REVIEW - Music Max LT1 battery portable amp
Jun 3, 2009 at 9:15 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 10


New Head-Fier
May 19, 2009
THE ‘MUSIC MAX LT1’ Portable Headphone Amp


Hi. I’m writing this review on this little amp as I feel like it might be a solution for other people like me. I love my sound. I love to hear music accurately reproduced. But on the other hand I don’t want to have to spend a fortune or mess around trying to pick up a second-hand bargain. It’s not that I’m lazy or I don’t care enough, but I believe I have set a reasonable benchmark of what I want out of my audio setup and tailored it to my bank balance. I think perhaps the previous statement relieves me of any possible status as an Audiophile all together. But I’m happy with that, I just want to enjoy my music without being disappointment. This is what led me, a newbie, to looking for a cheap portable headphone amp that wouldn’t let me down. And I found the “Music Max LT1”.

So I have recently purchased a few things to re-ignite my listening experience. After looking at my options, which involved dreaming of a good pair of floor standers and a solid amp, I settled on the economic option of a pair of AKG 271 MKII headphones. At first I was disappointed with them. I did not have a headphone amp and in comparison to my old Audio Technica ATH-700’s they sounded woeful. I took on the advice of ‘burn them in’ and after 30 or so hours they began to sound a bit better. But I still needed an amp. My first amp was an ‘Indeed hybrid tube amp’; pretty cheap and a lot of fun. I recommend it as fun amp, but the build quality and components are not very good. So I moved on. I got in touch with a friend who had a Musical Fidelity X-Can 3; for many the champion of middle of the road headphone amps. I also tried out a Cmoy mint tin amp was complete blown away that such a small device could make such an improvement to the sound of my headphones.

This led me to thinking that I’d keep my ‘Indeed’ hooked up to my Pro-ject Debut III, as vinyl being vinyl, a ‘fun’ amp could only make my listening experience more colourful, and I’d get a portable amp as well for my iPod and DAC. I have a Terratec Phase 24FX. Its professional authoring soundcard, but the headphone out is soul-less. So I needed an amp for my digital side of things. I didn’t want to spend much more than $100 USD, and so after a bit of searching I found the “Music Max LT1”
After ordering the amp through Paypal, and emailing, I got an email within 24 hours confirming my order. I live in Melbourne Australia, and within 5 days the amp arrived via EMS from china. That seemed pretty good service to me, much faster than most ebayers. Thumbs up for audiophilechina here. The amp was packaged within a brown box filled with packing foam.



Once removed, the amp sits within its own box. The box bares the logo of a company called ‘Star Studio’. I doubt you’ll find much on this company as its’ probably just a logo slapped on a box with one of China’s thousands of electronics factories. The box contained the amp, 4 AAA batteries, a short cheap 1/8″ (3.5mm) jack to jack cable, a velvet-like bag, and an instruction booklet. For the money paid I was very happy with what was bundled with the device. I imagine most people who buy this product will be happy to get some batteries to get up and running immediately, and won’t feel the need to replace the connector cable in a hurry.



Well there is really not much to say on styling. It is black, boxy and cute. Very, very small. It measures 70mm x 45 mm x 20mm. This amp has high potential to be duct-taped / zip-tied / rubber-banded to an iPod for a ‘go anywhere solution’. The amp is minimal (it’s cute), but it doesn’t scream look at me. For those concerned about looks, it will just make you look like a bit of tech-head. The design is very similar to the popular Go-vibe headphone amps. But it has one distinct difference from the Go-vibe range. Some of the Go-vibe amp’s have a luminous power tab; when flicked up and on, the plastic stork itself glows red. For me this looks a bit fragile and a tad tacky. On the other hand the ‘Music Max LT1’ has a solid little chrome switch. There is a 1/8″ jack input and 1/8″ jack output on the front. And finally a small volume pot is also found on the front. The pot is smooth and gradual, no incremental volume increase here. The pot, I think would be on the cheap side, but if you’re careful it should last a good few years. I just leave mine set to a normal listening volume and just power it on and off. On the back two small alloy nuts keep the back plate in place. Once the nuts are removed 4 AAA batteries can be removed and replaced. A small PCB is glued to the plate to connect the batteries and the polarities are clearly marked so that there is no confusion about which way the batteries should go in. The amp’s PCB fits snugly between the batteries and the inside of the case’s shell. The PCB will never touch the case’s lining, as ridges either side suspending the PCB from off the surface.

