Little Dot MK2 MKII 6J1 X 2 6N6 X 2 Tube Standard Hybrid Headphone Headphone Amp Pre-Amp Tube Amplifier (MKII)
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- Little Dot MKII greatly increases sound quality, dynamic range, output impedance, and harmonic distortion
- Little Dot MKII also gains the driver tube-rolling options from the rest of the MK-series with the ability to roll 6JI, WE403A/B, GE5654, M8100, CV4010, EF95, etc at its factory jumper setting, and with jumper pins shorted, EF92, CV131, and all equivalents and drop-in replacements
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|Sold By||SHENZHENAUDIO||Fosi Audio||DoukAudio||Rain-Orange||Topssale Inc.|
|Output Wattage||0.3 watts||100.00 watts||1.00 watts||1.00 watts||2000.00 watts|
SEPP (Single ended Push Pull) OTL in Class A Input: Gold Plated Unbalanced (RCA) Jacks Output: 1/4\" Gold Plated Stereo Headphone out Driver Tubes: 6JI Power Tubes: 6N6 Frequency Response: 20HZ ~ 50KHz (minus 1 dB) THD plus N: 0.1 percent (50mW into 300 ohms) Suitable Headphone Impedance: 32 ~600 ohms Input Impedance: 50K ohms Pre Amplifier Output Impedance: 600 ohms Pre Amplifier Gain: 3~10x (also controlled via gain switches) Pre Amplifier Voltage: 10V RMS Pre Amplification circuit includes both driver and power tubes Power Output: 300mW into 300 ohms 200mW into 120 ohms 100mW into 32 ohms Power Consumption: 28W (228V x 0.124A) Metric: 210mm (length) by 110mm (width) by 130mm (height) English: 8.26 inches (length) by 4.33 inches (width) by 4.18 inches (height) Weight: 2.5 kg or 5.5 lbs.v
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Power off the LD mk2. and remove all tubes, wiggle slightly while pulling out gently at the same time.
On the front plate (where the volume is located) you will find 4 phillip screws, remove the two bottom only.
At the rear of the plate you find the inputs/outputs rca jacks, 4 more screws are in place, remove the two bottom ones only.
The first half of the plate will come/open out. Set aside
Look on the board and look for two very small black jumpers, they may be in place or totally missing altogether. If it is in place then they are set for the family tubes as follows: EF92 or EF91, CV138, CV138, CV131 and so on. The chinese stock 6j1 garbage require the jumpers to be in place on the board.
The family of the EF95 tubes which are WE301A/B, JAN 5654W, GE5654, M8100, CV4010 ETC. require the jumpers to be removed altogether.
If you replace the drivers to the jan5654w, then ensure the jumpers are NOT in place. If you keep the stock chinese junk, then ensure the pins are IN place.
Ok, if by chance you open the board and you see no jumpers in place when you first get the LD mk2, Then they missed it at the factory, look on the board and look for 3 pins on the left of the board exposed but very close together, you will see 3 more pins sticking out from the right side of the board as well, while the volume is facing forward of you, you will need to jump (bridge) two pins out of 3, do the same on the other set of pins. only one pin will go un bridged for each side, the first from left to right. In other words, you see two sets of 3 pins together, one set for the left channel and one set of 3 pins for the right channel. Only jump the two on the right of each channel. You will know you went wrong if it does not power up.
Now for the High Gain settings for High Impedance headphones like the hd650s.
While your board is open, look for two sets of switches marked 1&2 slide these two sets of switches down to the off position. The off is not shown but the ON is, so the opposite is OFF. This will yield the highest gain (power) on the LD mk2. Reassemble, connect an rca to 3.5mm to the input of the LD mk2, connect the 3.5mm end to the source(player) power on and you're set.
I might come back and edit this review when i receive the better power tubes (larger tubes), it suppose to yield a bit of more output power.
I have this exact setting and it drives my low impedance headphones just fine even though use high gain setting.Read the manual for mid gain or low gain setting if you prefer so. The LD mk2 unfortunately does not drive my Fostex MK3 to its full potential, don't waste your money here (maybe when i change out the power tubes). At low to moderate volume listening at about 12 O'clock to 2 O'clock, the Fostex MK3 sound very good and full but any higher and the bass muds out for lack of power. Same goes for the HIFIMAN HE400i. The LD MK2 does bring out the higher frequencies on the MK3's. vs Solid State amp. As to the sound it has an analog beautiful sound overall, very smooth sweet treble with the Jan5654w tubes and gorgeous bass, just enough, mids are just right, not to forward not recessed just in the middle. However, the LD mk2 is not very forgiven to less than perfect recordings. I use Flac and AAC320kbps. Paired with a Sony Walkman ZX2 player.I do use bass EQ on my sony player and use the studio setting which yields a better spaced out soundstage which works great on most of my headphones without causing sound issues, stunning on Grados. It really puts the instruments just outside of your ears.
