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JDS Atom Amp+ Review (Headphone Amplifier)

Suppa92

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I'm powering my atom+ stack with a simulated sine wave UPS. Is it ok or could that affect the sound quality in a negative way?
@jseaber any advice if you're not busy. :)
 

Jimster480

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I was just checking this out on their site, glad to see there is a measurement here and it is great.
Debating on getting this stack for my "downstairs desk" now that I am mostly situated in my new house.
 

pk500

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I was just checking this out on their site, glad to see there is a measurement here and it is great.
Debating on getting this stack for my "downstairs desk" now that I am mostly situated in my new house.
It's a terrific stack, period. A veritable steal at $220 new.

Plus JDS' customer service is incredible. Company founder John Seaber (JDS himself!) personally answers my emails to support when I have questions about the product. John usually answers within an hour or two. One time he answered me at 11 p.m. on a Sunday night! :)
 

zack20cb

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Hi, simple question: is there some sort of trick, or modification that I can do to avoid having to pull out the headphones to engage preamp mode?

I hate to say it, as I’ve been very happy with my Atom Amp+, but Topping L30 V2 is tempting me with its physical switch for preamp/headphone selection.
 

Doodski

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I was just checking this out on their site, glad to see there is a measurement here and it is great.
Debating on getting this stack for my "downstairs desk" now that I am mostly situated in my new house.
I ordered the JDS Labs ATOM DAC+ and had instant invoice email and within 3 hours it was in Fedex hands and thereafter 3 days delivered in Canada. I also ordered a Schiit Magni Heresy headphone amp and invoicing and delivery where the same. The Heresy is the black colored model in the pics.

The small RCA cable from JDS Labs is fantastic as it holds it's shape.
 

Dunring

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Just got one of these the other day, have two of the original stacks but it's the first + version. Wow, on the Beyerdynamic T90 they sound exceptional, just tons of power in low gain for 250 ohm stuff. Going to leave it setup until this week when a Black edition DT880 600 ohm is coming in to see how it does. I usually have a Topping A90/D10b stack and to switch I can't hear anything I'm missing on the Atom stack. Only real downside is not being XLR with the added voltage which is helpful for the He6se. Quiet noise floor even plugged into a hub on the monitor which I know has some noise on other DAC's, even all the way up on pause no noise. They figured something out to eliminate that.
May keep this stack as my daily driver since the T90's are my new permanent headphones.
 

Jimster480

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Just got one of these the other day, have two of the original stacks but it's the first + version. Wow, on the Beyerdynamic T90 they sound exceptional, just tons of power in low gain for 250 ohm stuff. Going to leave it setup until this week when a Black edition DT880 600 ohm is coming in to see how it does. I usually have a Topping A90/D10b stack and to switch I can't hear anything I'm missing on the Atom stack. Only real downside is not being XLR with the added voltage which is helpful for the He6se. Quiet noise floor even plugged into a hub on the monitor which I know has some noise on other DAC's, even all the way up on pause no noise. They figured something out to eliminate that.
May keep this stack as my daily driver since the T90's are my new permanent headphones.
It is quite eye opening (or maybe ear opening?) when you test an affordable stack and it sounds the same as an expensive one. The JDS Atom stuff is great!
 

mkolmar

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JDS Atom Amp+ looks like a good candidate to replace the Schiit Heresy. I've soured on that one due to the Heresy's headphone-killing failure and my experience so far with their customer service. (Repair was actually quite fast, if we were talking about a basic failure under warranty.) The incident with an Atom discussed upthread sounds like unusual bad luck, despite protection for that type of issue, and had a clear explanation from the manufacturer.

So Amp+ has DC protection? I'd be less worried about DC passing from input to output than a cascading failure like the Heresy did. Is Amp+ more vulnerable to power & power-supply issues than any other, similar piece of gear? AC power is clean where I am, and I'd consider that my problem not theirs.
 

anynameiwish

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This thing is junk. I have two different units - both bought new straight from JDS - and both of them have trash-tier balance that makes them unusable at low volume. One side essentially disappears until you have their volume knob up around 12 o’clock and by that point it’s far too loud.

Connect a Monotor amp to the same Forssell MADA-2b outputs and it’s fine. It’s not the DAC, it’s the Atom, both of them, and it doesn’t matter if I’m using Sennheiser HD660s’, Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro or Audeze LCD-X.

I also find the wall wart power supply to be the most obnoxious thing I have in my studio. It is gigantic and heavy as hell which makes it want to fall out of the wall or power conditioner unless you prop it up.

The Atom Amp+ is the finest example of “you get what you pay for” I’ve ever encountered. Never again.
 

_thelaughingman

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This thing is junk. I have two different units - both bought new straight from JDS - and both of them have trash-tier balance that makes them unusable at low volume. One side essentially disappears until you have their volume knob up around 12 o’clock and by that point it’s far too loud.

Connect a Monotor amp to the same Forssell MADA-2b outputs and it’s fine. It’s not the DAC, it’s the Atom, both of them, and it doesn’t matter if I’m using Sennheiser HD660s’, Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro or Audeze LCD-X.

I also find the wall wart power supply to be the most obnoxious thing I have in my studio. It is gigantic and heavy as hell which makes it want to fall out of the wall or power conditioner unless you prop it up.

The Atom Amp+ is the finest example of “you get what you pay for” I’ve ever encountered. Never again.
Have you reached out to JDS Labs directly with your complaints and concerns?
 

Doodski

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This thing is junk. I have two different units - both bought new straight from JDS - and both of them have trash-tier balance that makes them unusable at low volume. One side essentially disappears until you have their volume knob up around 12 o’clock and by that point it’s far too loud.

