iFi Zen vs. FiiO K5 Pro vs. JDS ATOM vs. Bravo Ocean

2,024 word post, approx. 7 min. read

Updates:

  • 3/14/2020. Article Posted.

Hey there friend, and Welcome aboard!!

Before we get into the iFi Zen vs. FiiO K5 Pro vs. JDS ATOM vs. Bravo Ocean, grab a snack, sit back and relax because..

I’m Here to Help!!

Table of Contents

Introduction
What’s In The Box?
Build
Features & Usage
Sound
Video Shootout & Photo Gallery
Recommendation & Final Word
Albums, Film, & OST

Now without further ado, let’s get rolling shall we?!

Introduction

A few people have been asking me about the differences between the iFi Zen and FiiO K5 Pro, so I thought I would make a big shootout and also include the ATOM and Bravo Ocean in for good measure!

The reason being is because all four of these amps come in at similar price points, all are meant to be used on your desktop exclusively, and all have similar outputs and inputs, generally doing many of the same tasks that you may call on them for in studio.

The Bravo Ocean is a bit different in some ways with regard to the type of Amp that it is, and we’ll get into that as well!

By the time you’re finished reading this article, you should have a clear idea of what it is that might suit your needs best.

So with that, let’s get into what’s in the box!

In the Box

JDS ATOM

JDS Labs Atom vs. Objective 2

  • ATOM Amp
  • 16VAC Power Adapter

Bravo Ocean

  • Ocean Amp
  • Instructions
  • 24V DC Power Brick

FiiO K5 Pro

FiiO K5 Pro Review

  • K5 Pro Amp/DAC
  • USB Type-B Cable
  • 15V DC Power Brick
  • 1/4″ headphone adapter and extra rubber feet
  • Quick Start Guide and Warranty Card

iFi Zen

iFi Zen Amp/DAC Review
MQA supported.
  • Zen Amp/DAC
  • USB Type-A Cable
  • RCA to RCA Analog Cable
  • Warranty and Instruction Cards

With that out of the way, how’s build on each of these?

Build

Right off the bat, the ATOM is the lightest out of this bunch, coming in at a modest 9.3 Oz. (264g) approximately.

In order from lightest to heaviest:

  1. JDS ATOM9.3 Oz. (264g)
  2. Bravo Ocean11.1 Oz. (324g)
  3. FiiO K5 Pro15.4 Oz. (437g)
  4. ifi Zen18.1 Oz. (516g)

Knobs, buttons, and connections:

  • JDS ATOM – Good, if a bit flimsy. Buttons on the front move around a bit inside of their respective slots. Connections on the back are all solid. Volume pot feels more like a flimsy piece of plastic than I prefer, but still fine. No fingerprints.
  • Bravo Ocean – Front panel yields a very industrial type of look. ON/OFF switch and Volume Pot feel very solid. 1/4″ jack and 3.5mm jack on front are both robust. Back panel all good. No finger prints.
  • FiiO K5 Pro – Feels a tad light for it’s size, but still solid. Imagine this as a very lean soccer player who moves around with agility and finesse. Volume pot feels nice to turn. Switches on the front all feel great. Back panel looks solid. Some fingerprints.
  • iFi Zen – Extremely robust. Volume pot is a dream to turn, and sort of resembles a polygonal type of feel. Buttons and jacks on front are all solid. Back panel very good. No fingerprints.

Let’s get into features!

Features & Usage

JDS ATOM

  • Price: Check JDS Labs!
  • Connections: 1x pair of RCA Analog Inputs and Outputs. Line input. 16VAC power jack, 1/4″ headphone jack.
  • DSD support: No.
  • MQA support: N/A. If you run it out of something like a DragonFly Red, then yes it will run MQA files as that Amp/DAC supports it. If you run it out of a regular DAC, then no.
  • Power Output: Max output at 600 Ohm: 125mW, Max output at 150 Ohm: 502mW, Max output at 32 Ohm: 1W

Common uses:

  • Hook it up to studio monitors/speakers and use it as a preamp.
  • Use it as a dedicated Amp/DAC on your desktop for music or gaming.
  • Hook it up to your PS4 (with the help of an OL DAC + Optical) for gaming or any DAC that has an optical input.
  • Use it in conjunction with pretty much any DAC via it’s RCA inputs and line input. You could use a 3.5mm interconnect or an RCA to 3.5mm (RCA to mini).

