People spend ridiculous amounts of money on audio gear for many reasons, but for me, it comes down to the smile that involuntarily creeps up when I experience music in a new way.
The first time you notice the genius of a killer groove, hear a new instant classic, or feel electric wizardry reveal sonic subtleties you never knew existed, you remember why you fell in love with music in the first place, and can’t wait to see where else it can take you.
It’s easy to buy new audio gear and still fall short of that little slice of nirvana, so when it comes to getting the most bang for your buck, good speakers and headphones are the first order of business. I still remember the experience of going from cheap, horrible speakers to moderately-priced decent speakers, and then driving those decent speakers with a separate amplifier. Many smiles ensued.
Without breaking the bank on a full high-end system, the best way to get amazing sound is with a good pair of headphones and a good headphone amp. Not so many years ago, a man in China named Sword Yang started manufacturing and selling quality tube headphone amps on eBay. Until then, tube amps were the purview of those who had money to burn on crazy audiophile exploits, and I could never justify the purchase.
The first time I hooked up the tube amp to my old Sennheiser headphones, the involuntary smile recurred, and I was stuck in my chair for hours listening to music that I’d heard before, but never in quite the same way. It was a similar experience to a noticeable upgrade in speakers; an enhanced quality, and not only improved clarity but noticeable smoothness. Vocals seemed to drip over my ears like warm honey.
And so I share my love for the Little Dot tube amp that’s brought so much joy though multiple sets of headphones and different audio sources. It sounds fantastic with high-quality MP3s and even better with vinyl or a high-quality CD player. If you love music as much as I do, make it a point to get a nice set of headphones, and when the newness of those wears off and you can use another musical reason to smile, try a Little Dot.