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Amp to Drive Westone UM2

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I just ordered some UM2 headphones, for home listening I imagine I'd at some point appreciate having a DAC and an Amp to run off my Macbook Pro. Currently I'm only looking for an Amp. I want to be able to use my UM2's with my PS3 for watching movies (one of the main reasons for an amp since it only has line out leves) but also to get a better sound out of my laptop, rather than plugging into my Bose desktop speakers pod.


The Little Dot lineup looks really great and the prices are awesome. The Mk1 and the Model 1. (portable and hybrid respectively).


If anyone is familiar with these models and could chime in about using them with the UM2 I'd appreciate it.

post #2 of 8
Thread Starter 

Any takers.

post #3 of 8

Personally I wouldn't bother. I used to own the RSA P-51 Mustang with my iPod Touch 32gb 3rd gen, Walkman X1060 and Westone UM3X. I didn't notice a difference at all with the Walkman, but a tiny, tiny bit of warmth (from memory) added to the iPods sound. Something I would pay $50 for, but no more. 

post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the input. I'll probably pick up the Model 1 Amp from Little Dot so I can power the UM2's from my PS3 since I have no other way to get a powered headphone output from it.

post #5 of 8

Are you not happy with the sound of the UM2 straight out of your PS3?


I have the Little Dot I+ Hybrid amp with stock tubes, which I have hooked up to the Nuforce uDac. I'm listening to this combination right now with my UM3X. I'm trying it out as I just got the UM3X today and I haven't had the I+ for long (I brought it to get a taste of tubes) - neither are burned in yet. I plan to run the UM3X off the Meier Audio CORA STEPDANCE when it arrives.


At this point in time I'm not blown away by the I+. It's added a degree of smoothness, reduced treble harshness (not that I've found the UM3X to have harsh treble) but these are very subtle changes. I'm just as happy listening straight out of the uDac, which possibly provides a little extra detail in fact. It is recommended that the stock tubes in the I+ are replaced though as they're not highly regarded.


As such, for your scenario I'm not sure I'd bother with the I+, in fact, as per stang's response, I probably wouldn't bother introducing an amp into the mix at all. The UM2 are not hard to drive after all.


However, I would highly recommend the uDac to compliment your laptop listening. I was very impressed by the difference over the on-board sound from my PC; there was a significant increase in detail and seperation, to list just a couple of the improvements. I'm sure you know this, but if you do invest in a dedicated DAC, I recommend using only CD quality audio and above (i.e. not low bit rate mp3) to get the full benefit.

post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 

The issue is the PS3 has no headphone jack, nor does my TV. What I have is Optical/HDMI/Stereo RCA out.


I'll need to find a DAC with both USB and Optical if I want to be able to use it reliably with either my laptop or my PS3. That's probably the smart move.

post #7 of 8

Ah, ok!


I'm still not sure I'd recommend the I+ for your scenario. The MK I+ might be an option as it looks like you can power it from an AC adapter. You'll just need RCA to 3.5mm adapaters etc. The trouble with IEMs (again as you probably know) is they tend to be very sensitive and will easily pick up the noise floor of lower quality amps and highlight other issues such as channel imbalance. I have both these problems with the I+ and my IEM (though the channel imbalance is very minor to be fair and doesn't cause a problem at normal listening volumes). I don't know much about the MK I+, Skylab doesn't rate it too highly in his portable amp mega review on sound quality, but if it works ok with IEMs it might do the job for you.


For an amp and DAC combined have you looked into iBasso's offerings? They're more expensive but are highly regarded around here.

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
I hadn't really thought about the issue of iems picking up every little piece of line noise and anything else. I don't absolutely need a desktop/ac amp, probably better with the power quality we get sometimes.

Originally I was hoping for this to be a quick cheapieh solution to driving the IEMs but with the issues it probably isn't worthwhile. I may look into the ttvj millet hybrid portable. I emailed him a few days back and he said he may be able to find one unspoken for since he's recently discontinued them, it'll will be a little while longer before I could save up for it, anyways I'll look around for well priced amps, it would be really cool to pull the signal from optical with a dac and if the dac had USB and optical I would use it with my laptop and ps3.
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