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JDS Labs Assembled Objective2 Headphone Amplifier

Posted

Pros: Excellent sound quality, great price/performance ratio, battery and/or AC powered, adjustable gain options, no background hiss, packs plenty of power

Cons: Everything is on the front-panel, low-volume channel imbalance, too bulky to be used as a portable amp, finicky with TRRS jacks

 

 

Without referring to "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named's" (A.K.A. NwAvGuy) blog, and speaking from my own listening experiences, I really do think the Objective 2 is a great headphone amplifier. No, I don't think this is the amp to end all amps, but it's a dang good one and it only cost me $156 USD (which includes the Triad brand WAU12-200 AC adaptor). In fact, it can be found even cheaper nowadays from the same vendor, JDS Labs, for $140 (including the same adaptor).

 

 

 

 

What's in the Package?

  • JDS Labs Objective 2 headphone amplifier, wrapped in an anti-static bag
  • 2 removable, rechargeable Tenergy 9 V nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) batteries (already installed in the O2)
  • 4 adhesive clear-rubber feet
  • 3-foot long Monoprice mini-USB to USB cable, with gold-plated connectors and a ferrite bead
  • User Manual
  • JDS Labs business card/contact information
  • 2-year warranty free of part/manufacturing defects
  • Triad WAU12-200 AC adaptor (if purchased)

 

 

 

 

Custom Orders

There are also 3 things you can get customised when your order your O2; all you need to do is fill out the "order notes" section before you make your purchase:

 

 

 

 

Design

This is the only place where I have major complaints about the O2.

  • Everything is on the front-panel, and the front-panel only
    • 12 VAC AC adaptor plug
    • Power button
    • 3.5 mm output
    • Red LED power indicator
    • Volume potentiometer
    • Gain button
    • 3.5 mm output

Yeah...there's a lot stuff going-on on the front-panel, and the cable management is a mess.

 

Adding to the mess of stuff on the front-panel, the amp itself is too big (for me) to be considered a portable amplifier. Perhaps for those people who carry around a "portable" bomb rig that is 6-inches thick with 4 different components and paired with a 10 pound open-back Audeze LCD-2 headphone with $500 platinum-coated silver interconnect cables (slight exaggeration here), this amp is trivial in size; but I am not one of those people and I prefer to have a tidy, pocketable portable rig instead.

 

Kidding aside, the other thing that bothers me with the O2 is the channel imbalance encountered at low volume-levels with the potentiometer. When past the channel imbalance region (~8:30 o'clock position on the potentiometer), the output is kind of loud even with 1.0x gain, especially with sensitive headphones. Because of this, I don't really recommend the O2 for such headphones unless you have a custom gain of less than 1.0, or you use an impedance adaptor.

 

As a small note, at least with the V-MODA Crossfade M-100's cables, my O2 doesn't seem to like TRRS jacks too much. If I plug it in all the way, I get a mono-like sound coming out of the O2. Pulling out the jack slightly seems to remedy this issue and all is good.

 

All things considered, the layout of the O2's front-panel is messy and the potentiometer's channel imbalance can be a bit of annoyance for some headphones.

 

The O2 outside of its case:

 

 

 

 

 

Sound

From switching between different amps, headphones, and sources I have at hand, the O2 has a very clean-sounding signature as a whole.

  • Bass extension is good with decent texture
  • Midrange is a bit laid back in presentation, but not lacking in detail
  • Treble is well-extended with no roll-off from what I can detect
  • Soundstage is pretty spacious, having both good width and depth
  • Related, but not necessarily correlated to the soundstage, imaging is also very good and I can easily imagine where instruments are in my head
  • Instrument separation is excellent; instruments are well-defined and never muddled together
  • Related, but not necessarily correlated to the instrument separation, instruments have very good detail and nothing sounds muffled
  • There is no background hiss from what I can hear with 1.0x and 2.5x gain options at reasonable volume levels

 

Q: Is this what neutral sounds like?

