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First tube amp: Little Dot MkIII, Little Dot MkIV, or Darkvoice 336i?

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
UPDATE 04/28/2008: I went with the Darkvoice 336i. I got a great deal on one plus a number of tubes from a fellow Head-Fier.

I am looking to purchase my first tube amp but am having trouble deciding. I searched and read through a good number of threads, but I think I just ended up being even more confused!

I've narrowed my choices down to the following:

1. Little Dot MkIII
2. Little Dot MkIV
3. Darkvoice 336i

The amp will be used with the following headphones:

1. Grado SR80
2. Grado SR225
3. AKG K701
4. Shure E500
5. Etymotic ER4P (with the adaptor cable to make it an ER4S)

It will be used on my desk at work, which is where I do the most listening (at least 3 hours a day, usually 5-6), out of a 4G imodded iPod Photo or my MacBook.

It will be used mostly with my SR80, E500, and ER4P/S. My SR80's stay at work while the SR225's stay at home. The K701's I don't even have yet -- I am picking them up this week from a local member -- will most likely stay at home. I carry both of my IEM's to and from work every day.

From what I have read, all three of these amps are excellent introductions to tube amplification, and I really can't go wrong with any of them. I am leaning towards the Little Dot MkIV as it is significantly cheaper than the Darkvoice 336i, and IMO is a better looking amp, so if I turn out not to care for tubes, it won't be as painful to my wallet.

Before anyone mentions, the Little Dot MkIV SE and the Darkvoice 332 are both out of my price range, and even if they were not, I would be leery of spending that much money on a tube amp because, as mentioned above, I do not know if I will even like what tubes sound like.

I am leaning towards the Little Dot MkIV as it is not much more than the MkIII but, from what I've read, is a pretty significant upgrade. The Darkvoice 336i is the absolute upper price limit I am willing to go here, so saving a good chunk of cash by going with the Little Dot MkIV would be nice, unless there truly is a very reason why I should splurge or it.

As per tube rolling, it is something that I probably would eventually be interested in doing (I'm definitely a tinkerer), but the amp would stay stock for a while as suggested by many people here to truly 'learn' the sound signature of the stock tubes so I can really appreciate the upgraded tubes.

Thanks for your help!
post #2 of 33
If you want to roll tubes, get the 336i. If you want to buy an amp, and let it sit there, get the LD. The LD tubes aren't very easy to come by, and offer minimal tube rolling options.


I saved a few extra bucks, and got the 336i. I wanted the MKIII, but when I learned the limited tube rolling options, I tossed it out.


Since you have done your home work, I'm not sure what you want us to comment on. Three excellent amps, and like you said, you can't go wrong with any of them.




You can get further SQ improvements by rolling the tubes on the 336i. Spending $20 will get you two decent tubes, and get you a better sound over the stock tubes. Only your wallet will limit your tube options. There's tubes costing near $100 a piece you could pop in the 336i and take it to a whole another league. Tube rolling on the 336i is only limited by how much you're willing to pay. There's SO many 6SN7 and 6AS7 tubes out there it's not even funny.






-Nick
post #3 of 33
Just to clarify - the tubes used in the LDmkIII are widely available and cheap too. But there aren't that many "alternatives" that can be used.

Just a distinction to make.
post #4 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by fran View Post
Just to clarify - the tubes used in the LDmkIII are widely available and cheap too. But there aren't that many "alternatives" that can be used.

Just a distinction to make.

I'm having trouble finding MKIII tubes.. on eBay, I see one, maybe two. Where as a single 6SN7 search brings up about 400 tubes.


Could you define more "widely" available? I would use this term for the 6SN7, but not for the MKIII tubes.


EDIT: Also, the 6AS7/6SN7 (the tubes the 336i uses) are mostly American made, which makes them so readily available. From what I'm gathering, most of the tubes the LD amps use are Mullards from Europe.
post #5 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by nick20 View Post
I'm having trouble finding MKIII tubes.. on eBay, I see one, maybe two. Where as a single 6SN7 search brings up about 400 tubes.


Could you define more "widely" available? I would use this term for the 6SN7, but not for the MKIII tubes.


