🔷 Little Dot MK II

This is the official thread for the Little Dot MK II

This thread is for discussion and reviews.

  • Point1 * 32 - 600 ohms output
  • Point2: * Pre-Amplifier Gain: 3-10x (also controlled via gain switches)
  • Point3 * THD+N: 0.1% (50mW into 300 ohms)

:red_circle: Amazon Link


Z Reviews

I still use mine to drive my 660s when I use them :+1: DMS likes it too…


I see someone just watched a DMS video! Nice! I’ll get them next year. No doubt.

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now you’ve got to get the MkIII, not the III SE (it sucks apparently) and see how different they sound and whether the small difference is worth finding the extra for the MkIII. :slight_smile:

It would be interesting to hear the difference for sure :+1:…I mostly listen to IEM’s so that’s something another forum member might be able to shed some light on?

Using the ifi nano line out port to feed the little dot? I do the same with my ta20. I love that little thing.

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Random question. I currently have the 6xx and I am wanting something with some more bass extension and impact for listening to stuff like the Gorillaz or Twenty One Pilots, just something more fun. I was looking at the LCD-2c, but after watching DMS’s video this amp really intrigues me.

So the question is, how would buying this amp for my 6xx compare to just buying the LCD-2c? Other than the fact that it costs significantly less.
I currently run my 6xx off of a JDS Labs Element 1.

Senn aren’t known for their bass, but a warm DAC and Amp working together will help to a point, but probably not to your satisfaction.

Some say you haven’t truely heard what senns (hd6??) are capable of until you try them on a good tube amp. I am trying to find this out myself.

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So I can’t fairly compare the 6xx with the LCD-2C as I haven’t heard the latter, plus they are 2 very different headphones. I can say that yes, the 6xx gain significant bass extension and impact when driven by a tube amp. They don’t turn into subwoofers on your head per se, but they are a very different experience on tubes than with solid state amps.

I’ll shamelessly plug my own 6xx review. I talk more about their transformation on tubes within:

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Today I part with my LD2MK2 because I upgraded to a BHC and need to clear desk space.

This is my brief thoughts/review after owning the Little Dot mk2 for a good 9 months now.

Sound signature

The little dot mk2 provides great value for its price, its an amazing true blood tube amplifier with a Single Ended Push Pull (SEPP), Class A designation.

Given that one has medium impedance/sensitivity headphones and is looking for a large hollographic tubey sound that leans towards warm BUT keeps it neutral, this could be the amp for you, just keep in mind it doesn’t go to extremes with the “tubey” coloration like some xduoos or the darkvoice.

My favorite thing about this amp is the slight soundstage expansion and the liveliness it gives to the treble (with the right tubes), very crispy treble. To my ears it also adds just a touch of warmth without boosting the bass.

Tube rolling

You pretty much have to roll them, the stock tubes add distortion, extra noise and artifcats. Their only upside is they color the sound more than the tubes I recommend, so if you want kind of a boom-box bassier distorted sound (which can sound fun actually) then you can use them.

If not, these are cheap and easily available:

Recommended driver tubes
GE JAN 5654w
Voshkod 6ZH1P-EV

there’s really not much difference between these two with the LD2, they both sound excellent.

Recommended power tubes
Russian 6H6P or 6H6P-I

For more information on Little Dot tube rolling refer to:

Dac pairing

Straight from my phone it sounds good enough, really can’t complain, but with a proper dac they scale to the next level.

Using the Zen Dac v1 and the Fiio BTR5 as a DAC with the LD2 there was very little difference between them, I preferred the Zen Dac because it had a hint of smoothness, but very subtle, If I were to blind test the two of them I probably couldn’t tell the difference.

Using the more expensive Pro-Ject Pre box s2 digital, there is a very noticeable improvement in the presentation, it just sounds straight warmer and more inviting.

Headphone pairings

HD600/650/6xx are amazing pairings, if you come from a Topping, SMLS or some analytic amplifier the difference is night and day, the sound becomes very sweet with very smooth vocals, warmer bass delivery and livelier treble.

Just keep in mind LD2’s sound signature is balanced, don’t expect a very warm sound, for instance the HD6xx sound way warmer on the Zen Dac’s Headphone Jack than on the LD2.

With the Sennheiser HD560s another incredible combination, those have some sharpness in the treble and an analytic signature, but with the LD2 they just sound smooth and fun. Note that you may get some artifacts from time to time but not a deal breaker.

Haven’t heard this combo but im pretty confident they do as just good with the HD660s

Beyerdynamic T1.2 - They don’t drive them to their full potential, not even close, but its actually a decent pairing if you are on a budget, they sound good and balanced, with smoother treble than on a schiit magnius. Enjoyable pairing.

