Little Dot MKIII for Alessandro MS2i - worth it?
Nov 22, 2008 at 1:40 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 10

Bat King

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Hey all! First off, I'm relatively new to audiohphilia, so please bear with me....

I'm currently running my MS2i from my laptop with an iBasso D2 Boa as DAC/Amp. However, I have a pair of Grado SR80 which I pulled out of the draw last week after a few months of ignoring (haven't really used them since I got the Alessandro), and I was surprised - I can't really tell a whole lot of difference between the two using the iBasso. I can hear a difference in the highs (SR80 definitely more aggressive), and the soundstage is a little wider with the MS2i but can't hear much difference at all in the mids or bass.

Since the MS2i have such a great reputation sonically, I thought that it must be because it needs a sturdier amp. I've been looking at the Little Dot MKIII, since I've been keen to experiment with tubes, and it seems like a great starter amp. I've also been considering picking up a pair of senns (600 or 650) soon, and I understand that the MKIII won't exactly make them sing, but it will be able to drive both them and the MS2.

However, I had trouble finding any information regarding the LD MKIII/MS2 pairing. I was wondering, is anyone using this combination? Will it give me a sufficient improvement over the iBasso to warrant the extra $200? I'm itching to pull the trigger, but that blessed angel on my shoulder is staying my hand for now.
 
Nov 22, 2008 at 2:34 PM Post #2 of 10

Seba

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My MKIV SE and MS-Pro sounds absolutely beautiful. MKIV SE may lack some power with Grados compared to SS or hybrid but it warms up the sound slightly but still maintains clear presentation.

My advice: go for it and start some tube-rolling to adjust the sound to your liking
smily_headphones1.gif
 
Nov 22, 2008 at 3:06 PM Post #3 of 10

Feather225

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Seba /img/forum/go_quote.gif
My MKIV SE and MS-Pro sounds absolutely beautiful. MKIV SE may lack some power with Grados compared to SS or hybrid but it warms up the sound slightly but still maintains clear presentation.

My advice: go for it and start some tube-rolling to adjust the sound to your liking
smily_headphones1.gif



DEF agree, you cannot always use the same portable amp anyways, get some tubes, thats the way to go. Sure it will make a difference between your MS2i and SR80...

Does it worth $200 extra? the answer differs from person to person...some people recable for $400 and it only improves 1-5% sound quality of their headphone... ...no idea...
 
Nov 22, 2008 at 3:40 PM Post #4 of 10

tintin47

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Bat King /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Hey all! First off, I'm relatively new to audiohphilia, so please bear with me....

Since the MS2i have such a great reputation sonically, I thought that it must be because it needs a sturdier amp. I've been looking at the Little Dot MKIII, since I've been keen to experiment with tubes, and it seems like a great starter amp. I've also been considering picking up a pair of senns (600 or 650) soon, and I understand that the MKIII won't exactly make them sing, but it will be able to drive both them and the MS2.



It will sound great. I have not heard the MS2s on the LD, but I have heard 325i, and it powers them nicely. HOWEVER, if the MS2 is your only or primary can, I would recommend getting an amp that is designed more for phones with a low impedance. The LD will work and it will work nicely, but an amp that puts out more current would probably do you better for just the MS2s. I can't think of any off the top of my head, but Ill edit this if I find some. Welcome to head-fi.

EDIT: I think that one of the Little Dot Mk I or I+ is designed for low impedance cans. Best part: it is a hybrid so you can still do some tube rolling. Check the LD website at little-tube.com and go to the product listing thread in the amp forum.
 
Nov 22, 2008 at 4:07 PM Post #5 of 10

Bat King

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Thanks for the help all!

I think at the moment I'd rather get an amp that is a better all-rounder, than a dedicated amp for the MS2. I'm keen to try out a lot of different cans to decide on a sound I want to stick with.

The LD I+ is advertised as driving 8-600ohms, which sounds great for the cans I currently have, but will it hinder me in my later purchases (e.g senn HD6xx)? I'm assuming the MKIII would have more juice for higher-impedance cans.

Also, any recommendations for tubes for MS2?
 
Nov 22, 2008 at 4:53 PM Post #6 of 10

Seba

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Yes the LD I+ has more mW's for 32 ohms but that's not the whole truth. My "lesser" MKIV SE has way better SQ when I+ sounds a bit hard and aggressive. And I've never run out of steam with Grado's from MKIV SE, only with AKG K340's though.
 