Connect a Monotor amp to the same Forssell MADA-2b outputs and it’s fine. It’s not the DAC, it’s the Atom, both of them, and it doesn’t matter if I’m using Sennheiser HD660s’, Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro or Audeze LCD-X.

I also find the wall wart power supply to be the most obnoxious thing I have in my studio. It is gigantic and heavy as hell which makes it want to fall out of the wall or power conditioner unless you prop it up.

The Atom Amp+ is the finest example of “you get what you pay for” I’ve ever encountered. Never again.
I passed on the Atom Amp+ and I bought the Schiit Heresy which has about 2x the power output. The volume potentiometer is well matched left to right. The new model of Schiit is now called the Heretic and it also has protection circuitry in it now.
 

Joe Smith

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This thing is junk. I have two different units - both bought new straight from JDS - and both of them have trash-tier balance that makes them unusable at low volume. One side essentially disappears until you have their volume knob up around 12 o’clock and by that point it’s far too loud.

Connect a Monotor amp to the same Forssell MADA-2b outputs and it’s fine. It’s not the DAC, it’s the Atom, both of them, and it doesn’t matter if I’m using Sennheiser HD660s’, Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro or Audeze LCD-X.

I also find the wall wart power supply to be the most obnoxious thing I have in my studio. It is gigantic and heavy as hell which makes it want to fall out of the wall or power conditioner unless you prop it up.

The Atom Amp+ is the finest example of “you get what you pay for” I’ve ever encountered. Never again.
Shame. The Atom+ DAC is excellent and I'm very happy with it. I have Schiit Modi 2 and Shitt Modi 3 for amplification though. Decent channel matching on both even at low volumes.
 

MRC01

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Have you reached out to JDS Labs directly with your complaints and concerns?
I know from experience they have great customer service. They actually made a design change to the subjective 3 when I found a problem with it. And I've read they do warranty repair/replace if the Atom volume knob doesn't have good channel balance.
 

pk500

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My Atom+ DAC-amp stack has worked flawlessly for quite some time, so it sounds like you have a defective unit. While it reads like the JDS ship has sailed with you, JDS has the best customer service in the industry. If something is wrong, John Seaber will ensure it's fixed.
 

anynameiwish

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My Atom+ DAC-amp stack has worked flawlessly for quite some time, so it sounds like you have a defective unit. While it reads like the JDS ship has sailed with you, JDS has the best customer service in the industry. If something is wrong, John Seaber will ensure it's fixed.
Yeah, ordinarily I’d think it was a fluke, but two different brand new units both doing it..? Come on.

I find that the reviews here maybe focus too much on microsopic measurements to the point where basic, practical usability is thrown out the window. So it measures great, cool, when referencing audio in a professional studio environment that’s important, but the channel balance is awful* (and so common that it’s specifically mentioned on the JDS site), the wall wart is massive and the unit itself is so light and cheap that it’s prone to sliding around on a desk when simply interacted with. Their 15-day / 15% return policy is a joke, as well.

So, yeah, if you want to spend $99 on an amp that measures perfectly* but is a PITA to actually use then this is the one.
 

Doodski

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Yeah, ordinarily I’d think it was a fluke, but two different brand new units both doing it..? Come on.

I find that the reviews here maybe focus too much on microsopic measurements to the point where basic, practical usability is thrown out the window. So it measures great, cool, when referencing audio in a professional studio environment that’s important, but the channel balance is awful* (and so common that it’s specifically mentioned on the JDS site), the wall wart is massive and the unit itself is so light and cheap that it’s prone to sliding around on a desk when simply interacted with. Their 15-day / 15% return policy is a joke, as well.

So, yeah, if you want to spend $99 on an amp that measures perfectly* but is a PITA to actually use then this is the one.
If requested JDS Labs will adhere a steel plate inside the amp+ to weigh the AMP+ a bit so it does not move so easily.
 

MRC01

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Yeah, ordinarily I’d think it [poor L-R balance] was a fluke, but two different brand new units both doing it..? Come on. ...
Amir does measure channel balance throughout the knob range and his unit (and mine, incidentally) are quite good.

... I find that the reviews here maybe focus too much on microsopic measurements to the point where basic, practical usability is thrown out the window. ... if you want to spend $99 on an amp that measures perfectly* but is a PITA to actually use then this is the one.
Fair enough. I've bought equipment based on reviews here that I later had to return due to software/firmware bugs or quality issues that weren't detected in the review. Many of us here are willing to pay extra for high quality parts & build, repairability, durability and longevity. Yet that's hard to assess objectively or systematically. Any ideas?
 

_thelaughingman

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Amir does measure channel balance throughout the knob range and his unit (and mine, incidentally) are quite good.


Fair enough. I've bought equipment based on reviews here that I later had to return due to software/firmware bugs or quality issues that weren't detected in the review. Many of us here are willing to pay extra for high quality parts & build, repairability, durability and longevity. Yet that's hard to assess objectively or systematically. Any ideas?
Not wanting to sound like a Neanderthal but should we start suggesting taking a hammer to equipment for build quality?
 

anynameiwish

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Not wanting to sound like a Neanderthal but should we start suggesting taking a hammer to equipment for build quality?
Maybe mention the fact that the wall wart PSU is almost twice as heavy as the actual amp. That the force required to press its gain or input buttons is greater than the weight of the entire plastic unit. Maybe that your headphones probably weigh more. HD 660s - one of the lighter pairs in my locker - are 3 ounces heavier than this JDS amp.

Amir’s review says “It is light but functional.”

OK, I think there’s a bit of ground between that and hitting it with a hammer, don’t you?

I’d rather spend more and go 0-60 in 4 seconds in an Audi RS4 than in a gutted, ratty Honda Civic with its airbags removed but maybe that’s just me.
 
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