JDS Labs EL / OL DAC Owners (AK4490EQ DAC's with filter switch)

Discussion in 'Dedicated Source Components' started by ostewart, Jun 29, 2017.
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  1. ostewart
    How did I forget to post this pic, OL DAC with a desktop O2, perfect reference system for reviews:

    Mshenay likes this.
  2. Aerosphere
    Heard the OL DAC for a bit! Let me say this much.. it's a steal..
    ostewart likes this.
  3. ostewart
    It really is a steal, really enjoy mine.
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  4. Jimster480
    Is there a thread for JDS o2?
  5. ostewart
  6. Mshenay Contributor
    I had an ODac way back in the day a Mayflower... shortly after purchasing it I got ahold of my first JDS Labs cMoy BB, non the less I've had the EL Dac with me for about a week now. I've been giving it a listen in-between everything else! Tonight though I'm finishing up my thoughts of the Massdrop Hifiman HE 4XX, I initially only pair'd the HE 4XX with my EL Dac and my Vali 1, to get a feel for how the $170 headphone pairs with a $350 DAC/amp combo, that was the price point I stayed in for a while! $180 DT 880 with my oDac and my Matrix M Stage. The Vali 1 and EL Dac were... not bad, they brought me the best of both of my portables but... weren't as impressive as I thought. That said, I think ultimately it was the Vali 1 holding back some of what the Coax fed EL Dac could do!

    I do my critical listening for dacs/amps with the Eagles Live Rendition of Hotel California, from the Hell Freeze's Over Album, always volume matched with a mono pink noise track to a constant 66 dB's,

    When I swapped into my Pico Pwr and WOW, @theotherjude, man this is impressive! I was right the Vali 1 was holding back the EL Dac, which is a shame lol I thought better of it but oh well, what's impressed me the most is... it has the same presentation that I get from my HM901 withVintage filter, there's a beautiful focus on the mid range! It's not wet, but there's just a touch of focus there, a lot of mid range detail resolves really well on this dac, the unique decay of each of the individual strings plucked in those intro chords, the warmth and rasp in Henley's voice, It's breath taking, as while the EL Dac really embodies the magic of Vintage Filter'd HM901 despite costly on 1/4 of what the 901 does! The 901 however does bring better resolve, imaging and detail overall.

    Though a more realistic comparison is how the EL Dac/Pico Pwr combo compare's to the Geek Out V2+, this will SE vs SE, as this HE 4XX isn't balanced, it should be stated the SE output of the GO V2+ is a bit warmer than the balanced, how ever the balanced output is more resolving and provides better imaging, and after a short listening session... I feel the EL Dac holds it weight well again'st the GO V2+ SE, tonality is more pleasing with the EL Dac. It has that beautiful mid range focus, a little extra touch of emphasis in the mid range a little less speed that translates beautifully with the music. Both did excellent in resolving micro detail/transients, the EL Dac was more resolving of the guitars, while the SE GO V2+ did a little bit better with the vocals.

    Technically, the SE GOV2+ is a bit faster, resolve ambient detail a little better, it has a touch less decay in the mid range/bass as well as a little more energy up top, of course these two products are targeted at different audiences, you can certianly use your GO V2+ at home, but I prefer it as a mobile Dac/Amp and I also take advantage of the balanced output. If you don't need portability or the extra power [cost] of balanced output, the EL Dac make for a beautiful mid range solution! It's got more inputs and full size RCA Outputs, so it's more functional. In terms of how each DAC performs, technically the balanced output of the GOV2+ is more resolving, but... only marginally so. If your not running balanced gear on the go, then the EL Dac is by far the better purchase, not to mention you can feed the DAC into a higher performing amp and likely meet if not exceed the resolve of the GO V2+.

    That and what the EL Dac also does is help smooth out poorer recordings. I don't DARE feed my GO V2+ anything less than 320 Constant Bit Rate... other wise the Sabre Dac chip set really brings out the... duller sound of heavily compressed lossy... with the EL Dac I don't get punished for choosing a more compressed file format. It handles everything amazingly well, I get gains for lossless, without losses for lossy. Watching Movies, casually listening to music on You Tube, face book ect... the EL Dac fits better as a single solution for your desktop that will scale as you feed it into better equipment!

    Non the less, I've got a little more time with the EL Dac, so I'll check back in later with some more serious impressions with my HE 4 and Ember II
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2017
  7. Louis Felix
    How much of an improvement is the OL DAC compared to AudioQuest Dragonfly Black on powered speakers? Thanks!
  8. ostewart
    As the OL DAC is a dedicated DAC and has no headphone amp circuit, I would think it would be quite an upgrade from the Dragonfly Black. But I have not tested them side by side.
  9. Mshenay Contributor
    Well seeing as the OL Dac will output a fixed voltage, as opposed to the Dragonfly black which is amping a single to the powered speakers, it would make sense that you should at least get a bit less noise with the OL Dac, aside from that one would need to hear it!
  10. Louis Felix
    I only tried the Drangonfly black on "my" setup as the local store allowed me to do a few tests with the same gear (aren't they cool?!)... and I actually noticed a painful amount of "shh" and background noise on the DF Black. What do you think this could have been?
  11. Mshenay Contributor
    Any number of things, if the DF Black is amping into another amp, then the noise multiples to the point where you can hear it! Honestly, I really enjoyed the OL Switcher with/for my powered speakers, really you could go with the OL Dac/Switcher and have a nice clean set up for your speakers! Switcher is a passive resistor, so you'll want to set your speakers internal amp to 75% ish and fed the OL Dac into the OL Switcher, feed the signal from the Siwtcher to the Powered speakers and again use the Switcher to adjust the volume. That would likely be much quieter assuming the DF Black is sending an amped signal into the powered speakers

    but it's all speculation :3 as I've not heard any of the DragonFly products
  12. Louis Felix
    I'll consider this, especially for how much good i've heard of it and at that price point ... Thanks for you answers and advice!
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  13. musicfan145
    If I’m using USB only, is there a difference in the sound of the OL and EL? How does the USB chip compare with XMOS? (I’d be using it with an iPhone for Tidal and a Raspberry Pi for Roon. Nothing over 24/96.)

    Also, is there any way to audition one of these without paying the 15% restocking fee?
  14. Oscar-HiFi
    I own both and can't really say there is much difference :D
    musicfan145 likes this.
  15. musicfan145
    Thanks! I just ordered a B-stock OL with DIP switch pre-installed! :L3000:
    Oscar-HiFi likes this.
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