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Just bought a JDS Atom AMP. Do I need external DAC? (I have 'high-end' motherboard)

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#1
Hello,

I just bought JDS Labs Atom AMP and this thing is amazing in combo with my Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro 250 Ohm. Before this I used onboard pc audio which have ALC1220 codec from realtek, dual Texas Instruments op-amps and manufacturers words are that it 'should drive' headphones up to 600 ohms. It was driving my 250 Ohms extremely loud so that is true to some degree.. With Atom AMP I can clearly hear much better sound coming from my headphones - much better low end, highs and mids are much clearer now. I've had the enough volume before but now it's much cleaner.
Since I didn't have any problems with my onboard audio DAC - zero hissing and background noise, should I consider buying external DAC ?
Now my Atom AMP is working great and there is no hissing coming from the onboard DAC even at high gain and max voulme (just for test) with no music playing in background.

What do you guys think?
 

Fluffy

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#2
Google got me this and this

You should check how the onboard card sounds when the computer is under load. Induction from neighboring parts can theoretically result in noise bleeding into the dac chip.
In any case, getting even a cheap external dac will serve as a long term solution if you ever want to get a new computer or plug it into a laptop, etc. there are many sub-100$ dacs that will last you a lifetime.
 
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Thread Starter #3
Google got me this and this

You should check how the onboard card sounds when the computer is under load. Induction from neighboring parts can theoretically result in noise bleeding into the dac chip.
In any case, getting even a cheap external dac will serve as a long term solution if you ever want to get a new computer or plug it into a laptop, etc. there are many sub-100$ dacs that will last you a lifetime.
Yes, that is true especially when GPU is under load but I did not try to reproduce that scenario. GPU is never under load when I'm listening to music...
 

JohnYang1997

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#4
One thing I have to tell you and many others is that it's not "up to 600ohm" but "down to 600ohm". Higher impedance load is easier to drive from constant voltage. So in this case the manufacturer intentionally misleads people into thinking it's capable of anything under 600ohm which is not true.

On the DAC, just get a d50s or something maybe jds ol dac.
 
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#5
Khadas Tone Board pairs well with the Atom. That's a good lower cost option. You'll probably want a case with that, which can be had cheaply if you are willing to drill some holes in a cheap case. There's also some plastic and even aluminum ones available, and many people are 3D printing them, but the KTB itself sounds excellent. Some people have them just stuck to the top of the Atom with double sided tape, or standoffs.

Alternatively, you could buy an EL DAC, or something cheaper that still sounds good from Topping, like the D50S mentioned above.
 

Cahudson42

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#6
Spend $9 and get the Apple dongle DAC...
Apple USB-C to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack Adapter https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07K25P3N1/
(You may need an adapter for it's usb-c to connect to PC. Couple bucks more..)

Connect it to your Atom/phones and see how it sounds compared to your Atom connected to your current onboard DAC. Using disk, under load, etc.

Unless it sounds 'much better ' to you, I suggest there is no reason to buy another more expensive DAC.. You will have shown that there will be little or no benefit of doing so..
 
OP
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Thread Starter #7
Spend $9 and get the Apple dongle DAC...
Apple USB-C to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack Adapter https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07K25P3N1/
(You may need an adapter for it's usb-c to connect to PC. Couple bucks more..)

Connect it to your Atom/phones and see how it sounds compared to your Atom connected to your current onboard DAC. Using disk, under load, etc.

Unless it sounds 'much better ' to you, I suggest there is no reason to buy another more expensive DAC.. You will have shown that there will be little or no benefit of doing so..
There is no need connecting Apple DAC to my PC because there is no way it is better than my onboard audio. I tried it few times on my friends phone I can clearly hear hissing in background. On my motherboard there is ZERO hissing and noise. Apple dongle can be good for my laptop because it has very bad DAC and audio section in general.
 

Doodski

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#8
Hello,

I just bought JDS Labs Atom AMP and this thing is amazing in combo with my Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro 250 Ohm. Before this I used onboard pc audio which have ALC1220 codec from realtek, dual Texas Instruments op-amps and manufacturers words are that it 'should drive' headphones up to 600 ohms. It was driving my 250 Ohms extremely loud so that is true to some degree.. With Atom AMP I can clearly hear much better sound coming from my headphones - much better low end, highs and mids are much clearer now. I've had the enough volume before but now it's much cleaner.
Since I didn't have any problems with my onboard audio DAC - zero hissing and background noise, should I consider buying external DAC ?
Now my Atom AMP is working great and there is no hissing coming from the onboard DAC even at high gain and max voulme (just for test) with no music playing in background.

What do you guys think?
Good to hear there was a improvement. I've been really curious about how the motherboard would test here. I too have the ALC1220 Supreme FX CODEC on my ASUS 370E motherboard and I will replace that with something. I'm inclined towards the EVGA NU Audio Pro just to keep things in the case and have less wires laying about. It's good enough for my needs.
 
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Thread Starter #9
Good to hear there was a improvement. I've been really curious about how the motherboard would test here. I too have the ALC1220 Supreme FX CODEC on my ASUS 370E motherboard and I will replace that with something. I'm inclined towards the EVGA NU Audio Pro just to keep things in the case and have less wires laying about. It's good enough for my needs.
Yup, onboard these days is extremely good and powerful!
 

BDWoody

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#10
There is no need connecting Apple DAC to my PC because there is no way it is better than my onboard audio. I tried it few times on my friends phone I can clearly hear hissing in background. On my motherboard there is ZERO hissing and noise. Apple dongle can be good for my laptop because it has very bad DAC and audio section in general.
Sounds like there's no need to change anything...enjoy that atom and just save your money! I really like mine...just a clean little amp.
 

