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JDS Atom Amp 2 Headphone Amplifier Review

Rate this headphone amplifier:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 3 1.1%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 2 0.7%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 12 4.2%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 266 94.0%

  • Total voters
    283

audiosciencestudent

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Yeah. JDS Labs support is the best I have ever encountered.

And I dabbled with some various company's support :p
Exactly , maybe the SINAD is a few notches lower than the Topping but can u beat the peace of mind you get from JDS
 
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wow that's so cool, I'm sad the hp amp i use has never been tested that i know of. smsl sh-8 if anyone knows of tests of it tag me please.
 

restorer-john

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Dear Tech-pros,
could anybody clear that up, please?
I searched that question „affordable hp amp as pre-amp“ in the forum search, came to no clear conclusion, I am sure the answer is out here

If you are considering that application, you should contact JDS and ask specifically about the magnitude of any turn-on and turn-off transients or you may be digging voicecoils out of the drywall.

We know it is likely DC coupled so offset may also be an issue.
 

Philipp

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Thanks a lot @restorer-john !
Whould that mean that in combination with an Hypex Amp with no protection (i call it protection, lacking propper tech-knowledge what i should call it) for the RCA-input, I must always consider that a pre-amp kills my speakers by an amplified pop-noise?
 

Rottmannash

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Strangely!? How am I supposed to take issue with a post that responds in support to another one of my own!?
Also, I made sure to (twice, even!) point out that having a preference and making claims/inferences is not the same. There are clear inferences and fallacies in the post I quoted. What exactly is your argument with your post or what do you disagree with me? I do understand that according to many here the JDS Labs customer support is good. I have never argued against that. What I am trying to point out is that just because JDS Labs customer support is good, that does not necessarily mean that the competitor's (Topping) is bad. Even more - it does not mean that one should necessarily end up needing to use customer support services at all. Nor does it mean that persons A, B, and C's (supposed) experience with (for example Topping) should mean that person X's experience will be the exact same. Just because some people value a certain aspect of a product (or a company) more than others does not mean that other aspects of the product should not be discussed.
I don't own any JDS products but do own 4 Topping DACs and a Topping amp and have never needed customer support. @audiosciencestudent There-you have a valid data point.
 

julian_hughes

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I own the original Atom amp. What I'd really like to know is if there is even the possibility of hearing a difference between the original Atom and this new Atom 2? Assuming I'm using Sennheiser HD6xx on high gain or Truthear Zero on low gain, seriously will I hear a difference between the original and the latest iterations of the Atom?
 

julian_hughes

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In the review and some of the comments it is noted that the aluminium* cover is perceived as an improvement over the original's plastic. I *like* the plastic! The more plastic or polycarbonate or whatever the better! I've had so many audio devices over the years that have been poorly insulated or grounded. Make every damn one of them from plastic except for the electrical circuits please! Or wood. Or hardened cheese, or ceramic, or stone, I don't care. But if your product's case is part of the circuit then it means you messed up!

*It is aluminium and not aluminum. Sorry America but you're wrong.
 

Philipp

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@restorer-john

It looks like they want to built a safe-to-use unit. Still it is mainly designed for headphones so I cant judge if they thought about power amps with no DC-decoupling.
And on/off pop-noise still could be dangerous?
Like you suggested, I will ask JDS.

From the Atom operating instructions manual:
OIM

Source Safety
Atom Amp 2 is DC coupled for maximum signal quality and expects source signals with less than 4.5mV of DC offset. All JDS Labs DACs and consumer audio sources are safe to use.
Atom Amp 2 senses DC offset and automatically mutes its outputs when more than 60mV of DC is detected at high gain, or about 280mV at low gain. These detection levels are intended to protect your headphones from rare, catastrophic equipment or component level failures. The default detection tuning is not intended to trigger during minor DC offset.

Audiophonics mark as followed:
This amplifier does not have a decoupling capacitor, so it lets the DC component of the signal through. Make sure your source has no DC component present at the output.

So is there a problem or not?
 
Last edited:

restorer-john

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@restorer-john

It looks like they want to built a safe-to-use unit.
But on/off pop-noise still could be dangerous?

From the Atom operating instructions manual:
OIM

Source Safety
Atom Amp 2 is DC coupled for maximum signal quality and expects source signals with less than 4.5mV of DC offset. All JDS Labs DACs and consumer audio sources are safe to use.
Atom Amp 2 senses DC offset and automatically mutes its outputs when more than 60mV of DC is detected at high gain, or about 280mV at low gain. These detection levels are intended to protect your headphones from rare, catastrophic equipment or component level failures. The default detection tuning is not intended to trigger during minor DC offset.

Audiophonics mark as followed:
This amplifier does not have a decoupling capacitor, so it lets the DC component of the signal through. Make sure your source has no DC component present at the output.

So is there a problem or not?

As I said, ask JDS themselves about turn on/off transients- that's what you will hear through an amplifier multiplied by the voltage gain of that amp.

Strapping a DC coupled amplifier with 20-30dB of gain being fed 270mV would still be below the trip point for say a Hypex power amp and yet you'd have a constant 8.5V offset on your woofers. That would seriously be a problem. But you'd need a source with a bad offset to do that.
 

julian_hughes

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@restorer-john

It looks like they want to built a safe-to-use unit. Still it is mainly designed for headphones so I cant judge if they thought about power amps with no DC-decoupling.
And on/off pop-noise still could be dangerous?
Like you suggested, I will ask JDS.

