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JDS Atom Amp+ Review (Headphone Amplifier)

anynameiwish

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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?
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?
You can’t really assess longevity but basic measurements like weight, the force required to interact with it, the materials used in its construction are all objective and would go a long way in painting a clearer picture.

Things like build quality are more subjective but also valuable. Does the unit flex or creak? Do its jacks have any give or wobble? With light items that are prone to move around, would it survive a drop from a reasonable height? Some might argue ‘oh, well, your unit might be different’ but if we’re taking the audio performance of individual units seriously why would its physical construction be out of bounds?

That’s my 4 cents on the subject. I suppose $200.04 wasn’t too bad to learn that - even if you’re completely ignoring the audio cork-sniffing - measurements captured by an AP device are only a small part of the story.
 

Doodski

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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.
You are not making sense. The Atom AMP+ is light and so what. Putting the power supply outboard enabled better SINAD. Car analogies are about cars and not electronics.
 

Joe Smith

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It would be great if the JDS Atom units were in metal cases, but that's how they make the price point work. For those who want metal cases, plenty of other options. The Schiit Magni power brick is very hefty too, but it works well.
 

pk500

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There's a very simple solution to the light weight of the Atom+ stack -- a small, Lucite rack. My JDS Atom+ amp and DAC are stacked in such a unit, and it keeps them from moving around as much as when outside of the rack.

I'll take a plastic chassis and sufficient, super-clean, non-colored power over a metal build and power that has more distortion or coloration. Maybe that's just me, but I LOVE my Atom+ stack and the almost-instant response I get from John Seaber (JDS himself) any time I send a question to the JDS help email address. Hell, I once sent an email to the help address at 8 p.m. on a Sunday night, and John responded within an hour. On a freaking Sunday night!
 

MRC01

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My solution is a stack with double-sticky tape on the feet to hold it together. The white mark on the Atom is a blob of whiteout marking unity when on low gain. This stops it from walking all over my desk on its own and makes daily use (knob turning & button pushing) one-handed, but plugging & unplugging the headphones is still a 2-handed operation.
1674160753609.jpeg
 

Suppa92

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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 been using atom amp+ for some time now (over a year may be), & I didn't come across any issue like that. At the lowest volumes there is a slight channel imbalance but not at all extreme as you mentioned. I only notice that when driving iem's at lowest volume level.
There must be a fault in your device, contact them, they're extremely helpful and responsive. JDS after-sales experience is the best I ever had in any product (not just audio).
 

anynameiwish

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You are not making sense. The Atom AMP+ is light and so what. Putting the power supply outboard enabled better SINAD. Car analogies are about cars and not electronics.
My post makes perfect sense, you just don’t like it, and I don’t think you know what an analogy is.
 

bboris77

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I felt I had to chime in on this because JDS Labs is, by far, the most legit and upstanding audio company I have ever dealt with. Their customer service is literally legendary and they are not in the business of selling BS marketing jargon to drum up sales. I have owned both of their Atom and Element products and they never failed me. Any time that there were any cosmetic issues with their anodized products, they addressed it promptly and professionally.

@anynameiwish is being extremely harsh towards this product and the company itself for some reason. I am not sure what the motivation is for this assault on their reputation, but it is really surprising to see anyone harbouring these kinds of feelings towards JDS Labs.

It would be interesting to hear @jseaber chiming in to see whether there has been any attempt on the part of the consumer to contact them to deal with this issue or whether this is an actual customer at all. It just seems really unreasonable for a customer to bash the company and their products publicly without having even attempted to address the issue with them and complaining about the design features of the product that were apparent to any prospective buyer for years. It is not like the Atom line was just released and nobody was aware of the fact that the cases were made out of lightweight plastic.
 

_thelaughingman

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I felt I had to chime in on this because JDS Labs is, by far, the most legit and upstanding audio company I have ever dealt with. Their customer service is literally legendary and they are not in the business of selling BS marketing jargon to drum up sales. I have owned both of their Atom and Element products and they never failed me. Any time that there were any cosmetic issues with their anodized products, they addressed it promptly and professionally.

@anynameiwish is being extremely harsh towards this product and the company itself for some reason. I am not sure what the motivation is for this assault on their reputation, but it is really surprising to see anyone harbouring these kinds of feelings towards JDS Labs.

It would be interesting to hear @jseaber chiming in to see whether there has been any attempt on the part of the consumer to contact them to deal with this issue or whether this is an actual customer at all. It just seems really unreasonable for a customer to bash the company and their products publicly without having even attempted to address the issue with them and complaining about the design features of the product that were apparent to any prospective buyer for years. It is not like the Atom line was just released and nobody was aware of the fact that the cases were made out of lightweight plastic.
I think it’s a moot point to turn this ship around from the perspective of the basher. He obviously has an issue that is unique to his power outlet which does not reflect on the design or performance of the Atom+. No point in entertaining that query any further.
 

pk500

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@anynameiwish is being extremely harsh towards this product and the company itself for some reason. I am not sure what the motivation is for this assault on their reputation, but it is really surprising to see anyone harbouring these kinds of feelings towards JDS Labs.
He's a lone voice screaming in the forest. While I don't doubt his bad experience with a JDS product (an incredibly rare phenomenon, BTW), the rush by others in this thread to defend JDS, its products and legendary customer service, and company founder and boss @jseaber (John Seaber) as MASSIVE assets to the audiophile community speaks with far greater authority and volume than this damn-near lone dissenter.