I didn’t test them with the dt880 600ohm but I would expect similar results as above, good enough pairing but wont reach their true potential.

Beyerdynamic T90, dt1770 and dt1990 - Very good pairings, you may get some artifacts from time to time but not a deal breaker.

With lower impedances

There may be audible hiss (noise floor), artifacts, distortion, and channel imbalance when using with sensitive headphones. For the most part I never found none of these issues too annoying, the noise floor and distortion I could look past if I liked the coloration of the pairing, but the artifacts got extremely rough on low impedance and high sensitivity headphones.

With Alessandro MS2i (grado sr325is) I detected absolutely none of these issues, in fact I absolutely love this pairing, as enjoyable as using them with my RNHP, but different signature.

With the Koss KSC75 and Porta Pro, it was acceptable, some noises here and there, but they sounded better on every other amp except maybe for the treble region. Similar results with the Grado sr80e, sennheiser hd25 and Hifiman Ananda

With all of my audio technicas it sounded decent, but the noise floor and artifacts were too extreme.

As a preamp

This is a very clean sounding preamp, it added no noise whatsoever to my chain, but it does it best to not color the sound, if you want a tube preamp that actually colors the sounds you’ll be a lot better of with one of the chifi tube preamps.


Tis a great value amp and when I used to use it with HP’s I’d use 6H6PI/6H6N Novosibirsk NEVZ-Soyuz as drivers and 5654W/EF95 Siemens my fav and/or 5654W/EF95 Jan General Electric…there are a lot of ‘valves’/tubes easily available :+1:

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Upps wrong post,sorry

Preface: Comparisons (click here to read).

So, I already reviewed the little mini “FX Audio Tube-03” (years ago). That was my only “tube thing” then. I also got a Syba Audio tube from a friend a few months ago (in exchange for other audio equipment I sold him).

About the Tube-01: It was only a tube “pre” (RCA in, RCA out, that is all). Without EQ, the difference it made on the sound was subtle, even when tube swapping to Voskhod 6J1P-EV tubes. The EQ was fun too. But the non-standard output (the RCA output was more than 2V) made it hard to pinpoint where the volume level should be, same for the EQs having no “notch” where “EQ OFF” should be, and distortion often happened, especially when listening to electronic music, while just trying to get the same amount of bass from non-tube amps. Still, it did good things with speakers, where distortion was less audible than with headphones. Still, distortion was always a problem, or all-around weirdness when listening to electronic music, so I ended up putting a 60$ Burson opamp I got for free (in this 40$ thing, yes). The result is a (definitely-not-neutral) abundance of mids and bass, and now, as Zeos says, “it smooth jazzifies everything”.

About the Syba Audio: It was more of the same. One tube, one EQ (with notches and an on/off switch this time), and easy-to-hear distortion with some headphones. A ton of inputs, outputs, and a decent ESS DAC included (I mean, decent for a ~200$ box full of functions). Still, another one that (without the EQ) “smooth jazzified everything”. i.e.: Added a bit of bass, “smoothening” the overall sound.

So, why did I just gave both of these to my friends, and then bought a (used) Little Dot Mk2 instead? And why do I not regret it one bit? Because I wanted to know what a real tube amp was. A real tube amp being, tubes, but also transformers (…the big box behind the tubes), and above all, for headphones, OTL technology. And now I know that OTL definitely does things different, and is definitely a step above.

Little Dot Mk2: Your entry point into life-like voices, soundstage and 3D audio.

Infos: First, from now on I’ll just call it the “Mk2”. And for the DAC, I used the Xduoo XD-05 Basic (there’s a 3.5mm-to-RCA line out, it’s my desktop DAC here). This is an A/B comparison between the Xduoo XD-05 Basic headphone out (it never turns off, very useful for amp A/B tests), and the Mk2’s headphone out. For headphones, I used Nad HP50’s and Sennheiser HD6XX’s (and Sony MH755 IEMs). For the tubes, I used the 6J1P-EV’s (I also have GE JAN 5654W’s). The Mk2’s dip switches were set to “gain level 5”, see below in “Bonus #1: Gain levels” (hidden dip switches!). More comparisons below in “Bonus #2: The RCA out”.