The LD mk2 sounds fantastic with the my Grados RS2e, i have the flat Geekia ear pad cushions on the grados. The bass attack is stunning!! clear undistorted, even at high volumes. The bass, mids and high frequencies are jaw dropping. My Philips SHP9500 sound invitingly good too!! I am listening through them as i write this review...stunning. The Grados sr60e sound very very good too, almost as clear as the GRados RS2e. I have not tested my sr325e Grados yet and other headphones i have around. Oh, the LD mk2 pairs very good with the Sony MDR1a, sweet and bassy with a tad recessed 2-4khz region but that is the sony's signature on the mdr1a.even with solid state amps. Great sound signature for the treble sensitive audiophiles out there but love a thumping deep bass. (not basshead still).
Why 4 stars and not 5?.... I believe that the LD Mk2 should already sell with good sounding tubes not these chinese crap drivers. The power tubes are acceptable though. My LD mk2 is dead quiet, no hum issues of any kind. So if you decide on this product, contemplate on switching out at the very least the driver tubes for one of the many that this device will accept. My listening volume settings are in between 9-12 o'clock. Hope this helps.
I installed the Super Power Tubes
Sovtek 6H30Pi Cryo and Matched Pair and achieved a bit more output power and the sound is even more crisp sounding. The little Dot Mk2 now runs my Fostex mk3 with ease. Wow! I also purchased the Nobsound w/ the bass/treble PreAmp and it yielded even more power. You have to replace the driver tubes on this one too if you want to get rid of the distortion. I bought another paired match of jan5654w and I am thrilled with it. The Nobsound can be purchased for 45.00 and the tubes for 19.95 by Stoneaudio right here on Amazon. P.s the previous power tube mentioned here with the gold grid are also very good and much cheaper than the super tubes but they do put out a tad less power than the super tubes. Enjoy.
Well how do I "know" this amp doesn't sound different than a solid state? I don't "know." What I do know, however, is myself and 4 others have done blind tests with 4 different pairs of headphones (AKG K7XX, Sennheiser HD 6XX, MrSpeakers Aeon Closed, and Audeze LCD2C) using the Voicemeter program to mirror audio to multiple sources and a Little Bear audio switcher, giving us an instant change between sources for the most accurate and efficient possible comparison. The results of this test is that neither myself nor the others who tested could discern a single difference between the Little Dot MK III and a cheap solid state amplifier. This is with stock tubes and ~30 hours of burn in.
No warmth, no soundstage increase, no effect on the bass, no 2nd order distortion, nothing that any of us could tell. The amp itself is nice, it's well built and is structurally and in design an improvement over the Little Dot 1+ and Little Dot MK II. It's quite large and has a good weight to it, from a build stand point it's a fantastic amp.
If you want tube sound, look elsewhere. I highly recommend caution against anyone claiming this amp does anything to sound, which somehow seems to be nearly everyone who recommends this amp which confuses the hell out of me. Could new tubes alter the sound? Possibly, I'm personally not willing to invest anything more into this amp as the stock tubes aren't bottom line trash and should already be making at least a small difference.
If you are a hardcore tube amp user then I would suggest you skip this because this is not for you, this is for those people that are like me, a noob with tubes that has no clue.
First let me say that this was not my first tube amp, the first time I purchased a tube amp I figured I would go big, buy the best rated, expensive, and best reviewed with the most tubes because all of that would mean I am getting the best tube amp I could get... correct? Maybe.... but I wouldn't know because I had no clue what I was doing, listening to or listening for. Tube amps are not as simple as plugging in your headphones and BAM! all new sounds and stark differences. I quickly found out that no matter what I did or what tubes I put on it, I wasn't getting that, so of course I had a faulty tube amp and immediately sent it back swearing that everything I read about tubes was a bunch of crap and a waste of time and money. After spending some time with high end headphones and a decent dac/amp, I began to hear the changes in music quality and when going back to my $30 and $80 headphones I could immediately tell the difference and understand what I was and was not hearing. It was at this point that I thought back to the tube experiment and decided to try it again, but instead of going all out and spending top of the line money for top of the line equipment I decided to look around for what was believed to be a good starter tube amp, enter the LD MKii.
