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JDS Atom Amp 2 Headphone Amplifier Review

Rate this headphone amplifier:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 3 1.0%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 3 1.0%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 14 4.7%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 275 93.2%

  • Total voters
    295

sharock

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The comparable by price Schiit headphone amp to the Atom has way more power output and protection circuitry too. A better amp for the money.
I can't say I've ever needed more power. Which one are you refering to? Magni?
 

Doodski

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I can't say I've ever needed more power. Which one are you refering to? Magni?
It seeems Schiit has done away with the OP amp headphone amplifier model. I have not seen a test of this new model so I don't know how it compares to the Atom.
 

Rhamnetin

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It seeems Schiit has done away with the OP amp headphone amplifier model. I have not seen a test of this new model so I don't know how it compares to the Atom.

Yeah and the Topping L30 II delivered more power in Amir's measurements than both the Magni Heretic and what Schiit officially rates their latest Magni.
 

RoA

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FiiO's K11 must be a serious contender for best low cost HP amplifier ... .

It's also considerably cheaper in the UK/Europe after any taxes.

Some insides; Fiio K11
 

silver-matter

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How would the Atom Amp 2 / Atom Dac 2 combo compare to the DX3 Pro+?

I just purchased the DX3 Pro+ as my first amp or dac, but the Atom Amp 2 / Dac 2 combo are tempting me to switch.

Primarily using DT 770 Pro 80 ohm and sometimes HD6xx - neither of which is terribly hard to power. Would like to have room to grow though.
 

Rhamnetin

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How would the Atom Amp 2 / Atom Dac 2 combo compare to the DX3 Pro+?

I just purchased the DX3 Pro+ as my first amp or dac, but the Atom Amp 2 / Dac 2 combo are tempting me to switch.

Primarily using DT 770 Pro 80 ohm and sometimes HD6xx - neither of which is terribly hard to power. Would like to have room to grow though.

If you want more power, the Topping L30 II is the best in class there. Also both the Atom Amp 2 and L30 II have a 0 dB gain mode unlike the DX3 Pro+ which is better for really sensitive headphones, but that doesn't apply to either of your headphones.

The DAC performance between the DX3 Pro+, Atom DAC 2, and E30 IIs is virtually identical.
 

oleg87

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How would the Atom Amp 2 / Atom Dac 2 combo compare to the DX3 Pro+?

I just purchased the DX3 Pro+ as my first amp or dac, but the Atom Amp 2 / Dac 2 combo are tempting me to switch.

Primarily using DT 770 Pro 80 ohm and sometimes HD6xx - neither of which is terribly hard to power. Would like to have room to grow though.
If you want “room to grow” get something with closer to maybe 10x the power, like the A70. Their power into high impedance loads is not meaningfully different, and into 32 ohms the difference in power is roughly 2dB difference in clean volume headroom - insignificant.
 

silver-matter

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If you want more power, the Topping L30 II is the best in class there. Also both the Atom Amp 2 and L30 II have a 0 dB gain mode unlike the DX3 Pro+ which is better for really sensitive headphones, but that doesn't apply to either of your headphones.

The DAC performance between the DX3 Pro+, Atom DAC 2, and E30 IIs is virtually identical.
What's a good example of really sensitive headphones in this case? Like IEMs, lower impedance headphones or headphones just more susceptible to audible gain noise?
 

silver-matter

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If you want “room to grow” get something with closer to maybe 10x the power, like the A70. Their power into high impedance loads is not meaningfully different, and into 32 ohms the difference in power is roughly 2dB difference in clean volume headroom - insignificant.
The A70 looks great, but it's $500 for just the amp and m im looking at spending $200-300 for a DAC & amp pair or single unit DAC / amp combo.

I'm comparing the DX3 Pro+ and Atom Stack 2 since they're in the same price bracket.
 

Rhamnetin

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What's a good example of really sensitive headphones in this case? Like IEMs, lower impedance headphones or headphones just more susceptible to audible gain noise?

IEMs are a classic example, but also any headphone with well over 100 dB/mW sensitivity and low impedance.
 

Neverender

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Jan 25, 2024
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Will this drive the Beyerdynamic DT880 600 Ohms without issue?

I'm a complete audio newbie and have a Motu M4 AI but I'd like to drive more power-hungry headphones so I'm looking for a budget-friendly but still good amp to pair with it.

I was looking at the DT 900 Pro X but it looks like a lot of people recommend the DT880 600 Ohm or Sennheiser HD600/650 over them.

I'm leaning towards wanting the DT880s due to the better bass and treble over the Sennheiser, especially because I'll be using them for playing my guitar through amp sims and doing some mixing.
 

staticV3

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Will this drive the Beyerdynamic DT880 600 Ohms without issue?

I'm a complete audio newbie and have a Motu M4 AI but I'd like to drive more power-hungry headphones so I'm looking for a budget-friendly but still good amp to pair with it.

I was looking at the DT 900 Pro X but it looks like a lot of people recommend the DT880 600 Ohm or Sennheiser HD600/650 over them.

I'm leaning towards wanting the DT880s due to the better bass and treble over the Sennheiser, especially because I'll be using them for playing my guitar through amp sims and doing some mixing.
Hi @Neverender! Welcome to ASR.

The DT880 Edition 600Ω is quite deficient in bass, so will require some frequency response correction:
Beyerdynamic DT 880 600 ohm relative Frequency Response measurements.png

Unfortunately, even stock the bass distortion is already quite high, so you may quickly reach the headphone's limits trying to boost bass even more:
Beyerdynamic DT 880 600 ohm relative distortion vs  Frequency Response measurements.png

This makes the DT880 not ideal for applications requiring neutral and accurate frequency response.

