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Which entry-level tube amp? LIttle Dot I+, Qinpu Q2, Hifiman? Another?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I'm looking at some entry-level hybrid tube amps.  I'm looking at the hybrids because of the current at low impedences...all of my headphones are 32-55Ohm (XB700, SR225i, US PRO650).  I may scale up the headphone impedence ladder later, but if I do I'll look into higher-level amps at that time, unless someone can provide more info on a full-tube setup that can deliver decently for the low impedence phones that I have now.

 

Right now, I'm looking at the LittleDot I+, Qinpu Q2, and Hifiman HF-2 (I think that's what it's called).  I don't need the DAC portion as I've got a HotAudio EXTASY on the way.  I might upgrade that later to a desktop piece, but hopefully it'll do for now.

 

I like the LittleDot for its expandability, the fact that there's a HUGE tube rolling thread on here, and it's price--though all of these are in the $100-$150 shipped range.  I *don't* like the fact that it's shipping from China...right now I'm in Afghanistan, and its taken over 2 weeks for my HotAudio DAC to ship from Canada; I shudder to think how long it would take a tube amp to get here from China!

 

The Qinpu I can get on Amazon shipped from the states for $99.  It's only got a single tube, though, and I haven't been able to find much info on it.  Amazon reviews seem to be pretty good.

 

The Hifiman seems to have mixed reviews, and I don't like the fact that I have to pay for a DAC that I don't need.  Plus, the sound from the DAC doesn't go through the tubes if I read that correctly, and that's more than a little annoying...If I'm wrong about that, it could actually be pretty sweet if the DAC sounds decent, cuz I want one setup for my work PC and one for the laptop in my hooch.

 

Anyway, any info you guys can give me at all to help me make this purchase decision would be greatly appreciated, especially if you have experience with the Q2.  Or if you think the LDI+ is worth what will probably be close to a month's wait.  :/

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 15

I think both Skylab and Headphoneaddict each preferred the EF-2 over the Qinpu for low impredance headphones. And the EF-2 is definitely a step up over the Little Dot I+.

 

-Daniel

post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

Ok. Thanks for that...i searched specifically for their reviews and found'em.  Why is the EF2 a step up from the LDI+?

 

After reading headphoneaddict's review of the EF-2, I'm leaning towards it. I guess the DAC doesn't bypass the tube output after all. I didn't think that made much sense, considering that there's not a separate line out...and now that I think of it, that just sounds stupid. lol.

 

And after reading skylab's review of the Q2 and the A3, the Q2 is out.  The EF-2 is already $200 on amazon, so I might as well not shortchange myself.

 

So, EF-2, LDI+ or Qinpu A-3? 

post #4 of 15

LDI+ had (has?) some qc issues from some of the threads I saw. Also, the EF-2 WAS only $169 last week (and via Prime) and I thought that was the MSRP?? Not sure why it just went up?! Anyways, read the whole (short) Q2 thread and HPA has quite a few comments concerning the Q2, A3, and EF-2 amps in regards to low impedence headphones. It's been about a week since I read it, but my impression was that the A3 and EF-2 are very close to each other, with the EF-2 possibly having the slight edge-but it might be splitting hairs. Both seem like a very worthy upgrade from the LDI+ and Q2 based on my reading.

 

-Daniel

post #5 of 15

Another couple of things. The A3 can drive a pair of small, efficient desktop speakers if that floats your boat. Aldo, the A3's headphone jack (1/8 only) is on the BACK of the unit, which I feel is a lame design personally. The EF-2 has the usual 1/4 jack on the front like normal, but will not power speakers.

