Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphone Amps (full-size) › Little Dot MKIII Tube Rolling
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Little Dot MKIII Tube Rolling - Page 6

post #76 of 2901

E's Tube shoot-out

Stock GE's vs. Mullard M8100 vs. Amperex 5654

I use my amp purely for CD and LP listening. The system I own and used for this tube comparison is as follows: Marantz DR700 CD Player/recorder > Transparent Digital Link Plus Coax > Theta DS Pro Basic II D to A converter > Monster Cable M1000i interconnects > Melos MA-333 Preamp > Transparent Music Link interconnects > Little Dot MKIII HP amp > AKG K240 Sextett later production cans circa 1981

Some fave cuts from Cds that I love:

T Bone Burnett “River of Love” from self titled Dot release 1986
Great recording direct to two track. All acoustic. Exceptionally natural sound on a good system

Lou Reed “Hang on to Your Emotions” from Set the Twilight Reeling 1996
Lou used some awesome Soldano Custom tube guitar amps for this recording. Love Fernando Saunder’s fretless bass lines here.

Beck “Loser” from Mellow Gold 1994
Subterranean bass, interesting studio effects, a head banging demo piece.

Lucinda Williams “Fruits of My Labor” from World Without Tears 2003
The drummer uses brush sticks and the textures are quite a challenge to get just right. Rich bass.

I installed the original tubes and let the amp warm up for 20min., played the four songs, switched to the Mullards and waited 10 minutes, repeat, Amperex, repeat, then repeated the whole business a second time.

There are differences in the three tubes, but for every characteristic I’ll describe here, you could preface each adjective with the words “subtly” or “very subtly”. I wrote down notes while listening and what follows is a pretty simple laundry list.

The stock tubes. I thought the amp sounded darn good right out of the box. It did improve after break-in. Now, revisiting the stock tubes, I find I’d be happy to live with them indefinitely.

Great clarity, good balance, clean, acoustic guitar has sparkle, spacious air in the highs, very clean sound. You could mistake this amp as being solid state. Bass is a bit leaner than the others in weight and depth. Sound stage is flatter, vocals and instruments are more forward.

Mullards. Fuller bass, Beck intro goes deeper, Vocals less in face, full sounding in general. Slightly softened attack on tom/snare, fuzzier detail or slight veiling, textures not quite as clear.

Amperex. Vocal similar in depth to Mullard but cleaner, bass line very clear, Beck intro still deep, Beck’s voice less “canned” sounding, Highs have air but not forward sounding. Maybe a touch soft in a euphonic way. Great texture to brush drum sounds. Good warmth.

So for me the winner here is the Amperex. Between the stock GE’s and the Mullards, I’d call it a toss up. You give up some clarity for more bass with the Mullards. The Amperex seem to combine the other two’s strengths without their short comings.

Now I’d like to hear what others say about non-EF95 series options.

Enjoy the tunes,

E
post #77 of 2901
^ nice review, mirrors most of my experience with those tubes. One question, though, do your M8100's have the Mullard shield printed on them? In my experience the M8100 sound quite a bit better than stock tubes.
post #78 of 2901
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dept_of_Alchemy View Post
^ nice review, mirrors most of my experience with those tubes. One question, though, do your M8100's have the Mullard shield printed on them? In my experience the M8100 sound quite a bit better than stock tubes.
No shield, black plates, so perhaps my Mullards aren't top drawer, they just seemed to offer more of a trade-off without raising the bar. JMO/E YMMV
post #79 of 2901
Thread Starter 
Great review of the tubes ethebull!!! I'm really thrilled since I have a matched pair of Amperex 5654's coming!!! I paid a pretty penny for them but it sounds like they will be worth it!!

Thanks again for the review!
post #80 of 2901
Thread Starter 
I received a matched pair of GE 5 Stars and they sound very nice!!! Don't have but a couple of hours of burn in on them but they are sounding very sweet!
post #81 of 2901
Quote:
Originally Posted by RogerB View Post
Great review of the tubes ethebull!!! I'm really thrilled since I have a matched pair of Amperex 5654's coming!!! I paid a pretty penny for them but it sounds like they will be worth it!!

