Sunday, March 15, 2009

Eric's Tube Amp for Headphones

Eric has a penchant for listening to music with the mood striking him mostly late at night. I always joke that we live in different time zones while living under the same roof, simply because Eric works mostly nights, and I work days. I am an early bird, and he is a late riser. This, coupled with the fact that Eric's amplifier does not have a headset jack, lead Eric to build a high-fidelity tube amplifier for his headphones so he could enjoy his music while I slumber in peace.

I am not an audiophile. I can listen to a radio station for hours and not realize it isn't tuned in properly. Eric's ear is so sharp, I just stand there and shake my head in agreement when he says, "listen, just listen, can you hear that, that little nuance, that little...", until my eyes glaze over, my head nods on its own, and I have to fight the urge to run and hide in a corner with my Walkman and an old Madonna tape.

All that to say I shouldn't be a judge of hi-fi audio sound, but believe me when I say this headset amp kicks butt.

Eric BUILT, yes BUILT this amp by himself. This was his first foray into the crazy world of DIY audio. Here's a picture of his amp during the day:

Ahhhh. All nice and shiny. Eric spent hours buffing this baby to a mirror shine. The case was made by a local tinsmith out of copper, and the brass volume knob and copper rivets were machined by a local machinist. The switch is lit by a LED and glows at night. Observe:

Without boring everyone to tears, this amp was designed by a gentleman in Belgium and featured in a French audio magazine called Electronique Pratique, issue number 310. Either a CD or a radio or even a tape deck can be used as input, and the output goes to the headphones.

I am enthused by this amp mainly because I no longer have to be subjected to Eric's plethora of music, from Sigur Ros to Rammstein, from Stan Getz to Arvo Paert, and from Ozric Tentacles to Van der graff Generator. Eric says I am closed-minded when it comes to music, but truth be told the music in my head is enough for me. I enjoy silence interspersed with a bit of CBC or NPR. Eric is a bit more eclectic. A lot more eclectic.

Let's just call the tube amp a win/win situation for both.

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