Frequently Asked Questions
How do I request custom engravings?
Custom engraving is free with most new products. You can specify text or an image by clicking ENGRAVE in the shopping cart. Best engraving images use:
- Color Depth: Black-and-white or grayscale
- Resolution: Vector, or minimum 600ppi (1 inch = 1*600 = 600 pixels)
Your image will be scaled for best fit onto the top center of the enclosure. See also: Custom Engraving Examples and More Custom Engravings. Please take the time to review both articles! You may use the Order Notes field during checkout to describe image placement and expected appearance.
Engraving usually takes a few minutes and has minimal impact on shipping time.
What is B-Stock? Can you share pictures?
B-Stock amplifiers and DACs contain brand new electronics. We classify enclosures as "B-Stock" when accidents occur in production. This usually means someone scratched a part, or it may exhibit anodizing or other cosmetic defect(s). Most flaws are minor. Surface scratches on the top of a DAC, for instance, will be hidden when stacked with an amplifier.
Please realize that B-Stock enclosures are offered at a loss, each enclosure is unique, and inventory is constantly moving. In other words, we cannot provide pictures or guarantee specific enclosures.
Accessories: We may supply new or open-box AC transformers or cables with B-Stock amplifiers and DACs.
What payment methods do you accept?
You may checkout with any credit card, debit card, or PayPal account. Electronic bank transfers are supported through PayPal. Contact us if you require an alternative form of payment.
Do you ship internationally?
Yes, JDS Labs ships worldwide. Please see our Shipping page.
Where can I find a local retailer?
JDS Labs is most competitive by selling directly to customers like you, meaning jdslabs.com is the best (and only) source of JDS Labs amplifiers and DACs in the United States. You can also find JDS Labs products at the following retailers:
Addicted To Audio (Australia)
HiFiHeadphones (EU and UK)
Duet Audio (Norway)
Computer Lounge (New Zealand)
Where is my order?
We ship promptly—often within hours of receiving an order. Please check your e-mail (and junk mail folder!) for our automated shipment notification.
Please note that tracking information is not provided with First Class International or Priority Mail International shipments. Status information is only provided during package acceptance at the post office. There is no way for JDS Labs or the United States Postal Service (USPS) to track these orders. Delivery time of 2-4 weeks is typical for international packages.
Can you alter customs fees?
We utilize an automated shipping system which enters accurate item information on every package. Shipments outside of the United States may incur customs fees, duties, and/or taxes upon arrival. We have no advance knowledge of such fees, cannot manipulate the values, and cannot pay potential fees for you.
Where are your products made?
All of our amplifiers and DACs are sourced and assembled in the USA! Our surface mount PCBs are assembled in California. We perform thru-hole soldering, final casing assembly, testing, and packaging in our own facility in Illinois.
A large portion of our facility is devoted to our machine shop, which allows us to perform 100% of aluminum CNC machining and engraving. Thus, we're able to competitively manufacture JDS Labs products in-house, here in the United States.
Power Supply Questions
Why does my AC transformer run warm?
AC transformers use electromagnetic coupling to store energy, isolating the supply from the load. Thermal output is a byproduct of the process, meaning heat is generated even when nothing is connected to the load side of the transformer.
AC transformers are favored in high performance audio designs due to their mains isolation and avoidance of high frequency switching noise.
In short, it is safe and normal for your AC transformer to run warm.
Can I use the 120V transformer in a 220V outlet?
Never attempt to use a US 120V transformer in a 220-240V outlet in Europe or Asia. Use of a plug converter will result in damage. Similarly, do not use a 220-240V EU/UK/AU transformer in a 120V outlet.
If you plan to travel or move to a new country, please be sure to choose an appropriate transformer for your location.
Can I use a Linear Power Supply with my amp or DAC?
No, linear power supplies are AC/DC output devices. Please do not attempt to replace the AC/AC transformer suppied with your JDS Labs amplifier or DAC.
JDS Labs Atom Amp, Atom DAC, Element II, EL Amp II, and EL DAC II require AC voltage input, not DC input. All of our designs contain their own, integrated linear supply regulation to convert your wall outlet's AC voltage to split DC rails. This method ensures mains isolation and is key to high performance. Thus, there is no reason to consider using a linear supply; doing so is both unsafe and inadequate, as your amp or DAC will not be able to power its negative supply rail.
Can I power my amp and DAC from a single AC adapter instead of two?
We design our amplifiers and DACs with proper mains isolation. This means each amplifier and each DAC requires its own AC transformer to avoid ground loop noise.
Using a single transformer or a barrel jack splitter will bypass mains isolation and result in mains hum.
How do I connect an amplifier to a headset?
