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Review and Measurements of New JDS Labs Atom Headphone Amp

jthj

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I'm on a Mac and will set the system volume to 100% going to the DAC and adjust volume on the amp itself. I've had the O2 + SDAC longer and on that setup, in low gain, I'm usually in the 9-11 o'clock range. On the Atom it seems like the pot is configured a bit differently so maybe 10-12 o'clock is similar in overall level also on low gain.

I think I also listen at lower levels than the average person.
 
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Wonder at what volumes do people listen cause i prefer low... I find windows volume bar at 8-10% if its modern master and 20-30% if it's a classical work thats quiet as hell.
May be difficult to compare if you use the volume in Windows as a reference.

On my Atom, sending bit perfect 100% volume from the player to the DAC, 100% volume on the DAC (a smsl su8), listening on a Audeze LCD-XC (~30ohms planar).
Most of the time it’s between 10 and 11 o’clock for jazz trio/quartet, rock, electronic.
Bumping up to 1 o’clock for some classical music recordings that have very large dynamic when I want to “feel” some “texture” during the quiet moments.
All on low gain.
I use very similar levels on a tube amp with the rest being the same gear.
 
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The SMSL Sanskrit 10th is also one of the Dacs i am looking at. Right now it is between the SMSL M100, SMSL Sanskrit 10th, Topping D10 or Just go Topping DX3 pro
Hi Mikhail -

Stay away from Shiit! I've owned all of their stuff... gone for good. I have an Atom with a topping D50 and also have the SMSL Sanskrit 10. The Sanskrit is a nice little DAC with a 4490! It's design is very attractive and different. It's well made and sounds very good for the price. I do power it with an Apple iPhone 5V adapter as noted in the review comments.
 
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Hmmm I was looking at the Sanskrit 10 but it doesn't have prime shipping anymore lol and the D50 is 250 which is i was gonna that high i would just get the SMSL M300 which is balanced balanced with the newer AK4497 chip.
 

Roen

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So i have decided to go Modi 3 and JDS Atom combo. Both are american made and the modi 3 seems pretty nice for the money.
Grace SDAC, $80 at Massdrop. And also american made.

Hmmm I was looking at the Sanskrit 10 but it doesn't have prime shipping anymore lol and the D50 is 250 which is i was gonna that high i would just get the SMSL M300 which is balanced balanced with the newer AK4497 chip.
No point to get balanced if your amp doesn't support balanced connections.
 
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I'll probably get one of those khadas boards 105 eur plus shipping. Funny enough jds atom is 160-170 eur if i got it in eu, which is same or more than just ordering from U.S and paying shipping + import tax... kinda odd you'd expect to pay less but nope, ends up about the same. Unless i'm looking at the wrong places.
 
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Just a quick question, will there be any problem if topping d10 line out was accidentally connected to atom preout? I did it for about 1 minute before realizing. The pre out is still working but I mis-connected it before listening to the preout (first time), so I don't know if there is any change in sound or not.
After a quick test, I didn't realize any difference between connecting topping d10 directly to speaker amp vs d10 > atom > speaker amp.
 

JohnYang1997

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Just a quick question, will there be any problem if topping d10 line out was accidentally connected to atom preout? I did it for about 1 minute before realizing. The pre out is still working but I mis-connected it before listening to the preout (first time), so I don't know if there is any change in sound or not.
After a quick test, I didn't realize any difference between connecting topping d10 directly to speaker amp vs d10 > atom > speaker amp.
no
 
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I've just contacted them too, and their engineer (John Seaber) also agree that there will be no risk doing so.
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My Atom amp has just arrived today. Below is my initial impression of D10-atom stack, upgraded from Fiio e10k.

Cons:
- Noticeable channel imbalance (to the right), but I can get used to it. Just to be clear, I'm already aware of this issue before buying the amp.
I'm using a very sensitive headphone ATH AD700x, and Atom amp is @ 8'o clock. Changing from e10k to atom amp immediately make me feel this imbalance. The e10k is perfectly balanced (or not noticeable imbalance) to my ear even at lowest volume (I always let the volume on e10k stay in 1-2 range). Atom amp L/R volume become more balanced when I turn it to 9'o clock, but it is still toward the right. I don't turn it higher because at that time, it is already too loud.

