My SP200 just recently came in and I thought I’d try to compare my current amp, the JDS Labs Atom, against my new upgrade. I was wondering before ordering how these two amps compared in terms of sound but couldn’t find too much information besides “they both measure almost the same, thus they also sound probably the same”.
I hope anyone who’s thinking of the same upgrade path as me or just wondered how those two faired against each other, finds this short comparison useful (more or less).
I’m completely comparing by A/B testing with my ears. No measuring rig, no nothing, just my human ears and what they perceive.
The audio chain is as follows: My computer -> Schiit Modi 3 via USB -> Y-Splitter into both the Atom and SP200 -> beyerdynamic Amiron Home / HiFiMAN Sundara.
So, let’s actually talk about my findings during listening.
Straight up, the SP200 doesn’t sound the same as the Atom, nor vice versa. Just because they measure similarly and both come with the same perfectly flat frequency response does NOT mean they also sound indifferent from each other.
The main differences after matching volume to the best of my ability:
- Bass and mid bass is MUCH tighter, full sounding and refined on the SP200
- Highs around the 10k mark are not quite as straight forward and sibilant as on the Atom
- Surprisingly, mids and especially female vocals are ever so slightly clearer on the Atom
The sound overall sounds tidier, a tad more dynamic and refined. Some sections piercing on the Atom are perfectly enjoyable on the SP200 on both headphones.
If I hypothetically gave the SP200 a score of 100/100, the Atom would be a very very close 97/100. The differences are barely audible whatsoever and that leads me to question myself if a 300$ upgrade is worth the residual 3 points missing on the Atom. Other than sheer power the SP200 can deliver, I honestly can’t see a valid reason if you already have an Atom and are happy with the power it produces to spend 300$ to upgrade.
Does that mean the SP200 is bad? No, by any means no, I enjoy listening to it. I just think that gets to show how incredible the Atom is and that many people will probably be very happy with it. If you’re tight on budget and could use the 200$ on something else, by all means go with the Atom. 97% of arguably greatness is still incredible for the price.
I hope I could help someone with my opinion on both of these amps. What’s your take on the SP200? Do you think it’s worth paying 300$ to upgrade from an already existing wonderful and clean sounding amp like the Atom? Would love hearing back from you guys!