Little Dot MK IV

Zortven

New Head-Fier
Pros: Huge scene
A lot of details
Overall build and sound quality
Cons: For some might be too gently
LittleDot MK IV is a tube headphone amplifier that can also work as a preamplifier. It is priced at 499$.

Sound quality
8.5/10

Build quality
9/10

Price
9.5/10




Packaging




The Little Dot comes in a standard, brown box where you can find our amp, standard RCA cables and a power cord. It is a nice gesture, but I instantly changed interconnects for aftermarket ones.

Build quality

MK IV is pretty light for its dimensions, only 3,5kg but still handcrafting remains on a high level. The whole device is really solid, rubber feet are easily holding Little Dot in the selected place, but moving without pulling up can leave some traces on the table.
The potentiometer is working smoothly, with sufficient resistance, but it is not completely quiet, there is audible noise. I think it can be fixed simply with oiling.

Efficiency

Honestly, I don't know if there are some headphones that MK IV won't drive properly, except some beasts like Kennerton Odin. All it needs is synergy, so take a look at the paragraph below and you will know if it's an amplifier for you.

Sound

Little Dot MK IV is a very interesting tube amplifier when it comes to the sound. It is delicately warmed, very great detailed and gently softened, there's no sharpness, no sibilances. Pure analog sound which is IMO really comfy to listen to.

The bass is slightly warmed up, might be slowed down for some, though I’d say it’s very fluid, raises up with a delicate manner and so falls down, without any slug. I loved it with Michael Kiwanuka on my Fyne F500, that's a really great preamp for them

The midrange is again slightly warmed, with very juicy... basically everything, it is all calm and full of life in one second. Honestly, I haven't heard anything which sounded bad.


Treble is the most recessed part of the frequency range, it is really smooth and kind. I wish it could be more detailed and a little brighter.


I really love the possibilities of Little Dot MK IV to project the soundstage. It is really high, wide and deep. Usually, the main topic is kinda close, moved delicately to the front, when the rest of the sound can go really far away and surprise the listener with it. Imaging is awesome, every direction and distance is precisely formed. Because of that MK IV is also a perfect companion for gaming!

Summary

Little Dot MK IV is a very surprising amplifier, I really thought it will be worse. I felt in love with it, thanks to the soundstage and this analog sound. It can easily drive most headphones available on the market. But remember, it is a totally different playstyle than THX amps, so if they were too boring, cruel and bright that may be the amp for you. Definitely recommended for this sound signature fans.



Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as accompanying equipment:


  • Headphones– Philips Fidelio X2HR, Sennheiser HD598, Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro, Sivga Phoenix, Monolith 1570, Audeze LCD-3
  • DACs and AMPs– SMSL SP200, Topping DX3 Pro, Topping D50s, SMSL M500, iFi iCAN Pro

Remember to visit us at ear-fidelity.com!
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tonyc2468

Head-Fier
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)
 

RevC

New Head-Fier
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.
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juanbarake1
juanbarake1
Hi!!! i am planing to go to china and get my self one of this! could you pleas tel me where can i get it?? witch city?, store?? if you could addres??... or where could i find it!!
thank you!!1!
RevC
RevC
Juanbarake
I went to the Fanmusic store in Shenzhen. Sorry I can't remember the name of the exact location but it was a 6 storey electronics store with hi-fi at the top. Look up Shenzhen Audio online.
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