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Little Dot Q Impressions

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 

I just received my Little Dot Q yesterday. I was out the entire day so I only got to hear it today. My apologies for the lack of pics, I'll put some up later when I have my camera. I went on a mountaineering trip a few weeks ago and I haven't gotten my camera back from the person who consolidated our pictures.


Some buzz surrounding this little baby and comparing it to the Bravo amp.


I'm not going to bore you with long details, here's the bottomline: this amp is good as an amp, rubbish as a DAC, and suffers from quality issues which means that ultimately its $89 price point is not going to look so attractive anymore compared to the Bravo.


Now, I have not heard the Bravo. I do not know how good it is from personal experience, although I get a lot of brilliant reviews and feedback praising it. Based on that feedback, I'd say the Q falls short. 




Here's some impressions I posted from another forum, have at it:


1. The DAC is pure garbage. Do *not* use it.

2. Small but not very portable because the tube juts out of the top, so it's hard to handle in a bag. You'll need a special case if you want to transport it to ensure it doesn't get damaged. PSU brick is also huge, like 3x the size of the amp and 100x heavier. This is the one major nag on this thing.
3. It's closed in on all sides with no openings, unlike the Bravo, so it's not going to run into an open air mishap.
4. Very nice, clean sound. Has enough power to drive the Mios. Quite mids centric and very rich and vibrant-sounding. As a DAC it is rubbish but as an amp it is pretty good.

I would say this would be a great amp to bring to meets as it is very transportable, it just needs a safety case to keep its tube safe.  The tube is soldered straight into the circuit board and cannot be rolled, which is a shame. There seems to be some quality issues around it as well. Not only is it soldered, it is soldered poorly. There are times when you unplug a headphone or source from the Q and a tube rush happens, which causes permanent noise. You then need to touch the tube with your fingers and press lightly for a second to get it "soldered back in place" and remove the sound. This is really poor quality control at work and highly disappointing.

The problem with the DAC is that first it is really weak sounding. In terms of volume output it squeaks like a mouse. Even using sensitive headphones that drive well out of iPods, the DAC of the Q cannot sufficiently drive a headphone without turning the volume way up... and even then it's still not loud enough for my normal istening levels -- and I have moderate listening levels (Zeroblade has very low listening levels, I listen about 60% louder than he does but I listen below many others here). Aside from the low listening volume the DAC lacks in dynamics and excitement, and sounds listless. I tried daisy-chaining it into the P4i and the Marantz and the result was still horrible, again the Q is useless as a DAC. Worse, if you plug the DAC in or out the "tube rush" I mentioned happens and you may get noise in the signal again until you fiddle with the Tube. And I can't imagine fiddling with the tube often is healthy for the device.

For everyone who was thinking of a bang for your buck wonder to come along and blow everyone away... I have to say the Q falls short. I mean it *is* a great sounding amp at its price, but the poor quality standards coupled with the junk DAC means that a lot of its appeal -- a DAC/Amp combo at the $90 price point -- suddenly vanishes.



More regarding the sound quality:


It really brings out vocals and is very nice for listening to the voice of the singer. It works wonders with Dave Matthews Band and I'm guessing it will be great for all the Diana Krall fans out there (wouldn't know though as I don't listen to Diana Krall, someone please try it out).

The low end becomes really tight and well-defined. Coupled with a reference-level headphone like the K701 it helps you listen for exact notes in the low end. Very nice.


The highs are a little harsh using the K701. Me thinks the amp doesn't have enough juice to properly amp the K701 to ultra smooth creaminess. Take note the amp can easily drive the K701, I'm listening at about 11 o'clock using the headphone out of my netbook into the Q's input. This is a sufficient listening level.


Will do further listening with the HD650 and some easier to drive cans like the Beyer DT440 and Air AD700 just to set proper expectations, as I would imagine this amp was designed with easier to drive cans like the Air in mind.

post #2 of 41
Thread Starter 

Some pics from my friend's cam. This is not my unit. Three of us got the DAC, all three of us agree, the amp section is good, but the DAC is pure garbage. Shame on Little Dot for releasing such an obviously incomplete product.



The Little Dot Q with an MS2 attached.





A mini meet at Coffee Bean while picking up the LDQ

post #3 of 41

i reckon this would be bad purchase.. a lot of people were hoping to get a bang for the buck combo to compete with the E7..

post #4 of 41
Thread Starter 

I got both! Was hoping to enjoy both gears. What hurt was that I was going to get the E7, but I only gave enough funds for one item, since I had a prior agreement with openjars who supplied the LDQ, I got that instead of the E7. Now I'm stuck with the LDQ which has a garbage DAC when I could have had the E7 now and listening blissfully!  


Well I ordered my E7 already, will arrive tomorrow, but the LDQ was really such a big disappointment.


I can't imagine what Little Dot was thinking releasing a product with such a glaringly obvious defect, they should have just crossed the DAC out of the features list and I would have been a ton happier.