A: I have no idea. I'm not a musician, nor do I play any instruments, so I can't say if it sounds coloured or not.

 

Q: Is this what a "wire with gain" sounds like?

A: Maybe. This relates to the previous question.

 

Q: Is this what "boring" or "sterile" sounds like, as some have suggested?

A: Not in my book. Different genres of music of all different kinds of mastering sound fine with me. I have yet to encounter a track and exclaim: "wow this amp is so boring! my music sounds so dull and lifeless!" All I can say is that music in general sounds spacious, well-defined, and clear. Though "involvement" in music is purely subjective, I never find myself being uninvolved in my music unless I'm listening to music as background noise.

 

Q: Will it power X headphone adequately?

A: Yeah most likely. I really enjoyed the LCD-2 with the O2 over other amps I've heard, even though the LCD-2 isn't my favourite headphone of choice. From a pure synergy perspective, I didn't like the HE-500 with the O2 as it had a pretty tizzy treble that made rock tracks not enjoyable for me to listen to. That might be due to the HE-500 itself though, not the O2.

 

Q: Does it sound bright?

A: Not at all. I don't know where people got that idea from.

http://www.stereophile.com/content/sounds-audio-glossary-glossary-b-c

Quote:
 bright, brilliant The most often misused terms in audio, these describe the degree to which reproduced sound has a hard, crisp edge to it. Brightness relates to the energy content in the 4kHz-8kHz band. It is not related to output in the extreme-high-frequency range. All live sound has brightness; it is a problem only when it is excessive.

Comparing different headphones with the O2 and comparing the O2 to different amps, the O2 is definitely not bright to me. It's definitely not dark either for that matter. Maybe with an HD800 or K 701 they sound bright, but the those headphones are bright by nature, so it's not the O2 sounding bright.

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

All in all, if you can get past the messy front-panel and the channel imbalance at low volume-levels, then I truly think the Objective 2 is a terrific-sounding amp. I like its sound more than other amps I've tried, both desktop and portable amps, and everything just sounds so dang clear and clean to me. As such, the O2 is my current reference amplifier. For $140 USD, I think the O2 is a no-brainer if you're looking for a clean-sounding amplifier and you don't want to spend OVER 9000!!!!! (read: a lot of) dollars on an amp. You might not like the sound of some headphones out of it, but I think it's due to the headphones themselves and not necessarily the O2.

 

 

 

 

Thank You!

Thank you for taking the time to read or glance over my review! I hope this review helps you in some way or another and if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.

 

Happy Listening!

:L3000:

Posted

Pros: Noticeable improvement in some cases, very little improvement in other cases

Cons: Everything is on front panel

UPDATE:

So, this amp makes the signal just a bit cleaner. It was pretty noticeable on my Q701s, noticeable for general clarity, separation, esp cymbals got a bit clearer. For my HD 558 (w/ foam mod), slightly noticeable, but not that much. For my closed-back headphones->very minuscule, you might notice if you listen really hard. When I bought this, I just needed power for my Q701s so I was surprised the quality actually improved, thus I might have exaggerated my initial impressions a tiny bit. Overall the difference minor even for the Q701, but still pretty noticeable. It's not OH WOW I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS, IT'S LIKE DAY AND NIGHT kind of difference.

 

I bought this amp for my Q701s (Which I won't receive until Friday). When it came I took it out just to make sure it works (All my current headphones are low impedance and don't require an amp). I hooked it up with probably one of the worst possible sources you can imagine: a Nintendo DS (I was in the middle of playing a DS game when it arrived). Of course there was volume, but I also almost immediately noticed that the soundstage got bigger and the instrument separation became better. This was on my AD700s. I thought to myself it must be me imagining things. Just to make sure I switched back to directly plugging into the DS and the DS->Objective2->Ad700 setup. There really was an improvement, not just volume, I adjusted the knob so that the volumes were the same. The improvement is definitely real and doesn't require careful listening to notice, it was almost immediately noticeable. Needless to say, I am impressed as I have always been skeptical of headphone amps, but this one made me believe all the hype.

