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Need a Decent Amp Suggestion

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

My setup is:


Rega RP1 >> CA Azur 640P >> AMP >> BeyerDynamic DT770's.


I need a good amp for around $150-$400. 


Would be nice if it supported more than just headphone and could do speakers too (as I want to get a good pair of speakers down the road).

post #2 of 10
Thread Starter 

Shameless bump.


Saw mention of WooAudio, but their cheapest is 500 bucks. Not sure if I would get the most out of a $500 amp when my Rega was only $500 itself.


I should mention, I may be picking up some DT880's, so any amp that would go nicely with that as well would be good.

Edited by Pm@c - 10/4/11 at 11:08am
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

Not a single person has a suggestion for me?


I was looking at the LittleDot MK2 and MK3. Would anyone suggest either one over the other? Or something else entirely different.


I asked the guy I got my TT and pre amp from if he could get me a littledot mk2, and he says he doesnts get involved in cheap chinese crap.


Ive seen so many good reviews for the mk2, and the mk3, that I was a little surprised to here it called "cheap chinese crap".


Anyone? Any thoughts on whether I'd be happier with the MKIV perhaps?

Edited by Pm@c - 10/5/11 at 6:41am
post #4 of 10

Chinese audio components are a serious threat to upscale audio prices because the high end offers much better value and the low end, especially kits, can be truly remarkably cheap.  The new National Semiconductor overture series ICs, examples being the LME49990 and LME49600 really sound wonderfully musical when fed by a good DAC and these are now being incorporated into Chinese kits.


Driving speakers well requires much more power than headphones.  Stick with a headamp now if you want good sound and buy used US built speaker amps, for example, Aragon.


If you DIY, the ultra low distortion LME49600 PCB from Jim's Audio on eBay is easy to build and can be built with parts from Mouser and a power supply kit for less than $150.  The GB on DIYaudio for 'the wire' is closed or I would have recommended that.  If you prefer a discrete headamp try Jim's JC-2 full kit for less than $40.  I just built one and the sound is wonderful even driving HD600 cans.

post #5 of 10
Originally Posted by Pm@c View Post

Not a single person has a suggestion for me?


I was looking at the LittleDot MK2 and MK3. Would anyone suggest either one over the other? Or something else entirely different.


I asked the guy I got my TT and pre amp from if he could get me a littledot mk2, and he says he doesnts get involved in cheap chinese crap.


Ive seen so many good reviews for the mk2, and the mk3, that I was a little surprised to here it called "cheap chinese crap".


Anyone? Any thoughts on whether I'd be happier with the MKIV perhaps?

The crazy thing is, most of those non-Chinese pieces contain Chinese parts and in some instances, the entire thing has been built by a Chinese company on a contractual basis (Vincent comes to mind).


I personally think you'll get a better product most of the time if you buy an American/Euro/etc. DESIGNED product.  Casework is a big casualty in most Chinese equipment and in some instances, cheaper caps and switches are used (please don't lecuture me, some pieces from China just aren't that good).


But there are some good reliable companies out there such as Little Dot (plenty of happy people), Matrix, and Audio G-D.  Personally I think it's a great way to start and for some people the journey ends there.


I went on a mission recently to get an American/Euro/Japanese etc. designed product and ended up with the DACmini which IMO was well worth it.


Good luck.


Edited by roker - 10/5/11 at 7:46pm
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

I think Im gonna end up getting a MK3

post #7 of 10

After much reading/internet search, I ordered a Little Dot Mk III, and was VERY pleased with the build quality and sound! It took about 70-80 hours to burn in during which the bass got much better controlled, and detail improved across the board. I feed it with a Macbook pro, USB to a Beresford DAC. I have used it also as a tube buffer stage via the preamp out on my Outlaw RR receiver to my old, much loved Carver TFM-15 out to Klipsch speakers and the sound changed from quite good to stunning- the improvement in clarity and detail was simply amazing. I have been using the amp for 8 months without problems. On the lookout for new tubes now. 

post #8 of 10

My experience with "cheap Chinese crap" has been very positive! especially the Little Dot's. You're not going to get anything near to that kind of bang for buck from US or Europe. Simple as.


A year or two ago I think they got a reputation from sites such as this who exposed the components used in certain amps etc from China, but now you can find out exactly what is inside most hifi items as they will show detailed photos on Ebay with schematics. Do your research, look for reviews etc and If money is an object you WILL get better from places such as China, Hong kong.


Some of the prices here in the UK for similar products are quite simply outrageous!    



post #9 of 10
The reason you don't buy cheap Chinese stuff is because of the power supplies.

