Crossfeed Headphone Amplifier

Posted on Oct 12, 2012

Building a headphone amplifier is like building a power amp - only the current demand is just a little bit lower (about a factor 100). Various designs can be found in the internet, and it is relatively easy to integrate the proposed crossfeed filter. I designed my own (see the picture) which is op-amp based. I know, many hi-fi enthusiasts say `yuck` to opamps, but note that even in many so-called `High-End` CD-players, opamps are found in the signal path for amplification and filtering. The op-amps should be chosen with care. They have to be able to deliver relatively high current values and to drive low impedance loads. I decided to use the National Semiconductor LM6171.

Crossfeed Headphone Amplifier
Click here to download the full size of the above Circuit.

This is a wide band (100 MHz) voltage-feedback opamp that is able to deliver 10V into a 100 ohm load. To prevent difficulties when driving low-impedance headphones (32 ohms or less), I placed a 47 ohm resistor at the output of each channel. With my Beyerdynamics (DT990/DT931, 600/250 ohm) and my Sennheiser (HD600, 300 ohm) headphones, the opamps perform most adequately. Other alternatives are the LM6172/6181/6182, the OPA604/627 by Burr-Brown (used in the HeadRoom systems) or the LTC1206/1207 by Linear Technology (able to drive 30 ohm loads!). The schematics shown in figures 6a/6b/6c represent the third generation of my original design. There are two versions of the headphone amplifier: one with the standard crossfeed and one with the enhanced bass crossfeed (see An Enhanced-Bass Natural Crossfeed Filter for more information). The standard crossfeed sound is nothing for a bass-freak. One should not expect a punchy bass, only a relaxation of the sound. The two crossfeed settings of the original bass-enhanced filter are comparable to the low and the high crossfeed levels of the standard filter in this article. The enhanced-bass filter has a frequency response very similar to the modified Linkwitz filter to compensate for any apparent loss of bass due to the crossfeed. While I hardly notice any specific loss of bass with the standard filter, I present the enhanced-bass design to give DIYers an option of which filter to...

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