Posted

Pros: Does its Job and Does it Well

Cons: Pricey? Even for what you get . . .

Lets see, a battery powered Amp that runs for hours on hours with a charge, or a desktop Amp that can throw almost a watt out and run forever?

 

I don't know - its sort of both. It is too big to be taken anywhere, but definitely small enough to travel if you want it to. I ordered mine with a black face plate which I think is a little cooler looking.

 

There appears to be some "mythology" surrounding this amp, some claim it "ruins" their sound quality while others think its awesome. I think its an amp - that is, it takes a signal, amplifies it, and otherwise has no real impact on what you hear. It has no real noise I can detect (except at max gain of 6.5X with nothing playing at max volume, which is possibly my source, not the amp). Those who adore vacuum tubes might hate this discrete amp, but I hate replacing tubes every 9,000 hours, and like the idea that this thing should run forever

 

As far as amps go, the sound quality has been awesome, convincingly "clean", and does not seem to distort or struggle even when being pushed hard. You would have to spend at least another $50-100 bucks or so to get to the next level of power (about 1 full watt) with similar features and quality.

 

Mine came with small stick-on rubber feet, and a blocky 12 V DAC adapter. Having all jacks in the front is not a HUGE deal, but function is definitely following form in this case. Clutter could be reduced if the power and input jacks were in the rear, but you'd have to do these mods yourself. On that front, it would be nice to have digital/RCA/USB inputs as this unit probably isn't going anywhere. Whole unit has a nice solid feel, volume knob is solid feeling. Only gain and power switch come across as a little "cheap". I ordered stock 2.5X gain and 6.5X gain switch - which is about right for my HE-400s. For a more efficient headphone, as you can choose gain level, I would recommend 1X gain and perhaps 2.5-4X for less efficient cans. If you listen to many High Dynamic Range recordings (like DVD movies, for example), you may want that high gain (6.5x) switch - it can help reach the right volume levels with certain headphones. But, in general, the gain settings are not 'volume' buttons consider your main sources.

 

JDS Labs shipped extremely fast, answered my questions, and will "customize" the unit by shipping it with gain settings and color of your choosing. You can choose your own VAC adapter, or just buy theirs, as I did.

 

Prodigous power from a small unit - I estimate about 700 mWs @ 50 ohms while plugged in. Otherwise, about 500 mWs reliably from about 32-100 Ohms plugged in, and about 500-400 mWs on battery. Far more power than needed for most headphones. Very low impedance output should be a great match for a very wide range of headphones. This thing specs better than amps several times its price.

 

That said, it also costs almost as much as very good component amps for cars (that provide 10x the power). It costs as much as some very good headphones. In the world of high-end headphones, it is a fabulous value. But I would probably skip it if you get enough volume from current sources. The HE-400 provides a fairly good threshold perhaps (rated 92dB efficiency). Any phone with efficiency ratings in the 95 dB or greater range probably doesn't want this much power. But if your phones are high impedance and you struggle getting good output from a computer, phone, etc, I am sure the O2 will rock your world.

Posted

Pros: Good sound to price ratio, Very versatile for modding, Delivers the sound without coloring, enhances soundstage, decently powerful.

Cons: short battery life (8-9 hours), long charge time (12 hrs using 18VAC, 770mA), audio quality becomes source dependent. Not very portable.

This is my first review submission for head-fi, hope that it could provide some comparison and enough information to let you decide whether to make a buy for it. But do remember this review is from my point of view and the ultimate decision is down to your ears to decide.

 

First few things to start off with here that i believe will be important:

 

The sound of O2 really depends on the audio source.

The fact that O2 is a very neutral amplifier makes it reliant on the DAC and the file formats it is using.

For instance, using the DX50 as line out vs. using DX100 as line out, the difference is greatly noticeable.

