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Starving Student II Headphone Amplifier

  • 22900


UPDATE OCT 16th: Tube rolling kit now available 

  • The tube rolling kit consists of a random selection of 4 pairs of 18FX6 and/or 18FX6A tubes
  • The brands shown in the photo are typical, but not guaranteed
  • Maximum 2 per SSII customer


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 18 reviews
Which one to build?

Excellent beginner instructions. No problems with parts or build. I got it to use as a pre-amp with the amp camp amp. Although it sounds good, and gives more volume possibilities, the amp camp amps sounded better (to me) without it. I have since built the Whammy headphone amp. It seems more suited to the ACA, with no difference of sound style or quality that I can hear. So, this one, the starving student ll - excellent little project. I want to add a warning here - the ACA and Starving student are both designed for beginner construction, so no electrocution can occur. The Whammy headphone amp does assume a higher level of electronics awareness, and you are completely responsible for your own safety. Thanks as always DIYaudio, you bring happiness into my life.

amazing headphone amp

Build completed without issues thanks to the excellent build guide by 6L6 and extended notes and tips from Pete Millett. The kit arrived intact and in excellent shape. Thank you to Jason for his patience and guidance whenever called upon for assistance. The build was not difficult when approached with a reasonable amount of patience. Finished amp looks amazing thanks to the precision and sheer quality of the supplied enclosure. A golden nugget of a HP amp with pre-amp capability thrown in. Listening experience has been amazing. Immensely enjoyable and rewarding build. Highly recommended.


Kit is well put together and has everything needed. It has a pleasant and characterful sound. Enjoying it through an ACA and some Q Acoustics speakers. Very good for the price.

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.

So Professional - S.S.II Headphone Amp

DIY Audio’s performance leaves big corporates for dead.
From prompt excellent customer service, through an extremely well thought out high quality project to the associated, well managed forums, my experience has been the very best.
My project almost fell together. I’ve reached the (no)smoke test which has to wait ‘till I’m back from holiday.
Recommended for anybody who can follow straight forward instructions.
Thank you :-)

Awesome all around

This amp sounds terrific, looks great, and was easy to build. Can't recommend it enough, AND customer service was SUPERB.

Excellent choice and build

The preamp came together with no issues and worked flawlessly. It has enough gain to drive my F4 to painful levels and sounds detailed and punchy. No noise other than the music, so a winner overall. Currently driving the ACA and I'm glad I tried it. I love the fact that the chassis is available. Makes for a finished product with a completed look.

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