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The SESS Tube Headphone Amplifier

The SESS Tube Headphone Amplifier

The single tube configuration is the longing of any audio designer, and here we could have only one tube per channel. If we have only one tube on the signal the distortion spectrum will be a perfect decay on all harmonics, so it sounds very natural.
To design a SESS Tube Headphone Amplifier we need a triode with uncommon characteristics: enough voltage gain, low internal resistance and good anodic current. My first test was done with the E182CC (figure 1), but there is the limitation on the usable impedance of headphones in the range of 300 to 600 ohms for maximum performance. The output impedance of the amplifier is about 35 ohms, and I don’t accept any damping factor less than 8. (About damping factor: for some, a damping factor of 4 or less is acceptable, but only because they have not heard a better tube headphone amplifier like this one.) The tubes that could be used are E182CC or 5687, but with the 5687, the gain is less. The E182CC is auto-biased to ground through the attenuator. It needs the 1K input resistor for stability, probably because there is no shield on middle of the tube.

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