In another instance, my friend tried my O2 using his phone as a source. He didn't like the sound he's hearing until i changed the source to DX50, and there goes the poison :veryevil:.

 

**DX50 is running Firmware1.2.8, DX100 is running FW 1.2.7. Both DAPs are using the same songs, FLAC quality converted from CD. Using silver plated copper interconnects. Headphones used is Custom One Pro.

 

Comparing O2 with other amplifiers:

I have the Aune T1, so i decided to compare the T1's amp section vs the O2.

The O2 and T1's on board amplifier are very close sounding to the point that you would not hear much difference unless you really listen in great detail. The O2 has a tiny bit less bass, less 3D vocals and sounds slightly less engaging. The highs have not much noticeable difference, probably due to the headphones i'm using. In this case, The former is clearly the winner, but hey this is a portable amp, and it performs almost as well as a small desktop amplifier :D.

 

**Source used in this test is in FLAC format, digital from laptop, using the Aune T1 as a DAC for both amplifiers. The tube on T1 is a NOS Philips JAN 6DJ8. LO cable is a 5N silver RCA-3.5mm cable for the O2. Headphones used is Custom One Pro.

 

Sound signature:

1) O2 is fast and does not smudge the song when playing fast songs.

2) Neutral, it literally only amplifies the source signal.

3) It is suitable for any genre songs IMO and generally presents the music with a better soundstage and imaging without changing how the music sounds like.

4) Due to its neutral nature, some may not like the sound of it as it may make a song sound a little boring and slightly less dynamic compared to portable tube amps.

5) The ability for micro details to be picked up is more source dependent. But O2 does a good job on the microdetails, making sure they don't get left out.

 

 

Pros overall, including build quality, sound and price to performance:

1) Good volume knob, quite strong and can withstand some abuse. No hiss produced when turning the knob.

2) Strong aluminium case to keep internals protected and at the same time would not be too heavy.

3) All the plugs are located at the front panel, which may be good and bad depending on how you use it.

4) When the amp is switched on, only a tiny pop sound can be heard.

5) O2 makes the instrument separation, imaging and staging better without tainting the sound.

6) Only 1 circuit board present in the amp, making the configuration a lot easier to be understood (for modders)

7) Current limiting OPamps used at output to protect expensive IEMs.

8) Very powerful (up to 613mW into 33 ohms on battery), can also drive nearly any headphones out there to a decent listening volume. 

9) Battery can be changed out when it runs out of juice.

10) Not very space taking if compared to other desktop amps.

11) Very versatile for modding

12) Good sound performance to price ratio; you get more than what you pay for

13) Good amp for starters

14) nearly inaudible hiss. Hissing sounds may come from sources instead.

 

 

Cons:

1) Short battery life

2) Source dependent. = Need to get a good DAP or DAC

3) Big and bulky, not pocket friendly

4) On high gain, it sound's bad

5) Certain songs may sound too neutral and cause it to sound boring

6) Some may not like all the jacks to be at the front panel

 

 

Interesting things to share about O2:

Suitable OPamp replacements for O2: JRC(NJM) 2068DD can be replaced with NE5532 or LM4562 according to the O2 blog site.

Plugging in Fitear TG334, at completely 0 volume, you can still hear the music playing through the O2.

O2 can be used as an pre amplifier as it does not change the sound signature much, but it improves the soundstage.

O2 tends to clip easily when a low quality source (eg. a phone) is used.

If you do not like to use the equaliser, then change the interconnect cables to change the sound signature.

 

I hope the above review can help!:) 

Posted

Pros: Very accurately reproduces the source signal; I guess it could help if the source's headphone jack isn't strong enough

Cons: Could use more power

The objective facts

 

Background: I listen to music on a higher-end (purchased for $800) Asus laptop, or my Galaxy Note 2 smartphone. With my SRH940s, the phone sounds better in terms of sound signature, but with my Sennheiser HD800s, the laptop sounds better for some reason. But they're both very close. All of these experiments were done listening to music on Spotify 320kbps; that's how I listen to headphones 99% of the time so that's the only way to test for my purposes.

