[Rogers Gomez] has posted up this hybrid tube based headphone amplifier over at DIY Audio. Being a fan of tube amplifiers, but wanting something with lower voltage and lower cost, he put together this little system out of spare parts he had lying around. He wanted it to have as few parts as possible and be able to power his 32 ohm Grado headphones.
He states that he’d built several YAHA amps, and a Szekeres Mosfet follower and was curious how they’d sound together. He was pleasantly surprised with the resulting quality.
There are less than 30 individual components involved in the project. The complete parts list and schematics are available from the site. He notes at the very end, to unplug your headphones when powering up as there is a surge that could damage them. That might be good to know at the beginning just in case you get eager to test it out.
Sparkfun contributor [Pete] really loves tube amps, but he’s a very safety-conscious guy who doesn’t like being electrocuted. This is a problem, since tube amps are usually very high voltage, and a small mistake can be fatal. To deal with this voltage issue, he built a tube amp with a control system built around a 6DOF v3 controller board. The control system is there mainly in case of a failure, automatically shutting off the high voltage transformer in any such event. It has the added benefit of filtering any 60Hz noise from getting into the audio, which happened before he installed the control system.
In addition to regulating power, the controller board also monitors bias points in the output tubes and displays its diagnostics on an LCD. Aside from getting great sound from the tube amp, [Pete] made it look great too, installing colored LEDs under the tubes. We love his design: just because safety comes first it doesn’t mean cool-factor can’t come in a close second.