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Desktop Amps item created by 4L3X, May 11, 2010
Pros - Looks, build, sound quality, cost
Cons - None yet
I brought this headphone amp after reading many different reviews and after having a good experience with a cheaper valve amp (Bravo Audio Ocean) and dissapointments with solid state amps up to $350US.
The Amp straight out of the box sounded quite bright with my Audio Technica ATH-A700 and ATH -AD700 and Beyerdynamics BT880 (600 ohm) but within a few hours of burn in it had started to give that smoother tube sound that I prefer.
I am not running any top end equipment through this as I sold all my HIFI gear a few years ago when the kids arrived. I am currently just running a cowon S9 and J3 through the unit with MP3 files (320 bit rate) and Flac files direct from headphone output as these players do not have line out. I also have my muscial fidelity A3 CD player hooked up on occasion which is the last of my hi fi days but find the limitation of one CD not worth the effort for the increase in sound quality.
I mainly listen to blues, blues rock and acoustic music and while I have read numerous threads and opinions regarding the value of doing this type of set up and the many views this is a waste of time - all I can say is that from my perspective the sound experience through the amp vs direct from the cowon is completely different (cowon on the BT880 is very low volume due to impedance) and worth every cent
The other fun bit is the ability to tube roll on the little dot - have not done this yet but had some fun with by Bravo Audio Ocean changing things around.
The only thing I have found a bit different is that the volume level needs to be at 3 oclock for normal sound volume on high impedance headphones - not that this is a problem - full volume is cystal clear and louder than i would ever use. Compare this to my Bravo Audio ocean and the volume does not get past 12 oclock
After many hours of listening I have come to the conclusion this little dot amp loves the high impedance headphones and the Bravo audio ocean loves anything you throw at it.
I have had many Cmoy headphone amps and larger solid state amps and my only 2 tube ones beat all the rest hands down.
Thanks to all the reviews comments and advice people have on these forums as they all give you somthing to agree or disagree with or advice - at the end of the day its what each of us personally think that counts - for me this is a winner amp at a value price ( so is the Bravo Audio Ocean if you can't afford the little dot)
Pros - Sound quality, cost, cool factor
Cons - None to date
I bought this on a recent trip to China (well, when in China do what the Chinese do and buy a valve headphone amp!) after doing some online research. This is my first valve amp but I already owned a Graham Slee headphone amp.
The amp out of the box gives off a good first impression. It is well built and feels solid. The instructions are adequate without ever feeling comprehensive but hey, what do you need to know? Stick the leads in this end and the phones in that and away you go! It is a little bigger than the photos suggested it was but by no means bulky. The volume dial has a good weight to it and the whole thing feels quality.
Once I got it home and installed in my system it was time to see just how good it was. I have done all my listening so far with my trusty HD600s. The impact was immediate. Compared to the Graham Slee amp (which I rate very highly but in a different way) the sense of space and air was amazing. The amp did not need much running in as it had been on display in the shop so I was listening to a more mature presentation from the off. Listening to acoustic material brought more pluck to the guitar and breath to the voices. I could hear Mr Garfunkel standing beside Mr Simon in more focus and almost see the guitar strings being twanged. It was altogether a more relaxed presentation. Moving to more electronic music did reveal slightly less sharp bass and maybe a lack of really deep notes but nothing that was detracting from the overall flow of the music.
I have listened to a wide variety of music styles now through the LD Mk IV and think that acoustic definitely benefits the most. But even the odd Krautrock classic benefited and the new Ultravox album sounded very silky.
I have purchased some higher quality valves than the unit came with (mostly on the advice of others on this forum - thank you to those who have set their research out and offered their advice) so I hope that I can get more improvements in due course. So far I am very pleased and for such a modest outlay! Bargain of the century for me so far.