Review: The JDS Labs Atom
Aesthetics and Build Quality:
The Atom is sort of built to be the new Objective2, and it sure looks better from an aesthetic point of view. The Atom is very simplistic, yet the curved edges make it look quite premium for the price. The overall finish and attention to detail is excellent, and it looks really neat sat on a desk.
The build quality is really good, it may not have a nice CNC machined chassis but everything is well finished and put together. The push buttons, volume control, inputs and outputs all feel great. I have no complaints about the build quality whatsoever.
The Atom incorporates everything the Objective2 should have had. Rear power socket and RCA inputs, front gain and input switch along with a ¼” headphone output. On the back you have both RCA and 3.5mm inputs, along with RCA outputs so you can use the Atom as a pre-amp when you don’t have headphones plugged in.
As I have said the Atom was conceived as the next generation Objective2, so is it worthy of that title? In short, Yes, it is.
First off, we have the fact that the Atom is more powerful, nearly twice as powerful at 32 Ohms, so it can drive a wider range of headphones. But with this could come more noise, luckily the Atom shares the same black background and pure reference sound of the Objective2. The output impedance remains less than 1Ohm, so there are no issues using sensitive IEM’s with the Atom.
It is really difficult to describe the Atom, as it really doesn’t anything apart from amplify the sound. It doesn’t add its own character, and this is what JDS Labs were aiming for. Feed it with a good source and you have an excellent system on a budget. Either the EL or OL DAC would be the perfect partner for the Atom.
Lets just face the fact that the Atom does a lot right for the price, and I personally cannot pick any flaws in the design or sound of this little amp. I do not think anything comes close if you are looking for a neutral, uncoloured headphone amp under £200.
The Atom sets a new standard when it comes to budget headphone amps, it has a clean and reference sound, with plenty of power on tap, it does justice to most headphones. All neatly wrapped up in a well-thought-out chassis, the Atom really is hard to beat.