Thanks again for the review!
Hey, No problem.

In general, I'm inclined to throw a new component into the mix and just live with it for quite a while. But I've never owned a separate headphone amp and thought the learning process should include some tube swapping. Then it's only fair to share with you all my experiences and preferences. Aural memory they say is short lived, but I've been doing component swaps in my system for close to 30 years and I feel like I don't over embellish my rankings of perceived quality. I was a store manager at a mid to high end audio store for nearly ten years, and I always preferred to under sell and over deliver.

In the world of sound, I'm no noob. Hundreds of live shows attended, hundreds of components and systems evaluated. But honestly I am a relative noob in headphone-fi.

Hope your new Amperex exceed your expectations.

E

I won't be buying any new tubes, so no more reviews forth coming (unless somebody wants to play trade-z's just for fun - I'll lend you mine if you'll lend me yours...)
post #82 of 2901
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ethebull View Post
Hope your new Amperex exceed your expectations.

E

I won't be buying any new tubes, so no more reviews forth coming (unless somebody wants to play trade-z's just for fun - I'll lend you mine if you'll lend me yours...)
Since I bought my MKIII I have been trying to pick up some high quality tubes from each family of tubes. I have some good ones from the EF95 family, the GE 5 Stars, Mullard 403B, National 403B (which DoA believes to be Tung Sol's), and the Amperex 5654's.

I plan to pick up some premium tubes from the EF91 and EF92 families and then be done with it. There's only so many tubes one can actually listen to and enjoy and at some point you have to put the wallet away! Afterall, I have kids going to college in a few short years! LOL!
post #83 of 2901
Quote:
Originally Posted by RogerB View Post
Since I bought my MKIII I have been trying to pick up some high quality tubes from each family of tubes. I have some good ones from the EF95 family, the GE 5 Stars, Mullard 403B, National 403B (which DoA believes to be Tung Sol's), and the Amperex 5654's.

I plan to pick up some premium tubes from the EF91 and EF92 families and then be done with it. There's only so many tubes one can actually listen to and enjoy and at some point you have to put the wallet away! Afterall, I have kids going to college in a few short years! LOL!

Am I correct in thinking that the EF95 family of tubes does not require any jumper change in the LDIII? Time to start rolling! I hear ya about kids/college - coming up for me soon too!
post #84 of 2901
Quote:
Originally Posted by jpstereo View Post
Am I correct in thinking that the EF95 family of tubes does not require any jumper change in the LDIII?
Yep
post #85 of 2901
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jpstereo View Post
Am I correct in thinking that the EF95 family of tubes does not require any jumper change in the LDIII? Time to start rolling! I hear ya about kids/college - coming up for me soon too!
You are correct jpstereo. No jumper required for EF95's. The jumper is required for the EF 91 and 92 family.
post #86 of 2901
Quote:
Originally Posted by RogerB View Post
You are correct jpstereo. No jumper required for EF95's. The jumper is required for the EF 91 and 92 family.
Thanks all! Off to do some EF95 shopping but I have to say that the stock tubes in the MKIII are impressive thus far. I could live with them but then again this is Head-fi!!!
post #87 of 2901
For those out there that are a bit uncomfortable about buy tubes from abroad (and not from Ebay) Have a look at these beauties!! I got them through Wen Audio from Taiwan. Fast postage and great communication/service (similar to Dave at LD). So take a punt, you never know!

Wen Audio (Vacuum tubes,parts..etc)
Anybody got an idea what all the screen print means? BIG SHIELD version too
post #88 of 2901
Mr British meet Mr Russian . PLAY NICE NOW!!!
post #89 of 2901
How many people have tried the EF91 family of tubes on their MkIV's?
post #90 of 2901
Quote:
Originally Posted by jpstereo View Post
Thanks all! Off to do some EF95 shopping but I have to say that the stock tubes in the MKIII are impressive thus far. I could live with them but then again this is Head-fi!!!
Just wait till you hear the upgraded ones...
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Headphone Amps (full-size)
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphone Amps (full-size) › Little Dot MKIII Tube Rolling