• WARNING: Tube/Valve amplifiers use potentially LETHAL HIGH VOLTAGES.
    Building, troubleshooting and testing of these amplifiers should only be
    performed by someone who is thoroughly familiar with
    the safety precautions around high voltages.

Cheapest kit or project?


2001-05-20 9:16 am
Hi i am a college student who wants to get into DIY audio. I am a extreme newbie, and i've looked on other scematics for amp designs and i have no idea on how to interpret them. I want to learn how to get started. What is the cheapest tube amp and SS amp available that i can start on and practice with. I also what to be able to modify these with more experience later on rather than throwing them away. thanks for the help.

DIY amplifiers has two parts: electronic and "mechanic" (building box, heatsinks, wire routing, etc).

The best way to begin learning DIY amplifiers is to begin with class AB amplifiers and/or integrated amplifiers (like the National Semiconductor LM3886). My first project was with this component. Beginning with a stable amplifier, you have the ability to learn the basics about amplifier box design (where to put caps, toroid, ...) and wiring to avoid EMI, hum, etc. I built a 2x30 Watts amplifiers with this IC for 50$ Canadian :)

When you get experience, I recommand that you begin to build a complete class AB amplifier with the standard components (MOSFET, etc). Those amplifiers are easy to build and to get working.

Finally, when you are a PRO :), you are ready for a Pass Labs design: the ultimate amplifier :)

Good luck!
i agree, start with the good 'ol 3886, check out the chipamp forum here and you'll find hundreds of designs/schematics, and even kits for that matter. you can salvage parts for realll cheap and get it goin for a few bucks and one afternoon... and you'll have a nice powerful amp that will satisfy us college guys...

I'm feeling generous today (and the woman demands i clean out the garage) so if you wanted to throw some money for shipping my way, I could send you pretty much everything you need and then some. If any other beginners are looking to start out as well, they can email too...

elementx440 (AT) hotmail.com
El Cheapo tube amp


The "Barain Basement" thread at Decware is worth the read, even though it's long. You'll learn a lot, as the thread is about a real amp (Eli's El Cheapo) being designed to work well with inexpensive parts. I'm building the amp described. The latest schematics are on the pages near the end of the thread.


Here's the URL:

I would suggest a low voltage tube pre-amp stage and chipamp for a first tube project... it was mine. And I have to admit I loved the byte sized bits of learning it involved.


Search some more if you like, I think it was Digi who made a nice new larger PCB for the same circuit... but aoriginal praise to Franz G. I still love mine to death.

Basicaly it requires very little in the line of powersupply...
6.3V at a bit under .4A line for the heater
another 100V or there about source for the rest of the tube at like 15mA

These can all be pulled from the gainclone's own 35V supply if you want to even