This little amp has been thoroughly thought through, and the end result is a solid little amp you can be confident in.



The amp is very solidly built. This is probably one of the best things about the device. From the design of the alloy chassis to the quality of the powder coat, for the price it is good. This little amp is constructed very well. Sure if you’re interested in how much silver is in the solder, you’ll probably look scathingly on this little amp. But if you want a rocking little amp for out and about, this thing should take a beating.



Quoted from the instruction booklet (can’t confirm any of those personally).

Gain – 12.2dB (high) 6dB (Low)
S\N – 104dB
Max output power – 250mW
Headphone impedance – 8ohms to 120ohms

All connections to the amp is from the front, and being so small it can seem a bit cramped at the front with both cables inserted, and trying to also twist the volume knob. But hey, it’s not really a big deal.

As I said before the power switch is good, with a solid click on, and the volume pot is smooth and gradual.

This amp is not super loud, you still need to put a fair bit of juice into it. On my iPod Classic I normally have the volume about half, and the volume on the amp pretty much cranked. I imagine with more power the sound would improve even more. On my soundcard I only need it to be just registering on the dial, as my soundcard has powerful headphone out. But the point of this amp is not just to take over the amplifying duties of your music source, but to drive your headphones properly, which it does in the case of the AKG 271 MKII’s.

The website at states the batteries lasts for 100 hours, but I couldn’t tell for sure. I’m on to my second set of batteries and without keeping a log of time used, I’d estimate it lasts for well over 60 hours. If you’re going overseas for a long time you’ll want to take a spare pair of batteries, but at least it won’t be taking up a power socket in your wall.



The sound. Sorry this review just keeps getting longer. This amp is a solid state amp, and is very small; so you can’t expect too much from it. It’s meant to be a portable amp running off batteries, so it can’t seriously compete with an $800 tube amp. So there can be no comparison there. Other than to say I have heard an X-Can 3 and the difference between the two, I feel I can live without. I know that sounds glib, but I’m talking about a comparison of a much more expensive amp and a lot less portable.
Can I compare it to other small portable amps? Well, yes, but only one. Sorry this review is really for newbies looking for a simple solution, not audiophiles who have seen and tried them all. I can compare it to a Cmoy kit amp. The sound of the ‘Music Max LT1’ is better than the Cmoy I heard. It has a more mature quality. The Cmoy was very clear, but very clinical. The ‘Music Max LT1’ is not at all what I’d describe as warm, but it is much more pleasant to listen to than the Cmoy amp. But the big difference between these two amps is that one is designed for long term use. It won’t fall apart and short-out.

So leaving behind all other comparisons how does it sound? Well to my ears, great.

Before I got this amp, my AKG’s were muddy and distant. To put it bluntly they sounded rubbish. If you have a pair of AKG and no amp, get one, they just don’t work without an amp.

With my AKG 271 MKII’s plugged into my Music Max, my music was no longer recessed and muffled. It was crystal clear, and the sound stage was broadened. I started to hear things I had never heard or noticed in tracks before. The mids were full and rounded, the trebles high (but not too high or overwhelming, a problem I’ve endured with my ATH-700s for too long), and the bass extended. If you’re a drum and bass fan you will want to look somewhere else. This amp produces nice low end, but it could go further. But I’m still happy, as with electronica tracks where the bass is designed to sound like its coming from a subwoofer, my AKG’s almost replicate the wonderful sound of air being forced through a sub’s air port. I believe the best thing about this amp (other than its price) is that it is not tiring to listen too in the slightest. You can listen to this amp for hours. Some amps that invoke more feeling or bass sound impressive, but after a while it wears thin and you just want to hear the balance of the music.

To summaries, the ‘Music Max’ is crystal clear (absolutely no hiss at full volume), it creates a wonderful sound stage, balanced overall sound, and is just simply nice to listen to. I’m sure these others better, and definitely more coloured and warm, but this little amp is ok considering its size and price. I’ve tried to be critical, and I’m sure some of you could be much more, but this is a review from a newbie’s perspective.


