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Old 19th November 2010, 07:45 AM   #1
Irakli is offline Irakli  United States
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Default Espressivo Headphone Amplifier on Budget

Hi All,

Here is the fun weekend project for those who does not want to spend much money on exotic parts.

I would like to start with some design objectives and describe my rationale for this project.

1. minimum cost (ideally zero, if I could use parts from my junk box)
2. decent sound
3. ability to drive 30 ohm headphones (Audio Technical ATH-M50)
4. chance to experiment with autoformers (never tried them before).
5. simplicity (duh!)

I selected Gary Dahl's Espressivo Headphone Amplifier as a prototype. It meets all objectives except the first one (low cost). The key components in Gary's amp are quite pricey, so I started to look at substitutions.

For an autoformer I selected the Sonance VC50B stereo volume control (there is also an in wall version VC60R). The unit contains two autoformers and 10-position attenuator switch. I bought it used on e-bay for $10.

I found 4 odd looking Soviet made 6Э5П (6JE5P or 6E5P ) tetrodes in my junk box. I remember pulling them from old oscilloscope when I was 12 and now they are getting a second life in US after 30 years These tetrodes are quite remarkable in triode mode (high gm, low Rp).

I used Gary Pimm's CCS as plate loads (I already had couple assembled and never used from previous project).

One more change from the prototype. I used diodes to bias tubes. Gary uses resistor bypassed by a cap. Again, I just wanted to experiment and try something different. I did not use LEDs because I could not find any which can sink 30 ma safely without paralleling and I had tons of 1N4148s.

The schematics is attached below. I will post construction pics shortly.
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File Type: jpg HeadphoneAmp1s.jpg (72.1 KB, 395 views)
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Old 19th November 2010, 07:50 AM   #2
Irakli is offline Irakli  United States
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Here are some photos of the actual finished unit.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg P1010815s.JPG (105.1 KB, 381 views)
File Type: jpg P1010818s.JPG (123.6 KB, 355 views)
File Type: jpg P1010816s.JPG (108.2 KB, 336 views)
File Type: jpg P1010813s.JPG (107.4 KB, 326 views)
File Type: jpg P1010819s.JPG (113.3 KB, 121 views)
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Old 19th November 2010, 07:59 AM   #3
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nice! Wish we had access to reasonable cheap iron down here...
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Old 19th November 2010, 09:55 AM   #4
Stixx is offline Stixx  Germany
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Nice build!
How'z it sound...?

Btw. I guess you know this site... dsavitsk did several Espressivo "interpretations".

http://http://www.ecp.cc/less-pressivo.html
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Old 19th November 2010, 03:29 PM   #5
Irakli is offline Irakli  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stixx View Post
Nice build!
How'z it sound...?
It Sounds very nice. I even did some initial measurements. -3db bandwith is 35 Hz-300kHz. I can see distorted waveform at very low frequencies, but that is expected.

The funny thing is that when I tell myself that I do not care much about how the final product comes out and take it easy, it always comes out nice


Quote:

BTW. I guess you know this site... dsavitsk did several Espressivo "interpretations".

http://http://www.ecp.cc/less-pressivo.html
Thanks for the info. I was not aware of this. BTW, link is not working, but I will try the search.


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Originally Posted by aardvarkash10 View Post
nice! Wish we had access to reasonable cheap iron down here...
Thanks a lot. Again, I was not shooting for nice look. As you can see I used $5 Radio Shack plastic case (aluminum top plate is included) and Radio Shack power transformers $11 each.
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Old 19th November 2010, 03:43 PM   #6
Irakli is offline Irakli  United States
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Here are some more pictures of the parts I used. First two are that of Sonance VC50B volume control with autoformers and switch. You can use the whole assembly as is with no modification.
The next set is the input attenuator pictures. Of course the volume pot is easier solution, but I had this 5 deck switch lying around and I wanted to use it.
Last picture is assembled Gary Pimm CCS on heatsink.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg P1010786s.JPG (34.8 KB, 95 views)
File Type: jpg P1010787s.JPG (143.0 KB, 83 views)
File Type: jpg P1010799s.JPG (116.7 KB, 91 views)
File Type: jpg P1010792s.JPG (116.3 KB, 83 views)
File Type: jpg P1010800s.JPG (95.9 KB, 98 views)
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Old 19th November 2010, 04:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irakli View Post
Here are some more pictures of the parts I used. First two are that of Sonance VC50B volume control with autoformers and switch. You can use the whole assembly as is with no modification.
The next set is the input attenuator pictures. Of course the volume pot is easier solution, but I had this 5 deck switch lying around and I wanted to use it.
Last picture is assembled Gary Pimm CCS on heatsink.
Beautiful!!!b Thank you.
Try here:
ecp.cc
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Old 19th November 2010, 04:55 PM   #8
Irakli is offline Irakli  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tympani1d View Post
Beautiful!!!b Thank you.
Try here:
ecp.cc
Thanks. it worked now.
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Old 19th November 2010, 05:00 PM   #9
athos56 is offline athos56  United States
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So do you just adjust the autoformer until it sounds good?
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Old 19th November 2010, 05:39 PM   #10
Irakli is offline Irakli  United States
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Originally Posted by athos56 View Post
So do you just adjust the autoformer until it sounds good?
I am using autoformer on the lowest setting (maximum turns ratio). The gain is enough for the sources I am using. In this position the tube load (and distortion) is minimal.

First 4 settings are fine and then I can see distortion on the scope. Also, gain starts to level and then falls which means that the tube load gets heavy.
This tests were done with 33 ohm dummy load (to simulate my headphones).
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