 

How I tested this: I connected the O2 amp, with low gain, to my laptop's output jack. I set the volume of the O2 amp to its highest level (in other words, I controlled the volume of the music from my laptop's volume meter). The playback was set at 24bit / 192 khz (basic windows audio lets you pick this option). I plugged the HD800 into the amplifier.

 

The first thing I noticed was that this setup didn't cause the HD800 to be that much louder than it was when I simply plugged it directly into the laptop. In other words, with the O2 amp's volume set at max, and my laptop volume set at 25%, the headphones had close to the same volume as when I plugged the HD800 directly into my laptop and set the volume to 25%. So my laptop has as much power as this thing. Then I turned up the volume to the maximum and used a decibel meter to see how loud the two could make the headphones, and again, very similar. I repeated the above with the phone and got more or less similar results. 

 

Subjective observations

 

Next I cycled through a few songs that are very well recorded, to see if they sound better on one vs. the other. I listened once, twice, three times, again, again, focusing on very specific parts of the song, often playing 10 second portions of a song and repeatedly alternating between the two sources. I could find nothing. I would often focus on one tiny detail in a song, to see if the O2 and computer produce it the same, and they could. When the O2 was driving the phone, it had the phone's less desirable sound signature, and when it was driving the laptop, it had the laptop's sound signature, but the O2 didn't change the sound at all. I thought an amp was supposed to improve the sound of my "power hungry" HD800, but this did nothing. However, commenters say that this is exactly how it's supposed to work. In other words, it's not supposed to change the sound at all. So I guess I can't rate it poorly for doing what it's supposed to do.

 

Conclusion: If you have a severely underpowered source and need power, this will deliver it. But it could do more in this respect. It's not underpowered like some of those pathetic portable amps you see out there. But in my opinion, a $130 desktop headphone amp should provide boundless power, as much as you could ever want. When you buy a desktop amp, you should no longer be concerned about not having enough power. You should be concerned about keeping the volume low so as not to blow out your ears. To provide technical stats, on its website, it states that the O2 can only deliver a maximum of 88mW at 600 ohms. Well what if you're trying to drive a T1 or another 600 ohm headphone? Is 0.09 of a watt enough? Again, it has power, but you might not need the little bit of extra power this provides, and you might be fine sticking with your laptop or phone's amplifier. In light of the fact that it costs $130 and sits on your desktop, but doesn't have huge bountiful power, I'll subtract 2 stars. I'm just not sure why you would buy this if you want a desktop amp.

Posted

Pros: Sound Quality, Build Quality, Customization, Value

Cons: Portability Issues

The Objective2 is my first amp along with my beloved HD600 headphones. Here is my review after my experience with it for several months.

 

 

Intro : I am an 21 year old Engineering student living in a small town in India. There is not much audiophile-community presence in India, Though lot of potential remains to be tapped. Auditioning an amplifier before purchase is almost impossible in India.

 

I would like to call myself an music enthusiast, rather than an audiophile. I mostly listen to Bollywood and Indian Classical Music.

 

I had bought off the O2 amp solely based upon its reputation, and also because of not being left with enough funds buy an more feasible amp.

 

 

The O2 amp is designed by an famous American electrical engineer. It is well documented and measured amplifier, leaving no second thoughts on its performance. The goal of O2 amp is to achieve transparent sound with good measurements and at a reasonable price point, So that every enthusiast could afford an decent amplifier.

 

The O2 can also be customized easily. It is available as a kit, or readily assembled, with/without case. It is cost effective and has many more add-on options.

 

 

Design and Build : It is an very well designed and built amp. All components are mounted on an single PCB, with no manual wiring, which ensures longer life. It consists high quality double sided PCB, passive components, semiconductors and an Alps potentiometer. Exterior case has equally good build, with finished anodized and brushed aluminium case. Front and back panels are mounted by 4 screws, which can be removed easily to slide out the O2 board. All controls and jacks are mounted on front panel of O2.