Headsets are headphones with a microphone attached. Most rely on a 4-pin TRRS connector, so you will need to split the headphone anmic signals using a TRRS-to-TRS splitter, then:
- Connect the splitter's headphone output to the headphone jack of your amplifier.
- Connect the splitter's mic output to your PC's existing mic port (usually pink).
- Connect a cable from your PC or DAC output to the input of your amplifier. PC outputs are usually green.
How do I connect a DAC to my phone or tablet?
You will first need to obtain an appropriate adapter.
- USB Type C Devices (Nexus 5X, 6P, Pixel, etc.) → Anker Type C Adapter
- Micro USB Devices (Most Androids) → Micro USB Adapter
- Lightning Devices (Apple iPhone and iPad) → Lightning to USB 3 Adapter and USB Hub
Please see Troubleshooting for more help connecting to Android and iOS.
Objective 2 and ODAC
What Gain should I choose?
It's best to select gain based on your audio source's output voltage.
For Objective2+ODAC, your audio source is ODAC, a 2.1VRMS output device. Optimal gain for all headphones driven by Objective2+ODAC is 1.0/3.3x. Only select a different gain if you will bypass ODAC and operate the Objective2 from a stronger or weaker, external audio source.
To choose gain for Objective2, refer to your audio player's output strength:
- 1.0VRMS (iPod, iPhone, many Androids, typical laptops, etc.) → Choose gain of 2.5/6.5x
- 1.5VRMS (most iMacs) → Choose gain of 1.0/4.5x
- 2.0VRMS (OL DAC, most aftermarket DACs) → Choose gain of 1.0/3.5x
- 2.1VRMS (ODAC RevB) → Choose gain of 1.0/3.3x
- >2.1VRMS (professional audio equipment) → Choose gain of 1.0/2.5x
Use Objective2's lowest gain position for most listening. Only press the High gain button when your combination of music and equipment is unable to reach a suitable volume at low gain. Please see the JDS Labs article Volume is Power for a full understanding of the relationship between headphones, gain, and power.
Can Objective2 drive my headphones?
Objective2 was designed to drive virtually all dynamic headphones, IEMS, and efficient planar orthodynamic headphones on the market.
To achieve enjoyable listening, simply determine your headphones' power requirements* using a SPL Chart, then ensure the amplifier can exceed this level. You will need to know your headphone's published impedance (Ω) and sensitvity (dB/mW or dB/V) to use the SPL chart.
Objective2 can generate the following power into the example headphones listed below. You can estimate values for other headphones inbetween these measurements:
- Maximum Power into 33 Ω → 613 mW
- Maximum Power into 150 Ω → 355 mW
- Maximum Power into 600 Ω → 88 mW
*Note that headphone manufacturers occasionally publish a "maximum power" rating. Maximum power refers to the amount of energy the drivers can sustain before failing, and is often considerably higher than suggested listening power!
Can Objective2+ODAC be used with PS4?
Yes, simply connect Objective2+ODAC via USB, then navigate to:
Settings --> Devices --> Audio Devices --> Output Device --> USB Headphones(ODAC RevB)
PS4 is known to limit its USB Audio output volume. If you plan to listen to your DAC with a PS4, please tell us when placing your order. We can force your DAC's firmware to require PS4 to set 100% output volume. Alternatively, you can pair your Objective2 with OL DAC and rely on optical audio.
Are RCA jacks better than 3.5mm jacks?
Crosstalk performance of RCA jacks is 0-20dB superior to a 3.5mm jack (depending on frequency). However, this measurable advantage exceeds the capability of the human ear. Since most users are unable to audibly distinguish between a 3.5mm and RCA jack, these options should be considered audibly equivalent.
Therefore, we recommend that you choose jacks based on cabling convenience or personal preference.
Are 1/4" headphone jacks better than 3.5mm jacks?
Sound Quality: Sound quality is identical between 1/4" (6.35mm) and 1/8" (3.5mm) audio jacks.
Mechanical Life: The 3.5mm jacks used in Objective2 are rated for a lifespan of 5000 mating cycles, while 6.35mm jacks are rated for 10000 cycles. Thus, a larger jack has a longer mechanical lifespan. We've observed real world jack lifespans of 3-7 years for heavily used 3.5mm jacks. A 6.35mm jack should last even longer.
There is no loss of sound quality by using 1/4-to-1/8 or 1/8-to-1/4 adapters. However, adapters can increase the weight and/or length of the inserted cable. These additional forces can negatively impact the jack's mechanical life.
Summary: For maximum mechancial longevity, choose a headphone jack which matches the plug of your most commonly used headphones. There are no sound quality penalties. Treat your equipment with care and all jacks should last for years!