Clarification on Setting Gain

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Moderators: DavidZheZhe, sword_yang

Re:

Postby DavidZheZhe » Jul 5th, '09, 04:38

There is some discussion on what gain is the best used for a particular headphone.  The following rule of thumb should be used:

 

For OTL models (Little Dot MK II, MK III, MK IV / SE):

Low Gain - High impedance headphones (ex. Sennheiser HD600/650) and/or high sensitivity/efficiency headphones (ex. headphones with 100+ dB/mW)

High Gain - Low/medium impedance headphones (ex. AKG K701) and/or low sensitivity headphones

 

For the Little Dot I+:

Low Gain - low impedance and/or high sensitivity headphones

High Gain - high impedance and/or low sensitivity headphones

 

For the Little Dot MK VI and MK VII:

Low Gain - Everything except the AKG K1000

High Gain - AKG K1000

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Re:

Postby houseknp » Jul 6th, '09, 15:01

Dave,

I've misplaced my manual for the MK IV/IV SE. May I ask what the dip switch settings are for (and is there a settings chart)? Also, how do you adjust gain?

Thanks,
-HK sends

PS: For the OTL Models, aren't the guidelines for the gain settings switched (i.e. wouldn't high impedance phones require a higher gain)?
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Re:

Postby erab11 » Jul 6th, '09, 21:02

Hi Dave,

I have a Little Dot MK IV and a Sennheiser HD650.

In the Reference Guide of Little Dot MK III is reported to use a high gain (10x - Switch 1 Off - Switch 2 Off) for high impedence headphones ( 300+ ) .

I'm confused.

Wich is the correct switches setting for LD mk IV and HD650?

Thanks
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Re:

Postby DavidZheZhe » Jul 7th, '09, 02:49

The Reference Guides have all been updated with the above settings. One thing to keep in mind is these "rules of thumb" are starting guidelines for your headphones, but as always, we recommend you to try each gain level and determine for yourself which setting you prefer. With the OTL models, the output power increases with higher impedance headphones (the higher the impedance, the easier to drive for these models) and thus low gain will often perform nicely.  For anyone who would like a copy of the latest Reference Guide for your model, please email me and I'll send one to you as a PDF attachment.
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Re:

Postby houseknp » Jul 7th, '09, 03:29

Thanks for the info, Dave! I went ahead and requested a guide via e-mail.
Have a good day! :laugh:

-HK sends
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Re:

Postby erab11 » Jul 7th, '09, 14:05

Many thanks, Dave

Enzo
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Re:

Postby s4one » Jul 9th, '09, 07:07

Am I suppose to set the LD III on high or low gain for grado 80i's or grados in general? Is the stock setting 3 okay for grados? What should I switch to??


Thanks
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Re:

Postby DavidZheZhe » Jul 9th, '09, 07:36

[QUOTE]s4one - 2009-07-09 6:07 PM Am I suppose to set the LD III on high or low gain for grado 80i's or grados in general? Is the stock setting 3 okay for grados? What should I switch to?? Thanks[/QUOTE]

 

I would recommend first trying out the default gain (3x), and moving up from there.  The guidelines recommend 10x gain for low impedance headphones, but if you have enough power  at 3x, then there's no compelling reason to increase the gain setting.

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Re:

Postby s4one » Jul 9th, '09, 11:28

ok I'll give it a try when i get it.
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Re:

Postby BrianB » Jul 10th, '09, 16:41

If you browse the forum you will see that a fair amount of research has been done on gain settings.

The general opinion is to set your source input gain to to near maximum (if adjustable, ie MP3 player) and to set both gain switches to give your preferred listening level with the LD voulume control set at appox. 11 o/clock. This will keep any floor noise to a minimum.

I use the HD650 at X5 gain (switches 1-on 2-off).