 

 

Overall,The O2 amp has Excellent build quality and design. Cant ask for more from an DIY amp.

 

Sound :  O2 is very transparent. It has no ‘sound signature’ of its own. The output from the O2 depends very much on the source and ultimately on the headphone you are listening; it’s a wire with gain. It is an reference amp in sub 200$ price category, and comfortably competes with amps which costs much more.

 

The O2 amplifies the input signals without adding any flavour of its own, which results in improved soundstage, dynamics and imaging. This transparent sonic character makes the O2 amp suitable for any genre of music. O2 has zero audible background noise and pitch black background. It has a very low EMI pickup, which is an advantage for Smartphone users.

 

Output Power: Specifications state that O2’s output power is sufficient for most of the headphones. O2 amp can drive both dynamic and planar-magnetic headphones, though the latter seems much difficult to drive; The O2 takes the dynamic HD600 and planar magnetic LCD2  to loud listening levels, but ultimately lacks dynamics and power to ‘drive’ them properly.

 

 

We know that the O2 can have custom gain settings. Though by default, the O2 comes with 2.5X/6.5X gain. Once the gain is flipped to 6.5X, background noise and distortion increases. I feel the gain switch is best set at 2.5X. But this again limits the O2’s output power for demanding headphones.

 

The O2 amp has low output impedance and is hence is also suitable for IEM’s and earphones. One can hear an small ‘pop’ noise from headphones when O2 is switched on/off.

 

Portability : The O2 amp is not sleek or light as the Cayin C5 or FiiO E12. The O2 is more of an transportable amp than truly portable.The O2 amp can work either on Internal Rechargeable 2X 9V Batteries or on External 15-20 VAC Adapter.

 

Once fully charged, The O2 works on battery power for around 6-8 hours, which is quite decent. It doesn’t have any audible differences when running  on batteries or on AC Adapter.

Slow recharging process in implemented in-order to avoid over-charging the batteries. Once the AC Adapter is connected to the amp, the battery recharging process is initiated. It takes around 12 hours to fully recharge the O2. There is no indication to the level of charge in the batteries; we have to manually estimate the approximate battery life remaining.

 

Most of the portable amplifiers use 5V USB Charging. Whereas O2's AC Adapter is heavy, and is cumbersome to carry around. This further limits the O2’s portability.

 

Though O2 is an excellent amp, but It's portability side suffers. If one wants to sacrifice the transparency of O2 for better portability, CAYIN C5 and FiiO E12  are pretty good amps, which have higher output power and are truly portable, along with very good sonic quality.

 

 

 

Conclusion :

 

The Objective2 is an fantastic amp, It is hard to beat O2 amp in its own category. O2 is an easy recommendation for an budget amp. Though not very portable, the Objective2 does its job and does it very well.

 

The following features make O2 amp unique amongst others :

 

1) Transparent Sonic Character

2) Battery/Adapter operation

3) DIY and customization

4) Decent output power

5) Easy maintenance

6) Transportable

7) Affordable.

 

 

O2 is like an transparent window, which shows us, the view into music.

Posted

Pros: Light, Gain Switch, Replaceable Battery

Cons: Not Lithium Batteries for More Power or Run Time

I've been reading so many replies and reviews how the O2, Magni and Vali sound the same. After weeks of listening to all of them, (yes I have them all) they are all not exactly the same . I've been using the same music and all else in the system is the same and have only changed the amps. Started with O2, then went to Magni. Yes the Magni and O2 sound very close. The Magni does sound a tad processed and thin compared to O2 but the Magni does have more authority as it is more powerful in comparison even though they all seem to struggle reproducing the source. The O2 is a really nice amp but when compared to the Magni the O2 is better overall, but sound wise when compared to Vali in sound the Vali is a tad better.

I hope this helps anyone who maybe interested in the O2.

Posted

Pros: Flat sound. tight bass.