(all explanations from here forward are my noob terms and do not require expert dissection and argument)
LD MKii - black box with box and four tubes on top. Blue power led, audio jack and volume on the face.
[what the smaller black box encases is beyond me, nor do I care at this point. All I know is it works for me]
Tubes - Large tubes are power tubes, Small tubes are pre-amp tubes.
[This is where the magic happens, there is more to it but it was in *"tube rolling" that I found my sound]
Headphones - Here is another thing that I did not understand where tube amps are concerned, for best results, dynamic driver headphones are the way to go.
So now that I was armed with my HD800s, HD6xx, 1More triple driver and the LD MKii I started plugging things in and checking the sound.
First thing I did was try it with my Sanskrit pro and then with my Aune X1S while cycling through my headphones on each. There was a slight difference between the two but to my ears (which are admittedly compromised) it wasn't enough for me to say you should use one over the other.
Next I took a few days to listen to different types of music and compared it between the tube amp and Aune X7S because the X7S has an balanced xlr connection that I love on my planars. As I did this I began to hear the subtle differences and where the tube shined and where it did not. To me, the tube and my HD6xx were the best match based on what I like.
Lastly, I began the task of *tube rolling. I did some research and found some of the more popular tubes that are paired with this amp. I eventually settled on the 7-Pin GE JAN 5654W for my pre and the Novosibirsk 6N6p / 6H6pi for my power. This pairing gave me the most amazing improvement on sound, again, based on what I like. I love all genres of music and have found that when listening to jazz, blues, quartets, trios, Cello, and classic rock (AC/CD, Metallica, Eagles and many others) that the combo flourished. The beauty of the sound in its fullness, warmth, separation and clarity was absolutely stunning. I will listen to other genres such as EDM and others that actually sounds better on my LCD 2 Closed to my ears. I have watched movies and it performs great in that space as well but again, it depends on the the type of movie it is, would I use it for Jurassic park or an MCU movie, sure, but again, I would prefer the LCD 2 Closed for that. The point to all this is that while you can buy a dac/amp combo or individual unit pairings and get perfect sound and balance, the tube will take the edge off of the perfection and dirty it up but in a most wonderful way. Tube amps are more about the perfection of imperfection like smudges on charcoal art and mayonnaise in a cake recipe. You wouldn't expect it to work but then you try it and you get that WTF moment when you realize how good it is. To me, the beauty of this amp is its simplicity and ease of use. Are there better amps out there, sure, but from personal experience, the LD MKii is the most inexpensive, easy to use introductory tube amp that will give great results.
Annotation *Tube rolling does not mean place it on your desk and roll the round tubes across it over and over (you laugh but that is exactly what I thought it was until I looked it up). As best I understand it, rolling is when you install different types of tubes (they come with different materials and resistances) to get a different sound profile. You can mix and match different power and pre tubes to one another, but, never mix and match them to itself. From what I understand, you want your pre tubes to be the same to itself and power tubes to be the same to itself. Mixing them across brand and type to itself could have catastrophic consequences for your tubes and even the amp.
Next thing of note is that you will want your tubes to be tested and matched, I can not explain the how, what and why but from everything I read, that is the best practice. Tested and matched means that the type of tube (pre or power) will be a tested and matched pair to itself not across types.
Last thing I will say is that there is a jumper inside the unit that will effect the power output. I have not tried it and would suggest that if you feel you need to do this, go check out some of the reviewers that do a deep dive into the LD MKii, there is a lot of good information about this unit out there so don't be afraid to look it up or even ask questions because it is better to ask when you don't know than to assume and possibly cause irreparable damage. I hope this helped and congratulations for making it to the end of my never ending post.
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The unit is of a decent size and weight which is what I wanted as it is sat on a unit next to my turntable so I didn't want some fiddly little thing, I also want it to be heavy enough to be secure to the surface without the fear of it falling off by an accidental tug on the lead. So, I plug it all in (tubes just pop in easily enough and it's all good to go) and......initially slightly dissapointed listening to flac files through my Squeezebox player. The sound is slightly odd, quite thin soundstage, almost a transistor radio quality to it, yet things like backing vocals and certain guitar pieces come at you from the sides. I then tried some vinyl which sounded pretty bad, quite harsh and again very narrow sounding. I left it burning in for a few hours and came back to it and to be fair, flac file sounded a lot fuller to the point where I started enjoying the sound however vinyl still didn't sound great.