Hope this helps you.
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Re:

Postby nastypitsmell » Jul 11th, '09, 19:59

I prefer 10X gain with HD600 for increased bass and soundstage at the expense of clarity and a bit of floor noise.
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Re:

Postby DavidZheZhe » Jul 11th, '09, 21:10

Everyone does seem to have their own preferences, and I know BrianB has mentioned previously he finds the 5x to provide the best sound quality/versatility. Another Little Dot owner who has been putting his Little Dot MK II through the paces and running RMAA measurements has found the 4x gain on his MK II measures the best. Food for thought.
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Re:

Postby s4one » Jul 12th, '09, 04:08

I plan to test my grado 80i's on the stock 3 and switch to 4 after awhile of burning.
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Re:

Postby DavidZheZhe » Jul 13th, '09, 08:28

[QUOTE]s4one - 2009-07-12 3:08 PM I plan to test my grado 80i's on the stock 3 and switch to 4 after awhile of burning.[/QUOTE]

 

Please keep us updated as to your impressions!

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Re:

Postby s4one » Jul 15th, '09, 04:38

Will do.
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Re:

Postby wzmacniacz » Sep 18th, '09, 17:44

After burning the amp for 30 hours it was time to play around with gain settings.

My current setup is:
Winamp (FLAC) -> ASIO -> Audiotrak Prodigy HD2 Advance DE (with stock op-amps) -> Little Dot MK III (stock tubes) -> HD 650's.

I must say that I'm amazed by the performance! Anyway, on to the topic.

I tried all gains and (listed in the order I tried them):
3x - highs were just right, mids cozy and warm, but lacking the punch in the bass
5x - bass gained the thing I wanted it to have (maybe it's the matter of volume too? couldn't crank it to reasonable level in 3x gain) but lost some of the highs there
10x - improvement in the sound-stage and very similar sound signature to what 5x did
4x - most satisfying setting. really decent highs, nice soundstage, punchy bass, most tubey sound imo.

Staying with 4x gain for now. Will see what the future will bring. Going to play with some other tubes and hopefully get Little Dot DAC_I soonish too.
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Re:

Postby Robbie California » Sep 18th, '09, 20:00

Ref. I'm using the stock tubes, Apple Lossless or Denon cd trans, LD DAC_1, LD III, Senn 650.
After switching back and forth for a few months, I'm also staying with the 4x. I'm with wzmanciacz on this.... I'm getting all the things I want; soundstage, bass, highs, mids and less floor noise. Although I agree with nastypitsmell that you can get a bigger soundstage and bass at 10x, I find the floor noise a little distracting. It's not noise per say, because the LD III is still very quiet, even at 10x....but, it's almost like I can hear the electricity sizzling "very quietly" in my headphones.
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Re:

Postby wzmacniacz » Sep 19th, '09, 01:38

In my setup I can't really differentiate any hum or buzz at 10x gain. It's only audible with volume knob pushed up to 85 and total silence. I would never want to listen to anything with that volume though. Robbie - maybe it's an issue with ground loop or something? Your setup seems to be rather pro (nice dac out there!) so I doubt that it's the problem with source.
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Re: Clarification on Setting Gain

Postby mrlimbo » May 16th, '13, 17:32

im getting a LTD 1+ and have been wondering about the gain settings not only for 1+ but also my soundcard , my phones are senn 600 @ 300ohm my soundcard can output @ 32ohms or 32-64ohms or 64ohms , any clue as to what my start up settings should be for the 1+ & souncards ? thanks
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Re: Clarification on Setting Gain

Postby DavidZheZhe » May 16th, '13, 20:42

mrlimbo wrote:im getting a LTD 1+ and have been wondering about the gain settings not only for 1+ but also my soundcard , my phones are senn 600 @ 300ohm my soundcard can output @ 32ohms or 32-64ohms or 64ohms , any clue as to what my start up settings should be for the 1+ & souncards ? thanks


If there is a separate line-out jack rather than the headphone out jack then you'll want to use that. Otherwise you can use the lowest 32 ohms assuming that's referring to output impedance.
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