Valve audio headphones Amplifier

Posted on Feb 10, 2013

The tube headphone amplifier in figure 1 is a high current mu follower, with a 12AU7 cathode follower driven by a 6CG7. Both sections of each tube are paralleled to minimize noise. It's a zero global feedback, OTL design of pretty high quality. I use it and like it for Grado, Sennheiser, and Sony headphones. The maximum gain is about 25 dB with the 6CG7, so it pays to watch the attenuator level. This design can be used as a line preamp as well.

Valve audio headphones Amplifier
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Valve audio headphones Amplifier - image 1
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The power output depends a lot on headphone impedance. The circuit has significant output impedance (something like 500 ohms) which some headphones don't mind, some do. It will put out around 20 mA peak current. The output impedance is pretty much constant and independent of load, but any tube changes will greatly affect it. It runs off a 330V supply, which necessitated changing R2 to 5.6K ohms, 2W. The 6VDC filament supply is regulated with 7806 regulators. All instructions, including a chassis drilling guide and parts layout, can be found at 7/16/99: Revised volume control in figure 1. 1/14/00: Jason Portman writes: The OTL is now fully tweaked and working beautifully. In fact after the conversion to DC heaters it was MUCH MORE STABLE! I have been experimenting with 3 different front end tubes. The 6CG7, 6FQ7 and my favorite, the Svetlana 6N1P. The GE 6CG7's with "white" logo seen second best in terms of level and sound quality. The 6N1P's are really much better though; they are much less muddy than the 6CG7's, have better low end, better imaging and much more transparent. Also an added benefit of their 300ma heaters is they glow quit nicely! 7/15/00: Eduard Orvisky built this headphone amplifier using ideas from Kurt Strain's and Eric Barbour's designs. It uses two 6SN7s in the mu follower (compared to Eric Barbour's circuit, R4 is reduced to 2K, 2W) and solid state and...

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