod and Etys with a Bass Booster EQ but on my first listen with the LDM+ I turned off the EQ for a "purer" first impression. 5 seconds into listening I had to go back to my settings to make sure Bass Booster was actually off! I only listened for about 5 minutes though; I decided to let it fully charge before I used it anymore.

Fast forward a day: my second impressions confirm what I've known all along: I still hate carrying around a portable amp!
post #3 of 432
Thread Starter 
Another thing I forgot to include in my original post. I got my LDM+ in black. I probably should have requested the color I wanted when I bought it off eBay, I wanted it in gold.

What color did you get, CookieFactory?
post #4 of 432
Thanks for the impressions guys

keep us posted on the changes if any.

I'm thinking of picking one up when I go to HK in the summer.
post #5 of 432
Thread Starter 
Update on my listening with this amp!

First, using the LDM+ on AC power is not ideal. Even when my source wasn't plugged in I heard audible noise (hiss) from it. It was really confounding me, I thought it was the op-amp or shoddy engineering....until I unplugged the AC adapter. Noise went away immediately. I confirmed AC power as the source of the noise by turning up the volume knob all the way (in battery-powered mode) - no noise.

That said, moving on to sound output. I'm going to have to say this amp gives even the SuperMini-3 a run for its money, and at the $60 I paid for it, that's saying something! The SM-3 still has a clear edge on fringe detail and dynamics (and nowhere near as much noise when AC-powered), but the LDM+ is very competent. With my MDR-V6, highs get even more annoying (heh) due to finer resolving, and bass more controlled. There's definitely a "wire-with-gain" sound to it, everything just seems transparent from the source signal. No coloration detectable, to my ears. For those who know the MDR-V6, it's already a relatively transparent can too, so good synergy there.

The LDM+ with my K271S didn't improve anything beyond what the SuperMini-3 can do and actually offered slightly diminished resolving in the highs. It does however clean up the mid-range curve a tiny bit and makes female vocals sound a tiny bit crisper.

Sound did not improve on the ATH-ES5. No perceptible response to the amping.

The KSC 75, whoa! It was like something jumped up and bit it in the ass. Now I know why everyone loves the KSC 75. Highs became clearer and slightly more extended, and the dynamic range improved, making instruments sound more natural. General clarity increased as well. Though I have to admit, I was astounded by the KSC 75 itself since I haven't heard them much since I bought them (been doing unattended burn-in on them). Please note I haven't heard the KSC 75 amped by my SM-3 either, so that affects my judgment on the LDM+.
post #6 of 432
Nice impressions ASR, they echo mine pretty well. To answer your previous question I also got mine in black.
Unfortunately I don't have any more impressions myself since I haven't been able to use my portable rig (HD crashed so I'm using the iPod to "burn-in" some headphones :P )
post #7 of 432
Thread Starter 
More updates on this amp!

I've been doing unattended burn-in on the amp (leaving music playing while I'm at work all day) and from what my relatively-untrained ears can tell, they're still mostly the same after about 6 days of solid burn-in. Further testing with my music shows one clear advantage though, this amp really tightens up bass to deliver more kick and control.

Also I unintentionally tested the battery life today. When I was setting up today's unattended burn-in this morning around 8 AM, I didn't notice I left it unplugged from AC power. Keep in mind, I had my power-hungry K271S plugged into it as well, so the volume was set pretty high too. When I got back home at 6 PM today, it was still going, with no sign of petering out! So the lithium battery provides at least 11 hours of solid power, cool. I'm thinking I should test the battery life now too.

Finally, the default gain on this amp seems to be pretty high. Even an adjustment of a millimeter results in audible volume change. At less than half volume it easily drives the K271S from a line out signal. So it should have no problem driving 200-300 Ohm headphones either.
post #8 of 432

For Asr

Asr,
How come you got the LDM+ if you already have the SM-3?
If you were to have only one, and keeping the price differnce in mind, which would you get? Which one is the better value?
post #9 of 432
Quote:
Originally Posted by raduray
Asr,
How come you got the LDM+ if you already have the SM-3?
If you were to have only one, and keeping the price differnce in mind, which would you get? Which one is the better value?

Could you perhaps do a little comparison between the two?
post #10 of 432
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by raduray
Asr,
How come you got the LDM+ if you already have the SM-3?
If you were to have only one, and keeping the price differnce in mind, which would you get? Which one is the better value?
There are a few reasons I bought the LDM+ when I already had the SM-3: (1) Head-Fi is a disease and is making me buy almost everything in sight that gets good reviews! (2) I haven't been entirely impressed with the SM-3 since I got it November '05, (3) I kinda needed two amps, one for home, one for work, and (4) it was cheap so I thought why not, you know?

As for a comparison between the two, well for me it's hard to say. My ears aren't very trained yet, and my audiophile experience is limited. So I'm not a great audio critic at this point. That said, I honestly can't hear much difference between the two amps, but if I close my eyes and really listen to my best-recorded, most complex CDs (using my K271S), the SM-3 brings out detail ever so slightly better, and the dynamics come across more clearly. If I had to quantify this difference, I'd say the LDM+ has about 90% the ability of the SM-3.

