JDS Labs Element - anyone?

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by gbeast, Nov 11, 2015.

  1. gbeast

    gbeast Mighty Moral Power Ranger

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    JDS Labs Element - what are people thinking?

    I just got one and its making me mad at my pulse x infinity, as if I didn't have reasons to be mad at it prior to the element.

    - I gives plenty of headroom for my Omni
    - sounds balanced with good bass

    I like it a lot so far...
     
  2. JayC

    JayC Resident Crash Test Dummy

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    I have one too, and its pretty awesome! i use the rca out with a set of jbl lsr305s and the headphone out with my akg k7xx and klipsch x10. Quite a big difference overall, and i like the way it gives space to each instrument

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    and a size reference (nexus 4 on the side):
    [​IMG]
     
  3. mickeyvortex

    mickeyvortex Friend

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    check this thread out http://goo.gl/9JjgaX

    purrin did a detailed measurement+review for the Element in comparison to a bunch of other DAC+Amps.
     
  4. gbeast

    gbeast Mighty Moral Power Ranger

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    Thanks for the link
     
  5. purr1n

    purr1n On vacation

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    I did not care for the LH Labs Pulse (in whatever iterations or permutations of it that I've heard). GOV2 > GOV1 > Pulse. I did feel that GOV2 > Element overall, but ultimately it depends upon what aspects of sound reproduction you care about most.
     
  6. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Most improved member; A+

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    I don't even feel they're really comparable as the GOV2 is a portable unit that should be compared to say the Dragonfly, Nano, cMoy, and FiiO stuff which it just curb stomps.

    The Element is for desktops where JDS Labs appears to have spent too much on the case so they shoved a portable, bus-powered DAC chipset into it despite the amp requiring a wart. Nobody in their right mind would pay 350 bucks for an dac/amp whose main attribute is looking good only to have to drop another 30-150 bucks on a decent powered external USB hub, USB purifier, or another DAC as that wouldn't look good on your desk.

    It's just not competitive with the other combo units for what you get for what you pay:
    The generic Chinese made Monoprice amp is 70-100 bucks depending on the branding.
    You can assemble an ODAC + O2 yourself with the JDS Labs kit for 160.
    Schiit stack for American neutrality or Audio-GD NFB-11/15 for Chinese baiju warmth/driver issues in the next price bracket.
    Grace M9XX which has even more functionality in has additional euphonic filters, another jack for a friend , can be both bus and mains powered for 200 more bucks.
     
  7. JayC

    JayC Resident Crash Test Dummy

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    why would you need all of this? i think there was a post somewhere that clarified this usb power "issue" people keep bringing up. Maybe i'll find it in some time
     
  8. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Most improved member; A+

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    The DAC part is USB bus powered. If your motherboard does not output perfectly clean USB power all the time, then the DAC portion of The Element will sound shitty. If you have to have more things on the desk, then your setup won't look minimalistic and pretty so what's the point?
     
  9. JayC

    JayC Resident Crash Test Dummy

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    couple of things. most DACs dont work at 5V, and they usually have regulation/filtering inbuilt.

    unless you have loads of instability and interference in your signal that the DAC's circuitry cant handle, you would not need any thing extra on your desk
     
  10. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Most improved member; A+

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    Stop defending poorly designed, less functional gear from reports and accusations of being less functional just because you paid for it and it works for you.
     
  11. JayC

    JayC Resident Crash Test Dummy

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    haha, i dont own one, my brother does. Plus, i was only reasoning logically and practically there. If you found a flaw in what i said, i'm open to hearing it and learning more.

    Also, these are all digital signals we're talking about here. Its going to need a really shitty USB source to mess up the voltage correponding to a 1 and make it a 0 and vice versa. At the same time, think about usb DACs - meridian explorer/GOV2/etc - they should have major issues here too

    Calm down my man, we need more peace in the world
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2015
  12. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Most improved member; A+

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    Sorry I just in reddit idiocy attack mode after reading /headphones. Basically JDS Labs shoved an ODAC Rev. B chipset into the unit to try to make it more competitive than as an overpriced amp alone but since both ODACs (the two are completely different DAC chips) require uninterrupted clean bus power (I'm not talking about jitter), owners of many PCs (especially consumer laptops and cheap mainstream desktop motherboards) will have to buy something else to make it work right. Since the Element is supposed to be Apple like design > functionality magic box, jaws will drop as the total might be 400 bucks for a setup that won't end up being some minimalist Zen thing and won't sound as good as other cheaper, more utilitarian appearing rigs.

    Those USB combos are actually portable and don't need mains power. The Element does to use the amp.