Check out the screen grab from my JDS ATOM vs. Objective 2 video!

iFi Zen vs. FiiO K5 Pro vs. JDS ATOM vs. Bravo Ocean

Bravo Ocean

  • Price: Check Amazon!
  • Connections: 1x pair of RCA Analog Inputs and Outputs. Line input. 24V DC power jack, 1/4″ headphone jack, 3.5mm headphone jack.
  • DSD support: No.
  • MQA support: N/A. If you run it out of something like a DragonFly Red or K3, then yes it will will run MQA files as those Amp/DAC support it. If you run it out of a regular DAC, then no.
  • Power Output: Not Specified.

Common uses:

  • Hook it up to studio monitors/speakers and use it as a preamp.
  • Use it as a dedicated Amp (with separate DAC) on your desktop for music or gaming.
  • Hook it up to your PS4 (with the help of an OL DAC + Optical) for gaming or any DAC that has an optical input.
  • Use it in conjunction with pretty much any DAC via it’s RCA inputs and line input.
  • Power Output:

As you can see, the Bravo Ocean behaves in a similar way to the ATOM and does pretty much all of the same things. The only real difference is that it’s a Class A Tube Hybrid Amp, and thus gets extremely hot. Please make sure to turn it off when not in use unless you want your house or apartment to burn down.

Lol. It’s not that serious, but should be done as a precautionary measure regardless. In fact, this thing gets so hot that you can’t really keep your finger on it for more than a few seconds if it’s been on for awhile.

FiiO K5 Pro

  • Price: Check Amazon!
  • Connections: 1x pair of RCA Analog Input & Outputs, 1x Coaxial Input, 1x Optical Input, USB Type-B jack, 15V DC power jack, 1/4″ Headphone jack.
  • DSD support: Yes.
  • PCM: Up to 32-bit/384kHz.
  • MQA support: No.
  • Power Output: 1.5W @ 32 Ohm.

Common Uses:

  • Hook it up to studio monitors/speakers and use it a preamp.
  • Use it as a dedicated Amp/DAC on your desktop for music or gaming.
  • Output it to a separate Amp via it’s RCA Analog Outs.
  • Hook it up to your PS4 via it’s optical input.
  • Hook it up to anything in your home theater via it’s Coaxial input.
  • Use it in conjunction with pretty much any DAC via it’s RCA inputs. Just make sure the DAC in question has RCA Analog Outputs.

Check out this helpful image that I grabbed from one of my YouTube videos!

Video Discussion

Don’t forget to leave me some love!! <3

As you can see, the K5 Pro is a bit more valuable in a home listening environment because it can do a few more things. Because it’s a combo Amp & DAC rolled into one, you can use it with a separate amp if you want later on down the road. It also has the Coaxial Input for use with anything in your home theater. Pretty nifty indeed!

iFi Zen

  • Price: Check Amazon!
  • Connections: 1x 4.4mm balanced output, 1x RCA Analog Output, 1x USB Type-B jack, 5VDC power jack, 1/4″ headphone jack, 4.4mm balanced headphone jack.
  • DSD support: Yes.
  • PCM: Up to 32-bit/384kHz.
  • MQA support: Yes.
  • Power Output: 280mW @ 32 Ohm, and 36mW @ 300 Ohm. Balanced: 380mW @ 50 Ohm, and 70mW @ 600 Ohm.

Common Uses:

  • Hook it up to studio monitors/speakers and use it a preamp via it’s RCA Analog Outputs OR 4.4mm balanced output.
  • Use it as a dedicated Amp/DAC on your desktop for music or gaming.

The Zen is a bit more limited, but does support MQA and should be used as a desktop Amp/DAC primarily.

All of that’s well and good, but how do these sound in relation to each other?

Sound

  • Headphones: Sennheiser HD600, 650, 6XX, AKG K702, HiFiMan HE400S, 4XX, etc.
  • Source: Tidal HiFi, Spotify Premium (FLAC, Masters)

I’m going to throw in the DragonFly Red as well here.

