WHAMMY vs Noir
I'm trying to decide between the Noir and the WHAMMY. Anyone built both and have comments about how the build went and how they sound?
This may sound silly, but my biggest hesitation with the WHAMMY is the rectangular IEC socket. The last time I built an amp with a rectangular IEC socket, it sat on plywood in prototype phase for about 5 years until I got an internship at a place where I had access to a machine shop with a real milling machine where I could finally get the casework right, particularly that pesky rectangular hole for the IEC socket. I don't work there anymore and therefore no longer have access to a milling machine, just my basic benchtop drill press.
So the Noir appeals to me in that way since the casework is taken care of.
But what about how they sound, how they work with a variety of headphones, or how the build went besides the casework?
Get a nibbler tool and a file and you can make rectangular holes in aluminum sheet metal up to about 2mm thick.
Pro'sKit 900-215 Nibbler Pro'sKit 900-215 Nibbler: Power Nibblers: Amazon.com: Industrial & Scientific
More expensive powered ones can cut thicker metal but this one works for most thin aluminum panels.
REXBETI Double Head Sheet Nibbler Metal Cutter, Quality Nibbler Drill Attachment for Straight Curve and Circle Cutting, Maximum 14 Gauge Steel REXBETI Double Head Sheet Nibbler Metal Cutter, Quality Nibbler Drill Attachment for Straight Curve and Circle Cutting, Maximum 14 Gauge Steel - - Amazon.com
As far as sound goes - both great amps but very different. One is DC coupled and opamp based input stage and other is SE Class A and cap coupled output.
My preference for headphone amps is fewer components and SE Class A. The output power you can drive and the headphone impedance are factors to consider. The Whammy can drive low impedance cans and has more power. SE Class A designs tend to drive higher impedance cans and have less power.
The sound of SE Class A is more natural and pleasing to some. If you want to hear the difference between what some headphone amps sound like, I made a virtual blind audition thread a few years back here. You can listen for yourself to what an opamp based headphone amp vs several SE Class A amps.
Blind Virtual Audition of Several Headamps
Other amps similar to Noir (few components and SE Class A) that I have made include the PCA, DCA and Hakuin:
xrk971 Pocket Class A Headamp GB
xrk971 Desktop Class A (DCA) Headphone Amp
Hakuin SE Class A HP Amp
The above all have only 2 transistors (PCA and DCA use a JFET and MOSFET) AN’s Hakuin uses JFET and BJT.
SE Class A will have a harmonic distortion profile that is predominantly 2nd harmonic and a descending level of higher orders.
Most opamps and amps with LTP based input stages with push-pull output stages will be third order dominant. Many people prefer the sound of 2nd order dominant as sounding “sweeter” and more pleasant. Whereas third order will sound more “analytical” or bright. It’s personal preference.
Hmm I like the philosophy of fewer components and SE class A as well...but my headphones (and the one I don't have yet but am strongly considering getting) are mostly of pretty low impedance and high sensitivity. It looks like those tend to be at odds with SE class A designs, but is there a SE class A headphone amp that does better than most SE class A designs with low impedance cans?
I'm looking for a desktop amp, and since I'm a dumb mechanical engineer who is mostly just soldering-by-number, I'd much prefer something that has a PCB available and is fairly well-documented and proven out. Looks like your DCA might fit that bill?
The DCA can drive 32ohm high sensitivity cans fine. I use it on the OB-1’s (96dB) at 55ohms and ESS 422H (114dB) at 32ohms. I have also used it on HE400i’s which are 32ohm and about 90dB? With 125mA bias current it has no trouble driving 32ohms.
If you want more power, the Yarra main board and PSU with a Melbourne module configured as a headphone amp is excellent. With Yarra, you have many options by swapping the core amp modules. So Melbourne, PCA/DCA, Hakuin, Pass ACP+, Wayne’s BA18, and more.
Each of those two headphone amps was designed by one person. Furthermore, those two people know each other and are friends. Why don't you arrange an arm wrestling match between them and then decide to build the HPA designed by the winner of the match? What could be more fair?
Another idea is: start off by building the one which is least expensive. If you like it then you saved a bunch of money. And if you don't like it you can buy the other, knowing the money you "wasted" on the cheap one was small by comparason.
Another idea is: start off by building the one which is most expensive. If you like it then you didn't waste time on a cheap-azssz turdde. And if you don't like it then you simply paid the going rate to find out which was more preferable TO YOU. Now buy the other and be satisfied.
Made my morning once again Mark!
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