EDIT: Also, the 6AS7/6SN7 (the tubes the 336i uses) are mostly American made, which makes them so readily available. From what I'm gathering, most of the tubes the LD amps use are Mullards from Europe.
Ok, lets get one thing clear please. If you are having trouble finding tubes for the MKIII, YOU should be asking and letting others help you. I have seen you post this "you can't find tubes for MKIII" crap over and over again. However, I decided to be nice and help you out. Here you go, I took 10 minutes to compile a list, and there are plenty of choices out there, so please STOP the can't find comments:

EF92, EF91, CV138, CV131, WE301A/B, GE5654, M8100, CV4010, EF95, 6JI

EF92s : EF92, Home Audio, Consumer Electronics items on eBay.com

EF91s: EF91, Vintage Electronics, Accessories, Parts items on eBay.com

CV138: CV138, Radio, Phonograph, TV, Phone, Collectibles items on eBay.com

GE5654 5654, Tubes items on eBay.com

M8100 M8100 items on eBay.com

CV4010 CV4010 items on eBay.com

EF95 EF95, Vintage Electronics, Radios CB, Ham Shortwave items on eBay.com

6J1 6J1, Home Audio, Consumer Electronics items on eBay.com
post #6 of 33
Thanks. I appreciate it.



Yeah, a whole bunch of those EF92's available.



FYI, I already searched ALL the replacements for the LD. Search for 6SN7.


Here..

6sn7, Vintage Electronics, Radio, Phonograph, TV, Phone items on eBay.com


343 is a lot more than 3.. right?


Here's 27 more..

5692, Tubes items on eBay.com


And we've only named two replacements. There's quite a few for the 6SN7. We haven't even talked about the rear tube yet. This is just the front tube..



Now please tell me again which is more available...




EDIT: I totaled ALL of the tubes you mentioned, and you get a whopping 43! For thousands of LD MKIII owners...
post #7 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Penchum View Post
... However, I decided to be nice and help you out..

Actually you are being antagonistic, inflammatory, and nasty! The use of an smiley at the end does not tone down your lack of sensitivity and manners. I suggest you tone it down, not need to be rude.
post #8 of 33
Here is an outside source that is very inexpensive.
Wen Audio (Vacuum tubes,parts..etc)
post #9 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Penchum View Post
Here is an outside source that is very inexpensive.
Wen Audio (Vacuum tubes,parts..etc)


I'm still not sure where you are going with this. You are the one who essentially said I was wrong... but back it up with nothing...
post #10 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrarroyo View Post
Actually you are being antagonistic, inflammatory, and nasty! The use of an smiley at the end does not tone down your lack of sensitivity and manners. I suggest you tone it down, not need to be rude.
So, you think this is rude: "I have seen you post this "you can't find tubes for MKIII" crap over and over again. However, I decided to be nice and help you out. "

Well, you are misreading it. It is direct, factual and what he has been doing is crap. I think I spoke quite plainly about it and even TRULY decided to help him out by taking the time to find tubes on ebay for him.

Ow and "Lets get one thing clear please" is not bad manners either.

Give it a rest mrarroyo, you are not the manners police.
post #11 of 33
I was recently banned from another forum for participating in (instigating?) a similar feud, so in this case I will just say to the OP:

If you decide on the DV, I highly recommend you consider ebay seller jasmine_chine. Great reputation here, great service, no complaints from me whatsoever, only praise.

The 336i may not be TOL, but it will certainly keep you busy (and interested) with all the tube rolling possibilities. Plus, it soulnds pretty damned good...
post #12 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Penchum View Post
So, you think this is rude: "I have seen you post this "you can't find tubes for MKIII" crap over and over again. However, I decided to be nice and help you out. "

Well, you are misreading it. It is direct, factual and what he has been doing is crap. I think I spoke quite plainly about it and even TRULY decided to help him out by taking the time to find tubes on ebay for him.

Ow and "Lets get one thing clear please" is not bad manners either.

Give it a rest mrarroyo, you are not the manners police.


By spilling the truth, I am doing "crap" now? The results speak for themselves, and I am correct. There is NOT a lot of LD MKIII tubes out there for sale, and are harder to come by. This is the truth.

And I took the time to show you you're wrong.. I appreciate the "all he is doing is crap!" comment. Makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.


All this "crap" is informing the OP/consumer there isn't as many available options for the LD MKIII as there is the 336i. I wish you would you another word... like "informing", instead of "crap".





Take care...



-Nick
post #13 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by nick20 View Post
I'm still not sure where you are going with this. You are the one who essentially said I was wrong... but back it up with nothing...
Look nick20, I wasn't trying to hurt you in anyway. I took 10 minutes and did simple searches on eBay for you and compiled a list for you. I though maybe you would realize the tubes are out there. When you comment about tube availability when it is not always true, you are (maybe unintentionally) making it sound like it is a permanent situation. Here read what you said.

"The LD tubes aren't very easy to come by, and offer minimal tube rolling options. I saved a few extra bucks, and got the 336i. I wanted the MKIII, but when I learned the limited tube rolling options, I tossed it out."

You have been posting this kind of statement over and over and it is not true for everyone. Users are posting links over at the Little-tube forum and over here as well.