JDS makes great products at fair prices, with no BS jargon or outlandish claims. It backs those products with exemplary customer service. That's an opinion shared by about 99 percent of people who have used this company's products and encountered its customer service.

So, JDS' impeccable reputation stands intact. With good reason. If you're considering buying a JDS product for the first time, buy with total confidence.
 

Hugo9000

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There is now an option for a heavier Atom Amp+, called "Atom Amp+ Hevi":



We’re pleased to present Atom Amp+ Hevi ! With around 40,000 Atom Amps and DACs shipped since 2018, we’ve been thrilled with its continued success. We’ve received more positive feedback than we ever could’ve expected, but we’ve also received some valid suggestions. That’s where the Atom Amp+ Hevi comes in. Many have asked for an easier-to-grip knob. Done. Some balked at the lightweight build, so we made Atom Amp+ Hevi twice the weight. And thanks to its new thick, CNC’d aluminum top surface, you can optionally submit custom engraving artwork.

Atom Amp+ Standard is unchanged from the original, using the default injection molded enclosure.

Atom Amp+ Hevi feels substantially more rigid, with internal standoffs bolting the new aluminum top surface to the circuit board. Its longer aluminum knob also feels more stable while adjusting volume.

The circuit board is the same whether you choose Standard or Hevi construction, so performance is the same either way. We’ve resisted the urge to alter Atom’s electronics for two reasons. First, performance is beyond human hearing. More importantly, Atom Amp+ has a proven track record. We know Atom is safe to use, consistently outlasts its warranty, and remains a top choice for rookies and seasoned headphone enthusiasts alike!

Atom DAC+ Hevi is also available with the same aluminum top.

Atom Amp+ Standard remains only $99 and Atom Amp+ Hevi adds just $15 USD. Atom DAC+ will also remain $109, while Atom DAC+ Hevi adds only $10.

Please keep in mind quantities of the first batch of Hevis are limited!


My original Atom Amp is still working flawlessly and delivering beautiful music to my ears via my Sennheiser headphones after 4+ years.
 

Jimbob54

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There is now an option for a heavier Atom Amp+, called "Atom Amp+ Hevi":










My original Atom Amp is still working flawlessly and delivering beautiful music to my ears via my Sennheiser headphones after 4+ years.
Weightier low end?
 

AnalogSteph

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And I drilled a small hole over the dot in the plastic volume knob so the backlight shines through, illuminating it.
Been considering doing the same, it's really hard to tell where volume is set in the dark otherwise.

BTW, I was mildly shocked (figuratively, not literally) when I found out that the 230V power transformer by itself will draw 2.9 W doing absolutely nothing. At 16 VA, it is not that different in size from a nominal 12 V 1200 mA= supply (as shipped with a Zyxel DSL router way back in 2002ish) that'll take 1.6 W under the same circumstances. That's more like what I would have expected. Almost 3 W is a bit much even by the modest standards of linear transformers. Good thing I have it on a switched power strip, but still.
 

MRC01

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... BTW, I was mildly shocked (figuratively, not literally) when I found out that the 230V power transformer by itself will draw 2.9 W doing absolutely nothing. ...
Yep, that's one of the drawbacks of wall-wart powered devices. They do get warm, and that heat comes from somewhere. Another drawback being how they consume so much space on the wall.

One thing I've mentioned here at ASR before is a multi-device power supply. Like the Musical Fidelity X-PSU.
iu

I think JDS should make something like this. Plug it in with a normal power cord, and it provides multiple taps for the 16V AC that JDS devices like. So if you have an Atom amp, Atom DAC and Subjective 3, you don't need 3 separate wall-warts but drive all 3 from a single external power supply.
 

pk500

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There is now an option for a heavier Atom Amp+, called "Atom Amp+ Hevi":










My original Atom Amp is still working flawlessly and delivering beautiful music to my ears via my Sennheiser headphones after 4+ years.
Oh, this is REALLY cool. I love my Atom+ stack, but my only complaint is the light weight, which leads to it sliding around when I plug in and remove the plug from cans. I have my stack in a Lucite rack, which helps.

Still, this is more proof that John Seaber and the folks at JDS truly listen to their customers. I'm a JDS stan because one, their products are fantastic. Not overbuilt, not obsessed with ridiculous THD and noise specs that are far beyond the range of human hearing yet have crap quality control. Fairly priced. Plus JDS' customer service is exceptional. I once sent a question to the general help inbox at JDS on a Sunday night, and John himself responded within an hour.
 

FrantzM

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Now I would be pleased if JDS Labs would come out, with a more powerful version of the Atom, something able to push 5 Wpc at 10 ohms... With same performances and reliability ;)
I'd buy it the second it is announced.

Peace.
 
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