DIY Friday: Altoids tin headphone amp

So I got a great new pair of headphones over the holidays last year, and so far they’ve served me well, but lately I’ve been trying to figure out how I can get the most out of the new cans. Audiophiles out there know about some great (and expensive) headphone amps that really help you get the most out of your headphones–to hear every detail of your favorite album or the environment you’ve recorded yourself. Today’s pick, however, will only set you back a few bucks. It’s the DIY Altoids tin headphone amplifier.

This project has been around for a while, but it’s always being adapted and improved. There are a few places online where you can find the step-by-step, but most of them originate from the Chu Moy project posted over at

Here’s what MAKE magazine had to say about the project.

Headphone amps make portable listening good and loud. Commercial audiophile models can cost $200+, or you can build a great-sounding amp inside a mint tin for around $30, following Chu Moy’s popular design. Powered by a 9-volt battery, this amp drives high-impedance headphones to thunderous volumes from even weak sources.

Tangent has a good tutorial on how to assemble the amp. You’ll need to have some basic solder and circuitry knowledge, but the Getting Started guide should help if you’re in the dark.

Without any knowledge going in (not including Altoid eating time and subsequent dentist visits), you’re probably looking at spending a good weekend on this project.

Every once and a while you’ll also find some available to buy… but that wouldn’t be very DIY, would it?

[photo from Tangent]

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