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Looking for input from Grado users.

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

I own a pair of RS-1 and want to purchase an amp, I was considering the MAD ear+, but after reading forums it seems that the Little Dot I+ is a popular match for grados.  At around $100 it is very affordable, should I pull the trigger on it or wait to save up for that MAD ear+?  I can't listen to either, so I am looking for input from those who have heard one or both.  Will I get $600 of greater sound from the MAD ear+ or will the LD I+  make my ears as happy as my wallet?

post #2 of 21

Hey there

I currently own the LDI+ and I could say a bit about it but don't know much about the MAD ear since its way out of my league. LDI+ is definitely designed for Grados especially when you do some tube and opamp rolling, you get exactly what you want from your music. Different tubes and opamps could match your preference in music. And depending on your needs, I would actually get the LDI+ and whatever money is left, invest in a decent dac, doesn't matter if its a dedicated or with preamp, your grados will sound fantastic thats for sure!

post #3 of 21

I've had the Grado RS1 with MAD EAR HD but not heard the LDI+.  If you are the kind to be happy/content with what you got, than I'd say save your money on a decent dac but if you're the kind to want to upgrade or to wonder what all the fuss is about the MAD EAR and it's magical synergy with Grado's than I'd say wait and save some money and get the MAD EAR HD.



post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 

Has anyone used both of these amps?  I could really use the perspective of someone who has listened to both and can advise whether the difference is worth the money, not to say I don't appreciate everyone else's input.

post #5 of 21

Hello benny...


I own both and have for a while.  First, as sling pointed out- What is your source? (laptop, ipod, dac, cdp etc...)...If you're using a laptop/pc, an external dac is the way to go. 


In reference to the amps:


LDI+---Three families of tubes (EF95, EF91/EF92 & 408A).  It's a hybrid amp.  Great with Grados and low impedance cans.


Mapletree--- Tubes-  12B4A x2, 5751, 12AX7, 7025.  Great with both low impedance and high impedance cans (two headphone outs, hi & lo)


I can honestly say that I love 'em both and don't see myself parting with either.  In terms of tube rolling, the I+ is a lot of fun and lots of tubes are inexpensive.  With the Mapletree I have settled on the 7025s and they are some great tubes and great sound indeed.  However, prices tend to go up on them.


In reference to- "Will I get $600 of greater sound from the MAD ear+ or will the LD I+  make my ears as happy as my wallet? """


Well, that's a tough one because everything is subjective in this hobby.  Both sound great, as long as your "chain" is in order.  The MAD will give you more options for the future if you get high impedance cans, whereas the I+ is limited to low impedance (I don't go over 75ohm cans with it).


I don't like to advise folks on how to spend their $, because, again, subjectivity is a big issue.  I will say that you can't go wrong with either and both will give you your money's worth.


If I was in your shoes and had 700 beans right now, I'd go for the Mapletree and give them RS1's some MAD love....However, if I had 150 beans right now and that was it, I'd jump on that I+ and enjoy it, roll some tubes and opamps and after a while if your curiosity gets the best of you, then you take it from there.


Some pics I took last year while I was moving some gear around---





A-GD DAC-19DSP & NFB-3 & C-2 & Mapletree Ear+ HD.JPG



LD I+ & uDac & RS1.jpg



post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 

Forgive my ignorance, but what are opamps?

post #7 of 21
Originally Posted by bennyhaha812 View Post

Forgive my ignorance, but what are opamps?


An operational amplifier ("op-amp") is a DC-coupled high-gain electronic voltage amplifier with a differential input and, usually, a single-ended output.[1] An op-amp produces an output voltage that is typically hundreds of thousands times larger than the voltage difference between its input terminals.[2] 



Good thread here about opamp rolling the I+









post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the info!  I pulled the trigger on the Little Dot I+ today with the Western Electric 408a tubes.  Also ordered a National Semiconducter LM4562 opamp to drop into it once it gets here!  I figure this will be a good start.DSC_2341.JPG

post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 

I have one more question.  I currently am putting my music on an ipod from my pc to listen to with my headphones.  Once I get my amp, should I continue to go from the ipod to the amp?  I currently using an x-fi sound card that came with my Foxconn Bloodrage motherboard, but I have an x-fi Platinum with the front panel as well.  Most of my files are Apple Lossless audio or FLAC, and I am not sure about the external DAC.  I think I will get one at some point soon, just not sure how I would go from my source (PC) through the chain.  Thanks.

post #10 of 21

Definitely get a Dac.  Udac-2 if you're tight on a buget, Music Streamer II is another budget Dac option.  Both on Amazon.

post #11 of 21

Congratz benny,


In reference to the soundcard, I can't advise on that.  I'm an external dac guy.  Does not hurt to try the outputs on card, however, better sound can be attained externally.  I connect my ipods (lossless) all the time to the I+.  As long as you connect through line-out, not headphone out.




iPod 5G & LD I+ & SR225.jpg




DV 336SE & iPod 5G (Ped3) (#2).jpg

post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 

Nice!  I guess I will  go from the Ipod for the time being.  So by the looks of your photos, I need a dock or a line out to rca plugs?  When I do get a DAC, do I just connect that to my pc with a USB to get my files?

post #13 of 21



In the pics with my Darkvoice, I'm running an RCA to ipod connector cable.  Purchased from RAM




My wooden dock has RCA & 1/8" mini.  So I run RCA cables to I+ to dock.  (dock purchased from ALOAudio).


In reference to the dac, that is correct.  You run usb input (or if your card has optical or coax out) to dac, then connect I+ to dac (RCA).



post #14 of 21

I was just reading the thread and wanted to say--Have Fun, your on your way to some seriously good music listening. All of the above folks gave you excellent advice, DAC's can be pricey and get up there pretty fast once you break down your wants and needs. If I was starting out again I'd get a Nuforce Udac, they are like $129 and offer a lot in a little convenient package..that way you get a taste of what your tunes can sound like and while you enjoying your new setup read as much as you can about DAC's they are a unique animal, I use a Grant Fidelity $200 Tube DAC-09 and I'm waiting on the Schiit audio Bifrost to ship me the one I ordered when they are released. I'm on soc. sec. so money is tight and there are a ton of really good budget priced items that why I say to research your next move or you'll end up chasing a sound you don't know how to get and buy piece after piece-I see it all the time. Get a DAC at first that will do 24/96 files with USB so you can check out hi-rez and be able to hear it correctly..the Udac does that.....I'm not affiliated with Nuforce its just my thought.......above all have a ball, I do everyday since I started at this 2 years ago.....its a blast!!!!dt880smile.png

post #15 of 21

Nice stuff you have the HeatFan, and terrific suggestions. I have had an I+ for a while now and while I like it... I keep thinking I could be missing something with the Mapletree. I have a set of Symphone's Magnums on the way and want to make sure I get the most from them. :-)

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