This amp is very good value. I would not dare to call this amp anything more than a budget amp. But I believe for someone in the market for a portable amp to go with their iPod or mini DAC, this would be perfect. I really feel like you’d have to improve your music source, a high grade CD player or something, before you’d hear much difference between this and other portable amps. But then what would be the point of having a portable amp hooked up to a CD player. I believe in the world of portable, solid state headphone amps, this one is fair game. If you have some spare coin, get one, even if it’s just for the cute factor.


I used to think I was heading down a road that in ten years, when I’m earning more money, I’d be buying 10 grand floor standers and musing over which SACD disk player to buy. But I think this little amp, with a few high quality FLAC files, and a pair of AKG 271 MKII’s has ended my vision of audiophiledom. I know this is no way to end a review on an audiophile forum, but I’m writing this for other newbies out there who are wondering how they can get the best sound for their buck. Until someone comes along with something mind-blowingly better, I think I’ll be pretty content to sit back and listen to this little amp.


Thanks for reading. Comments are welcome. Please remember, I though I’ve had experience with audio production for several years, I’m a newbie to the audiophile world. If you disagree with this review, maybe buy one and tell me what you think. I’d be interested to see what anyone thinks of it who is attending the 2009 Cam Jam, as I think 6 moons is taking one along.
Jun 3, 2009 at 11:38 AM Post #2 of 10
I wish to express my gratitude for your detailed review.
It came also for me to want to buy it.

The photograph that had been politely taken was seen.
$100 is externals that cannot be thought.

The question is some it.
・Is the volume knob made of plastic?
・Is the volume suitable though can think made of ALPS?
・Does the manufacturer of a black capacitor understand?

And, it asks.
・Please publish the photograph on the other side of the substrate by all means.
・The size mark is not mm but cm.

Jun 3, 2009 at 12:40 PM Post #3 of 10
Here is the underside of the PCB.

I've only blurred out solder points no components. I was bit concerned about the legalities of posting pictures of circuitry a company may have designed, and therefore their intellectual property.

But as you can see in the image the Opamps have no markings at all. This might be something you'd have to ask audiophilechina when buying one.
Jun 3, 2009 at 12:51 PM Post #4 of 10

Originally Posted by T.IIZUKA /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The question is some it.
・Is the volume knob made of plastic?
・Is the volume suitable though can think made of ALPS?
・Does the manufacturer of a black capacitor understand?

・The size mark is not mm but cm.

The volume knob is a light alloy of some sort. it has been CNC machined.

The volume being adequate depends. It depends on what headphones you match with it, and what sound source you use. I can tell you with an iPod and a pair of AKG 271s I believe it is good. The volume on the Ipod has to be about half up, but the amp still drives the headphones well. As for other higher impedance headphones I could not say. Though I believe AKG's are quite high impedance headphones... I think.

The black capacitors reads - ELNA CE85 C, one then reads 0705 and the other 0635.

Thanks for picking up on the dimensions thing.
Jun 3, 2009 at 1:08 PM Post #5 of 10
great upgrade for me...considering im using a FiiO E5...which doesnt really boost my 310's but its pretty alright with my hd515's.
Jun 3, 2009 at 2:36 PM Post #6 of 10
Thank you for publishing about the photograph.
normal_smile .gif

Moreover, we wish to express our gratitude for an immediate size correction.

The volume knob is like metallic. Because it was a part where feeling of quality was important, it was relieved.
I wanted to confirm the manufacturer of the volume.

It was understood that the volume was not able to be satisfied if it did not make it to the position of about two o'clock because impedance was high.
Jun 8, 2009 at 1:06 PM Post #7 of 10
Very nice review! I have one of these in for testing - will be adding it to my portable amp review thread in a week or so. Have not started listening to it yet.

I will say I was a little alarmed at how much it looks like a RSA Tomahawk, I must say.
Jun 8, 2009 at 2:10 PM Post #9 of 10
If it is possible.
It expects it of your review.


Originally Posted by Skylab /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Very nice review! I have one of these in for testing - will be adding it to my portable amp review thread in a week or so. Have not started listening to it yet.

I will say I was a little alarmed at how much it looks like a RSA Tomahawk, I must say.


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