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Review and Measurements of New JDS Labs Atom Headphone Amp

vladstef

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Kind of makes the value proposition a moot point when it becomes a $136+fees product (in my case) instead of a $99 product though don't you think?
Although I agree with this, I mean, that's why I argued that shipping cost is a bit much, the +fees part will be true for anything we buy.

The shipping drops to 23$ for me when I remove the power adapter, I guess it's something to consider.

There is one EU distributor (Headsound Audio in Germany) for JDS that has Atom on pre-sale for 150e which covers VAT and shipping. After that it will be 170e. A bit crazy imho.


@confucius_zero , it's not the price exactly that is the problem when you compare it to something else, more the fact that some customs work in wrong ways that include shipping which is a bit disturbing in this case. In the end, you end up comparing what you have to pay to what someone else could be paying for the same thing and seeing a huge difference.
 

confucius_zero

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In the end, you end up comparing what you have to pay to what someone else could be paying for the same thing and seeing a huge difference.
It's a localisation issue more than the value of a unrivaled product. One could ask jds to establish links with a local distributor if the demand is high enough. This could help soften the price difference.

I've never had problems paying more for what I need if there's no other solution at total price around.
 

amirm

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How about doing a group buy in your country and approaching JDS with a large order like that?

And can you import it as electronic "parts" if you buy it without the power supply? If so, would the duty be lower? In US this is possible in some cases.
 

Hugo9000

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Here's another worthless anecdote from me haha:

So, I received my Atom on Thursday, running my Denon DVD-2910 to the Atom, and then to my KEF Space One (original wired model, noise cancelling off as always). I had the Atom set to high gain, with the volume knob at 12 O'Clock on my classical recordings. Over the past few days, I've been steadily backing off on the volume, while subjectively maintaining impact. Is this my ears/brain adjusting to a lower noise floor than I was used to before? Whatever the cause, by today, I had reached 9 O'Clock on the volume knob, still in high gain. So I decided to switch to low gain, and now have the volume knob at 1 O'Clock. Testing again with the Ravel Daphnis et Chloë recording I used in my first listening session with my Atom. The softest passages are exquisitely diaphanous, rising from a silent background, while the climaxes are still extremely thrilling and explosive, and at lower overall volume than I've ever enjoyed on headphones before, so not only is it an artistic win, but it should be less damaging to my ears as well! :D And minimal damage to my wallet, at $99 plus shipping (which is also what I paid on Black Friday for these headphones!)! :D
 

amirm

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The lack of distortion may make one initially listen at higher than normal volumes. But after a while realize that and back down in level. With amps that distort, you are pushed to lower the volume because of that.
 

Budwise

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I've been lurking the past few weeks and taking in all the info. I originally purchased a D30/A30 combo a few weeks ago and was pretty happy with it. I saw the reviews for the Atom and I figured since I was in my return period for the A30 I'd swap it for the Atom. Having heard both, I'd describe the Atom as slightly warmer/fuller than the A30. The A30 was maybe a little bit brighter, but overall both are very enjoyable. I'm listening to .flac files from my PC via USB to the D30 and using HD 58X cans. I know its my own ears and not much of a true measure but that's my take from listening to them both.

As far as non audio goes, I do miss the A30's build and knob feel. The A30 doesn't feel like an entry level amp, but the Atom certainly does. I also dislike that the volume knob and the headphone jack are so close together as my thumb ends up hitting the headphone jack when adjusting volume. It would be a big improvement in ergonomics to put more space between them. The plastic is well, plasticy and cheap feeling. The knob feels like I need to keep my 3 year old son far far away from this thing or he'll have twisted it right off in no time. The A30 on the other hand felt solid and well damped.

I'm keeping the Atom, mostly due to the fact that I'm a snob for sound just as much as build quality though in this case I'd say I notice the build quality much more than I notice the sound difference. I worried the Atom would be much wider than the D30 and look funny when stacked but actually they are pretty much exactly the same width so they stack fine. In conclusion, I understand the desire to say "look at what we did for $99", but I would have happily paid another $20 for better build quality. Should JDS come out with an upgraded version with a nice metal build I would probably go to the trouble to sell this one off and buy it.
 

confucius_zero

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GGroch

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Another good DAC match for the Atom is the Topping D50. It shares the almos exactly same aesthetic, has as good or better measured specs than the EL DAC, and has the advantage of being slightly smaller than rather than slightly larger than the Atom.

So, it is placed on top where the 1 pound weight keeps the cables from shifting the Atom around....while eliminating the need for this.
 

wadec22

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Another good DAC match for the Atom is the Topping D50. It shares the almos exactly same aesthetic, has as good or better measured specs than the EL DAC, and has the advantage of being slightly smaller than rather than slightly larger than the Atom.

So, it is placed on top where the 1 pound weight keeps the cables from shifting the Atom around....while eliminating the need for this.
I had the D50. Nice unit. I opted for EL DAC instead;
Avoid ESS hump
Reliability/Service/Reliability

I found the trade-off worth it as there are no audible differences between the two.
 
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Anyone here paired their Atom with Dragonfly Black? I have the DFB, so can save some money if it is a viable option. Thanks!
 

Bliman

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Another good DAC match for the Atom is the Topping D50. It shares the almos exactly same aesthetic, has as good or better measured specs than the EL DAC, and has the advantage of being slightly smaller than rather than slightly larger than the Atom.

So, it is placed on top where the 1 pound weight keeps the cables from shifting the Atom around....while eliminating the need for this.
After they didn't email me after I emailed them three times (never heard from them). Seeing there unprofessional website. Seeing how much problems they have with the Dx3 Pro I am glad I avoided Topping.
I mailed Jds Labs once and they mailed me back with great information and within a couple of hours.
The measurements don't tell the whole story.
 

confucius_zero

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confucius_zero

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Grantman

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What RCA cables are those that is connecting your Grace SDAC to the Atom? They look very well made & shielded.
Ghent cables off ebay https://www.ebay.com/itm/321690409603

They fit quite snugly on the SDAC, but required some slight bending of the adjustment tabs for the Atom plug end. I flipped them of course to check if was the cable, but it's just the Atom's female RCA are just marginally smaller.

FYI the diff between the A01 and A02 cables - apparently the A01 uses Japanese components (per a thread I found on headFi forum).
 
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