From the Atom operating instructions manual:
OIM

Source Safety
Atom Amp 2 is DC coupled for maximum signal quality and expects source signals with less than 4.5mV of DC offset. All JDS Labs DACs and consumer audio sources are safe to use.
Atom Amp 2 senses DC offset and automatically mutes its outputs when more than 60mV of DC is detected at high gain, or about 280mV at low gain. These detection levels are intended to protect your headphones from rare, catastrophic equipment or component level failures. The default detection tuning is not intended to trigger during minor DC offset.

Audiophonics mark as followed:
This amplifier does not have a decoupling capacitor, so it lets the DC component of the signal through. Make sure your source has no DC component present at the output.

So is there a problem or not?
As far as the original Atom amp goes, and the new one is powered on in exactly the same way, there is no pop on or off noise as the unit starts at minimum volume i.e. to switch it on you move the volume knob from zero. Obviously switching it off is the same but in reverse. Zero noise, even with sensitive, low impedance IEMs.
 

audiosciencestudent

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I don't own any JDS products but do own 4 Topping DACs and a Topping amp and have never needed customer support. @audiosciencestudent There-you have a valid data point.
Excellent track record for Topping , sounds good.
I'd still stick to JDS based on their location and how easy it is to access them for queries
 

Human Bass

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For hungry headphones or sensitive iems, i guess so
I own the original Atom amp. What I'd really like to know is if there is even the possibility of hearing a difference between the original Atom and this new Atom 2? Assuming I'm using Sennheiser HD6xx on high gain or Truthear Zero on low gain, seriously will I hear a difference between the original and the latest iterations of the Atom?
 

Philipp

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ask JDS themselves about turn on/off transients
John Seaber from JDS responded within a few hours, on a Sunday, thats unheard of, just awesome.

He said Atom+ and Atom2 both have muted power up and power down. So no amplified pop-noise to fear.

He also said that I should not worry, competent DC-coupled devices should have zero DC-offset.
I think he stands for JDS devices are competent.

Told me also how to use a multimeter to check the DC-offset of my DAC.

Results for my SMSL SU-1:
DC-offset does not to be an issue with the SU-1:
Unit off: 000,1 mV
Unit on but no music playing (no input): 000,1 mV
Turn on/off: 000,1 mV
while streaming music from Wiim Mini: up to 003,5 mV (but that could be my hands not beeing perfectly steady)
Renders it competent too, I guess, at least safe-to-use.

So no worries using Atom2 as a preamp for Hypex, as long as sources are without DC-offset, because as @restorer-john said, even at low gain, if the DC-offset is just under 280mV where protection kicks in, it still can end up very bad for the woofers.
So check your sources DC-offset, Atom2 as a preamp will not safe the day when your sources are rendered „not competent“ by having a broken design.
:)
Cheers!

And thanks again ASR and JDS for the advise!
 

audiosciencestudent

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John Seaber from JDS responded within a few hours, on a Sunday, thats unheard of, just awesome.

He said Atom+ and Atom2 both have muted power up and power down. So no amplified pop-noise to fear.

He also said that I should not worry, competent DC-coupled devices should have zero DC-offset.
I think he stands for JDS devices are competent.

Told me also how to use a multimeter to check the DC-offset of my DAC.

Results for my SMSL SU-1:
DC-offset does not to be an issue with the SU-1:
Unit off: 000,1 mV
Unit on but no music playing (no input): 000,1 mV
Turn on/off: 000,1 mV
while streaming music from Wiim Mini: up to 003,5 mV (but that could be my hands not beeing perfectly steady)
Renders it competent too, I guess, at least safe-to-use.

So no worries using Atom2 as a preamp for Hypex, as long as sources are without DC-offset, because as @restorer-john said, even at low gain, if the DC-offset is just under 280mV where protection kicks in, it still can end up very bad for the woofers.
So check your sources DC-offset, Atom2 as a preamp will not safe the day when your sources are rendered „not competent“ by having a broken design.
:)
Cheers!

And thanks again ASR and JDS for the advise!

Could we get a similar response from Topping ? I'd be pretty impressed if Mr Topping from China could answer similar queries in a similar manner
 

oscar_dziki

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I don't know how long Chinese stuff will last , how good their customer support is.
I googled a bit and some Topping stuff had issues with volume control. LCD screens , firmware etc. At least I won't buy stuff from a Chinese brand when I have the choice of JDS and the differences are not really that much for the sake of reliability
Topping was founded in 2008. They are not going anywhere. I have 3 devices made by this company at home - all under heavy usage, and I have experienced 0 problems these few years I have used them. I buy them from China, but I could as well buy them in a local store in which case the warranty would be a seller, and not a manufacturer problem as far as I am concerned. The most important thing here is that we don't have proper tools to measure reliability. You might think that googling the problem will help - but it won't. It's at best more anecdotal examples, at worst black PR done by competition. If a manufacturer believes that it's product is more reliable than the one of competition he will give you a longer warranty free of charge. Jds Labs offers a standard 2-year warranty for their products. The same I get with Topping products when I am buying in a local store, one year longer if I buy from China. BTW I have friends who work in one of the biggest audio stores in Poland and they do not report any reliability problems regarding Topping. Don't know about other companies from China.
 
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I don't know how long Chinese stuff will last , how good their customer support is.
I googled a bit and some Topping stuff had issues with volume control. LCD screens , firmware etc. At least I won't buy stuff from a Chinese brand when I have the choice of JDS and the differences are not really that much for the sake of reliability
the only lemon dac i ever owned was a klipsh heritage dac/hp amp, went through 3 of them. they all developed distortion through their right rca output. the smsl dac and hp amp i got to replace it has been bulletproof, gave my dad a topping d20 he ran it for years. gave him a kardas toneboard has also been flawless.

pure luck of the draw. you only hear about bad experiences, for every failed unit there'll be dozens that work fine.
 
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