 

-Daniel

post #6 of 15

I cannot compare the Little Dot 1+ with the EF2 but I know that the Little Dot 1+ scales REALLY well with opamp rolling and tube rolling. If you look at my impressions in the little dot tube rolling thread, you will see that differences that I have listed. In general, the sound went from a 6/10 to an 9/10 IMO (the extra 1 would be something REALLY extraordinary). Also, the power output for the Little Dot 1+ is very high compared to the EF2 (if you need driving force). People who sell the Little Dot 1+ in the FS forum would include most of the extra opamps and tubes already. So, if you don't need a DAC, then you should go with the Little Dot 1+.

post #7 of 15

Zero:

 

    How does that sound with the DT 880? What tubes are you using? I'm looking to buy my gf a tube amp for her 880/32. Her (and my) main complaints are the sibilant highs that make our ears ring. Hoping a tube amp will help with that. Also, do you feel the bass is on par with SS in this price class. Sorry, for all the questions, but I'm gonna pull the trigger on SOMETHING lol in another week or 2 for her. Here's to hoping it can run my 40 ohm AD2000s well to give me an idea how they sound with tubes as well. Thanks!

 

-Daniel

post #8 of 15

The DT880, equipped with the Little Dot 1+, the bass becomes tighter (less loose), mids a tad more forward and lush, and the highs more refined. The biggest differences were at the lows and highs. Also, by more refined highs, I also mean less sibilance. Truth be told, you can never take out the sibilance in this headphone, but you can tame it down to tolerable levels. Ever since I've got the Little Dot 1+, the sibilance has been very tame (with the exception of recordings that were sibilant to begin with). The bass, while tighter, gives a better punch and IMO the bass was pretty loose and heavy without an amp. I am using WE408A tubes with the LM4562 opamp (which is known to be neutral, while the tubes provide the warmth). 

 

All of my impressions listed above was with the current tubes and opamp. With a different setup, the sound changes drastically. For example, the stock tubes (never tried the stock opamp) give out a lot more bass than without an amp, but is loose. The highs are also a bit harsher, while also being less detailed overall.

 

I'd say pull the trigger on the Little Dot 1+ (the newer version, 2.0, fixed the common quality control issues, like the bad internal switches).   

If you don't need a DAC, then you can get all the recommended opamps and tubes for the same price as the EF2.

 

Hope this helps.

post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 

Yup.  Thanks for all your opinions, guys.  I'm actually buying a LDI+ with tubes and opamps for dirt tomorrow.  It was a deal so good i couldn't pass it up...if i like the "tube sound" enough, i may end up getting the EF2 later to just leave at my work desk.

post #10 of 15

Thanks zero! I think you've convinced me to get this for the gf, and she (and I) absolutely adore the looks of it. Looks like I'll be checking some of your tube/opamp recommendations after we've put some hours on it and go from there.

 

-Daniel

post #11 of 15

It's a pleasure :)

post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 

It looks like my HotAudio DAC was delayed, and may be delayed for up to 4 more weeks because of that stupid mail strike in Canada.  I'm still ordering the LDI+ from the dude on here, but now I gotta decide if I want to order a Pop Pulse UII to do DAC duties or buy the Hifiman. lol

post #13 of 15


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by benzoylmethyl View Post
I *don't* like the fact that it's shipping from China...right now I'm in Afghanistan, and its taken over 2 weeks for my HotAudio DAC to ship from Canada; I shudder to think how long it would take a tube amp to get here from China!

 

I wouldn't worry about China, they are and by far the largest exporter of manufactured goods in the world so it's safe to assume that they're likely to be diligent shippers. The snag is probably at the other end in Afghanistan. 2 weeks to ship from Canada doesn't seem THAT long considering the war-torn destination.

 

post #14 of 15

Benzo was supposed to buy my LD1+, but cause of some restrictions due to his location he wasn't able to. Check out my listing, to anyone else interested: http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/563332/like-new-little-dot-1-with-several-different-tubes-opamps-included-165-shipped

post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by benzoylmethyl View Post

It looks like my HotAudio DAC was delayed, and may be delayed for up to 4 more weeks because of that stupid mail strike in Canada.  I'm still ordering the LDI+ from the dude on here, but now I gotta decide if I want to order a Pop Pulse UII to do DAC duties or buy the Hifiman. lol



Just to let you know. I am using an Hot Audio Dac WOW and it is amazing. I pair mine with a Little Dot Hybrid +. This sound combination will blow you away. Make sure you get Sylvania Gold Brand tubes and Opa 2107 for your Little Dot. This combo will satisfy you immensely. gs1000.gif

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