Is the JDS labs atom end game amp?
Dec 10, 2018 at 10:00 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 14

Thenewbie76

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I am looking to buying a new dac/amp that is versatile and can work with any headphones .I was looking at the THX AAA linear AMP on massdrop but I have not gotten any balanced cable as of right now. So I'm looking at the new labs atom. Is it powerful enough? The most it can push is 125mw @600ohms . I can't tell if that is good my bad .or should I get the THX amp and buy balanced cable .cause the only headphone I know that is 600 ohm is one of the beyerdynamics ones .
 
Dec 10, 2018 at 10:37 AM Post #2 of 14

PurpleAngel

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Unless you own a tube headphone amplifer or plan on plugging headphones into the headphone jack on a receiver or speaker amplifier, chances are you will not buy 600-Ohm headphones.
 
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Dec 10, 2018 at 10:52 AM Post #3 of 14

ProtegeManiac

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I am looking to buying a new dac/amp that is versatile and can work with any headphones .I was looking at the THX AAA linear AMP on massdrop but I have not gotten any balanced cable as of right now. So I'm looking at the new labs atom. Is it powerful enough? The most it can push is 125mw @600ohms . I can't tell if that is good my bad .or should I get the THX amp and buy balanced cable .cause the only headphone I know that is 600 ohm is one of the beyerdynamics ones .

What's "end game" anyway? There's really no fixed criteria for that.

If I go by that post and base it on output power, then no.

If I go by the extremely low distortion and noise figures, yes.

If I go by how it might still have crossover distortion since you might go over into Class A on anything but the highest sensitivity 32ohm or lower headphones, then maybe not. IEMs, well, yes it would be.

In most cases "end game" would be "how much you can spend," so definitely somebody with a higher income would say it is not end game.
 
Dec 10, 2018 at 10:17 PM Post #5 of 14

Thenewbie76

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What's "end game" anyway? There's really no fixed criteria for that.

If I go by that post and base it on output power, then no.

If I go by the extremely low distortion and noise figures, yes.

If I go by how it might still have crossover distortion since you might go over into Class A on anything but the highest sensitivity 32ohm or lower headphones, then maybe not. IEMs, well, yes it would be.

In most cases "end game" would be "how much you can spend," so definitely somebody with a higher income would say it is not end game.
Well maybe I should have worded my question better. I wanted to know if the new labs atom is powerful enough to power all types of headphones or at least most as I don't think I will be getting a 600 ohm headphone . Because if it's not that powerful I may get a massdrop THX AAA linear AMP
 
Dec 10, 2018 at 10:27 PM Post #6 of 14

PurpleAngel

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So the atom is good at powering almost everything except 600 ohm headphones. Ok ok
My five year old O2 (Objective 2) headphone amplifer could decently drive 600-Ohm Beyerdynamic headphone, but not really loud.
I would have to assume the Atom is more powerful.
But still for most people using headphones, there is no good reason for buying 600-Ohm headphones.
My 32-Ohm Soundmagic HP200 headphone sounds like an improved DT990.
 
Dec 10, 2018 at 11:47 PM Post #8 of 14

ProtegeManiac

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So the atom is good at powering almost everything except 600 ohm headphones. Ok ok

It's a bit more complex than that. If a 600ohm headphone has 101dB/1mW sensitivity or higher, then it's got more than enough, though you'd probably be running in Class B before you're even using 125mW for peaks. Not really a huge problem though unless your goal of "end game sound" means "overkill power in Class A doubling as a room heater."

That said, advances in driver design are negating the benefits of higher impedance, which is no longer critical for sensitivity, and not even for high damping factor given the quality and output impedance of even inexpensive headphone amplifiers nowadays. Even Sennheiser is moving to 150ohms.


Well maybe I should have worded my question better. I wanted to know if the new labs atom is powerful enough to power all types of headphones or at least most as I don't think I will be getting a 600 ohm headphone . Because if it's not that powerful I may get a massdrop THX AAA linear AMP

If you're not even planning to get 600ohm headphones then don't worry about it. A lot of amps can have a more drastic drop in performance with higher impedance loads like the Schiit Lyr1 and Lyr2, which have around 6watts at 32ohms and then drop down to, what, around 450mW at 300ohms? That's barely more than the Asgard2's 300mW at 300ohms considering how, by contrast, it only had 1000mW at 32ohms.

Some low sensitivity planars can still be a problem for the Atom. To be safe, get anything with 93dB/1mW or higher for lower impedance (250ohm and higher headphones tend to have 96dB/1mW minimum so they tend to be easier to find an amp for as long as you're not looking at low voltage output amps running off USB or a cheap power brick).

