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Littledot MKII with Senn HD650s+ Grado SR325is pairing

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

I'm just wondering how good of a combo this would be.  I'm sure the MKIII would be better, but it also seems to be around $125 more. 


My primary concern is amping the Sennheisers: tightening up the bass a little bit, and also slightly brightening them up , but it would be nice if the MKII would also provide some effect in softening up the treble of the 325is


Apparently tube amps have this effect?  I'd be using a nuforce uDAC2 as my source

Edited by DivergeUnify - 7/27/11 at 8:53am
post #2 of 21

Acuallty the MKlll is $60 more new as compared with the MKll. The Mklll does comes with a better quality of tubes, hower the Mkll can use the same tubes as well.

post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by john57 View Post

Acuallty the MKlll is $60 more new as compared with the MKll. The Mklll does comes with a better quality of tubes, hower the Mkll can use the same tubes as well.

Regardless,  is the MKII  a good match with both of those cans?  I'm a college student so i'm not trying to spend a ton of money, but if it would really make that big of a difference, I would go with the MKIII

post #4 of 21

At request of OP, I'll state my opinion shortly (oops got a bit carried away) in this thread as far as it is relevant to this thread:

Concerning the LD MkII: About a year ago, I wanted to find a nice tube amp for my Senn HD600s. Since I lived in Hong Kong at the time, I was able to audition quite a few amps, but thought that Chinese made amps would give me the best bang for the buck, while allowing me to test the build quality as well. Through my research here, I thought that I was basically looking for the LD MkII. At the shop, I restricted my choice (and my budget haha) to the LD 1+ (don't confuse it with the Mk I, which is a portable amp), the MkII, the MkIII, the MkIV (and IV SE) and the Darkvoice/La Figaro 332 (which was significantly more expensive at maybe 350-400 USD?). I didn't think the I+ offered any kind of improvement to the CDP (on the contrary possibly even), which admittedly probably already had quite a decent internal amp. The MkII offered better sound quality - cleaner sound and tube warmness, which I like :), but the build quality put me off a little. Admittedly, it was a demo model, but I think I remember a little paint chipping off and since I do consider aesthetics (which could be a possible indicator of internal build quality???) to be somewhat important, I was a bit disappointed. The LD MkIII on the other hand gave me the improved sound quality, but also IMO better soundstage and imaging and solid build quality. Even today, it looks just the same as the day I bought it although the volume knob may have come loose a bit. Mind you, I still have the old revision without switches for compatibility with other tubes but jumpers (I think). The Darkvoice (as I think it was called that time) was even lusher and more mellow, but I just couldn't justify double the price compared to the LD MkIII (the Darkvoice would have been more expensive than my HD600 :P). The IV I thought wasn't that big of an improvement to the MkIII and the IV SE was similar to the Darkvoice (little bit more detailed, but the Darkvoice was "tubier").

Overall, I thought the MkIII was the sweet spot in terms of price/performance ratio of the LD line-up and bought it for that reason. But as always, YMMV and that was my opinion a year ago and not even a fresh opinion/memory at that.

Concerning amps in general and amping with the HD650: In general, I am wary to suggest buying amps unless one knows his/her preferred sound signature and headphone since this was the "mistake" I made: Looking back, I would have been a lot happier with a Denon D5k instead of the HD600 and LD MkIII and both cost around the same, even though this review stated that the HD600 and the LD MkIII have good synergy: http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/309855/review-of-the-little-dot-mkiii-tube-headphone-amp-pre-amp (I agree in general by the way). My source output is a Xonar DX, which is a decent PC soundcard. At this point two caveats: the HD650 is a different phone, no matter how comparable it may seem to the HD600 and thus my opinion is strictly reserved for the HD600. The 650 is supposedly harder to drive. This leads to my second point: Harder to drive phones benefit more from good amping and compared to plugging in my HD600 directly into my soundcard, the tube amp adds a bit better soundstage and imaging as well as tube warmness which I like on the HD600 (and making the bass sound somewhat less punchy/analytical, i.e. Beyer DT880 bass if anyone knows what I mean haha) and many people will probably require for the HD650. BUT: the difference is only apparent in direct A/B comparison. If you let me listen to my phones amped or unamped on different days without me seeing, I would unlikely be able to tell the difference.

Concerning the HD650: I have only heard the HD650 with decent tube amps in the price range suited to the 650, namely the La Figaro 332S and 339 and also with the Beyerdynamic A1 (just because haha). From my impressions, the 650 can do amazing things with the proper choice of music and source. Otherwise, they do sound somewhat similar to the HD600 (fanboys don't flame me for that). So my wager is that the 650 may indeed be harder to drive, but also that a lot of people who end up with the 650 feel that it would only shine in comparison to the HD600 if coupled with a really good amp. Whether the same budget could be used to find a better combination is an altogether different question..


