On this page we’re checking out the JDS Labs Atom+ DAC & AMP stack performance.
JDS Labs Atom+ DAC & AMP Stack Performance
Brilliant, just as you’d expect. The neutral couple acts as a conductor, as a bridge between the track and your headphones. Both of the units are very capable and technically impressive units and they sound transparent, neutral, and clean together. They are a good benchmark of how good is the mastering of your tracks are so I can’t really say that they are forgiving and warm. Of course, that is highly dependant on the headphones you plan to use the stack with. If you have a headphone with a balanced signature, you’ll hear a balanced signature. If you pair the stack with a highly analytical headphone, you’ll have yourself an error-catcher system that is designed to highlight the mastering issues of your tracks, haha! Synergy is a topic that I like and I try to aim for balance and accuracy but too much accuracy could invite a soulless, dry presentation to your listenings session. Before that, try to understand what you enjoy first so that you can be a happier audiophile.
For example, matching this stack with the 58X results in a detailed yet somewhat warm reproduction with good bass authority, thick midrange, and tamed upper-mid section along with good treble extension and clarity. I paired it with the Hifiman Deva and now the musicality is gone, what I have is much more resolution, clarity. The upper-mid section is too hot for me and the note-weight of the midrange took a hit. I hear it easily with stringed instruments, the timbre does not feel as natural. I am letting you into this process so that you’d think about how to match and pair this stack successfully, according to your taste. Let’s move on to the more important bits now. Let’s dissect the technical performance of the stack. The transients are fast, the attack and the decay feel agile. Harmonics and micro details are easy to follow, thanks to the clean, transparent presentation. The stack has great resolution and it punches way beyond the price tag of both units. The tonality is as accurate as it gets in this price bracket. I don’t think you have any other alternatives here. I’d really want to compare it with another bang for buck stack but there isn’t one as far as I know. I think your best alternative would be the Topping E30 / L30 combo but I, unfortunately, don’t have it and that stack costs a hundred bucks more than this one.
Sennheiser & Drop HD58X ($170 USD)
I have a modded Massdrop (now Drop) & Sennheiser collab 58X. (Removed the grille foam and circular damper behind the driver.) This was my favorite pairing with the previous-gen Atom stack and it definitely still is. The HD58X sounds amazing with the Atom+ stack. The bass is authoritative, impactful, and rounded while still offering good PRaT. The midrange is sweet, articulate, and musical. The note-weight is ever so slightly on the thicker side of the scale and feels organic. Instruments and vocals feel breathy and natural. The timbre doesn’t feel artificial or digital and that is brilliant for a sub-400 setup! The upper midrange is controlled and defined while showing good energy and boosts the perceived clarity of the overall signature. The treble is airy and clean and the extension is very good. I definitely recommend you to try this budget combo. It will surprise you.
Xenns Up ($699 USD)
Xenns Up is a new tribrid just released by a Chinese manufacturer. This pairing is one of my favourites because Xenns Up has an elevated bass response that does not play well with warm sources. The Atom+ stack provides great control over the low region and prevents it from saturating the overall signature. This pairing offers impactful yet controlled bass reproduction, clear and articulate midrange. The upper mids are perfectly controlled with good energy and the EST treble extension felt without getting harsh or overly bright. The stack keeps the Xenns Up in check and provides a balanced, clean, and resolving reproduction.
Earsonics ES-3 ($399 USD)
The Earsonics ES-3 is one of the in-ear monitors that I have been using for a long time. I like the ES-3 because it has a musical and effortless sound signature that goes well with many music genres. The Atom+ stack successfully boosts the technical capabilities of the ES-3 and takes it to whole another level. The stack enhances the soundstage and the instrument separation capability of the ES-3. The ES-3 sounds more spacious, articulate, and clean with the Atom+ stack. Interestingly, the Atom+ stack does not hurt the musicality and warmth of the ES-3 while impressively improving its technical capabilities.
Pears SH-3U ($1200 USD)
Pears’ SH-3 is an excellent monitor. Its signature is flat and reference. It is the most accurate monitor I’ve heard till this date and pairing it with this stack immediately gets you a nit-picking bundle that can be used to detect bad recordings in your track library. It does not feel dry or digital, but it definitely is as linear as it gets. The clarity and the resolution of this combo is quite surprising. The Atom+ stack scales very well with a monitor that is nearly ten folds the price of the units.
Hifiman Deva ($299 USD)
I listened to the Deva and the previous-gen Atom stack quite a lot. I especially liked the resolution and the treble extension of this pairing and this feeling continues with the new generation atom+ stack. The Deva has a wide stage and features a mid-forward, airy presentation. The new Atom+ stack gives it a nice bass texture, not too light and not too bold. Tonality is excellent and if you want to try a Planar with your Atom+ stack, you can give this pairing a chance.
JDS Labs continues to develop the Atom line consistently every passing year. Just when I was about to say how much better it could get, they continue to surprise me by finding something to improve. Of course, this makes me very happy because there are not many alternatives in this price range that offer this kind of performance. Thanks to the rising prices, the number of desktop products under $100 is decreasing steadily, and it is truly admirable that JDS is still defending the sub-100 castle. I hope they continue to do so because the Atom+ stack offers an excellent price to performance ratio thanks to its brilliant sound performance. Apart from sound, the devices are well-made and JDS has improved the plastic thanks to the mold injection and 3d tech. It is also pleasing that they have not given up on the stylish design with the iconic light ring. The stack punches way above its price tag and therefore it goes straight into the HFN Recommendation List!
Page 1: JDS Labs, JDS Labs Atom+ Desktop DAC, What’s New?, Packaging & Accessories, Design & Build Quality, Features, DAC Performance
Page 2: JDS Labs, JDS Labs Atom+ Desktop Amp, What’s New?, Packaging & Accessories, Design & Build Quality, Power & Technology, Controls, Warranty, Amp Performance
Page 3: JDS Labs Atom+ DAC & AMP Stack Performance, Pairings, Last Words