Gadgets littledot1plus

Published on April 27th, 2015 | by Greg


The Inexpensive, Impressive Little Dot 1+ Tube Amp

Tube amplifiers might seem like a niche piece of gear- the sort of thing only a select group of people might want. But the fact is that if you’ve already invested more than a hundred dollars into your headphones, then it’s not much of a stretch to find a way to hear them at their best. Now, tube amps aren’t the most portable of gear- you’re not going to take them on a plane- but they don’t have to be too big or bulky. And thanks to some great new models, they also don’t have to break your budget.

The Little Dot 1+ tube amplifier is compact and affordable, but doesn’t skimp on build quality. The included tubes aren’t anything special, but most folks will want to replace them anyway with their own preferred type. Thankfully, that’s simple to do with the Little Dot 1+, and it’s all-metal housing and hefty build mean that it can hold up to some serious moving and shaking. 1/4-inch output is ideal for low-impedance, high-end headphones, and you can use an adapter for your standard mini-jack models- we recommend pulling out some over-ear Grados and putting on something light and airy to really appreciate the power even at low volumes. RCA inputs plug into your DAC, or direct to your source of choice.

One question that some folks ask: why the tubes? We’re used to a transistor-based world, with most of our audio gear relying on ever-smaller pathways. But the fact is that they are over-loaded, like trying to cram a boatload of water into a thin tube. With high-definition audio sources especially, the result are music that sounds thinner and flatter than it has too. Analog signals- and that means tubes- offer more flavor, texture, and warmth. For EDM tunes, it doesn’t matter much, but for jazz and classical, blues and anything with vocals it makes a huge difference.

We did notice a little bit of noise at lower volumes (or during silence) that you wouldn’t find on some larger, more expensive amps. And the overall aesthetic isn’t anything special, nor will the packaging impress. But the volume knob is a pleasure to use and unlike with a solid-state amps, a tube amp allows you to customize to your desires simply by switching out the tubes. Available now online and in stores for under $140, it’s certainly easy on the wallet!

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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