I'm better equipped to compare these amps as products, however, and in that aspect, they're both good values for their prices. The SM-3 is packed with features (the 4 jumpers for crossfeed, DC boost, etc), has no audible noise when AC powered, is smaller (but not as durable/rugged), gives extremely long battery life, and has better placement of the audio/power jacks. If I had to pick just one of them, it'd be the LDM+, because it gives excellent sound quality at 30% the price of the SM-3.
post #11 of 432
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asr
There are a few reasons I bought the LDM+ when I already had the SM-3: (1) Head-Fi is a disease and is making me buy almost everything in sight that gets good reviews! (2) I haven't been entirely impressed with the SM-3 since I got it November '05, (3) I kinda needed two amps, one for home, one for work, and (4) it was cheap so I thought why not, you know?

As for a comparison between the two, well for me it's hard to say. My ears aren't very trained yet, and my audiophile experience is limited. So I'm not a great audio critic at this point. That said, I honestly can't hear much difference between the two amps, but if I close my eyes and really listen to my best-recorded, most complex CDs (using my K271S), the SM-3 brings out detail ever so slightly better, and the dynamics come across more clearly. If I had to quantify this difference, I'd say the LDM+ has about 90% the ability of the SM-3.

I'm better equipped to compare these amps as products, however, and in that aspect, they're both good values for their prices. The SM-3 is packed with features (the 4 jumpers for crossfeed, DC boost, etc), has no audible noise when AC powered, is smaller (but not as durable/rugged), gives extremely long battery life, and has better placement of the audio/power jacks. If I had to pick just one of them, it'd be the LDM+, because it gives excellent sound quality at 30% the price of the SM-3.
Thanks for the excellent summary.
Radu
post #12 of 432
I received my Little Dot Micro+ yesterday and want to post my impression on this amp as well, but I don't intend to write a lot so I think I shouldn't open a new thread... Anyway, here it goes.

The previous amps that I've used are the PA2V2, and the dedicated headphone out of my M-Audio Revolution 5.1 Soundcard. The only pair of headphones I've used on them is the Shure E4c and Etymotic ER-6.

My Little Dot Micro+ is bought new from the maker, and it has unity gain because I only use IEMs now.


Revo5.1:
Loose control, loose bass, loose everything. There's lots of bass in quantity (though not in quality) and what I'd describe as a "loose" soundstage; I was also using the E4c with my iAudio5, and thought I don't hear any improvements with this soundcard's headphone-out. Whether this is saying something good for the iAudio or something bad for the M-Audio, I'll let you decide. To be fair though, this headphone-out is not designed to drive IEM I think, because I can only adjust the slider to about 3/10 of the way and then it gets too loud for me.

PA2V2:
First thing that strikes is its narrow soundstage. Not good for classical music as I feel that the quantity of high frequencies and low frequencies are not balanced. There's a lot more low and mids than the highs. Bass is tigher than Revo5.1.

LDM+:
This is a bit different than my impressions on the above two amps. I was letting it burn-in with a pair of headphones plugged in for about 20 hours straight, listening to them every few hours apart. At first (3rd hour or so), the only thing that I noticed is the extra bit of punch that comes before every drum hit and guitar pluck and that's it, no other noticeable character. During my second listening session (10th hour or so), I start to hear that it has better instrument separation than my previous amps, and with it comes some more subtle details too (maybe just a by-product of better instrument separation). Right now (20th hour), I'm starting to appreciate the soundstage that is presented to me. It's controlled. It's wider than the PA2V2. Trebles show themselves now. I don't feel it's capped as I've felt before. The bass maybe too well-controlled for bassheads, as it won't leave you "a thick floor full of bass". I can clearly follow almost every bass line.
About the mid, I just upgraded to this E4c from ER-6. So I'm quite amazed by the mids the E4c presents by itself, even without an amp. The amp "focuses" the vocals more in the middle, and let other parts of the music occupy the rest of the soundstage. (OT: anyone listens to Vitas here? It's obvious in his tracks. That's the way it should be represented, I think.) Maybe this is what reviewers say "brings the mid forward"?
I feel this amp is the most balanced of the three (I value mids and highs more than bass. I can live without bass, but not without mids and highs.)

I'm still doing unattended burn-in on this amp, though I doubt I'll find any more sonic differences without thinking it maybe placebo effects.


In short, I would rate Little Dot Micro+ > PA2V2 > Revo5.1.


Thanks for reading .
post #13 of 432
Nice impressons. The Little Dot Micro+ seems to be a sleeper hit portable amp. I've started using mine as well; I still hate carrying an amp around portably, but transportably it's bearable. I used them at work Wednesday for the first time in weeks and I was pleasantly surprised with the dynamics at a very low volume. Further impressions to come...
post #14 of 432
I had my doubts before ordering because I remember when a fellow head-fier praised this amp, another head-fier responded something like "the opamp is designed to be used in cellphones" so he/she doubted the sonic quality of this amp. Upon further research, this opamp is good to be used in cellphones because it is less susceptible to RF interferences, which I guess doesn't imply it has bad sonic qualities. The specsheet is here. It has more information than I can understand. And then I thought about people saying the LD2 to be higher quality than its price seems, so I thought I'd give LDM+ a try and I'm not regretting yet.
post #15 of 432
thanks for the impressions

i have access to the PA2v2 and the E4c so parrot5's review was especially helpful

now to find a brick and mortar store in HK that sells these
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