If the Chinese built to the same spec as good manufacturers, the prices would be about the same.

First, and most important, is the power transformer. When dealing with high voltages, trust name brand iron made by legitimate companies. I won't go into it here, but the laminations, windings and much else are very important. You do not want the cheap stuff. It might work for awhile, but it will eventually die. Good iron lasts for decades. And when you look at the potential risks, do you really want a product that shaves every last corner and squeezes every final cent? I'd rather pay an extra $40-$50 for something made by a legitimate company. Otherwise, you're just being a cheapskate willing to roll the dice for a few dollars. Would you buy mystery tires for your car to save a dollar? Same thing here.

You'll also find the chespest possible implementation of AC rectification. If they could spend an extra $2 to improve it, they wouldn't even think of it. Do you really want something that cheap?

The mantra around here is "how does it sound" and everyone wants to tuberoll. That's the wrong approach.

As for sound, most buyers have no idea what a good amp sounds like. They buy the cheapo and it sounds warm and they can get slighlty different sound from different tubes. Then they go on to proclaim that it is THE. BEST. EVAR. and that anything costing more is some kind of giant scam. Oh, and that rare NOS tubes costing 50% the price of the amp will cure everything.

That's BS. For one, the precious NOS tubes won't last as long as they should because the cheapo amp runs AC on the filaments. The average cheapo buyer has no idea what that means. It means that AC is stepped down off the transformer and fed to the filaments. AC is tough on the filaments and, further, causes the signal to vary. This is why cheapos don't sound as precise as a good amp.

It should be pointed out that rectifying filament AC into DC would cost only another $5 or so. Why don't they dpend the extra $5?

Because they're cheap amps that shave every last possible cost out of the amp.

Similarly, the power supplies are so thoroughly cheapened that you get some AC ripple injected into the B+. The solution there is to use large filtering caps and chokes. You might want a tube rectifier and maybe regulation to really nail down the voltage.

Why aren't those there? Again, shaving every last possible cost to make the cheapest possible product.

You can hear this, too. It's why the amps sound warm and fuzzy. B+ goes directly into the signal and fuzzes it out, along with the other fuzz from running AC on the filaments.

We could get into the cheapness of PCBs and how easily they're damaged and how difficult they are to repair. Point-to-point is the correct, and traditional, way to handle high voltages and high temperatures.

And yet again, the reason PCBs are used is because they are the absolute cheapest way to build.

Are you beginning to understand?

The reason good amps cost money is because most of them build the correct way and use parts that really should be there.

Cheap amps are cheap because they strip out the stuff that really should be there.

A lot of "but it sounds good" arguments are sure to turn up. But cheap amps are cheap and not worth your money.

Instead, buy solid state. No sexy tubes, but they do not run on high voltage, so you can use inexpensive transformers and use inexpensive parts for rectification and regulation. Without high power and high heat, a PCB is appropriate. Some do generate heat, but it's cheap and easy to heatsink a chip. There are no heatsinks you can thermally bond to a tube.

If you want a cheap tube amp, the best way to go is DIY. $300-$400 of parts will get you something that is built correctly and does not cut corners.
post #10 of 10

Completely hear what you are saying and I would have agreed 100% a few year ago. Some of the reviews for budget dacs and amps recently from China that I've read from DIY reviewers have been very promising and they have shown how every part of the process has been quality, I have an example below.




Now compare something like that to what you get with one of the main maufactuers in the U.K, Creek. or Project Box The OBH21 for e.g. Terrible power supply (used to be good with the bulky OB1 but they repaced it with a world voltage friendly high production line crap one, and an amp that could be made for a fraction of what you pay- take a look inside one. I got the Creek OBH21SE which cost me £250 and it lasted 2 weeks before the noise floor of the amp drove me crazy, it also picked up every mobile phone signal in my street... now that can't have anything to do with bad soldering, just bad design.


What a company such as Little dot offers newbies is a fun way of dicovering your own SQ preferences, ofcourse they are'nt going to sound as good as high end tube equipment, but take my LD1+ for e.g. After I had fun trying all the different tube types and opamp variations I can now say without a doubt that it blows both the Creek amps out of the water in every area. It's a very reliable amp. £60 for LD and £30 for tubes etc or £250? for a solid state that has a sound that you are stuck with and with no scope to improve it apart from forking out for a better power supply that should have came with it in the first place.


(not having a go at you Uncle eric (complete respect) - I think this is a good argument thats all, I also think its a wake up call to the british manufactuers to start lowering their prices!)


What was that Mr Andrews...?? wink_face.gif






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