Do you really mean to steer people away from a good amp because you "have heard" they are "very hard to come by"??

I have not heard one MKIII owner state that they wish they had never bought one because they can't find the tubes they want. Not one.
Only YOU and you don't own the amp!

I'm sorry if I offended you, it was not my intention. I only wish for you to understand that the tubes are available and shouldn't stop anyone from recommending a good amp.
post #14 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by jersey_emt View Post
I am looking to purchase my first tube amp but am having trouble deciding. I searched and read through a good number of threads, but I think I just ended up being even more confused!

I've narrowed my choices down to the following:

1. Little Dot MkIII
2. Little Dot MkIV
3. Darkvoice 336i

The amp will be used with the following headphones:

1. Grado SR80
2. Grado SR225
3. AKG K701
4. Shure E500
5. Etymotic ER4P (with the adaptor cable to make it an ER4S)

It will be used on my desk at work, which is where I do the most listening (at least 3 hours a day, usually 5-6), with out of a 4G imodded iPod Photo or my MacBook.

It will be used mostly with my SR80, E500, and ER4P/S. My SR80's stay at work while the SR225's stay at home. The K701's I don't even have yet -- I am picking them up this week from a local member -- will most likely stay at home. I carry both of my IEM's to and from work every day.

From what I have read, all three of these amps are excellent introductions to tube amplification, and I really can't go wrong with any of them. I am leaning towards the Little Dot MkIV as it is significantly cheaper than the Darkvoice 336i, and IMO is a better looking amp, so if I turn out not to care for tubes, it won't be as painful to my wallet.

Before anyone mentions, the Little Dot MkIV SE and the Darkvoice 332 are both out of my price range, and even if they were not, I would be leery of spending that much money on a tube amp because, as mentioned above, I do not know if I will even like what tubes sound like.

I am leaning towards the Little Dot MkIV as it is not much more than the MkIII but, from what I've read, is a pretty significant upgrade. The Darkvoice 336i is the absolute upper price limit I am willing to go here, so saving a good chunk of cash by going with the Little Dot MkIV would be nice, unless there truly is a very reason why I should splurge or it.

As per tube rolling, it is something that I probably would eventually be interested in doing (I'm definitely a tinkerer), but the amp would stay stock for a while as suggested by many people here to truly 'learn' the sound signature of the stock tubes so I can really appreciate the upgraded tubes.

Thanks for your help!
OP,
Sorry if we got side tracked! I was going to mention that the MKIV is (size wise) a pretty big amp. Unless you have a big desk at work, the MKIII or maybe the LDII++ would make a better "desktop" amp and not eat up all your space.
post #15 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Penchum View Post
Do you really mean to steer people away from a good amp because you "have heard" they are "very hard to come by"?

No I do not. Please "re-read" my last statement. I am only informing the buyer. How do you presume I make an assumption like I did, without doing my homework? I did, even though I don't own this amp. This makes me eligible to comment on this amp.

Again, you are comparing 43 tubes to thousands of users, versus 400+ to thousands of users. Again, please tell me I am wrong, but 343+ is greater than 43. Maybe I'm wrong, I don't know..


Quote:
Originally Posted by Penchum View Post
I have not heard one MKIII owner state that they wish they had never bought one because they can't find the tubes they want. Not one.
Only YOU and you don't own the amp!

Because they don't want to roll tubes. Or "tweak" it. Many people just want to purchase something, and leave it alone. There is a small niche that demands excessive "tweaking" or "tube rolling". Darkvoice fills that niche. LD does not do as good of a job that DV does.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Penchum View Post
I'm sorry if I offended you, it was not my intention. I only wish for you to understand that the tubes are available and shouldn't stop anyone from recommending a good amp.

No harm done.

Again.. see below.


343+ > 43


And to get it straight, I did tell the OP, and many OP's that the LD is an excellent amp. However, I do mention tube rolling options are limited, which they are, please don't even argue with me on this (see above ^), and I inform the possible purchaser this. I recommend the LD over the 336i, because from what I've read, the LD sounds pretty damn good out of the box. Whereas the 336i sounds pretty damn good with its tubes rolled. If the buyer has any intentions on rolling tubes, I recommend the 336i, because it is much easier to find tubes. The 6SN7 tube (which the 336i uses) is one of the most popular audio tubes ever made. Therefore, there are TONS of options on eBay, and even more websites with these. The LD mostly uses tubes from Western Europe, and since MOST owners live in the US, it is harder to come by tubes that are overseas.

Please quote me from one of my many posts about LD, where I state the LD isn't a good amp.



I'm not sure what you don't understand...







-Nick
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