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Review and Measurements of New JDS Labs Atom Headphone Amp

Azeia

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I'm thinking of getting the atom to improve my setup. Currently using an original Benchmark DAC1 (circa 2004?) and using the built in headphone amplifier -- will I hear a noticable improvement with the Atom? I am connecting a Beyer DT770-250 headphone.
It depends how powerful the built-in amp is in it's power output. @Silou seems to have done some calculations in the DAC1 review thread as to what the power output might be, but this hasn't been confirmed by measurement, as Amir didn't test headphone output when he measured it, only the DAC section (which didn't seem to measure well).

If yours doesn't have USB input though, then it might be a different model than the one that was reviewed in this thread, since this one does in fact have USB input. If Silou's guess is right though, then it would be about the same power output as the Atom, so not really worth the upgrade.
 

SPARK

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In high gain, my DAC outputs 4Vrms on XLR , i see that on high gain the ATOM can only accept up to 2.10vrms input before it starts distorting.
Use an XLR to RCA cable Converts a balanced audio signal into an unbalanced signal to Atom。
Will there be overload and distortion?
 

Veri

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In high gain, my DAC outputs 4Vrms on XLR , i see that on high gain the ATOM can only accept up to 2.10vrms input before it starts distorting.
Use an XLR to RCA cable Converts a balanced audio signal into an unbalanced signal to Atom。
Will there be overload and distortion?
XLR to RCA cable might also not work well with some DACs output stage really if you're afraid of adding distortion, does your DAC not simply have an RCA output? RCA should be half of that 4Vrms which should be a perfect match with Atom.
 

SPARK

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XLR to RCA cable might also not work well with some DACs output stage really if you're afraid of adding distortion, does your DAC not simply have an RCA output? RCA should be half of that 4Vrms which should be a perfect match with Atom.
My DAC has two 4V XLR outputs, so XLR to RCA is my only choice.
 

AnalogDE

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It depends how powerful the built-in amp is in it's power output. @Silou seems to have done some calculations in the DAC1 review thread as to what the power output might be, but this hasn't been confirmed by measurement, as Amir didn't test headphone output when he measured it, only the DAC section (which didn't seem to measure well).

If yours doesn't have USB input though, then it might be a different model than the one that was reviewed in this thread, since this one does in fact have USB input. If Silou's guess is right though, then it would be about the same power output as the Atom, so not really worth the upgrade.
Poking around the Benchmark site it seems they use their HPA2 headphone amp design to drive the headphone jacks on their current DACx products. I'm not sure what my original Benchmark DAC1 has, but looking at the HPA2 specs it looks decent...
 

graz_lag

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Yes, that's the one.
Then, you can buy a $100 - or so, USB-S/PDIF bridge, a $10 S/PDIF coax cable, and you're set.
On the same installation with exactly the same components you're not going to pick up the difference between a 96 and 192 file.
On the bit-depth, YES, but not on the frequency.
 

AnalogDE

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Then, you can buy a $100 - or so, USB-S/PDIF bridge, a $10 S/PDIF coax cable, and you're set.
On the same installation with exactly the same components you're not going to pick up the difference between a 96 and 192 file.
On the bit-depth, YES, but not on the frequency.
I'm currently running with a cheap Signstek "Mini USB DAC" that has a optical out, using it as a passthru.
I picked up a Schiit Eitr and a coax cable and am going to try that.
Right now listening to Tidal HiFi streaming at work.
 

Shane D

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One thing to point out, the listening loudness is stupid. There is absolutely no chance that you listen louder than 100dB. 105db is good enough for all the dynamic headroom. And you should listen no higher than 96db average. Quite frankly, you should really listen at 85db only when you doing critical listening. And for casual long session listening less than 80db is ideal. Every 6db in loudness is 4 times the power.
It should be
73db quiet
85db critical
96db loud
105db maximum instead.
I worried that I was listening too loud and I bought a cheapie decibel meter from Amazon.ca (LiNKFOR noise meter). I hope that it is fairly accurate. In the last year I have been using headphones every day for several hours at a time. I can watch a constant up and and down flow or you can set it to just grab the max readings, which only occur a few times in a song.

Using my preferred volumes, the highest readings are 73 to 76 decibels and that is only for several seconds in a song.

So, hopefully I am not causing damage.:)

Shane D
 

trl

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Is there anyone who has idsd micro bl and Atom both to drive HD800 at the same time? I actually placed an order for Atom but then cancelled it for now. Since there is no issue to drive the headphones with idsd micro bl in turbo mode. However, if someone explains any major advantage to have Atom then I'll reconsider getting it again. I had Vali 2 in the past paired with HD800 (good tubes I had as well) and Vali 2 destroyed detail, dynamism and airiness unfortunately. Speakin of Vali 2, it was great when pair it with HD600 on the contrary. Also, idsd micro bl with HD800 too much sterile to my ears if you ask me why I'm looking for alternatives as an amp.

Anyways, Atom's price is very attractive so I'm open to hear different opinions whether getting it'd be a waste of time in this circumstances.
 

wadec22

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Disregard, found it...

@amirm have you tested the atom 50mv snr? Curious if it bests the rme and thx in that regard
 
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amirm

amirm

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Disregard, found it...

@amirm have you tested the atom 50mv snr? Curious if it bests the rme and thx in that regard
:)

For others, i am including it in new reviews:

Gustard H10 Headphone Amplifier 50 mv SNR Audio Measurements.png
 
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Can someone recommend an amp which has 2x or more output power than Atom?
Neurochrome HP-1 is a great choice for me, but it has been discontinued.
 

Schackmannen

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Can someone recommend an amp which has 2x or more output power than Atom?
Neurochrome HP-1 is a great choice for me, but it has been discontinued.
Why do you need so much power? If you do really need it and the balanced output of the THX 789 isn't an option then there is always the Benchmark HPA4 for the low price of $3000. ;) Also @tomchr is coming up with a new amp that will be cheaper than the HP-1 but I don't know if it will be as powerful, he can probably answer that though. :)
 
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Why do you need so much power? If you do really need it and the balanced output of the THX 789 isn't an option then there is always the Benchmark HPA4 for the low price of $3000. ;) Also @tomchr is coming up with a new amp that will be cheaper than the HP-1 but I don't know if it will be as powerful, he can probably answer that though. :)
Thank you for your detailed reply. I have a HE-560 and I believe it needs more power than the Atom can provide.
I hope @tomchr can release more information about HPA-1.
 

frogmeat69

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Can someone recommend an amp which has 2x or more output power than Atom?
Neurochrome HP-1 is a great choice for me, but it has been discontinued.
I know that the iFi iDSD Micro (Black Label or original silver) and the iCan Pro can make the HE-560 loud enough to probably destroy your hearing with lots of room to spare.
When I owned the iDSD Micro I never used the turbo setting, and use the +9db gain setting on only a few cans with the iCan Pro, one being the HE-560.
I never use the +18db setting, insane power.
 
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