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Little Dot MKIV SE first (naive) impressions

post #1 of 77
Thread Starter 
After rapidly upgrading from MKIII to MKIV to SE my order was finalized on Tuesday, June 26th and I received the MKIV SE today.

I embarrassed to say this but up to a few hours ago I thought my Pany receiver was as good as some of the best “boutique’ amps that are so dearly loved here. I believed this without ever actually hearing any of these but trusted my ears and my 40 years experience of loving and seeking excellent sound. I got my Lambda Pros in ‘82 so I can’t be all bad.

Anyway, my MKIV SE came today and I immediately consigned the Pany to the closet. I thought the best way to christen my new four eyed friend was to play a celebratory piece like Malcolm Arnold’s Overtures on Reference Recordings. I have only one comment: For the very first time I was able to precisely place the percussion in space. By this I mean I could tell which instruments were in front and which were behind the others and how they were laterally arrayed in space. I've never heard such spatial detail before.

Using HD600s I have the (smooth) volume control set at 12 out of 100- that's 12 out of 100, not 12 noon. This amp kicks butt.

I placed two Radio Shack indoor/outdoor temperature probes next to the bigger tube on the right which I think is the warmest part of the chassis. After running for more than 3 hrs it’s a constant 31.4/33.0C (88.2F) and the ambient temperature is 21.9C. Everything else is slightly warm (almost cool) to the touch.

In the initial pictures the MKIV SE looked like it had a bale of hay stuck on its backside. This has become much more refined and now looks like dark charcoal suede. This is a very understated and handsome amp.

I want to thank Dave from LD who patiently acted as midwife through my fulminating upgraditsus and was able to make my ever escalating desires become real.

It may help if you know I have K501s, K701s (my favorite phone before I got HD600s), Ety4P/S which I rarely use and Lambda Pros which I never use and listen to what I call audiophile classical recordings, concentrating on Mozart Opera (esp.Cosi fan Tutte) Bruckner, Mahler, Shostakovich and 20th century composers like Elliott Carter, Martinu, Lutosławski and anyone else who's able to make seemingly disorganized orchestral chaos sound interesting and exciting.

After listening for several more hours I'm overwhelmed by this amps trans spectral detail and transparency. For my initial listening I'm using HD600s which are sometimes described as veiled. Well, there are no veils here and there's an obvious synergy between the MKIV SE and the HD600s. I wonder if the MKIV SE was voiced using the HD600? In any case it's a marriage made in China.

Since my experience with excellent headphone amps is nil, I cannot hope to answer your questions in the sublime and knowledgeable way Skylab would, but I'll try my best to muddle through.
post #2 of 77
Nice review!

Glad you like them. It's making my (light) buyer's remorse on pulling the trigger on the LD MKIII today a little easier.

How's the synergy with the K501s?
post #3 of 77
Thread Starter 
I love my K501s (so much so I bought 2) because they remind me of planar screens. I brought them out today before I knew I was getting the MKIV SEs. (Our mailman who's Chinese beemed when he told me I had a package from China. I beemed back because I knew exactly what it was). Anyway, I'll be trying all my phones over the next few days and hooking up the K501s tomorrow. They're so close to me now I could give'm a kiss and I think I'll do that- smooch!. After my Lambda Pros which I never use anymore the K501s were my first love. I've had HD600s for a couple of days and believe they're a very significant upgrade to the K501s. Think deep clean bass. That's not to say the K501s don't have their special place. I'd say baroque and Vivaldi choral music makes them shine, but for much of the rest I must squint to hear their bass.
post #4 of 77
wae5, are there any primary stage tube type or output impedance switches in MkIV SE? Also, how does MkIV SE cooperate with lower impedance cans? I own 50 ohm HD 595's and not necessarily want to upgrade from them.
post #5 of 77
how different is this one to the mkIII ?
post #6 of 77
I know it's probably wayyy too early for this, but does anyone have any recommendations for tube rolling?

Is it accurate that the tubes in the MKIV SE are top of the line.

I'd be interested in any suggestions at upgrading these?

Driver Tubes: WE403B (USA)
Power Tubes: 6H30 PI (RUSSIA:Golden PIN)
post #7 of 77
Cool! We'll need pics of course.

Any disappointment at all with the amp? I'm not thrilled with the little tube cages (are they dampeners?) in the pics and prefer the MkIII look, though I've never seen them in person. How do they look?

GAD
post #8 of 77
Your output tubes are one of the best already (Western Electric 403B). You could try others, GE 5654W, Mullard CV8100, and alot more, but many people say the 403B are the best.

YMMV - My post was in regards to the Darkvoice 332 which uses the same output tube.
post #9 of 77
Nice review, but could you explain what you mean by trans spectral?

I appreciated the comparison to the Panny 57 as a reference.
post #10 of 77
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by yobs View Post
Nice review!

Glad you like them. It's making my (light) buyer's remorse on pulling the trigger on the LD MKIII today a little easier.

How's the synergy with the K501s?
I've spent several enchanted hours with the K501s and MK4 and can't stop listening to this marvelous combination. I've thrown some of my most demanding CDs like Mahler on Telarc, Mozart opera on Harmonia Mundi and Reference Recordings up against them and the K501s keep singing effortessly along. If I could speak as a K501, I'd say: Finally they're zapping me with enough power to bring out my best- but since I'm not, I can't. What about the bass? Everyone knows k501s have no bass. But every so often a quiet voice murmurs this ain't necessarily so. For me there's enough bass so I've (almost) forgotten to ask the question, where's the bass? However, I haven't tortureed them with organ music so there still may be reasons to worry. Please wipe any thoughts of buyer's remorse from your mind because wonderful things are about to happen to you when you hear your magical K501s singing merrily along with their new best friend, the mighty MKIII.
post #11 of 77
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tbonner1 View Post
Nice review, but could you explain what you mean by trans spectral?

I appreciated the comparison to the Panny 57 as a reference.
I wracked my brain over that one. I meant full spectrum but at the time that just didn't pop up.

I have the Pany 55, which is the one without the HDMI output. It's very good but not nearly as good as the MKIV SE.
Have you or heard the 57? What do you think of it?
post #12 of 77
can u please do the test on the k701 and give us a review on that one too
thanks, i have a k701, thinking to get a tube amp but not sure whether this is the one.
post #13 of 77
Thread Starter 

Update

1) If I turn the volume all the way up there's silence with no tube noise.

2) After 20 hrs the MKIV SE is cooler than yesterday. The warmth around the larger right tube has almost disappeared and most of the chassis is ever so slightly above body temperature and in some areas it's even cooler than me. It's obvious DL doesn't want any more talk of eggs frying on their amps.

3) The MKIV SE and Senn HD600 are a marriage made in Heaven and I doubt I'll need more phones-except for the Sony SA5Ks coming this week- and (hopefully) going back just as quickly.

4) At first I thought the golden tube area looked garish but now it looks more like a glowing Star Wars' movie set.

5) The MKIV SE and HD600s sound so good together I'm FINALLY able to listen to the music not the system. Can I put my wallet away now? NOT!
post #14 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by wae5 View Post
5) The MKIV SE and HD600s sound so good together I'm FINALLY able to listen to the music not the system. Can I put my wallet away now?
Finally, we get to the part of the thread that makes the impressions "naive."
post #15 of 77
Thread Starter 

Touche!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bebanovich View Post
Finally, we get to the part of the thread that makes the impressions "naive."
You're so right! Even as I was writing this I was sneaking out for a drink- I mean pushing the B$H button that will have Sony SAK5s winging their way to me by the end of the week!

If only I had a support group!
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