I build myself a Millett's Hybrid Headphone amp
, originally published in AudioXpress issue 11, 2001.
The amp uses low-voltage 12AE6A tubes for voltage amplification and BUF634 solid state buffers to drive the load. Each tube houses two diodes (unused) and a triode, here loaded with a CCS. The whole thing runs off a 24VDC power brick and consumes maybe 150mA after the tubes heat up.
The DC operating point of the triode can be adjusted with a multiturn trimpot. The original AudioXpress article talks about the influence of the operating point on the sound and suggests to trim for symmetrical clipping, then adjust for the subjectively best sound.
The aha! moment came when I connected the amp to my sound card and looked at the distortion spectrum. On small signals (~300mV output into 300 ohm) the distortion is 2nd harmonic only. The operation point can be trimmed to the point where the the 2nd harmonic goes into the noise floor! I've read about this but...