So, in conclusion, to answer OP's questions: I think the LD MkIII is a better choice of an amp than the MkII, and worth the 60$ more if you really want and need an amp and if the HD650 are definitely your "type". Otherwise, I'd recommend listening to more and other headphones, you never know... you might find *your* headphones somewhere else, as I did with the Denon D5k. Too bad I lack the budget at the moment..

Edited by feNcheL - 7/27/11 at 11:00am
post #5 of 21

I certainly agree that having the right headphone for your needs is more important that the amp which comes later in the picture usually. All your other headphones besides the HD650 can be used on the cheaper Little Dot 1+ which is a hybrid amp. Maybe it would be good to visit friends that may have other cans for you to try to reaffirm that the HD650 is good for your needs and take it from there.

Edited by john57 - 7/27/11 at 12:31pm
post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 

I already bought the HD650s used, can't return them, don't want to.  I like them, but now I just want to make them go all the way, you guys know what I mean?  Sure I could resell them for 300, and buy a pair of Denons or Beyers, but thats not what I want to. smily_headphones1.gif

post #7 of 21

Well, if you're already set, then honestly I wouldn't recommend anything beneath the LD MkIII. Already had a friend with more discerning ears than me tell me how bad my amp sounded compared to the La Figaro 339 or the LD MkVI. Also the Beyer A1 does sound nice evil_smiley.gif (though I've been told that even for an amp, it is overpriced)

EDIT: Oh yeah, and one word of caution, an amp should be matched to the headphone, so if you do realize you want something else, the amp might not work too well with the other headphone.

Edited by feNcheL - 7/27/11 at 1:13pm
post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 

Guess the MKIII it is... gonna be a few months so I can save up some for it, though! :D



Edited by DivergeUnify - 7/27/11 at 6:43pm
post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 

irrelevant post

Edited by DivergeUnify - 7/27/11 at 7:15pm
post #10 of 21

Personally I love the MKIII and HD650 combination. Also, tube rolling the MKIII is pretty inexpensive.


Admittedly, I haven't plugged in my 325's because i've been too lazy to set the gain control to the recommended position.

post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by PanamaRed View Post

Personally I love the MKIII and HD650 combination. Also, tube rolling the MKIII is pretty inexpensive.


Admittedly, I haven't plugged in my 325's because i've been too lazy to set the gain control to the recommended position.

try it out for me :D

post #12 of 21

I sat down today for about an hour and a half listening to the MKIII and 325is combination with a pair of CBS/Hytrons driving and Electro Harmonix 6H30pi powering.


I listened primarily to blues / rock / and jazz tracks all in FLAC. Here are a few of the tracks:


Duke Ellington - I've Got it Bad (And that ain't good)

Freddie King - Big Leg Woman

Scorpions - Wind of Change

Jeff Beck - Goodbye Pork Pie Hat

Steve Howe - Corkscrew

Jimi Hendrix - Bold as Love (the purely Instrumental version)


A quick comment: Setting the gain switches is not difficult at all, but a little bothersome for someone like myself. You have to unplug the unit for ten minutes and flip it over. The switches are reachable through oblong holes in the bottom of the amp. Not too hard, but not something i'd want to do more than once in a while.


Now as far as the sound...


In general I liked the combination. I felt like the soundstage of the 325is widened a little bit. The bass was tightened a bit. My only real gripe with the sound was that the timbre of steel frame guitars was off significantly.


With that said, i'm sure with a bit of tube rolling I could get the two to play even nicer. I definitely don't prefer the MKIII/325is combo over the MKIII/HD650 combination. However, I could see a person being happy with the MKIII powering both cans, so long as you are not bothered by moving the gain switches.

post #13 of 21

^What about setting the gain to 5? My Mine is running on gain 10 with the HD600, but I rarely go past the 9 o'clock position on the volume knob. Gain of 5 could be enough to drive both cans well enough?

post #14 of 21

The next gain setting I will try with my HD650's will be "5" (So i'll also give the 325is a shot as well).


The manual suggested a gain setting of "10" for low imp cans which I why I set it that way to test the grados. "10" was definitely better than "3" for the grados.



post #15 of 21

I have the Little DOt MKll and I have the gain set to 4 since that is more than enough for all my headphones including the Fostex 50RP which requires more current than the other headphones and still have enough range on the volume control. What helps me was that the DAC's that I am using are pro level balanced outputs into unbalanced RCA to my two Little dots. This also helps me to maintain good signal to noise ratio and makes the cables less subject to interference because the signal is stronger than customer level outputs. I just set the gain than works for me for all of my headphones(5) and leave it there.  David lately from Little Dot states just set the gain level that works the best for you.

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