I went back and forth on a Master of “Come Together” by the Beatles (A song I’m very familiar with) through the AKG K702. The K5 Pro sounded slightly warmer and maybe a bit less expansive, while the DF Red sounded a bit more open and airy than the Zen. The Zen being kind of in the middle of the 2. It was a really marginal difference though and could be my imagination. I’ve always perceived the DF Red to have very good sound staging and expansiveness throughout the frequency spectrum. It just seems like everything has a bit more life to it.

So the differences between the Zen and K5 Pro aren’t that notable, but the difference between the DragonFly Red vs. the Zen and K5 Pro are. The DragonFly does sound very open, airy, clean, and crisp. It’s like walking outside to a cool morning breeze in the fall.

The Zen and K5 Pro are definitely warmer and more laid back, with less expansiveness. If the Zen is warm and more lush sounding, the Bravo Ocean + DragonFly Red is a little more open and crisp.

Listening out of the Zen is sort of like a warm hug, whereas the Bravo + Red is more akin to opening a window in your home and letting some air in. The image is a bit wider and has more room to breathe.

The ATOM is certainly the most neutral, crisp, and clean sounding Amp out of this bunch. I remember the first time I heard an Objective 2. The incredible spacing made it almost feel as if you were listening in a studio environment rather than through headphones. More of the same applies here with the ATOM. It’s extremely clean like Windex homie!

I think what you ultimately decide on is more a matter of warm vs. cool preference and what you hope to accomplish in your studio space.

Let’s take a look at a video and some images before we get into the final word!

Video Shootout

Don’t forget to leave me some love!! <3

Photo Gallery

Coming Soon!

With that, what’s the final word?

Recommendation & Final Word

As alluded to above, what you go with here depends on your unique situation, whether or not you want to use a separate DAC, whether you’ll be console gaming, your sound preference, etc. etc.

With that said, the K5 Pro is the standout from this bunch because it can basically hook up to anything inside of your home studio or home theater listening environment.It’s definitely the most versatile out of these, and sounds fantastic to boot!

 

Well that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this iFi Zen vs. FiiO K5 Pro vs. JDS ATOM vs. Bravo Ocean Amp and DAC shootout!!

Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!

Which of these better suits your needs? I would love to hear from you. Until next time..

All the best and God bless,

 

 

-Stu

[Xtr@Ba$eHitZ]

Can’t decide which headphones to purchase? Interested in a complete buyers guide outlining over 40 of the best options on the market? Click on over to the best audiophile headphones to learn more!!

Be sure to also check out my Reviews and Resources page for more helpful and informative articles!

Album List..

Albums, Film, and OST

More coming soon as I remember them! I listened to a lot of music with these amps. 🙂

Beatles – Abbey Road (1969)
Common – Black America Again (2014)
Flying Lotus – Flamagra (2019)
Grateful Dead – Terrapin Station (1977)
Fallout New Vegas OST (2010)
Fallout 2 OST – Mark Morgan
Fallout 1 OST – Mark Morgan
Donkey Kong Country 2 OST (1995)
John Coltrane – Coltrane (1957)
John Coltrane – Soultrane (1958)
The Legend of Zelda – Ocarina of Time OST (1998)
The Legend Of Zelda – A Link To The Past OST (1991)
Death Cab for Cutie – Transatlanticism (2003)
The Shins – Oh, Inverted World (2001)
Sufjan Stevens – Michigan (2003)
Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell (2015)
MF DOOM – Operation: Doomsday (1999)
Mac Miller – The Divine Feminine (2016)
Mac Miller – Swimming (2018)
John Coltrane – Coltrane Plays The Blues (1960)
John Coltrane – A Love Supreme (1964)
Ornette Coleman – Change of the Century (1960)
Talib Kweli & DJ Hi-Tek (Reflection Eternal) – Train of Thought (2000)
Tears for Fears – Songs from the Big Chair (1985)
John Coltrane – My Favorite Things (1961)
Odie – Analogue (2018)
Tycho – Epoch (2016)
Chon – Grow (2015)

Films

Blade Runner: The Final Cut (1982)
Inception (2010)
Primal Fear (1996)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

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