    Do not believe Sieber's bs about the ODACs working for 99% of people. Working != properly functioning. A person with a broken leg can still hobble about but you can't say they are really walking. Most ODAC users do not even bypass the DirectSound resampler and mixer as they don't know that standard APIs that bypass it (WASAPI and ASIO) even exist. Not that JDS Labs tests their products with them despite the DirectSound mixer often sounding like a bad crossfeed plugin.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2015
  13. JayC

    JayC Resident Crash Test Dummy

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    Im replying bottom to top here:

    Well, I cant say anything about the Windows DirectSound issues, he runs it on a macbook perfectly fine. But ofc, if there are issues there then that's a problem.

    I brought up the other devices because their DACs run off USB power too, in some cases their amps too - and they work pretty much perfectly

    I really dont think mainstream motherboards have an issue here, they should still be able to send the bits from the audio file to the usb port just fine.. Not really sure since you're really repeating that point - i havent seen something that bad (that it actually messes up a direct digital stream) so far.
    Looping back to other devices running off USB power - this unclean signal issue on mainstream computers should be an issue for all of them
     
  14. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Remember: In audiophile land, everything that could possibly go wrong (even if it couldn't) has already gone wrong, and thus a product is damned,

    But how to sort out the actually potentially going wrong from the rest? I don't like the idea of USB power either. And I have an ODAC.

    In fact... what all the arguments do for me is make me inclined to abandon USB altogether. Why should we even bother with all this stuff? I was blissfully using Firewire before with zero problems except getting the thing working with Linux in the first place. Or maybe I'll just go back to having a soundcard...
     
  15. Judeus

    Judeus Facebook Friend

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    What? how is it even possible that the geek pulse could be worse than the geek out:confused:
     
  16. purr1n

    purr1n On vacation

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    Hard to believe, but it's generally true (depending upon the permutation that you ordered). Why do you think no one CS or here has ever said anything about the Pulse for the longest time.
     
  17. Judeus

    Judeus Facebook Friend

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    I thought it was because no one had one as there weren't many in the wild (except for the stock vanilla pulse) :rolleyes:

    It just seems really odd, did it have the lps too or just the wall wart power adapter?

    also, are we comparing pulse vs geekout or are we talking about pulse in comparative to other desktop components? If you meant compared to one another it would seem strange since the design philosophy and topology and components are basically the same but supposed to be improved in the pulse.
     
  18. purr1n

    purr1n On vacation

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    I dunno. There were way too many warning signs for me concerning the Pulse. Oh wait, do you want an LPS (which is a cap bank) for an extra $799. $299 super special. And I got this Galacto Clock. You wanna buy a Galacto clock for $599. $199 early bird super special. Blah blah blah. And I got this penile pleasure unit upgrade for $249. It's called the Pulse Penis XXX-Fi spectacular. Too many poor idiots bought into it.

    I think the fact that LH Labs was more limited by the Geek Out forced them to make it as good as they could from the get go.

    Heck, even Mike, a huge LH proponent, bailed on his Pulse commitments.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2016
  19. AustinValentine

    AustinValentine Friend

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    The only one of the Pulse units that I thought was really spectacular was the Pulse X Infinity, which is a balanced ESS9018AQ2M unit. (Their only desktop Pulse unit that uses the same DAC chips as the V2 and V2+. It's basically a bigger, slightly improved version of the V2/V2+ with a so so amplifier built into the unit. It was the TOTL unit that had all the upgrades and required you to jump through all of their myriad upgrade hoops.)

    The rest are good Sabre implementations - more or less in the same category as the X-Sabre. But they took too damn long to get released and by the time they all came out (Pulse X Infinity included) the ground had shifted on desktop units...especially with Gungnir Multibit and Bifrost Multibit.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 1, 2016
  20. gbeast

    gbeast Mighty Moral Power Ranger

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    Thats the one that is pissing me off. Sure i need d to test it with my lps tomorrow, but the headphone out absolutely blows balls.
    To be fair its bass is tight and has good depth but damn what the hexk kind of tuning is that with the sucked out mids. Purrin mentioned the element midrange leaves a bit to be wanted and its V-shaped(correct me if Im wrong) well as an all in one unit the infinity has no weight, sucked out mids, glare like high noon (not super haahy but very present) and is far from organic.

    The Element has good power(just as much as the infinity balanced out) nice punch, less refinement, less Soundstage depth, but alot less lower treble glare and more mids.

    I find the Element a bit hashy and forced sounding lacking that organic, nimble realism but its very good with Orthos and plants them well in the music. I use it 10:1 over the pulse infinity.

    I should really be fair to try the infinity as a stand alone DAC but if its even close in sound sig then it's nowhere near what I consider true neutral in treating the 3 bands equally. Only the highs get attention.

    Back to the drawing board as both of them are leaving even though I actually recommend the Element for an impressive performance and dang if I won't miss touching that knob. Only selling because the resell value of the infinity sucks.

    Kind of reminds how I prefer an hd650 or mad dog over a bright and lean TOTL
     

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