JDS Labs ATOM Amp

I’ve never listened to the AAA 789. That one of course offers a balanced output, so if you’re into that sort of thing it might be nice. I’d love to compare on the basis of measurements and such, but those measurements are made at high gain, which is different for the two amps, and both their THD+N is dominated entirely by noise, which is always higher at higher gains. That said, as far as the measurements go, for $100 the Atom seems hard to beat.

EDIT - On a side note, I think I now understand what people mean about better headphones being revealing of sources. The LCD2C is sufficiently low in distortion that it allows me to notice the difference in quality between the Magni 3 and the Atom because its distortion doesn’t dominate. If I listened with some cheap, high distortion headphones, I suspect that the differences would be harder to spot.

1 Like

I use the 789 with both balanced and single-ended output. Either way, it’s the cleanest amp I have by a significant margin. The big difference is in suddenly being able to hear very small events, such as counting how many times a singer’s voice cracked and the exact onset of clipping.

Yes, absolutely. My opinion of the Magni 3 was formed with HD-600s. I’d used them for years with everything from phones to PCs to amp output and knew them very well. The Magni 3 caused some sort of compression/distortion/flattening of the dynamics that I’d never heard before. I too had to crank the volume for the same impact I was getting even from Bluetooth earbuds. [And only later entered my balanced phase.]

Of my headphone fleet, the Elex and HE-560s are the most revealing of sources.

3 Likes

Yeah, right now I have to say that I’m regretting not investing in better amplification earlier. I’ve listened to a bunch of headphones that I concluded weren’t to my liking (including the Elex and HE-560) and I now wonder whether they would have fared differently with better source gear …

3 Likes

YES YES YES, ONE MILLION TIMES YES! YES!

The Elex are intense brass-blasters on a bad amp, but quite nice and neutral on a clean amp. The HE-560s are thin and distorted on some amps (including my Q5), but in the top tier on the 789 or P20. I’ve never heard better violin bow & rosin detail than on the 789/HE-560 combo.

The HD-600s are also quite revealing of amps to my ears (variance in high end hiss) – a $20 eBay balanced cable took them to another level.

2 Likes

Yes, I also concur with having the proper amp to go along with your headphones…it kind of reminds me of PC gaming requirements…the baseline technically will run a game, but are you really enjoying it the way it was intended?? lol

2 Likes

Doom (1993): Most people could only use a tiny little 3" screen instead of the full monitor. People competed to have the fewest “dots” in the lower left (fastest system). And then several years later serious 3D acceleration happened with Quake II.

1 Like

Yeah. I guess the eye opener for me here is that it’s not just about power as I had thought, it’s about clean power. The Magni 3 puts out copious amounts of power, but the Atom does it cleanly.

3 Likes

Yeah, I’m enjoying it…but still prefer the THX 789 but that is an apples to oranges comparison :slight_smile: I will eventually be offloading it to a friend…I did open up the Atom and it is an interesting looking interior…the weights are glued to the sides, I added purple film to the plastic shine through…for mo’purple goodness.

2 Likes

This is a great thread I have enjoyed reading this interaction between you guys. I really would like to replace my aging O2 Amp with the Atom.

1 Like

Ok, so I have my THX 789 and the Atom both hooked up to my ADI-2DAC and I’m listening with the preview unit HD820…and surprisingly the Atom can power the HD820 pretty good…but I recommend this: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BGYK245/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_Z8woCbF5NAMQJ
for putting on top of it to keep it in place for easier removal of the headphone jack. looks a lil funky but works great…


THX 789 destroys this guy but still the Atom is great… I would have a hard time recommending other amps at this price point.
photo is so big due to me using the Pixel2 Night Sight camera…and being lazy about re-sizing…sorry =(

3 Likes

It’s my 50th Birthday at the end of the month so I have ordered an Atom as part of the celebrations. Or rather my wife’s been persuaded to. Hehehehehe she’s a star.

6 Likes

Speaking of weight, I can’t say how much is in my unit… but here’s what I use to help support it

that’s 1/4" weather stripping, works nicely on Headphone stands as well. But it provides just enough support beneath the cables to keep them from causing the amp to tip backwards!

1 Like

Nice idea. I shall try this myself.

1 Like

Is the top surface on that door-stop you using as a weight completely flat, or is it convex?

I have a perfect use for four of these if they’re flat.

1 Like

They are flat but have a rounded edge, but when I get home tonight I’ll take a better picture of it and send it your way, as I can’t remember if they are “perfectly” flat or not. In this picture I have a Hiby R3 sittng on top of it:

I got/stole the idea from John Darko from Darko.Audio

1 Like

The rounded edge is fine. I just need the center 2-inches of the top to be flat, as I want to use them to elevate an existing stand until the taller legs for it come in. It looks a bit daft stuck on anti-moth cedar blocks!

1 Like

Yeah, trying to make my home desk area look “normal” is a struggle, especially when craming two PCs and that giant monitor along with all my audio gear… I will probably never be happy with it…and I’m absolutely positive my wife will never be happy with it lol.

2 Likes

Looks like an oversized record clamp

3 Likes

Stainless steel doorstops…got them from amazon

@Torq

Not perfectly flat…

2 Likes