If your definition of "end game sound" is "all the necessary power plus a lot of headroom, very low noise, very low distortion, running in Class A," then neither the AAA linear nor Atom will be that amp. You'd have to go with something like the NFB-28 or its amp-only counterpart (the NFB-28 has analogue inputs to its amp stage though so in case you're using a stand alone DAC or a TT it's perfectly usable still).

Again though the definition of "end game" is very sketchy. I mean, if you ask me what end game sounds like, I'm going to go with a Focal Grande Utopia or Sonus Faber Stradivari Homage powered by two 150watt mono Class A amplifiers controlled by a passive preamplifier.
 
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Dec 11, 2018 at 2:10 AM Post #9 of 14

PurpleAngel

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So the atom is good at powering almost everything except 600 ohm headphones. Ok ok
It might help to know what headphones you own or plan on buying?
And for what type of source the Atom (or other head amp) will be plugged into?
And are the headphones for music or movies or FPS gaming?

Do I believe the Atom is a good starter headphone amplifer, sure.
And there are lots of great headphones that are in the 25-Ohm to 150-Ohm (or 250-Ohm) range.
 
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Dec 11, 2018 at 6:58 AM Post #10 of 14

Thenewbie76

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@PurpleAngel
I am planning to buy an audeze lcd2 to be used for gaming (not super competitive so I don't need super big soundstage),normal movies Netflix but especially music .I listen to a wide genre of music but mainly modern
music and 10% of my music is like from the 70s-90s like rock and pop.Whereas for modern music I listen to a lot of rock,hip-hop,a few metal and jazz and edm.Gaming wise I play most types not just for.I got a budget of 800usd to buy a dac/amp and I am trying to find one that is very versatile offering high power output and a low output impedance.Cause in the future I would like to spend more on headphones and not dac/amps. I am looking at a strictly dac/amp for headphones and not speakers or other features.However I wanted a good amp as I wasn't sure how many ohms my "future" headphones might be.BUT taking a look I can say it definitely won't be 600 ohms.
 
Dec 11, 2018 at 8:54 AM Post #11 of 14

buke9

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125 mW @ 600 ohms is a powerful amp as the Atom does 1W at 32 ohms so it is powerful enough for just about any headphone.
 
Dec 11, 2018 at 3:38 PM Post #12 of 14

PurpleAngel

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@PurpleAngel
I am planning to buy an audeze lcd2 to be used for gaming (not super competitive so I don't need super big soundstage),normal movies Netflix but especially music .I listen to a wide genre of music but mainly modern
music and 10% of my music is like from the 70s-90s like rock and pop.Whereas for modern music I listen to a lot of rock,hip-hop,a few metal and jazz and edm.Gaming wise I play most types not just for.I got a budget of 800usd to buy a dac/amp and I am trying to find one that is very versatile offering high power output and a low output impedance.Cause in the future I would like to spend more on headphones and not dac/amps. I am looking at a strictly dac/amp for headphones and not speakers or other features.However I wanted a good amp as I wasn't sure how many ohms my "future" headphones might be.BUT taking a look I can say it definitely won't be 600 ohms.
For around $400-$425 (total), you could have an Audio-GD NFB-11.28 or NFB R2R-11 delivered to your front door.
http://www.audio-gd.com/Products-EN.htm
 
Dec 21, 2018 at 3:12 PM Post #13 of 14

ebiester

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I have the Atom. It's a very good amp and will drive a 250 ohm DT 770 (my hardest to power) sufficiently. Other reviewers say it handles just about everything just fine. I'd suggest saving your money and if you're going to pick up an expensive headphone later with particular needs, only then do you buy a more powerful amp because if a headphone is amp-dependent, you're likely going to want to pick out an amp to match to that particular headphone.

Until then, you'll be fine with 95% of headphones.
 
Jan 12, 2020 at 3:44 PM Post #14 of 14

heathdwatts

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I am looking to buying a new dac/amp that is versatile and can work with any headphones .I was looking at the THX AAA linear AMP on massdrop but I have not gotten any balanced cable as of right now. So I'm looking at the new labs atom. Is it powerful enough? The most it can push is 125mw @600ohms . I can't tell if that is good my bad .or should I get the THX amp and buy balanced cable .cause the only headphone I know that is 600 ohm is one of the beyerdynamics ones .


The online calculator on this page could be useful for you.
https://www.audiobot9000.com/

Enter 600 Ohms as the resistance, efficiency of 96 dB/V for the Beyerdynamics DT-990, and a loudness of 115 dBSPL, which is very loud and you limit your exposure to those sound pressure levels for >1 minute.

The calculator shows that you'll need 132.9 mW to drive the DT-990s at 115 mW. At 85 dBSPL, which is the max prolonged volume level to prevent hearing loss and/or damage, you'll only need 0.13 mW of power, which is well below the capabilities of the JDS Labs Atom.
 

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