Little Dot really dropped the ball here, now my friend openjars, who just now ventured into supplying amps, has felt totally bummed about the entire ordeal and no longer wishes to carry amps. Budding amp retailer got shot down due to Little Dot's poor quality control, what a huge shame because he could have marketed Little Dot's products to us in the Philippines, Little Dot could have cornered the audiophile market here with this but this mess just derailed that opportunity.


From today forward I can only say that I will no longer buy any new Little Dot products, too great a risk after this experience. If you are looking to get an older model like the Mk Is and Mk Vs that would be safe but anything new that they will release will have a big question mark, and even then you'd have to wonder if their quality controls are good for their older models.


Shame, shame.

post #5 of 41

So you don't like the DAC section...  and then go so far as to claim that the device has a defect, and that LD's quality control has gone to hell!?!? 



forgive me, but that is not only the world's longest jump to conclusions EVER, but it is also blatant slander - dislike of a DAC != defects

post #6 of 41
Thread Starter 

You haven't tried the DAC on this thing.


The DAC is RUBBISH. It isn't a preference thing. It really is rubbish. Nobody in the world would be happy with the DAC of this. There is something wrong with it when you have to crank the volume all the way to max and it's still not at listenable levels. 


But sure, by all means, go and try the Little Dot Q, I dare you to say the DAC is working perfectly.


As for the quality problems, the DAC isn't the only thing beset by quality control issues. The soldering on the tube, which I mentioned in the review, is also faulty and if you leave it running for a while or if you unplug the headphone, DAC, or line in cable, noise creeps in, which is alleviated if you PUSH the tube with slight pressure so the soldered points touch properly. 


If that isn't a quality problem, I don't know what is.

Edited by Mochan - 5/30/10 at 10:44pm
post #7 of 41

I wouldn't go so far as to bash all Little Dot products - my LD MKII served me very well and I was happy with it (added a welcome tubey/warm color to my SR325is), looking to step up to a MK III.


IMO we shouldn't propagate negative vibes with openjars, the prices for LD amps that he sells are very reasonable, it would be a shame if your bad experience with the Q would drive him away. Chalk it up to one of the risks of being an early adopter, and move on. :)

post #8 of 41
Thread Starter 

Haven't actually been in contact with openjars yet, the one who's been talking with him is Racio. It's really a shame though that he has chosen not to carry amps anymore. I will say the LD MkII was very nice as well, I bought the Q out of good faith from my experience with the MkII.


I can only hope that Little Dot will address this issue with the Q, because it was such a good-looking product on paper and seemed like a real killer value. 

Edited by Mochan - 5/30/10 at 10:52pm
post #9 of 41

Yes I would also agree that statement was a little harsh.


The Bravo amp is an open design and while I still think it sounds nice for the money, I have recevied lots of shocks due to its open design. For the same price, Little dot has a sealed enclosure and has a bundled DAC as well (OK so its not a good dac from your feedback but you also felt that the amp section is good).

post #10 of 41
Thread Starter 

Amp was very good IMO. This one is a statement on preference.


But the DAC isn't just "not a good DAC" it's not usable. If using the headphone out of a laptop sounds significantly better than the USB DAC, you know there's a problem. I was actually thinking first that there may just be a problem with my unit, but the others who got the Q also had the same problem.


It might have been a strong statement, but I felt that it was justifiable after I heard the complaints from our other adopters and our supplier.

post #11 of 41

little dot amps are really good, one bad apple doesn't spoil the entire bunch (regardless of what you've heard in those old wives' tales)


post #12 of 41

Mochan may be being a bit harsh, but for the most part he's listing specific objective flaws.  The description of the DAC is a bit subjective, but to sound noticeably worse than the analog out on a laptop sound card is indicative of poor quality.  The other issues listed are clearly quality control issues.  The tube is obviously poorly soldered if you have to fiddle with it every now and then to fix the sound.  Of course It shouldn't even be soldered in the first place.  Even if you're not in to tube rolling, it will still wear out and need to be replaced at some point.

post #13 of 41
Thread Starter 

Have to reiterate that while liking or disliking the DAC is subjective, I cannot help but classify the issue with the DAC objectively as a failure: if the DAC at full volume (knob all the way up to 6 o'clock) doesn't even produce as much sound attaching a stock laptop's headphone out to the analogue line in at a fourth of the volume, it is clearly defective.


All of us had the same problem and all of us concluded that the DAC portion was unusable. While you may subjectively "like" something like this, based on the basic expectations anyone would have of a USB DAC this is objectively a deficient feature.

post #14 of 41

Dear Mochan,

Thank you raised these issues.
LD Q is a new product, the original design does not include USB DAC, just as the last to join this function. Because many people look forward to as soon as possible LD Q, we do not have enough time to improve. For the present these products, if you are dissatisfied, they can return by purchasing channels, we will pay the full purchase price including postage to you.
Products in the future, we or the design of improved USB DAC, or to remove it.

Edited by sword_yang - 6/2/10 at 7:15am
post #15 of 41

Well, you got a reply form the maker explaining it.


But IMO if the amp section is good enough, for the price is already great.

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