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JDS Labs Element III Review (DAC & Amp)

Rate this product:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 3 1.2%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 18 6.9%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 152 58.7%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 86 33.2%

  • Total voters
    259

jseaber

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Jan 15, 2018
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254
Thanks, @phrosty .

The knob shouldn't be fragile enough to necessitate a warning about clicking it from the side vs the center.

Agreed. The shaft was redesigned and changed from aluminum to stainless steel to improve ruggedness, so we may drop this tip.
 

Walter

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Aug 25, 2020
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Been using the Element III for a few days now and I'm really liking it!

Starting with the C5, moving to O2 and then ODAC, then Atom stack, now Element... I must say I'm a pretty loyal JDS Labs customer. I appreciate the consistently excellent support and lack of snakeoil.

Since JDS mentioned they are focusing on UX now that sound quality has been perfected, here are some thoughts/ideas I'd love for v4:
  • If you have the Element in front of you and to your left, you can see the knob LED through the OLED window.
  • The knob shouldn't be fragile enough to necessitate a warning about clicking it from the side vs the center.
  • Consider using Bluetooth or USB to configure instead of having a screen. Would clean up the look a tiny bit.
  • Balanced line out.
  • Optical out that acts as a passthrough output mode that can be turned on/off like line out. It wouldn't work with the preamp feature but this would make keeping noise out of speaker systems a lot simpler and still let it all be toggled by a nice button.
  • USB-C has supported Power Delivery for a while now and it'd be super cool to remove the extra power brick and cable if audio quality could be maintained. Admittedly I use optical so I don't think I could use this, but I've wanted it ever since USB-C PD was a thing :)
  • A breakout box that can be mounted under a desk, so the element only has a single cable coming out the back.
The biggest issue for me--a deal breaker, actually--is having the output switch on the back instead of the front. I would place this toward the back of my desk, under a monitor, and that would be really inconvenient to reach. I'd also like to see a version with balanced outputs. Otherwise, this is a great device, although out of my price range at the moment.
 

phrosty

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Joined
Oct 25, 2018
Messages
17
Likes
12
Location
Redmond, WA
Thanks, @phrosty .



Agreed. The shaft was redesigned and changed from aluminum to stainless steel to improve ruggedness, so we may drop this tip.
That's fantastic!

The biggest issue for me--a deal breaker, actually--is having the output switch on the back instead of the front. I would place this toward the back of my desk, under a monitor, and that would be really inconvenient to reach. I'd also like to see a version with balanced outputs. Otherwise, this is a great device, although out of my price range at the moment.

I agree it's a strange choice; you can now configure the knob button to act as an output switch, so it's not a big deal.
 

Walter

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I agree it's a strange choice; you can now configure the knob button to act as an output switch, so it's not a big deal.
I'm not a fan of multifunction switches/knobs, and I definitely don't want to have to enter a menu to make such a basic change that I will do multiple times per day. However, if it is something as simple as just pushing down on the knob, that would be OK. Just putting the switch on the front would still be preferable.
 

phrosty

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Oct 25, 2018
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12
Location
Redmond, WA
I'm not a fan of multifunction switches/knobs, and I definitely don't want to have to enter a menu to make such a basic change that I will do multiple times per day. However, if it is something as simple as just pushing down on the knob, that would be OK. Just putting the switch on the front would still be preferable.
The menu configures the button. From then on, it's just pressing the knob.
 

Walter

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Aug 25, 2020
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The menu configures the button. From then on, it's just pressing the knob.
In that case, while this is still out of my current price range and unavailable until I make a trip back to the USA, it is extremely high on my list of wants.
 
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