Thursday, July 10, 2014

Headphone Amplifier - Part 1 - For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)

This is going to be a bit of a departure from the norm.  Although I am including some pictures.  To keep it somewhat on topic the setup for the pictures is an Octagon softbox in front of the stuff, and a gridded light with enough power to make the background not completely grey.

This year one my goals was to clean up our basement's storage side.  I did.  I also ended up building a workbench down there, because the space presented itself.

This has lead me to doing a bunch of things, such as building speaker stands,  I'd otherwise not have been able to do.  I would have WANTED to do them, but lack of a proper workspace would not have allowed it.

Lately I wanted a headphone amplifier.  Specifically, I wanted a tube-based headphone amplifier.  There are a few inexpensive tube amps floating around out there, but I felt compelled to attempt to build one.  It is a lot cheaper to buy one, especially if you factor in some of the tools I didn't already have.

But shopping is easy (and not particularly amusing to me), making stuff is more interesting.  That in a nutshell is the point of building stuff yourself.  It is interesting.  Also taking the "easy" factor out of it really makes you consider how much you really want the said gizmo.  The only things I have regularly built for myself are dekstop computers.  With those I think I gain a bit more quality, but I pay for it with time.  Cost is the same as buying a pre-built.  I'm not sure I will be able to say the same about this amplifier!

I ended up stumbling across a hybrid tube amp on the 'net nicknamed the "Starving Student".  I discovered the original design helped deplete the world of 19J6 tubes, and an adventurous soul modified the design to work with the more readily available12AU7 tube.  That is the design I am using.  Even though there are PCBs available I decided to attempt this as a point to point build. 

The goal of this little sub-corner of my blog is to (somewhat) document my attempt to turn the piles of stuff pictured into a headphone amplifier following this design.

Most of the bits were ordered from Mouser, with tubes and sockets sourced on Amazon.

This was going way way out on a limb for me, because schematics, in general, look like this to me...

There were also a few tools I needed, like Unibits to do the casework. I had already convinced myself I needed a "real" soldering iron and multimeter, and had them on hand. If I was honest, I probably didn't "need" any of these things but I did put them to use.

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