“The Objective 2 is an open source amplifier designed with emphasis on benchmark performance and low cost”, that’s how the O2 is described by JDSLabs, the makers of the C421 portable amp we reviewed a couple of weeks ago. JDSLabs and Epiphany are, as far as I know, the only two bigger O2 “dealers” and they were kind enough to supply us with their version of the banned Head-fi’er Nwavguy’s O2 amplifier.
Lots of people consider the Objective 2 to be a portable amp, mostly because it can also run on rechargeable 9V NiMH batteries but mesuring 108,50 x 80 x 29.5mm you can hardly call it a real portable amp, it’s more transportable as it is portable. I don’t see myself taking out this amp during public transport, but hey this is coming from a guy who doesn’t use full size cans in public either. Anyway, I categorised it under “Desktop Amps”.
The designer, Nwavguy, is about mesurements, and Headfonia is, well, let’s just say we’re not. We use our ears the way we always use them in our reviews. This is our way of reviewing, you like it or you don’t, so please don’t start about Nwavguy’s Objective and Subjective Challenges, etc. We are just giving our idea of the O2 amplifier and don’t have any intention to disrespect the designer and his development/review methods used.
Just like the C421 this amplifier has the input and output jacks, both 3.5mm, on the front just like the power button, gain button and even the AC connector. The Objective 2 uses an ALPS dual Analog Potentiometer which I think is great, I can’t say anything wrong about it in this design at all. Inside there are two JRC NJM4556AD Opamps and one JRC NJM2068D Opamp but I’ll let Mike talk some more about the technical aspects.
To start, the O2 amp is dead silent at all time, there is no hiss whatsoever (not that I expected it to) and turning the ALPS pot doesn’t make any noise at all. You immediately notice the big soundstage this amp has and its transparancy. There is no coloration what so ever, it is very neutral sounding and has a lovely detail retrieval for a mini amp. And with the excellent balance and instrumental separation it also has it makes it one, if not the best amp of that size I have heard so far in regard to these specific characteristics. The Objective 2 has more power as you’ll ever need (Dual Gain Switch (2.5x and 6.5x)), as a matter of fact I never had to use the highest gain setting, of course I did, but it wasn’t necessary. I know that JDSLabs offers to modify the gain settings to your liking when you order, I’m not sure if Epiphany also does that but it’s good to know in case you have a special headphone laying around you think will need an adjustment.
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