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Little Dot MK 9 - Has anyone tried it?

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 

As the title says; does anyone have any experience with the Little Dot MK9? Looks like a versatile amp.

post #2 of 31

I also am looking forward to hearing what folks think of this model.  As a MKIVse owner I have no intentions to buy one, but I would be interested nonetheless.

post #3 of 31

I received mine this Monday. So far, I'm very happy - but I have to say that I'm completely new to tube amps, so I suppose I can't really contribute much that would be of help to readers here.

 

I'm (currently) using it with a Blue Circle USB Thingee to listen to FLACs on my MacBook at work. (I'm planning to upgrade to a DAC that can play files at higher bit-rates soon.) My headphones are vintage DT 990s. I suppose they are the 600 ohm version - I have to turn up the volume to about 80% to reach a comfortable level of loudness with most sound files.

 

Given my lack of experience, I can't say much about sound quality; I also haven't done any serious comparisons yet. There's a very clear improvement of the soundstage when compared to the audio-out of my MacBook - but that's to be expected. Listening to some recordings I know very well, I repeatedly had the feeling that I'm hearing some tiny detail that I hadn't noticed before - but maybe I'm just listening more carefully now. I also have the feeling that after a few days of use, the high notes in certain recordings have developed a slightly harsher characteristic - not totally displeasing but not great either ("shrill" is too negative - just a tad too much). It'll be interesting to see (well, hear...) whether that impression will change again after further use.

 

The amp arrived at my door in Germany 50 hours after it had been picked up in Hong Kong - over a weekend. Nice! Packing was fine - the tubes were packed separately and did not come mounted to the amp, as I think was the case with some earlier versions of LD amps. In fact, a mail from David at Little Dot also suggests that this is a new procedure - he wrote that it was normal for tubes to move slightly during transport and obviously wasn't aware of the way the tubes were packed for this model. 

 

During use, the whole body of the amp gets very hot - but I've been told that this is normal for a class A amp. The unit also emits a fairly low hum - not through the headphones, though, so it just seems to be the basic "noise" level during operation. If that sounds fishy to anyone here, please let me know.

 

If there are any specific questions, I'll try and answer them of course...

 

Sebastian

post #4 of 31
Thread Starter 

Hey, thanks for the reply. I'm guessing your amp is still burning in. I think the hum your hearing is from the power transformer. I've got a DAC that does it as well. Have you used the pre-amp function yet?

post #5 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by sebhoff View Post

...I have to turn up the volume to about 80% to reach a comfortable level of loudness with most sound files.

...

Really nice to hear your first impressions, Sebhoff.

Does the amp has any gain switches on the bottom as the others Little Dot amps? If it has, you can switch to a higher gain when using high impedance headphones.
post #6 of 31
post #7 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jasper9395 View Post
 

Hey, thanks for the reply. I'm guessing your amp is still burning in. I think the hum your hearing is from the power transformer. I've got a DAC that does it as well. Have you used the pre-amp function yet?

 

No - I'm afraid I haven't. And I don't think I will any time soon. From what I understand, the LD amps are not suitable as phono pre-amps, and that's the only use I would have.

 

The hum is not a major issue - but during very low passages in the music, I can hear it. So I guess that's not ideal...

post #8 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaDD0G View Post

Does the amp has any gain switches on the bottom as the others Little Dot amps? If it has, you can switch to a higher gain when using high impedance headphones.

 

Mhm - no, I can't see anything on the bottom of the amp that would look like a switch. But it came with a few small plastic thingies that look like hard-disk jumpers to me. I suppose they might be used for changing the gain settings? Any hints from other LD MK 9 owners?

 

The amp was delivered with a 2-page manual - in Chinese. ;) 

post #9 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by sebhoff View Post

Mhm - no, I can't see anything on the bottom of the amp that would look like a switch. But it came with a few small plastic thingies that look like hard-disk jumpers to me. I suppose they might be used for changing the gain settings? Any hints from other LD MK 9 owners?

The amp was delivered with a 2-page manual - in Chinese. wink.gif  

These "small plastic thingies" supposed to jumpers, that are used for tube rolling. At least, they were on the previous Little Dot models, such as MKIII and MKIV.
post #10 of 31
Thread Starter 

I didn't mean as a phono pre, you can use it as a normal pre-amp with a power amp. This is part of the reason I am thinking of buying a little dot because I will be able to use it as a headphone amp and in my speaker setup.

 

"The Little Dot MK 9 can also be used as a pre-amp with all power amps as it incorporates a "zero servo" tracking circuit to ensure the the DC level is 0." - Little dot site

post #11 of 31

Yes - I understand. As I indicated, I'm not really experienced in all of this. At the moment, I only see the need for a phono pre-amp in my set-up - which I already have. Or am I missing anything obvious?

I'm getting more and more concerned about the hum that the LD emits. If I hear it during low passages in the music, it kind of defeats the purpose of having a high-quality low-noise headphone amp, doesn't it?

 

Sebastian

post #12 of 31

Very nice looking amp! Would like to hear some comparisons between the 9 and the IV SE. 

post #13 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by sebhoff View Post
 

Yes - I understand. As I indicated, I'm not really experienced in all of this. At the moment, I only see the need for a phono pre-amp in my set-up - which I already have. Or am I missing anything obvious?

I'm getting more and more concerned about the hum that the LD emits. If I hear it during low passages in the music, it kind of defeats the purpose of having a high-quality low-noise headphone amp, doesn't it?

 

Sebastian

do u have other tubes? .. try swapping... some tubes humm on my tube amp too, and the hum goes away with certain combos.

post #14 of 31

Well - I'm pretty sure the hum comes out of the black box behind the tubes. Or does that depend on the tubes, too? I don't have any other tubes yet - this is my first tube amp. ;)

 

Sebastian


Edited by sebhoff - 11/10/13 at 8:34am
post #15 of 31

I've now heard from David at Little Dot who writes that "it's normal as all toroidal transformers have some level of mechanical hum from operation". Mhm - I'm still a little surprised. I guess I'll need longer headphone cables so that I can put the amp further away from me... :confused:

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