JDS Labs new DAC lineup: EL and OL DAC

Discussion in 'General Vendor Product Announcements' started by Ph0n6, Nov 22, 2016.

  1. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

    Friend Contributor
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,380
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Winnipeg
    By taking the pot out from between the gain stages... :rolleyes:
     

  2. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

    Staff Member Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    4,066
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Irvine CA
    I maybe missing something, but for the O2, the pot in between the gain stage and the current buffer does not seem like a bad idea anymore to me (LNA stuff). However, I do feel the amp in such case should always support a x1 gain mode in case the input signal comes in too hot and the voltage rails should be as high as possible. If this is not enough, it is possible that one is driving the O2 amp with another amp providing a relatively large voltage swing. This is for folks that drive amps with amps for whatever reason.

    In such cases, I guess one could replace the x1 mode with a gain stage bypass and have the amplifier in current buffer only mode. But for most any other real DAC application, x1 gain IMO should do it, if one wants to keep the ac coupling under control (independent of the DAC) or whatever other reason.

    I think I've seen an app note doing this deal from NJM somewhere as well.

    BTW, as far as I can tell, the O2 is basically a watered down version of Doug Self's uber 5532 amp. In that one instead of paralleling a pair of NJM4556s, he goes crazy and parallels a shit load of his favorite amp: NE5532s. Like 16 I think. It is all local feedback for the gain and current buffer stages as the O2, but this one uses DC servos instead of AC coupling between gain and current stages. The topologies are pretty simple. Not everybody likes paralleling current buffer stages though. TI in general seems a bit uneasy about it.

    Also, while Doug Self and NwAvGuy seem to love the NE5532, I got the impression that Walt Jung did not liked it that much.

    Anyhow, carry on...
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2016
    zonto likes this.
  3. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

    Friend Contributor
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,380
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Winnipeg
    ultrabike likes this.
  4. Vtory

    Vtory Almost "Made"

    Contributor
    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2016
    Likes Received:
    225
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Fort worth, TX
    Haha I am not smart enough to tell you about engineering or electronic things..
    But, I strongly believe almost every objective measurement about dac is hardly associated with subjective evaluations.
     
  5. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

    Staff Member Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    4,066
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Irvine CA
    LOL! Yeah. I actually like that design. It's pretty crazy. Wakibaki gave it somewhat of a shot I think, but I don't think he went as crazy with it as Doug did:

    http://www.head-fi.org/t/568055/5532-parallel-headphone-amp

    Paralleling amps like that is supposed to also lower voltage noise, at the expense of current noise I think. Need to read more about it.
     
  6. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

    Friend Contributor
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,380
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Winnipeg
    Oh I remember Wakibaki... helpful guy on the DIY forums when I was still active there, and a mild pot-stirrer at times too. Shame about his illness though.
     
    ultrabike likes this.
  7. Marvey

    Marvey Loves sex and records

    Staff Member Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    25,325
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Calabasas, CA
    The nwavguy / JDS crowd is used to measurements from Anandtech, Tom's Hardware, and HardOCP and think that two or three measurements (of a universe of thousands) denote audio quality. The thing is that audio measurements are not quite so simple as video card framerate (average, low, high) or even better, framerate over time plots (as provided by HardOCP.)

    As far as a recent offering from JDS, see here: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...nation-units-grace-schiit-ifi-lh-jds-etc.401/

    I was not impressed with JDS The Element, at least from a sonics point of view. The designs need to show a bit more creativity (that is more than a copy of "here is how to use this chip" from the AKM datasheets).
     
    Panohm, Huxleigh, Vtory and 2 others like this.
  8. Grahad

    Grahad Guest

    JDS went for the low hanging fruit. Nice case, nice graphs, nice cash rolling in.
     
  9. Mshenay

    Mshenay Slightly aspie. Don't make fun of.

    Contributor Banned
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    285
    Trophy Points:
    63
    I've actually got an Element Review unit rolling into me on Monday, I loved the cMoy BB, it was the first amp I bought! I was a fan of theirs before I even knew schiit existed, I think my oDac was from them too. I finally replaced it with my Audio GD unit. I'm curious to see how it sounds, though. I might even hit up Schiit for their stack and compare them side by side. I did that with Garage 1217 and Schiit last year...
     
  10. Mshenay

    Mshenay Slightly aspie. Don't make fun of.

    Contributor Banned
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    285
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Here's a basic overview for now with all the pretty pictures, I've got comparisons with all of my other Dacs and Amps coming in the next few days,

    but in short

    I found myself most impressed with the Dac Portion of this unit, as the overall sound in warm, smooth and detailed with a very good natural tone through most of the spectrum. It pulled out all of the details I'm accustom to hearing in my Audio GD NFB10ES2, the only draw back was the overall sound stage was a little diffuse. Good width, but height and depth weren't as discernible. Still, while it fell short compared to my HM 901 and Audio GD NFB 10ES2 in this regard, it was a clear step above my Hifiman HM 601 both with it's internal amp and with my iBasso PB2. It performed exceptionally well within it's price bracket,

    The Element has a nice sense of dynamics, moving from louder to quieter passages quickly and naturally, It has a very wet sound overall, with a nice emphasis in the bass and a good fullness in the low and central mid range. I really loved the sound of the double bass in Miles Davis So What, as well as the beautiful tone in Igor Levot's Goldberg Variations even though the upper mids were a bit shouty at times.

