USB and DAC for home-made headphone tube amp
Oct 28, 2016 at 3:10 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 2

Groon

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Hi,
 
  I am a new member and this is my first thread. Great site!
 
  I'm interested in building a headphone tube amplifier, which will be used on a computer. I'm looking forward to the great sound the amp will provide compared to the crappy amp on the computer sound card, but equally important for sound quality is the use of a better DAC.
 
  I found  threads on the forum that suggest good links for building our own headphone tube amplifier. But I did not find anything about a complete USB+DAC+tube amp project. To be honest I am much more excited by the tube amp section. The USB+DAC section is more standard electronics. I don't mean that they are all created equal, but many good options are available on the market at low cost. Most of them like the Dragonfly by AudioQuest include the amp, but I also found, for example, this low cost USB+DAC with line outputs, converting at 192KHz and 24bits:
https://smile.amazon.com/Digital-Optical-Converter-Headphone-Amplifier/dp/B003XCHCLC/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1477517622&sr=8-7&keywords=audio+usb+dac
 
On the other hand, I also found plans for building our own USB+DAC. This one includes the output amplifier as well, but I guess I could just skip that stage.
http://users.abo.fi/jskata/JEDAC/
 
So I'm wondering if it would be easier to just build the amplifier and buy a pre-made USB+DAC and add it. Also, now that I think about it, is the headphone output of something like the Dragonfly USB_DAC+Amp ok for driving directly the input of a headphone tube amplifier?  Is it just a matter of making sure the level remains under the input range of the amplifier?
I know that the output of a headphone amplifier can be pretty low impedance, but I don't know if the input of a tube amplifier is usually high impedance.
 
So as you can see, I have a lot of questions...
I tried searching the forum to make sure I don't ask something that was already discussed in detail. Sorry if it was and I missed it!
 
Any ideas?
 
Thanks!
  Ben
 
Oct 28, 2016 at 5:58 PM Post #2 of 2

buke9

Headphoneus Supremus
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Hi,

  I am a new member and this is my first thread. Great site!

  I'm interested in building a headphone tube amplifier, which will be used on a computer. I'm looking forward to the great sound the amp will provide compared to the crappy amp on the computer sound card, but equally important for sound quality is the use of a better DAC.

  I found  threads on the forum that suggest good links for building our own headphone tube amplifier. But I did not find anything about a complete USB+DAC+tube amp project. To be honest I am much more excited by the tube amp section. The USB+DAC section is more standard electronics. I don't mean that they are all created equal, but many good options are available on the market at low cost. Most of them like the Dragonfly by AudioQuest include the amp, but I also found, for example, this low cost USB+DAC with line outputs, converting at 192KHz and 24bits:
https://smile.amazon.com/Digital-Optical-Converter-Headphone-Amplifier/dp/B003XCHCLC/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1477517622&sr=8-7&keywords=audio+usb+dac

On the other hand, I also found plans for building our own USB+DAC. This one includes the output amplifier as well, but I guess I could just skip that stage.
http://users.abo.fi/jskata/JEDAC/

So I'm wondering if it would be easier to just build the amplifier and buy a pre-made USB+DAC and add it. Also, now that I think about it, is the headphone output of something like the Dragonfly USB_DAC+Amp ok for driving directly the input of a headphone tube amplifier?  Is it just a matter of making sure the level remains under the input range of the amplifier?
I know that the output of a headphone amplifier can be pretty low impedance, but I don't know if the input of a tube amplifier is usually high impedance.

So as you can see, I have a lot of questions...
I tried searching the forum to make sure I don't ask something that was already discussed in detail. Sorry if it was and I missed it!

Any ideas?

Thanks!
  Ben
I'm all for diy but I'm not sure that dac would sound much better than your computers dac. There are odac kits you can build also. I don't think I would build a all in one though I could be wrong and it would be fine . Just seems to me too many chances for noise to get introduced. I'm not a big amp builder so take it for what it's worth. I would build the tube amp run it out of the computer line out first. If you think there is more to be gained go for a dac. The Dragonfly is totally capable of using as a input for the amp.
 

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