The Atom Amp 2 is totally fine btw. It can drive the DT880 Edition 600Ω to a very loud 114dB SPL Peak. Much more than you should ever need in practice.

Regarding the headphone: how much are you willing to spend, and are you able to correct the frequency response in software, using your DAW or other software, in every situation?

Or do you need a headphone that's accurate right out of the box?
 

Neverender

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Hi @Neverender! Welcome to ASR.

The DT880 Edition 600Ω is quite deficient in bass, so will require some frequency response correction:
View attachment 344959

Unfortunately, even stock the bass distortion is already quite high, so you may quickly reach the headphone's limits trying to boost bass even more:
View attachment 344958

This makes the DT880 not ideal for applications requiring neutral and accurate frequency response.

The Atom Amp 2 is totally fine btw. It can drive the DT880 Edition 600Ω to a very loud 114dB SPL Peak. Much more than you should ever need in practice.

Regarding the headphone: how much are you willing to spend, and are you able to correct the frequency response in software, using your DAW or other software, in every situation?

Or do you need a headphone that's accurate right out of the box?
I'm fine doing some frequency response correction though I'd prefer to not have to do a ton. I don't listen to a lot of bass heavy music so I'm not overly concerned about lower bass with open or semi-open back headphones.

I'd say my budget is around $300. I see the Sundaras recommended a lot at that price point but I worry they'd be too heavy and hot for me. I have a pointy head so heavy cans can get uncomfortable. I like using headphones that have a ski-band the most but those are mostly with gaming headsets.
 

Neverender

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Do you mean a suspension strap headband? Like on the K712?
View attachment 344970
Yes. With the Arctis Nova Pro headset I have it's a "ski-band" but a suspension strap would be the equivalent for real headphones.

I have an old pair of Sennheiser HD598s that I found to be comfortable though I would sometimes have to move the headband around a little just to take pressure off an painful spots that would start to occur after an hour or two.
 

nathan

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May 24, 2020
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No kidding. I've clocked the 230 V version that came with my Atom Amp+ at 3 W (real power) doing absolutely nothing. This doubles to about 6 W with the amp turned on. Suffice it to say, an off-mode power consumption that high is likely in violation of EU ecodesign regulations. It's also annoying because the 2012 Dell laptop I use with it with its 130 W power supply needs a lot less in standby and off (not a lot more than 1 W / 0.3 W if memory serves).

I suppose that even finding a decent AC/AC wall wart to ship with your product in this day and age is not easy, but still, transformers do not have to be this inefficient. Even if high-efficiency transformer design seems to be a bit of a black art that's not necessarily in high demand and the budget when shipping with a $129 product is likely to be quite limited.

It's probably about time to modernize the power setup (i.e. DC SMPS + inverter)... that still leaves the question of how to deal with the pesky mains leakage though. I mean, it shouldn't be a biggie if you have access to a grounded outlet so mains filtering can dump its leakage current there, but in some regions of the world that's not exactly a given (like SE Asia, but not even within Europe things may vary a fair bit).
This is my only complaint about it. Switching power supplies have come a long way and could largely solve this.
 

dc99

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Feb 13, 2024
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This is my only complaint about it. Switching power supplies have come a long way and could largely solve this.
Yes, but this is the cheapest way to generate the +/- 16V DC rails that are required to drive the audio buffer + op-amp inside. A equivalent 18VDC SMPS will cost far more than a simple transformer. If don’t need such high gain, there are plenty of HP amps that are powered by a 12VDC SMPS, that will give you 4Vrms output on your headphones. (whereas Amp 2 will give you 9Vrms on the headphones output)
 
Last edited:

howard416

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Sep 12, 2019
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Does anybody know if the RCA out is affected by the low/high gain setting? Or is that just for the 1/4" output?
 

nathan

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Yes, but this is the cheapest way to generate the +/- 16V DC rails that are required to drive the audio buffer + op-amp inside. A equivalent 18VDC SMPS will cost far more than a simple transformer. If don’t need such high gain, there are plenty of HP amps that are powered by a 12VDC SMPS, that will give you 4Vrms output on your headphones. (whereas Amp 2 will give you 9Vrms on the headphones output)
I don’t follow. Switching power supplies are stupid cheap these days.
 

MRC01

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Having owned the Atom 1 since it first came out, I wasn't the only one who told JDS that they should make an Atom in a metal case with metal knobs & switches, even if it costs twice as much it would be worth it. Well they finally did that, but it doesn't cost twice as much, but only an extra $20, which after the years would be the same price with inflation.

I couldn't resist, received my Atom 2 today and rang it out with some basic testing in REW. Observations:
  • Distortion & noise measure the same (my test equipment is not good enough to catch the subtle improvements)
  • Gain (voltage output @ volume position) is the same
  • The volume knob has slightly better channel balance and a smoother feel when turning.
  • The heavier case stays put better and has a nicer feel.
One strange glitch: For testing I connect the Atom 2 in an analog RCA loop with my PC sound card (an ESI Juli@). Low gain with volume at max, driving the sound card's analog input which is 20 kOhm. When the REW sweep starts, I hear a relay click inside the Atom 2 as if it's shutting itself off and back on again. Seems like the amp goes into protection, but this should never happen when driving a 20 kOhm load. Consistent and repeatable every time. My old Atom 1 does not do this, configured the same way in the same test. I can't reproduce this with music.

It would be nice to have an internal PS, but that would make this a whole 'nuther device in a bigger chassis.

Now I just need to find a good home for my Atom 1, which still works like new.
 
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