DIY Headphone Amps and NwAvGuy's Blog

Heeeey guys. Last time I was here I’d seen I’ve seen several threads relating to the subject of audio and headphones in particular and I’d noticed that in one of these threads Muffman made a comment that you need a good headphone amplifier to enjoy good headphones. Thinking a pocket amp to use with an digital audio player (apparently its best to have with a true line-out if you want to use an external amp) might be nice, I’d started looking around at the commercially available options I’d figured “Geeze, this stuff’s expensive.”

Then I found a few Do It Yourself projects like the Cmoy Pocket Amplifier and seeing the step by step tutorial process kinda reminded me of the sort of the sort of thing you might find here, especially since there were many different permutations of the design for the sake of customization.

Looking into what sort of portable setup I should have or what sort of headphone amp I should make, if any I’d come across something else most interesting: The open source, do it yourself Objective 2 headphone amplifier (O2 for short) and by extension, a guy who appears to’ve raised quite a controversial ruccus over at the head-fi forums due to controversial criticisms of audiophile product design going by the handle of NwAvGuy. I’m not quite sure what happened there since I hadn’t seen the posts. Anyway, I thought you guys might be interested in this, not only in part because of the express interest in audio products and the Do It Yourself appeal but also because he’s an electrical engineer who seems to have a reaaaally interesting Blog. It has lots of hard data, openly published testing techniques and an objective prioritization on design over materials that gives him a unique sort of credibility that’s very rare amongst the Audiophile community. There are some fascinating thoughts to mull over in a language that even somewhat resembles the english language to boot! I really do find it very quite impressive, at least for such a small personally run operation but maybe that’s just me…

Unfortunately, since it has a lot of small components and you have to build it from scratch with a custom P.C.B. and lots of assorted components, the O2 amp itself sounds a bit complicated for a beginner’s project. Double that since there aren’t any step by step instructions for which I can follow. It’s no reason not to share a potentially interesting find though.

The O2 looks very impressive at first glance(I’m seeing it for the first time), but for someone who probably didn’t spend a huge amount on headphones it isn’t worth it. I don’t know what headphones you have, but they probably aren’t worth the justification of an expensive amp. I’ve used the Fiio E5 and a Cmoy and they do their job decently, although purists will say otherwise. I am an audiophile, but not in a sense of perfection and exactness of quality. Unless you paid a very large amount for headphones it isn’t necessary to have a top of the line amp.

Anyway, the Cmoy is a great beginner project and should fit your needs quite well. I’d advise you build one to use as an amp.