    What The Element does really well, is bring a natural warmth to a lot of the amazingly detailed but often dry and cold headphones, such as the Superlux HD 668B, Beyerdynamic DT 990 and Audio Technica AD 900X. It offer's an amazingly well designed small foot print, with beautifully simple visuals. It's easy to use, easy to own and easy on the eyes, a lot like my first JDS Labs amp! Bringing with it good detail with a warm natural sound The Element is a very elegant convenient solution for any one looking for an all in one.
     
  11. PacoTaco

    PacoTaco Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    342
    Trophy Points:
    63
    I feel like I'm a necromancer posting here, but I did actually get to try the El DAC.

    Strangely (and I was running this through to a Lyr 2 and an Atticus at the time,) it was immediately apparent that it was more cohesive, transparent, and resolving compared to the Modi 2u. Actually reminded me a lot of the Bifrost Uber at a little bit less of a price. This is coming form someone who HATED the Element (which, to be frank, was a Super O2 on a slightly improved ODAC B.) Actually, I have liked it more than the Bifrost Uber (but I still think the multibit version is miles better.)

    I'm getting my Modi Multibit in today. Next St. Louis meet, I may pit it against the El DAC. Either way, the El DAC is by far their best product. The El Amp, however, is just the Element's amp section in a separate package, but I may be wrong on that.
     
    FlySweep and Marvey like this.
  12. Mshenay

    Mshenay Slightly aspie. Don't make fun of.

    Contributor Banned
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    285
    Trophy Points:
    63
    I was more impressed with the Line out of the Element that I was the amp it self, so your impressions pair up nicely. I'll have to see if I can't get just an EL Dac from them and see how it compares
     
  13. PacoTaco

    PacoTaco Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    342
    Trophy Points:
    63
    It'll be interesting for you. The EL DAC uses a akm4490, while the element is...i forgot what the ODAC B uses
     
    Mshenay likes this.
  14. Marvey

    Marvey Loves sex and records

    Staff Member Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    25,325
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Calabasas, CA
    So sounds like their DAC is good, but amp based on those chip buffers is bleh.
     
  15. Mshenay

    Mshenay Slightly aspie. Don't make fun of.

    Contributor Banned
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    285
    Trophy Points:
    63
    I'll find out soon enough! I've got an EL Dac and a OL Switch inbound, I'm wrapping up my thoughts of the Shanling M2S which uses the AK 4490, what are the differences between the chip-set featured in the M2S and N3 vs the EL Dac? Obviously the circuit design it self, but is the M4490 a different chip in the same family of the AK 4490?
     
  16. bixby

    bixby Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2015
    Likes Received:
    591
    Trophy Points:
    93
    While one might say chips have a house sound, and may, it is really interesting that things like the Centrance Dac Slim stick use a 4490 as well as the ADI-2 Pro from RME. And may others all over the map price wise. Sound wise I have heard a big similarity of 4490s at the lower price scales vs 4490 (or4495) at the higher price scales. Not nearly as much resemblance of a house sound. m4490 ?? Mobile?

    Do folks feel there is a more homogeneous house sound with the 4490 or with the ess 9018s in various implementations?
     
  17. Mshenay

    Mshenay Slightly aspie. Don't make fun of.

    Contributor Banned
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    285
    Trophy Points:
    63
    I do, ESS Sabre 9018 has a "sound to them" it does vary a little with implementation. But frankly the AK chip in the Cayin N3 was a bit Sabre sounding, where as the same chip in the M2s was a little more full bodied
     
  18. Mshenay

    Mshenay Slightly aspie. Don't make fun of.

    Contributor Banned
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    285
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Moving onto to how it actually sounds, I sadly don't have 2 Coaxial output devices, so a comparison of my NFB10ES2 to the El Dac is a little more difficult than I anticipated, how ever I am able to compare the HM901's output to the El Dac, for better or worse the 901 and NFB10ES2 have a very similar out put, both use a Sabre 9018 implementation, Dual on the 901 and possibly Quad on the NFB10ES2, either way the two are and have always been interchangeable in my system. As to my ears they sound almost identical

    That said, just a few minuets with Miles Davis and some level matched A/B comparisons both with and without the OL Switcher and the EL Dac is discernibly softer sounding, simply lacking tactility, the double bass is not quite hollow but lacking a solid body, paino's don't quite have that percussive nature to them... it's also a smidgen warmer than even the "vintage" filter of the HM 901, but with that warmth comes a sluggish quality... lacking in micro dynamics and visceral impact. An while it's too early to call it, I do fine the resolve of the EL Dac impressive!
     

Share This Page