There's something really fun and empowering about diving in and building your own audio gear. It's difficult to compare off-the-shelf equipment with what you can make yourself. One of the best parts is definitely interacting with the communities of amazingly helpful and brilliant folks over at AMB.org, Head-Fi and diyAudio.
Boy does this sound amazing. For those of you who haven't heard a tube amp before - I highly recommend you do. After reading many posts on Head-FI.org, I decided to build one. I went a bit overboard with case design by separating the AC power stage from the signal stage, but wow... this sounds just perfect. The headphone stand in the center was made by my good friend Peter Spence.
This is where all the AC becomes DC. I used a couple of σ24's from amb.org as well as his ε24 power switch driver.
This is the signal stage for the unit. No transformer hum found here! The caps you're seeing on the side eventually made their way inside.
My father-in-law made a sweet cigar box guitar, so I decided I'd make him an amplifier to go along with it.
Who needs an Altoids headphone amp when you can have a Colman's Mustard tin amp ;)
Same deal as the red one I built. This one was promptly stolen... er... given to a good friend.
This little DAC is called a Gamma2 and the plans are over at amb.org. If you're okay with SMD soldering, this will give you some of the best sound you've ever heard. I soldered this all together, designed the panels and then had to build two more for friends.
There are some places a mustard tin amplifier cannot go. For those occasions, the Mini³ does the trick (and sounds a lot better). I soldered this up and designed the panels. Full details over at amb.org.
I'm a huge fan of efficient folded horn speakers. I did a bunch of math, and then made some designs in SolidWorks. They sound pretty decent.