In case you wonder why I bought these gears just for this can, playing with these electronics is just my hobby so it is okay to me to upgrade my headphones last even though to me, it is the key to define how your system is.

Pros (only about audio quality and compared to e10k):
To be clear, this is not ABX test and I have no way to balance the sound between 2 combos. Maybe all of these impression is just placebo.
- The overall sound is fuller. Somehow I feel the bass range decay slower too. (e10k sounds much softer)
- Clearer
- Wider sound stage.
- About transparency, it is weird that in some cases, the detail is more revealing on Fiio e10k. Overall, I still prefer d10-Atom combo.
- About imaging, I think it is the same to e10k.

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I'm pretty sure that my AD700x cannot push both combos to their limit. I will upgrade it in the near future to see whether the differences between two combos become more noticeable or not.
 
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Mar 23, 2019
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It is going through the amp and volume control.
Is pre out as clean as hp out? I'm definitly ordering one of this and its going on my desk for both headphone dutys and as a volume control for powered monitors. Will feed it form fixed output of DX3 pro =) I'm a happy listener
 
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Got it. Gonna listen for a few days and give my full opinion.
IMG_20190408_145752.jpg
Question: how far do i have to push the 6.35mm plug cuz if i push it all the way in some audio lines just flat cut out and i have to fiddle\turn it apply very slight pressure til it starts giving full range of audio. Is my amp out messed up or plug loose or something? I got it all the way in now and it's playing just perfect. Dont wanna touch the plug though :D
 
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pwjazz

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Got it. Gonna listen for a few days and give my full opinion.
View attachment 24611
Question: how far do i have to push the 6.35mm plug cuz if i push it all the way in some audio lines just flat cut out and i have to fiddle\turn it apply very slight pressure til it starts giving full range of audio. Is my amp out messed up or plug loose or something? I got it all the way in now and it's playing just perfect. Dont wanna touch the plug though :D
I don't have this problem. Does your headphone have similar problems with other amps? If not, it might be a problem with your Atom.
 

jthj

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I accidentally didn’t push the headphone plug in once and it sounded off. I think it was shorting and only in mono. Seemed fine after correcting that.
 
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I don't have this problem. Does your headphone have similar problems with other amps? If not, it might be a problem with your Atom.
update: it was indeed the 3.5 to 6.35 adapter issue. I found some random adapter laying near my hand and assumed it was the only one i had. Swapped it with the one that came with hd600 alls good now.

I'm not sure whether it's the 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter or 6.35mm output metal grips on the atom that's bad. Entirely possible something got slightly loose during the shipping or they tested it so many times the out just got loose lol, but i'm not sending it back just for this unless it dies on me.
Listening for a few hours so far so good.
 
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Can anyone tell me how noticeable the channel imbalance @ low volume on Atom amp is? I'm currently using ATH AD-700x right now, very sensitive cans. Just for reference, using it with my Fiio e10k @ volume 1, low gain is enough and no noticeable channel imbalance.
Just to be clear, I would like to buy Atom amp to pair with my Topping d10 and use it for my PC, not as an upgrade from my e10k. I will still use e10k with my laptop.
I'm not noticing any channel imbalance at any level so far, perhaps I got lucky (I have not tested past 12 o'clock as that would be absurdly/dangerously loud).

The Atom runs HD 598 at normal listening volumes 8-10 o'clock (depending on recording) and HD 6XX at 9-11 o'clock using low gain mode from Khadas Tone Board.

Someone reported elsewhere that 3-4 o'clock was typical for HD 6XX, but I suspect they were using a low level source or applying R128 volume leveling (or similar), which makes everything much quieter.

Either that, or they are profoundly deaf ;D

I guess the take home from that is that the Atom has a lot of grunt, even in low gain mode. It might be too much for really sensitive cans unless the input is limited to compensate.
 
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