Cons: Charging mechanism is pathetic.

It lives upto its name. This ne is a gem as far as neutrality is considered most neautral Amp i have had or tried so far. I have tried HiFi man EF5 Fiio E11, E17 ,little dot mk2 etc. and found them clearly sub par comparing the bar this product has raised for its price. The immediate this one can notice is great improvement in both treble and Bass. Bass is quite tight. Treble is cold and accurate. Might sound little harsh for headphones like ATH50 but suits well enough for HD650. Wanted to try out well known tube amps especially Schiit Valhalla, Bravo audio ocean and the HD650 specialist (as per many folks on forums) Bottlehead crack. Unfortunately they are not easy to find in the part of the world i live. and i am not much into DIY either.May be someday i'll get my hands on them and then compare the famous tube sound signature with this little beast's accuracy in terms of SQ and see what suits my ears more, accuracy or the warmish (yet close to accurate) sound. For now i'd safely say this is best in class Amp and a great value.

 

Let's look at its shortcomings.

1. the charging mechanism has not LED indicator to show whether charge is full or not or whether it's charging or not for that matter. It  gets really annoying that i have to keep it off while it's charging and yet i don't know whether it is actually charging. It in fact most of the times is charging unless the heavy adapter has lose connection(it is quite possible as the adapter weighs more than O2 itself.)  or you forget to switch the button on (like i have done couple of times :P)For a 130$ product this wasn't a big feature to ask. 

2. Gain switch is useless IMO as it totally screws SQ I never needed it though, HD650 can get enough juice on 2.5X gain setting. 

Posted

Pros: Sublime Transparent Sound, Price, Build Quality, Adaptability.

Cons: Maybe could have used the source input & PSU inputs at back


1st things 1st I guess ;
I tip my hat to the Guy who Designed the O2 & to JDS Labs also for making it ready built.
Now I don't know the Guy who came up with this O2 Headphone Amp but if I did I would certainly shake his hand.
I don't say this lightly but here it is then ;
This little Headphone AMP is quite simply put the best sounding Headphone AMP I have ever heard, PERIOD !
You add in the fact that I imported it into the UK direct ready built by JDS Labs for just under £100 including a UK PSU for recharging & I guess that possibly makes this little gem then truly the best value for money Hi-Fi component I own including any full Size Hi-Fi components in my Linn/ Musical Fidelity main Rig.

I normally use this paired with my now favourite cans the Shure SE 535 Ltd red's & all I can say is that it's like I'm listening to my big Hi-Fi System through it's Linn speakers & not through a Headphone AMP/ Cans combo smily_headphones1.gif
I cannot stress the clarity/ transparency of this little AMP enough, it's just a breath of fresh air in an otherwise "Snakeoil" & Overpriced, Overhyped & quite frankly mostly Junk Headphone Market. If you buy into the "Oh it has to be a brand name for it to sound good & thus cost a plenty style of thinking" then you'll probably never even get to try this little gem as you'll be too busy handing over £1,000 for your branded heap of junk headphone amp that you only bought because you "Like that brand & somehow think that they'll always produce greatness".

I have heard a few shall we say just Higher Priced Headphone AMPS & I won't mention any names as I don't want to even give their brand names any attention whatsoever when I'm talking about the O2 Headphone AMP instead so we'll leave at this statement then regards how it measures up to other Headphone AMPs costing even £1,000+/-'ish range ;
IMHO it wipes the floor with the lot of them !
Sure some maybe have a Remote Control or some maybe claim their made of Diamonddilliam but very very few will even publish their "Data/ Specs/ Info" on their real world performance so read into that what you will.
So performance wise it's hard to beat this little gem.

On practicality etc...
Sure you could use this portable but you'd need big pockets or perhaps even a little bag or backpack if you really wanted to venture into the urban jungle with it.
I personally don't go portable with it since I own a Clorfly C4 Pro & that is an excellent player that needs no amplifier at all as it'll go loud enough to make you deaf wink.gif

I use my O2 for tapping into my Living room's Linn/ Musical Fidelity Hi-Fi's Streamer for its Flacs/ Wavs & Inet radio rarely
+
I use it also for tapping into my bedroom System again a Linn/ Musical Fidelity's Streaming source or again rarely Inet radio.

