Whammy Headphone Amp

This is the finished amp complete with my fingerprints.

I still only have about 8 hours listening on it, so it’s really still just a preliminary impression, I’ll keep listening, and if my overall impressions change I’ll update. But my ZMF Eikons arrive tomorrow, and while I will listen to the ZMF’s on it along with my other amps, it might be a week or two before I get back to “listening to the amp”.

The bulk of listening was done as follows Amazon Music HD -> USB -> Gungnir Multibit -> Whammy -> Focal Elex. I did try a number of other heaphones, the whammy had no problems driving any of them including the T50-RP2 (11 on the volume dial, so plenty of headroom).

I built mine from the Kit supplied by DIYAudio, the kit is complete (minus a chasis) and they are high quality parts. You’ll want to sort and label the resistors before starting, with my aging eyes and the tiny text, that required magnification and about 45 minutes.

The build itself is straight forwards, you can build the power supply section in 3 different ways, and all of the parts for all 3 are in the kit (the build guide covers these), you will have components left over when you are done. I used the LED reference design, so I ended up with some extra resistors.
The build guide has you build and test the PSU first, that’s what I did, after that it’s pretty much put the components in the right holes, the only thing you don’t populate is the isolation caps in the feedback circuit. Note that the power circuit is dealing with mains voltages, and you need to be comfortable with that.

I used a Hammond 1455T2201BK enclosure, it’s basic, the circuit board is designed to slide right in, you need to ensure you drill the hole for the volume pot in the right place, and cut the hole for the IEC socket slightly above the center line (I think mine is offset 2mm vertically), so it can’t interfere with the resistor it’ll end up being close to. I like the amp enough I’m considering making up a custome facia for it.

Total build time for me was about 4 hours to put everything on the board, another 3 maybe messing around with the enclosure, but I 3D printed test plates to ensure I had clearances, if you just used paper templates, it’s probably an hours worth of work to cut the holes and finalize the I/O wiring.

The Amp takes a long tiome to get to a stable temperature, the Voltage regulators get hot, the FET’s in the amplifier, not so much, I left it on overnight, and it stabalized at about the same temperature as the Gungnir.

The noise floor is pretty good, there is a slight audible hiss when the volume knob gets past the 3 oclock position with no input, given most of my listening was closer to 9 oclock, it’s not really relevant.

Overall I really enjoy listening to the amp, it’s a very Neutral/Natural sounding amp, with perhaps a hint of warmth.
I like the tonality, bass has impact and control, the trebble has good extension, but isn’t fatiguing, and I liked the timbre on vocals.
The dynamics were also a standout for me, it resolves details really well without shoving them in your face.

It’s a really good sounding SS amp, better than any other SS I own, which is limiting my ability to give a complete review.

If your comfortable building the amp, and you don’t need the additional features they provide, I’d take the whammy over a Jotunheim, or any of the THX amps I’ve heard, how it competes with higher end SS amps I can’t really say, because I just don’t have a reference.

I do still prefer my Liquid Platinum, but it’s not a very interesting comparison. It’s a tube hybrid, and it’s balanced out of the Gungnir, which does make some difference. I just prefer the additional body and warmth the tubes impart and the increase in soundstage the LP provides.

Link to the DIY Audio page, includes links to the build guide.

Wayne Colburn talking about the design of the amp.

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Very very nice :clap::clap:

I’m interested in how this competes with other amps. Very cool.

Which amps, it’s better than anything in the $100 range, better than the THX, better than the Jot.
I don’t have extended experience with anything else SS to compare it to.

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Just wondering how high it’ll compete. Seems like a very nice option.

That’s awesome. Where did the chassis come from?

I love how he said “Nelson would make me make it expensive if we sold it.”

Ah! Nevermind:

https://www.hawkusa.com/manufacturers/hammond-mfg/enclosures/box-metal/1455t2201?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIlZL358PH5wIVQx-tBh0pswW5EAUYAiABEgK8AfD_BwE

Very nice looking kit.

I picked mine up from an amazon seller, at something of a premium, because they shipped quickly. Mouser or Digikey carry it the BK at the end of the part number is black, there are also Red, Blue and plain Aluminum variants.

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Finished my WHAMMY a few days ago. Impressions are with HD600 and ATH40x and compared to the Bottlehead Crack and Monoprice Liquid Spark. The build is the default kit configuration. I’ll be replacing caps and rolling op amps at some point in the future.
These are initial impressions only - I expect things will change after I put some hours on it.

Slightly dark character.
Incredibly resolving - this thing digs DEEP for detail.
Plenty of current to drive anything you plug in it.
Soundstage is very wide - I did not expect this. Good surprise.
Good tonality.
Crazy smooth. This thing is like butter wrapped in butter. And this is the problem. It’s too smooth. It’s missing the immediacy/attack of the Crack (the Crack is FAST!) and even the Liquid Spark. I’ll give it a month of play and see if it improves in this department.

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I’m sure with burn in things will change. Hope it works out!

Yep that’s what I expect. If not, I’ll be rolling op amps anyway so I’ll find a sound I like.

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Interesting, this wouldn’t have been my take on the sound signature, I’d consider it fast.
The treble is smoothly presented, but it has excellent timbre, and I wouldn’t describe any part of the signature as slow.

You do need to let it warm up for a day or so, it takes forever to get to a stable temperature, and I want to say mine continued to improve over the first few weeks, but that’s anecdotal.

I just swapped my op amp for a Burson classic V6, it’s not a huge change. Like tube rolling I find it difficult to definitively quantify changes when can’t easily swap back, I think there is more air and more precise spatial presentation with the Burson, but I need to listen more.

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Yeah it’s a very strange “sound”. I can’t quite put my finger on it…perhaps it’s missing some dynamics? I’m going back and forth between it and the Crack right now and Crack definitely has something extra. They’re both class A amps so that’s not the difference. Anyway, I’m not drawing definite conclusions yet. I have it on 24/7 and I think it’s getting closer the Crack in terms of whatever it is that’s missing. I’ll let it cook for a few weeks before making a final judgement.

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Curious what you guys think of the Whammy after more time with it.

I’m looking for a project that doesn’t involve cleaning the garage.

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I use it as my SS amp exclusively. So it gets a decent amount of use. My main setup has 3 amps in common use, the Whammy a Liquid Platinum Hybrid and a ZDT Jr, the LP get’s the most play on the Aeolus.
I’ll stand by my better than the other Pure SS amps I own statement.

I swapped the op amp in it for a Burson classic, the effect is subtle, but I like it, Marginally improved staging and smoother treble. You should really drop the PSU voltage to 15V to do this, mines still at 16 and change without issues. I might pick up a Burson Vivid at some point.

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