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Starving Student II Headphone Amplifier

  • 22900


2019-06-26: Batch 3 is now available! Both the kit and chassis are in stock and ship from our Massachusetts warehouse next business day.


We're happy to announce the immediate availability of this new collaboration between Pete Millett and diyAudio, an updated version of the classic Starving Student.

The Starving Student II is a hybrid tube/solid state headphone amplifier and pre-amplifier. 48VDC is fed via in from a high quality universal-voltage Meanwell power adapter. It has dual RCA inputs, with a 1/4” jack for headphones and another pair of RCA outputs for use as a pre-amplifier. 

BOM and schematics are inside Pete's excellent SSII assembly instructions. 6L6 has prepared a beautiful SSII step-by-step build guide. The SSII information directory contains links to every SSII resource.

Both the parts kit and chassis will ship immediately from our US warehouse at the same time. You can ask questions and discuss your build in the SSII discussion thread on diyAudio.


  • New and improved redesign of the classic Starving Student by tube guru Pete Millett
  • Detailed step-by-step SSII build guide from 6L6
  • Can be used as a headphone amplifier or pre-amplifier
  • Includes two 18FX6 vacuum tubes, functioning as triodes
  • Choice of resistor or CCS plate loading for preferentially lower distortion or softer clipping, using a blue LED to bias CCS and light the tubes
  • Time delay muting circuit to allow the tubes to warm up
  • Just $119 each for either the parts kit or chassis, and $229 as a bundle


Spec Plate load 150 ohm load 30 ohm load
Gain (at max volme setting) CCS 20 dB 18 dB
Resistor 17 dB 16 dB
Frequency response +/-3dB CCS 11Hz - 40kHz 18Hz - 40kHz
Resistor 12Hz - 50kHz 20Hz - 50kHz
Frequency response 20Hz-20kHz CCS +/- 0.8dB +/- 1dB
Resistor +/- 0.8dB +/- 1dB
THD+N 1V 1kHz CCS 0.47 % 0.15 %
Resistor 1.8 % 1.3 %
Maximum output @ 5% THD CCS 9.9 V RMS 2.5 V RMS
Resistor 3.1 V RMS 2.4 V RMS


We also have available a zip archive containing 12 different SSII graphs.

Customer Reviews

Based on 12 reviews
Beautiful and satisfying kit

This is my third DiyAudio build, and it was a great experience. I did the stuffing of the PCP over two shorter sessions over days, then final assembly during a third build session. No issues at all with kit and build. Teamed with the ACA I built last summer it is the best sounding desktop/computer system I have ever heard.

Another satisfying diyAudio project

I bought this little amp for the tube novelty and as a companion to my Amp Camp Amp. It was a fun and easy build which I spread over two days (approx 6 hours). The online documentation was great as always and I can highly recommend this wonderful little pre-amp. Quality parts and quality performance. My only "glitch" was the push button on/off switch rubbing a bit on the chassis hole but some minor adjustments had it freed up in no time. The picture was taken during initial testing.

Lovely preamp / headphone amp

I really enjoyed putting this kit together. I am using it as a pre-amp for an ACA. I also use it for headphones now and then.
In terms of difficulty, I think it is easier than the ACA since there is no cabling to run. Highly recommended if you want to get into tubes on your headphones, or need something to act as volume control in front of an ACA.

I love these kits which come with a chassis, and I hope to see more of them from diyaudiostore. In particular, I'd love to see a chassis for the WHAMMY.

Great Kit, Great documentation

Thanks! Really easy build and well documented kit. Recommended to beginner builders! Some challenges around the ground plane soldering, in that I went back through and re-soldered all those connections again with a higher temperature on the iron.

starving student II

excellent product nice pcb fast shipping


Great amp. Easy to build and the sound is great. I’ve only used it with headphones (Sennheiser HD800) and it has no difficulty driving them to unhealthy levels.

Great little pre/headphone amp.

I bought two of them and have only assembled one at this point. They are from batch one so yes the solder pads for some of the components required me to put on my strong glasses and inspect with a magnifier. I have only used it as a pre-amp driving a pair of ACA running as monoblocks. The sound is very clean and neutral in this combination. As noted in the online build guide getting the board to fit into the front plate of the chassis can be a bit tricky but with some patience and gentle persuasion it will all fit. Build time was about four hours for me start to finish. When building the second one I may try fitting film capacitors in place of the provided capacitors 1 & 2 if space permits even if I need to go with a lower value as I am not a headphones guy. Overall I give it high marks and am interested to here if anyone has tried it with a linear power supply.

Great headphone/pre amp

The quality of the kit is great and the sound is surprisingly good. I am more than happy with a successful build.

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