WHAMMY Headphone Amplifier
The WHAMMY Class-A headphone amplifier
Wayne Colburn, the genius at Pass Labs who for the last 25 years has designed essentially all the things that aren't speaker amplifiers, wanted to make a fun, high-performance, fantastic-sounding, Class-A, DIY headphone amp for this community. We call it:
Wayne's Headphone Amp Must Make Yourself
Yes, it's a silly name. But it's cute. And it explains a lot about it. So it stuck.
Given the explosion in the popularity of headphones, as well as the unbelievable amount of choice and variety in the market, it seemed that a simple and great-sounding headphone amp would be a great addition to the DIY community.
Because there are so many choices of headphones, from Planars to IEM's, high impedance or low, this amp will drive any headphone you want to throw at it (Well, not electrostatic headphones directly, no amp like this will, but it will happily drive a step-up transformer like Stax).
Wayne wanted a universal headphone amp for his desk. This is the fruit of that idea. It’s made to be made in an afternoon or an evening and it has no builder adjustments, so it’s going to have a high likelihood of success and completion for beginners and experienced DIYers.
It's an all in one PCB, just wire the AC & fuse, input and output jacks. Add a selector switch if you like.
Class-A output stage with enough current to drive anything. It also makes a wonderful line stage with about 14db of gain.
Your choice - PCB or PCB plus parts kit
We are now selling both the a WHAMMY PCB by itself, as well as a parts kit that includes the PCB, and everything else you need to build the WHAMMY other than a chassis.
- We are working on a chassis for the future and will definitely release one, but we aren't going to rush it
- 6L6 has done a great WHAMMY build guide and the supplied parts will match the build guide, more or less
- We have now seen multiple successful builds of this new kit, and are now opening pre-orders for the kit, shipping January 11th 2019
- 218mm x 160mm (8 5/8" x 6 5/16")
- Black with gold immersion traces
- 70oz Copper
The kit includes everything to make the amp except the PCB and chassis. All components are of the highest quality.
- Dale RN55 milspec resistors
- Panasonic FC & FR series capacitors
- Elna SILMIC II capacitors
- Solid aluminum anodized volume knob
- Alps "Blue Velvet" potentiometer
- Neutrik RCA connectors
- Schurter filtered power entry module with spare fuse
- TRS Headphone Jack
- IRF610/9610 Power MOSFETs
- Texas Instruments RC4580 op amp
- Teflon insulated silver plated copper milspec wire for I/O connections
- Silver bearing eutectic Kester 44 solder for I/O connections
- All nuts, bolts and standoffs to attach external connectors and the PCB to a chassis
Illustrated build guide
Most of the info you need to complete this project can be found in the first 6 posts this thread, a well-illustrated guide showing how everything goes together.
- Step by step WHAMMY build guide on guides.diyaudio.com
- WHAMMY build guide and general discussion thread
- Rough Bill of Materials (this is not the BOM used for the kit)
Here's a video of Wayne talking about the Whammy at Burning Amplifier Festival 2017 -- Wayne Colburn at BAF '17
This is the third amplifier I have build and I'm really happy with how it turned out. I went to the trouble of integrating a Khadas Tone Board DAC so it could be used as an "all in one" solution for my desk at work. It sounds great with my HD6XX and was a lot of fun to build. You can see more details about my build here. www.jeremyyoungdesign.com
A friend of mine trigged me into headphone listening. It is wonderful to be able to listen and enjoy music in the evening at real listening level.
I am a great Pass / Colburn fan and falling across the Whammy I of cause had to give it a try.
Recently I borrowed a set of Hifiman HA1000SE – whee this headphone and the Whammy really is capable putting my HD800 to the wall at a level I have not heard for a headphone before.
Very detailed dynamic sound with energy and nerve I love. It really reveals every change done in my set-up.
To bring it to best possible level I additionally used pure silver wiring, pure copper RCA connector, Jantzen Silver/Gold ac coupling capacitor, copper plates/mica underneath the output transistors, copper alloy screws, OP627 op-amp, Wima MKP10, some extra decoupling, silver solder lead and a 20Kohm 24 pole Elma shunt attenuator.
Being proud of having additional Pass Gear and to honor Wayne I used a look alike chassis – gave up using the heat sink sides.
For now it´s running 40mA bias – I have no clue how much extra performance can be gained by higher levels.
My friend with the HA1000SE is in process of building a tube-based headamp and I can´t wait to compare the amps.
Cool to be able to build something like this.
