M-Stage vs MKIII
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logicalform

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Hi,
Soon to be buying K702s and an amp. I think I've narrowed it down to two choices: Matrix M-Stage and Little Dot MKIII. Can't decide between the two (or tubes and SS in general). Any ideas? I own a udac already.
 
Thanks for any help. 
 
Edit: Also own SR80s which I'm interested in continuing to use. 
 
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acticulated

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Now, I'm not going to say that the M-stage can power the K702s adequately as they are a very hungry phone (less so than the k701s in my experience but still pretty hungry). But I will say that if you're wanting to continue using your sr-80s then the gain switch on the m-stage being more accessible than the gain switch(es) on the LD3 could be important. On the M-stage the lo vs. hi gain switch is right there on the front panel.
As you can see on this page of pictures of the LD3 and it's internals: http://www.littledot.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=815    You have to open the case of the LD3 in order to switch the gain.
You'll see "GAIN SW1" and "GAIN SW2" printed in white on the pcb next to the little red boxes with white switches in the 5th, 8th, 9th, 10th pictures on the page if i counted correctly.
I'm not saying you'll have to do this every time you switch from the akgs to the grados but you might have to do it multiple times if you have a little trouble finding the right gain setting so that the AKGs aren't too quiet and the grados aren't too loud. Where the sweet spot is depends on a number of factors, including your source. The LD3 does not use a stepped attenuator so there might be a tiny but perceptible channel imbalance (where the left channel will be a little louder than the right channel or vice versa) at low gain. Which is all the more reason to make sure you get the gain right.
To address your question about the different technologies, I haven't heard the stock LD3 but in my experience solid state is generally a better value at the entry price range if you're not prepared to tube roll. I've liked the m-stage and lovely cube that i've heard (wish i could have compared them to a real lehmann at the time) and I would be leaning towards that, but there are a lot of happy LD3 owners out there, so I would say you can't go wrong either way. If you don't mind replacing tubes eventually, or the prospect of tube rolling sounds exciting to you, then I'd say this draw is a win-win as both are great amps for the price, and the AKG K70Xs that I've heard had good synergy with tube amps that I've heard.
 
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pp312

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Quote:
 On the M-stage the lo vs. hi gain switch is right there on the front panel.
 
 
Is it? I have one and mine's underneath.

 
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acticulated

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Quote:
Quote:
 On the M-stage the lo vs. hi gain switch is right there on the front panel.
 

 

Is it? I have one and mine's underneath.


 
 
And so it is! I must have been thinking of the input selector switch, which is on the front panel (either that or I've just made that much more of a fool of myself). Thanks for the correction pp312! I haven't owned an m-stage, just a couple auditions. Either way, my point stands, it's easier to select gain on the m-stage than on the LD3 for users who may not be comfortable opening their cases.
 
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logicalform

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Thanks for the input, guys. It does seem like the M-Stage will be easier to adjust the gain on. I would definitely be willing to tube roll, though, so the hassle of the little dot still might be worth it. Do you think the AKGs would benefit from a little tube warmth or would the extra juice from the M-Stage be more of a benefit?
 
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john57

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No, on the Little Dot MKIII(3) (3) you can change the gain switches and tube jumpers using the slots on the bottom of the case without having to remove the bottom cover. On the Little Dot 1+ and the MKII(2) you do have to remove the bottom half cover to gain access to the gain and tube jumpers.
 
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logicalform

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No, on the Little Dot MKIII(3) (3) you can change the gain switches and tube jumpers using the slots on the bottom of the case without having to remove the bottom cover. On the Little Dot 1+ and the MKII(2) you do have to remove the bottom half cover to gain access to the gain and tube jumpers.

Aaaand, back to square one...
 
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logicalform

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Forgetting about convenience, gain switches, etc., any opinions on the best choice in terms of sound? 
 
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acticulated

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Sorry for the misinformation. I promise I mean well, but I'll defer to the owners from here on.
 
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Omnirai

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I am interested as well - looking to get K70x and amping K70x is just such a confusing venture to research on,
 
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john57

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What I find in Hybrid tube amps and SS amps was that the choice of op-amp in the amp can make as much of a difference as trying a different tube. At least with the Matrix M-Stage  the op-amp is in a socket and can be changed to a op-amp that is
more to your taste.
 
http://www.headfonia.com/matrix-m-stage-class-a-biasing/ 
 
There are Hybrid tube amps that can give crazy amounts of power like the Schiit Lyr but it is a bit of a overkill for my needs and the fixed internal high level gain of 10 would not work in my custom setup but I am sure it would sound great and uses the 6DJ8 family type of tubes which has been my old favorite in the past.
 
In my experience pick the right headphones for your needs as first priority, your source second and the the amp third. I used to have three AKG 240's in the past and I worn them out. My old AKG's were very conformable for my needs.
 
Tubes generally gives a bigger sound stage and smoother sound but there are exceptions to this rule just like with SS amps.
 
 
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logicalform

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@John57: Thanks for the info!
 
Anybody with direct comparison experience? I've heard the Matrix has good synergy with the K70x, but I'm definitely interested in tubes for a little warmth. Which way should I go?
 
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2real

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I'm no expert, so take my opinion with a grain of salt, but have you thought about an Hybrid?
 
I got a Trendsaudio PA-10GE for my K702's and It really sounds great.
Not the absolute best built quality, but it's pretty decent, has more then enough juice for the 702, not expensive and tube rolling worked wonders on it.
 
Just an idea.  
 
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Xymordos

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I tried both with a k701. For me I preferred the larger soundstage in the m-stage. Both of them are warm amps, and the MKIII was warmer in my memory. IMO they were pretty similar, the mkIII was better in the mids than the m-stage, and the highs were similar.
 
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