Disclaimer: The JDS Labs The Element V1.53b was provided directly by the manufacturer for this review. It does not have to be returned. JDS Labs is not affiliated with Headfonia and is not a site sponsor. Many thanks for the opportunity and generosity!
About JDS Labs:
JDS Labs is an US based brand that operates since 2007. They are the producer of many critically acclaimed products. Their main aim is to get great sounding and affordable gear out to the many consumers. Their vast product-line consists of amplifiers, digital to analogue converters, hardware equalizers, CMOY amps and even DIY kits. JDS Labs offers it all in pursuit to satisfy their customers. All of their products are made in the USA, which makes the impressive prices even more appealing.
About The Element V1. 53b:
Nathan has reviewed the original Element almost two years ago, and he was mighty impressed. Our very own knob-afficionado fell directly in love with what he called ‘practically a turntable’. And I see why he claims so. The knob really is something.
Hardware sided, the Element is a DAC/amp. It has two inputs, one analogue RCA and one USB B for digital files. The Element supports PCM file formats up to 24 bits and 96kHz, which in today’s world is quite little, but it shows that the prime focus of this unit was not the digital section, but the amplifier.
The amplifier has two gain stages, high and low. It spits incredible 1.5 Watts into 32 Ohms, that should be more than enough to get your hard to drive headphones running. The output impedance rates at 0.1 Ohm, which should guarantee a nice handling of even the most sensitive of in ear monitors.
Micro processor controlled relais eliminate all possible pops and clicks when turning the unit on or off. This headphone protection circuit makes sure that you won’t harm your headphones when connected with said pops. I came across many headphone amplifiers that don’t have this circuit implemented, which is a shame.
Output wise, the Element of course has a 6.35 Millimeter headphone jack on front, an RCA line output from the DAC can be found on the back of the unit. You will also find the power button and gain switch on the back.
The Element is currently available for 349$
Full technical specifications can be found on JDS Labs’ website: https://www.jdslabs.com/products/151/the-element/
An overview on the changes from the original Element to this version can be found here.
The packaging is kept simple. A black flip open box that reveals the unit and a warranty card. You’ll also get a one Metre long USB A to USB B cable to connect to your PC/laptop. The outboard power supply, an AC transformer, is boxed separately.
JDS Labs also provided one of their premium 3.5mm to 6.35mm headphone jack adapters, this one is usually not included.
The review continues on page two!