Yes, I have Sennheiser HD6XX’s. Yes, it adds much needed bass to them, which is nice. But praising OTL tubes “only for the added bass” and “only for high-impedance headphones” is a huge mistake. Because what you get with this Mk2, whatever the headphones you use, is a great sense of depth and width and a ton of added dynamics. My 32 ohms Nad HP50’s also sound great, if not better than my 300 ohms 6XX’s, with it. Hell, it even makes my 10$ Sony MH755’s sound like endgame stuff (these are IEMs… the big volume knob was at like 10/100). The Mk2 just appears to do great, great things to audio, whatever the headphones (or even IEMs) you use, whatever the impedance… As long as it’s not planars: Planars are basically engineered to work exactly the opposite way, so my Fostex T50RP’s don’t like it. If your planars work well with your OTL headphone amp, you’re lucky, it’s an exception.

In short, whatever the headphones (or IEMS!) you use, and whatever the impedance they are, the Mk2 adds a ton of life and realism to voices, and a sense of scale, to your DAC, separating and giving every instrument its place. And as far as I know right now (and that’s the most important part) it does all that without removing anything. You will still hear your DAC and all the details it gives you. The frequency range (bass, mids, treble) will be basically unchanged (with 6J1P-EV tubes, for me at least), and you will still be able to blast electronic music without hearing any distortion, and bass will punch as much as with a non-tube amp. Everything (and I mean everything, from audiophile recordings to punk rock mp3s recorded like crap and youtube videos and vlogs) will just be… “in 3D instead of 2D”.

By buying a tube amp, I was expecting something to enjoy sometimes, and to switch to a “typical” headphone amplifier most of the time. But the opposite is happening. I was not expecting that. I view the Little Dot Mk2 as an incredible add-on to any DAC you like and believe sound great, but… “flat”. Which are most, if not all, “budget” desktop DACs. As in, possibly very detailed, but lacking width and depth and, sometimes, “soul”. If you like your DAC. You know it doesn’t distort. You know everything is there. You know all the detail is there. But you don’t “feel like you’re there”. And you need a mini winter heater. Well, this is for you. This Mk2, paired with a detailed DAC, is the most inexpensive way to feel like your room is the studio. I honestly believe I could mix and master music with this and not worry about any unexpected result while playing it back with anything else. And that’s why the Little Dot Mk2 is now my main headphone amplifier.

What can I add. Every time I believe the tubes do some “weird things”, I switch to the XD-05’s headphone out and realize it’s in the song. That’s… one of the downsides of trying odd and/or cheap tube things before getting this one, I guess: You become “paranoid”. But with a Mk2 and good 6J1P-EV tubes, you don’t need to worry. This is “tubes done right”. If you’re tired of hearing the entire band “inside your head” when you use headphones, this is for you (and you’ll get way more than that).

Bonus #1: Gain levels, the hidden dip switches (click here to read).

Again, all of the above is a review of the Mk2 with the gain set to level 5. You can set the gain with “dip switches” hidden inside the Mk2. Even with the dip switches set to the lowest level, (what I believe is) the standard, “gain 3”, my ears can hurt at 20/100 volume. So, why would you set it differently? Because with all my headphones, either with 6J1P-EV or JAN 5654W tubes, “gain 3” added treble and “air” to the music, which I did not want. Again, if you like everything from your DAC “except it sounds flat”, my recommendation is to leave it to “gain 5”. Being the middle ground it will also be a good all-around choice, whatever the headphones or IEMs you plug in.

What about gain level 10? Well, that’s another can of worms, because that’s where tube-swapping will make the biggest difference. 6J1P-EV tubes will boost the bass and mids, but will mute the “air”, even significantly lowering the treble in female voices (and whispers). Yup, oddly enough, it will “dull” the sound, and even diminish the soundstage – doing the exact opposite of why I love this amp. JAN 5654W tubes will not murder the treble, but I feel like everything still sounds like… molasses. Exactly like my Aune X7S (Class A headphone amplifier) with three gain settings, the highest gain level of the Mk2 is “11/10”, i.e.: overblown, overdone, muting the attack and speed of music, over-tubing, over-smoothening everything. I mean, I’m not complaining, it’s fun to have the choice. But “gain level 11”, both in the Mk2 or my X7S, is the “I don’t want to hear details, I don’t want to hear treble, I just want to sit back and relax” setting.

And no, my T50RP’s (planars) did not do better with higher gain either (still a bit wonky, even with the gain at 10, I hear sibilance and something weird at about ~200hz, for example). You know something’s wrong when even T50RP’s sound smooth and relaxing… these are my mech-looking, hard-hitting, analytical-sounding headphones.

But you forgot level 4? Well, my guess is it’s the same as level 5. Same specs, half the switches are affected, so half the resistors (or whatever) are in use. A quick google also mentions “Levels 3,5 or 10” on their websites, ignoring level 4. The Mk2 is made in China and “4” sounds exactly like “death” in Chinese, but I like to live dangerously, so it’s at level 4 now, and my headphones are not dead. :crazy_face:

(Honestly I opened and closed the Mk2 way too much and I’m tired and I don’t want to open it again to compare. Level 4 or 5 + Voskhod 6J1P-EV tubes, it sounds glorious either way.)

