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.