Doodski

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#11
Sounds like there's no need to change anything...enjoy that atom and just save your money! I really like mine...just a clean little amp.
Not necessarily. The output amp IC(s) on the motherboard are still in the signal path amplifying the signal that is going to the ATOM and we don't actually know how the DAC or amp performs on the motherboard. We really need a Supreme FX ALC1220A CODEC motherboard for @amirm to spec out for the database. I would send mine in but I can't part with my desktop, the case has a glass panel and it would cost mucho donero sending the entire tower to Seattle from Edmonton.
 
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#12
Just made a few tests with my Desktop PC (ALC1150 Codec with two OpAmps as well), my Apple Dongle, a Fiio headphone Amp and my Laptops audio and a pair of very sensitive IEMs:

My Laptops output is pretty noisy and sounds crappy.
My Desktops output is pretty quiet, but sounds crappy too, when connected directly to the IEMs.
The Apple Dongle is pretty quiet and sounds good.
When connecting the Desktops output to a Fiio Amp and than to my IEMs it is noisier than the Dongle but it sounds good too. This one fits with your findings: A good onboard Dac is ok, but the amp section is crappy, when connected to a headphone.

Furthermore my Fiio headphone amp seems to be noisy.

It's a bit of a wonder to me, that you got hiss from the Apple dongle. The dynamic range measured here was higher than 110 dBs, wich is pretty good and correlates with my observations.
 
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Thread Starter #13
Not necessarily. The output amp IC(s) on the motherboard are still in the signal path amplifying the signal that is going to the ATOM and we don't actually know how the DAC or amp performs on the motherboard. We really need a Supreme FX ALC1220A CODEC motherboard for @amirm to spec out for the database. I would send mine in but I can't part with my desktop, the case has a glass panel and it would cost mucho donero sending the entire tower to Seattle from Edmonton.
Yes, that would be ideal! @amirm
 
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Thread Starter #14
Just made a few tests with my Desktop PC (ALC1150 Codec with two OpAmps as well), my Apple Dongle, a Fiio headphone Amp and my Laptops audio and a pair of very sensitive IEMs:

My Laptops output is pretty noisy and sounds crappy.
My Desktops output is pretty quiet, but sounds crappy too, when connected directly to the IEMs.
The Apple Dongle is pretty quiet and sounds good.
When connecting the Desktops output to a Fiio Amp and than to my IEMs it is noisier than the Dongle but it sounds good too. This one fits with your findings: A good onboard Dac is ok, but the amp section is crappy, when connected to a headphone.

Furthermore my Fiio headphone amp seems to be noisy.

It's a bit of a wonder to me, that you got hiss from the Apple dongle. The dynamic range measured here was higher than 110 dBs, wich is pretty good and correlates with my observations.
Hey sorry, I got hiss from apple dongle, but not UCB C. It was Lightning dongle. But I think that two dongles are identical and are measuring the same.
 

Veri

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#16
Hey sorry, I got hiss from apple dongle, but not UCB C. It was Lightning dongle. But I think that two dongles are identical and are measuring the same.
In this forum I've seen mentions that lightning is noisier/hissier than usb-c. So, for the very low cost, it might still be worth a try.
 

BDWoody

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#17
Not necessarily. The output amp IC(s) on the motherboard are still in the signal path amplifying the signal that is going to the ATOM and we don't actually know how the DAC or amp performs on the motherboard. We really need a Supreme FX ALC1220A CODEC motherboard for @amirm to spec out for the database. I would send mine in but I can't part with my desktop, the case has a glass panel and it would cost mucho donero sending the entire tower to Seattle from Edmonton.
If it's performance is such that he hears no noise, or any other objectionable issue (as far as I can tell...?), what would be improved for him?

Edit: Not trying to be as argumentative as that reads. Testing the mobo would definitely be interesting.
 
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Veri

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#18
The PC community would be gushing to see how those 1220 CODEC motherboards spec out. I suspect that review would get plentyyy of hits.
I've personally driven K702/Q701 headphones from a good Asus ALC1220 mobo and it was pretty good. Add an amp like atom/magni-heresy and it can go a long way.. would be intriguing to see objective performance of it.
 

Doodski

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#19
If it's performance is such that he hears no noise, or any other objectionable issue (as far as I can tell...?), what would be improved for him?
The dynamics and musicality would be improved and the power output is sometimes very limiting with the 1220 motherboards. I for one would appreciate more power output and therefore I need more than the 1220 motherboard can provide. Going off memory the .pdf I found for the 1220 audio amp indicates a max of 50mA output compared to 250mA for the ATOM or EVGA NU Audio sound card which uses the same amp ICs. The muting circuitry on the 1220 motherboards is exceptional. As soon as the music track ends the totally silent mute circuitry engages and it's dead silent. I'm not convinced there is no hiss.
 

BDWoody

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#20
The dynamics and musicality would be improved and the power output is sometimes very limiting with the 1220 motherboards. I for one would appreciate more power output and therefore I need more than the 1220 motherboard can provide. Going off memory the .pdf I found for the 1220 audio amp indicates a max of 50mA output compared to 250mA for the ATOM or EVGA NU Audio sound card which uses the same amp ICs. The muting circuitry on the 1220 motherboards is exceptional. As soon as the music track ends the totally silent mute circuitry engages and it's dead silent. I'm not convinced there is no hiss.
I would think that power output is more than enough to let the Atom pick it up from there and give it some useful further amplification. I'm not sure what musicality is exactly when it comes to a DAC, but if he can't identify anything other than good clean clear sound, with no identifiable distortion or noise, that *could* be considered good enough without wondering what he is missing. Experimenting is pretty cheap though...
 
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