...and how to open the amp and set the dip switches? (Click here to read.)

You only need to remove the two lower screws from both the bottom of the front plate and the back plate to free the bottom plate (removing the four rubber bottom feet is useless – it’s only connected to the bottom plate). You don’t even need to remove the tubes from the amp, actually (if you like to live dangerously), because the dip switches are “under” the Mk2.

At first, I followed these instructions.

…and I had a surprise. Setting my Mk2 to “Gain 5” gave me high gain on the left channel and low gain for the right channel. Oops. This “Little Dot Mk2 guide” PDF (screenshot below) says “please remember to configure the switches on each red box identically with respect to the other”.

Yes, this is 2 switches for the 2 channels. Gain 5 is achieved by setting “1” to “on” and “2” to “off” on both switches. Don’t forget that I bought my Mk2 used. Maybe there’s been a few revisions (since 2010!), and the dip switches now work differently. But for mine, it’s one red box for each channel.

Bonus #2: The RCA out.

It’s not just a headphone amplifier: There’s also a pre-out. Sound goes through the tubes (and the dip switches!) before the RCA out. So this can act as a preamplifier for those stupid speaker amplifiers with no volume knobs (sorry). But also allows you to plug a non-OTL headphone amplifier and “tube your planars” (set the Mk2’s volume to 60-70, forget it, RCA out to an headphone amplifier and control the volume there).

Be aware that you won’t get all of the benefits of the OTL headphone amp from the RCA out (obviously). Still, maybe 50% of it. If you, for some odd reason, only intend to use this as a pre-out, be aware 50% of its “magic” will be unknown to you. But… that’s pretty much your only choice if you want to “tube” planars.

Okay, that was a long text. 100% worth it, though. He says, listening to his Little Dot Mk2. :headphones: Enjoy!


I can’t stress that enough: The “stereotype” of the guy drinking scotch on the rocks and listening to jazz with a tube amp is dead for me. Everything, and I mean everything sounds good with the Little Dot Mk2. Yes, Jazz sounds better on tubes. Also everything else from Testament, In Flames, Kmfdm, Fleshgod Apocalypse, and Punk, Techno, Dance and K-pop too. Lol.

The Little Dot Mk2 is now my main amp, and I shuffle through anything daily. Nothing sounds worse on the Little Dot Mk2. Everything sounds better.

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I had a huge amount of fun with mine before I moved it on.
Quite ridiculous value and quite easily upgraded too.


what cans did you use with it and what tube amp(s) did you move on to since?

I used HD6xx exclusively - a match made in heaven!

These days I still don’t use tubes all that much, just the odd occasion when the fancy takes me.
It’s a Antique Sound Labs amp with a few mods and some decent tubes and a LD Mark 3 these days.

Still using the venerable Sennheisers…

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Anyone successfully order this from littledotus.com? I’ve seen several reports of people not receiving their purchase and unable to communicate with the seller, so it’s making me think twice about pulling the trigger…

Edit: Maybe I’ll just buy from Linsoul when the time comes. $10 more, but might be worth it, from what little information I can find about buying directly from Little Dot.

Hi, I’m new to this forum and I would like to ask you guys some help with this amp. I’ve had it for around 3 years now, and about a week ago I noticed something, there is a low but audible hum to the sound now. The amp still has the stock tubes, and it’s never had this issue before. From my research humming comes from the tubes, which although I don’t know much about them, they have been fine for the years I’ve owned them. I don’t quite know if they can just fail like that, from what I’ve seen they have like 3k plus hours of life expectancy, and I’m not sure I’m there yet. Even if I were, how can I know that the tubes are causing the hum? Is there some thing I could see while inspecting them, or some sort of test? I don’t have other tubes to swap to tell that way, and even though I would like to eventually roll I’d prefer not to spend the money, also especially if it wouldn’t solve the issue.

A few things I’ve noted about the problem;
The hum sounds exactly like a 120hz tone from a tone generator.
The hum barely responds to the volume knob, even if it’s at 0 volume it is still pretty audible, and only gets a little louder at 100.
When turning off the amp it immediately goes away, even though it takes some time for the tubes to go off and I can still hear audio slowly fading when playing music or so.
I’ve tried moving around the polarity of the connection, changing the cable to other plugs and so, the issue remains.

I’m sorry if this is obvious or something, maybe I’m just not accepting that the tube is finally dead? If so, would I need to replace all 4 tubes or just the big power ones? Thanks for any advice :slight_smile: