I’m currently in the process of building a DIY headphone amp, and Marcus has given me the nod to post a mini-worklog on this fine forum. I am building an M Cubed from AMB Audio http://www.amb.org/audio/mmm/
which will be powered by a separately housed Sigma 11 power supply http://www.amb.org/audio/sigma11/
. The goal with this project is to build something that is at LEAST as good as my Arietta...... but hopefully end up with something that is considerably more powerful, with a few little bonus features. Specifically, I intend to set up the amp with a continuously variable gain to be suitable for everything from super sensitive canalphones to the hungriest fullsize phones (gain will range from 2-12 and be selectable by a pot on the front panel). Also, I am buying a number of different opamp combos to suit different headphones (smoother Burr-Brown opamps for energetic/detailed phones like the Alessandro range, and more ‘detailed’ Analogue devices opamps for smoother phones like Audio Technica).
My only previous audio DIY effort (recabling some MS-1’s) was almost
a spectacular failure. But it was a mechanical failure, because the diameter of the cable was too big for the connectors I bought. I’ve had lots of experience in the past with electronics kits from Dick Smith and Jaycar so I’m supremely optimistic that it will all work out. But this is the first project where I’ve actually bought all the individual components myself. At the very least, it will be entertaining for all of you if I crash and burn……
First things first, what this thread is about. I am NOT intending to give a tutorial on how to build your own amp and I will NOT be giving out my BOM for you to re-create my work. This post is to share my experience, and should in no way shape or form take any business away from Headphonic.
Anyway, onto the nitty gritty. The parts I bought were all solid, premium parts like Vishay Dale resistors and Nichicon high reliability caps – but not super expensive boutique stuff like Black Gates. They’re just not required for good performance from this amp, because it is entirely DC coupled with no capacitors in the signal path. It was VERY difficult to source parts locally, because places like Jaycar and Altronics generally stock low grade crud, and high end suppliers like RS and Farnell have terrible prices and stock levels in their Australian stores. Thus almost all my stuff was bought overseas from AMB, Mouser and Digikey. I got my Mouser delivery yesterday, AMB attempted delivery this morning, and Digikey should come tomorrow or Thursday. I’ll start the worklog with a photo of all the parts together on my desk.
Overseas shipping cost me a fortune
. More than one quarter of the total money I spent was shipping, which was a lot more than I expected. In fact, everything ended up costing a lot more than I expected. I came to the conclusion very rapidly that if you’re looking to DIY to get a really good product cheap, then you’re doing the wrong thing. At best, the time spent is certainly more than any dollar savings will be…… so if you’re not in it for the ‘journey’ then don’t bother.
So I think that is all for today. If anybody else has some DIY stories, I’d love to read them!
Buffalo24, Gamma2, iPod 80GbAmps:
M3/σ11, Exstata SS, Bottlehead CrackCans:
SR-Lambda, HD-650, AD900, ESW9, SuperFi 5Prolast.fm