JDS LABS Objective 2 Headphone Amp – Built to last

o2-black-front-head-on
I already have a Schiit Magni headphone amp for my main system, which was necessary due to the fact that the main system amp I presently use can not drive my AKG K7xx cans and is also not that impressive with my other cans either. This is in spite of the main amp’s 140 wpc ability. As with all modern gear, the headphone jacks are just after thoughts and some seem to be almost merely cosmetic with no real function. With that soapbox statement out of the way, on with the subject at hand.

I also have a vintage system and while the headphone jacks on those old great receivers of yesteryear were real and used often but, time is a cruel master. So at my vintage amps age of around 45 years, it is already a wonder that they still sound great. However, like the rest of us, things start to kind of get rusty. So with plugging my cans directly into the old headphone jacks on the old amps, while they can drive anything, they were cutting in and out and noisy. So it was time to get a separate headphone amp.

Not wanting to spend more on a headphone amp than the entire system cost me I started to consider a second Magni, but wondered if I could get something a little different perhaps for the same money. I recall reading a lot of customer reviews of the JDS Labs Objective 2 headphone amp and 99% were giving great marks. One of the themes I saw consistently was regarding the build of the amp. Words like, “trusted”, “work horse”, “goto” and “well built” were common. I can now say all of those accolades are accurate.
This is one well built little headphone amp. These headphone amps are really designed for desktop situations and not component racks, but it works.

The JDS Labs Objective 2 is about $30 more than the stock Schiit Magni making it around $130. However, I ordered a B-stock unit which shaved off about $40 before tax and shipping, etc. I have had good luck with B-stock items so far. It pays to order such from reputable companies. (My Magni was also B-stock). For the more brave and resourceful among us, they also offer a DIY kit for the O2 sans the box shaving another $30 off.
Before placing my order, I phoned JDS and spoke with John, the owner who answers the phone! One of the nicest people in the biz. I called him asking about whether or not the stock amp would power my AKG cans sufficiently and I had a customization question. I got a custom answer that turned into a conversation and me learning more about the company and about the amps in general. He asked well thought out questions about my headphones and sources and made a suggestion for customizing the gain switch as well. I could not have asked for more or better.

Upon receiving my unit I noted it was packaged as new, it was even in a heat sealed anti-static bag.  I then looked for the “flaw” or “flaws”, first by eyeball inspection, found nothing. Then I took a magnifying glass to it, which at that point is ridiculous in my view, but I did it anyway. Here’s what I found for flaws….NOTHING! Not even a scratch on the screw heads. There is no way this is B-stock. This speaks loud volumes for their quality control and the people who work there!
o2-silver-front-head-on

The JDS Objective 2 is a solidly built unit and all US made! https://www.jdslabs.com/
Yes, I said US made: All of the amplifiers and DACs are sourced and assembled in the USA. Most of their printed circuit boards (PCBs) are manufactured in Arizona. The surface mount PCBs are assembled in California. They even perform thru-hole soldering, final casing assembly, testing, and packaging in our own facility in Illinois. A large portion of the facility is devoted to our machine shop, which allows them to perform 100% of aluminum CNC machining and engraving. This is so refreshing in a world where outsourcing is the norm.
The only slight gripe to the Objective 2 (and not much of one) I have noted is that the stock units have all the jacks (including the power supply), buttons and such on the front panel. However, one can customize their unit at time of order, which completely cancels out the gripe. Cost for customizing is very nominal and will not break any wallets (which is always welcome here at the thin wallet club). The O2 comes in black or silver, but note that only the black units can be customized.
So what can be customized on the Objective 2? The power jack can be moved to the back (which is what I had done just so I did not have to make any sharp turns for my use).
You can also have the standard 1/8 headphone jack replaced with a traditional 1/4 size jack.
You can change the analog input from a 1/8 jack in front to RCA jacks in the rear (I should have had that done, but ok).
You can also have the dual gain button customized from the standard 2.5x (about 5db) and 6.5x (about 16.4db) to whatever you need. (I had mine customized to be able to drive my AKG K7xxs which are hard to drive, but not as hard as a few other cans).
They come with a battery installed as well for portable use. (One can opt to not included it as well if you won’t be mobile with it and it knocks $10 off too).
To finish off this info, here are the main technical specs of the stock O2 amp:
AMPLIFIER PERFORMANCE
Frequency Response +/-0.1 dB (20Hz-20kHz)
THD 1 Khz 150 Ohms 0.0016%
IMD CCIF 15 Ohms 0.001%
IMD SMPTE 0.002%
Noise (ref 400 mV) -105 dB
Max Output (33 Ohms) 613 mW
Max Output (150 Ohms) 355 mW
Max Output (600 Ohms) 88 mW
Output Impedance 0.54 ohms
Crosstalk (15 ohms) -65 dB
Channel Balance (50% volume) 0.6 dB
CONNECTIVITY
Input 3.5mm or RCA*
Output 3.5mm or 6.35mm*
Power Battery or 14-20VAC
CONFIGURATION
Gain 2.5x and 6.5x*
Volume Potentiometer Taper Alps 15A or 3B
Batteries 2x9V LSD NiMH
DIMENSIONS
Case Dimensions (in) 4.27 x 3.15 x 1.16
Weight 11oz
Yes, it comes with the power adaptor, no extra charge. (They also offer different plug configurations if you are in Europe, Asia and what have you). What about sound? click on page 2

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