Having read up on this unit I was already aware that people immediately change the tubes and after seeing advice on here I ordered a pair of Mullards. Could these really make the difference? Fast forward a few days and the new tubes turn up so I anxiously swapped them over hoping I would see the difference. Immediately the soundstage opened up more and the sound is fuller and warmer through my Squeezebox, I would go as far to say it now gives it a more analogue sound. Next the vinyl test. Again, everything sounds as it should, clear yet warm and great soundstage. Now I'm sat in audio heaven, beaming away to myself.
So, if you're looking for a moderately inexpensive headphone output for your hi-fi setup then do not hesitate in buying this unit, however, as soon as you order this also order yourself a set of Mullard M8100 tubes (Watford tubes is one supplier), you will definitely notice an upgrade in sound which from me went from hmm to wow!! The best thing is you can alter the sound until your hearts content with other tubes (there are guides as to which to buy for certain sound signatures) and even changing the opamp (little chip inside) but for now I'm very happy with how mine is.
I was worried it wouldn't have the power after reading countless reviews. Worry not though. It has transformed the listening experience. The set-up with the stock tubes was very impressive as it is. I upgraded to the Mullards M8100, out of interest. The soundstage is immersive and emotional. Vocals are life like, stringed instruments resonate. Acoustic guitars have amazing tones. Super pleased. The sound quality is amazing for the cost. Would recommend this for sennheiser 650's owners. Upgrading the valves isn't a necisity as it sounds great out of the box, i would recommend Mullard if you do upgrade valves.
Now that the stock 6JI tubes have burned in it's time for a review.
The sound is definitely warmer than directly through the DAC and it effortlessly drives the two sets of headphones which are both low impedance. Bass is powerful enough for me without overwhelming the rest of the music and mids and trebles are clear and detailed and the soundstage is wide with good separation. I've now ordered some 408A and Mullard tubes and will be tube-rolling to see what difference it makes to the already good stock sound. I may even change the opamp as I've read that this too can bring improvements.
All round a great headphone amp and at this price it was first choice for me.
This is my first tube/valve amp so I can't compare it to others but I've had lots of other hi-fi amps, recently I've been using a FiiO dac from my PC but now I've gone with a low cost usb DAC (due to the FIIO just packing up) connected through to the Little Dot 1+ and couldn't be happier, I'm sure once I upgrade my DAC further down the road it will improve even further.
I've got new tubes on order and thinking about opamps, and that's the beauty of this little device it really is a starting platform for further experimentation. I'm surprised Little Dot doesn't offer upgrade packages themselves but there's lots available regardless.
I'm using Shure SE535 which are easy to drive but show up everything, there was a little background noise for the first 20 or so hours but it's virtually disappeared now, currently I'm on 13% volume low gain and it's great, cranking it up to 20% and i'd have ringing in my ears. I also have some low cost Sens' HD201, Turtle Beach Recons , Shure SE215s and it drives these with ease also on low gain.
I finally understand the "warmth" people talk about, it's made the 535s far more musical and I wear these all day 8-10 hours and I've found myself zoning out and just listening to the music something I've not done for a long time.... currently going through all my old faves and without exception its an improvement over the FIIO for similar money .... and that's without the upgrades.... rock on 2017 I've got some Tube Rolling to do!!!!
How does it sound? I'm connecting it to a Linn Preamp, listening mainly to vinyl. My headphones are Grado SR325e and the LD I+ works very, very well with them. The amp makes those cans shine. Recommended !
The UK cable in the box never worked but I just used one I had lying around standard kettle cord.
Nice touch coming with some decent audio cables and a converter and smaller jack sockets.
This happens when the amp is placed on the carpet..Corrected by placing a magazine under one side.
Overall, it is a pleasure to use but the company informs me that it can no longer post things to York for some reason.
I do hope that they take notice of this report-and the previous one. York is not on another planet.
Have I missed something by not reading between the lines I wonder.
I cannot bear to take my headphones off at the end of the evening, so be warned you will be tired! If you are curious about trying valves then it is a no brainer for this price!
Enclosed valves very good for more neutral headphones. Valves like the Russian star valves excellent for trebly headphones, etc.
Remember this has a transistor regulator. You need to go to the more expensive little dots for all valve. This amplifier suites those who value treble as well as a tighter mid range. Pure valve amps have more spacious mid range but less real treble.