Hi from Denmark and thanks everybody for contributing to this nice project – reading the very long tread was really inspiring.
It was my first DIY project and fortunately it was successful. I haven’t killed myself working with mains and very glad about that =) Some patience and accuracy is rewarded by incredible sound, depth and wide soundstage. Built with AD823ANZ and am more than satisfied with SQ – very precise, detailed but pleasant for log-time listening. I will upgrade it to discrete OpAmp – probably with Sparkos Labs’ Dual Discrete Op Amp SS3602 – very excited about that.
I believe that there was no red 0.1uF film cap (between RCA GND and safety earth) listed on the BOM on the Project’s Thread (or I have missed that), so be aware to order it. I can not see any issues without this cap, but if Wayne suggests to put it – we should… If you are using Hammond enclosure 2,028” (51,51mm) high – DON’T choose filter caps higher than 35,5mm. 40mm is too high and they don’t fit – need to replace mine =(
Many thanks to Wayne and the Community for a grate opportunity to built such a gorgeous headphone amp.
I never really built anything before. Started off with a pair of Amp Camp amps in January. That went so well, I decided to build the Whammy headphone amp. Biggest challenge for me was to order all of the parts because the kit was sold out and I just didn't want to wait. It actually turned out to be fun and easy to track everything down
Listening to the Whammy right now. It sounds great. Dead quiet. I used a socket for the op amp so I could try different op amps out. This is really a little too geeky at the end of the day as it is hard to compare. They all sound bad when you first plug them in and change drastically after an hour or so. So far I've tried the RC4580, which sounded ok. Switched out to the OPA2134PA, which after some burn in time seems to be a little less bright. Nothing drastic. Anyway, a great project. Highly recommended.
Very good service regarding shipping, communication and documentation.
Built several SE - regular - and my flaggship combining 2 Whammy to a differential headamp.
I used 2x 2 OPA627 with amazing results. Anyway, the concept offers many different options or you stick with the standard, which is also great. Highly recommended!
I use the differential Whammy with Sennheiser HD800S. The SE with Focal Clear.
Thank you Wayne Colburn for the concept, 6l6 for the build guide and the diyaudio community for the inspiring infos!
Bought PCB's only from diyAudio store. Received these promptly and very impressed with the service and with the quality of the boards. I ordered parts from RS Components and Mouser following the posted BOM. Found this a straightforward build.
As I built a custom wooden chassis, I had to separately ground the ALPS pot to address a mains hum issue. Depending on the headphones used (impedance level?) I do still find some minimal background noise at full volume with nothing playing. I used the Talema transformer and this doesn't offer an earth screen. The board has via to the ground plane under the transformer and I didn't check if alternative parts might have a screen. This might reduce noise levels further. I installed a DIP holder for the OpAmp which proved a tight fit with the stock Elna capacitors. You might want to look at lower voltage caps around the Op-Amp to get a bit more space.
These are minor issues that don't detract from a really great and accessible design for DIY'ers everywhere. Thanks Wayne and the team at the DiyAudio store.
What can I say the PCB is of excellent quality, quite unusual these days. Heavy, welll printed and easy to read. Everything fitted like a dream. Followed the instructions and build method and everything worked first time with no drama's.
Everything on the original build thread works. I did purchase my materials from my usual suppliers and did not avail myself of the full kit options. If I had a critisism, and it would only be a minor one, the shipping was both expensive and slow for these days, and whilst there was no actual import tax to pay (I live in the UK) buy the time royal mail (UK handlers) had their "pound of flesh"and then charged tax on top the shipping and handling charges cost more than the board. I wonder if an alternative shipping method could not be used, I don't remember this issue with items from Mouser which I believe originate in the US.
Anyway as I said a minor gripe.
In use I have found the Whammy both pleasing and detailed to listen to, and perfectly at home with various sets of headphones I have kicking around, even some B&W's which I find quite challenging to listen to .
Totally recommend this item, it is an easy first project, just take your time and check everything twice and you should be fine, ending up with a very creditable self built headphone amp that stands very well against others costing much more whilst out performing others.
Another great project brought to us by the generosity of Wayne Colburn and Diy Audio store. The layout is open enough for less experienced builders and 6l6 (Jim) has taken the time to write up a excellent build guide. If the builder ops to socket the single opamps he/she has the added benefit to “roll “ opamps and choose their personal favorite. My only wish was that they had a little more room around the opamp so the builder could more easily fit one the discrete opamps such as Burston, however it is still doable.
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