I guess I should add that I use a Custom made Phono to Mini-Jack Solid Silver Litz Cable a friend made for me especially for this purpose (It's about 3.5Metres Long), I would recommend if your the type who looks for weak links in their Hi-Fi chains then perhaps consider your cable & indeed your cable for your Cans too which is again in my case a Silver Custom job.
I find silver to be very transparent compaired to some of the more expensive options out there.

Back to the O2 ;
I tried it with loads of cans & was never disappointed once, as you pretty much get what you throw into the O2, you give it some trance in 1 side then some nice tight bass comes out the other etc... Didn't find any type of music that it didn't do justice with at all.
I'll say this though, if you throw into it a 128kbps MP3 then that's what you'll get at the other end, so in a nutshell feed it well & you'll be rewarded.

Only downside I see to this is that I do think maybe a little redesign so as the inputs are at the back would be nice & perhaps some1 has now done this, but I prefer sound quality over a small flaw in design any day smily_headphones1.gif

So to some up then ;
AMAZING VALUE FOR MONEY !!!
Laughs at the bigger boys & their £500+ AMP's IMHO
Buy 1 as you simply won't be disappointed I promise smily_headphones1.gif

1 last thing, please no dumb replies with statements of but this £1,000 branded 1 I have is way better as This is just an opinion so don't throw a hissy fit because I think this little gem is great Mkay ? wink.gif

Cheers.

Posted

Pros: Neutrality, Definition, Cleanliness (Black Background), Articulation, Speed (PRAT factor), Imaging, Transparency, Power, Value (Price/Performance)

Cons: If you prefer a certain sound signature from an amp, it has no obvious character of its own, therefore it depends on our source and headphone choice

I have always loved the Grado RA1 which uses the high output NJM4556 op amp. It was one of my very first introduction to the world of headphone amping, and for years it was the mainstay of my main listening rig, both desktop and portable. The JDS O2 amplifier is using similar op amp(s) for its output stage ( and doubles it!), thus I found this JDS Labs Objective2 amp to be easily lovable right from the first listen. It does bear a resemblance in sound to the RA1, but it has more definition, cleaner sound, and more power as well.


I had owned a lot of affordable amps: the various CMoys ( I have owned most major CMoy version:JDS, Zigis, Penguin Coffee Amp), 3 Channel PIMETA, Schiit Magni, RSA Shadow, XCan V2, GSP Slee Solo mk2, RA1, PA2V2, Creek OBH11 amp, and Fiio E12, but the time had come to downsize the number of my amps. I sold the others (I need the money to get an iPhone 5S, which is unsubsidized in my country's market) and kept the O2 as my one and only one amp after months of evaluating them side by side. It came down to these three: Schiit Magni, RSA Shadow, and JDS Labs Objective2, and then I picked the O2 out of those three. I haven't regretted my decision ever since;  I very much enjoy listening to Smooth Jazzes, the likes of Lee Ritenour, Earl Klugh, Fourplay, David Benoit, Dave Grusin, Incognito, etc. with this amplifier. It's paired with the following: AKG K702, Audio Technica ATH CKS1000, Philips Fidelio S2, or VSonic GR07 mk2, and also with the ODAC, Rockboxed Sansa ClipZip or the iPod with DIY iMod as the source. I love how the amp effortlessly disappear allowing me to enjoy just the music.  

JDS Labs Assembled Objective2 Headphone Amplifier
Description:

Taken for item page: "The Objective2 (O2) is an open source headphone amplifier designed by NwAvGuy, with emphasis on benchmark performance and low cost. This item includes a fully assembled and hand tested O2 amplifier, ready for use. You will only need an AC adapter.

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