Mini V3 Headphone Amp

Every so often, I like to check out the headphone amp scene at [headwize]. The headphone lovers there never seem to stop. This little amp is one of the latest creations. The latest is the mini v3 – it reflects a trend I’ve been seeing on homebrew hardware: SMD core chips and through hole components for support hardware. A 9 volt supplies power, and a pair of linear regulators. It’s a nice simple, solid design – and you’ve gotta love the thumb screws. (I’m not sure how a more efficient PWM regulated power source would affect the audio output)

10 thoughts on “Mini V3 Headphone Amp

  1. I’d love to work with more SMD components, but it is usually either very difficult or very expensive for the average hobbyist, unless you have a way to fabricate your own printed circuit boards. Can anybody out there recommend a relatively cheap and accurate way to do good PCB etching and drilling? I’d like to experiment with it, but am interested in what other people use and like.

  2. a well-designed (and layed out) smps regulator would be a lot more efficient, with minimal audio issues. however, this is definitely beyond the (typical) hobbyist. a multi-layered PCB would be required with ground plane layers and tight, small surface mount (0603 and such) components. plus, a shielded power smd inductor would be needed. most switchers nowadays switch way above the audio level, but you’d want to make sure that the closed loop error amplifiers also crossover above 40 kHz to minimize audio issues. possible, but a big project in and of itself.

  3. A few nimh AA’s would be better from a cost and environmental aspect.

    carlton: I think you make it sound harder than it is (0603’s). And you seem to be describing a full out smps psu, where a simpler boost converter would be adequate. But I agree its not for the average headphone enthusiast to attempt a design (although assembly could be possible).

    greg: toner transfer or photoresist are the two main hobby methods. If you’ve got a laser printer, go w/ toner imo ( I would recommend buying if you require many vias, or value your time :P:

  4. Forget about a switching power supply. If you don’t know yet, headwize is a community of hardcore diy audiophiles, and any sort of switching power supply is total blasphemy. Inefficiency is rarely a concern.

    I’ve been in the headphone diy audio community for a while–generally, the mini^3 board will probably be sold by AMB, the guy who created it. Contact him via headwize for more info. I think he has an online shop somewhere–he gets a load of them professionally made, and redistributes the boards. You’ll probably also need to go through him for the ad8397, which, iirc, is not available in small quantities via digikey.

    You might also require a bit of experience to build this particular amp–the main opamp chip here seems to have a pretty nasty reputation for oscillating like hell when you’re not careful with the soldering. Also don’t attempt to build this circuit without amb’s board (i.e. on protoboard or whatnot)–you’re almost guaranteed to have a fried opamp due to oscillations unless you know what you’re doing.

    On PCB etching–look up inkjet pcb printer. There are published results of people consistently getting 3mils resolution. I’m actually building one right now–I’ve completely given up on the toner transfer method, as it hasn’t been working very well at all for me.

  5. “You’ll probably also need to go through him for the ad8397, which, iirc, is not available in small quantities via digikey.”

    Times change. I bought one from digikey for a whopping $5.50. Digikey has six versions of the chip (four of them reels, priced at about a 40% discount). Only the reels require purchase in large quantities. All six have identical specs.

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