Nov 22, 2008 at 5:38 PM Post #7 of 10

hypoicon

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I think that my Little Dot MK III drives my Grado RS-1s just fine, and matches fairly perfectly. Low impedance loads are not a problem at all for it. The difference between it and my Ibasso D3 are staggering-- I only use the portable when I need, well, a portable.
 
Nov 22, 2008 at 6:39 PM Post #8 of 10

Mecc

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Source upgrade! Crap in, crap out.

It looks like you're trying not to spend too much. Some options to look at...

Portable: Pico with dac $509 shipped. I'm still waiting for mine. Justin said that they should ship before the end of the year, but that was two weeks ago. He also has a dac only option coming out, dunno when.

Quote:

Originally Posted by justin w. /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I can guarantee any Pico ordered will ship before the end of the year


Apogee Duet. $500. Actually don't know to much on this.

Cambridge Dac Magic. ~$400. This DAC doesn't have headphone out though.

Cheap zero dac/amp with about 800 pages to read. ~$150

Check out the source section

The pico is a portable option, so I'd imagine the Dac magic or other desktop sized ones to be a better value (SQ for $). Really depends on parts, preferences and synergy. Buying used will also save you money.

I have the I+, MK III, MK VI. The I+ and III do an ok job with the HD650. Nothing special. Better (detail, seperation and background) than the x-can v3 I was using prior. Waiting for my cables to try out the MK VI. My dac is a Stello DA100 sig. The problem is that after I got my GS1000, I stopped thinking highly of my HD650. I have the old and new 650, the HD580 as well.

The I+ drives my Grado GS1000 (32 ohm) pretty well for the most part. Did some tube rolling, had some fun results. As I said in the last paragraph, I don't think the I+ or III drives the 650 well enough to wow me. I have a fairly decent HT setup (~$7-8k spent), so it's somewhat hard to wow me. I imagine that the HD650 require monster amps to sound really good. Woo 6 SE, Zana Deux, Single Power, etc, but that's when you have thousands to spend. I have not heard any of those and I'm not sure if I'll try them. Then there's the whole single end vs balanced stuff. Electrostats are calling out to me. Factoring in price, I'd say the MK III does a pretty good job. The III drives the GS1000 just as well as the I+ (both at lowest gain), but I think the I+ is cleaner sounding. I'm using Mullard M8161 for both amps. Stock power tubes and opamps. It's very fun playing with this stuff and you can see how it ends up costing an arm...

I'm in the same boat as you. Trying out lots of phones. Denon AH-D7000 are next on my list.

Head-direct is running a sale on their EF1 hybrid amp for one week. They've gotten great reviews, and I wonder if there is a better amp at the $300 range, let alone sub $500. I bit. People are reporting good results with a variety of phones, including the Senns, but I really think you should be looking at a source upgrade before getting an amp.

I've compared the Stello to my daps (Cowon X5L, A3, Ipod touch) and was disgusted with my daps when I connected them all to external amps. I know the comparison isn't fair, but this shows how important the source is. All my music is lossless. I suggest you use lossless if you aren't already.

Not sure about how the ibasso D2 would sound as a preamp to the MK III or just in general. I think the source is more important than the amp, but there are people who feel the opposite.
 
Nov 22, 2008 at 8:54 PM Post #9 of 10

Bat King

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Thanks for the tips, Mecc!

I agree, the source is also an important factor. After a lot of browsing on the forums, I decided that I'd go for an amp first, using the D2 as a DAC until I could afford a dedicated desktop one. I mainly use FLAC format on the laptop, and I'm also planning to add a turntable to my system in the near future, so I'm trying to avoid the DAC until I decide I really need it.

I gathered that DAC/Amps should be avoided unless totally necessary, and while the pico seems fantastic for a portable, I got the impression that I can do better for my dollars in terms of a desktop setup.

The EF-1 certainly sounds interesting. Is there a particular advantage to having a single driver tube, as opposed to two? I'm not particularly well-versed in the technology. I'm still keen to do some tube-rolling.
 
Dec 17, 2008 at 8:31 AM Post #10 of 10

Dept_of_Alchemy

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The LD I+ seems to fit the bill nicely. Compared to the RA-1 driving my MS2-i I would prefer the RA-1 but then again the RA-1 costs 3 times as much as the LD I+. That said, the I+ is amazing value and I could happily live with it.
 

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