DIY Audio Facts

NOTE: This is going to be regularly updated as I think of new stuff to add. Keep checking back.

I’ve got a few draft “how to” posts in the works, but I always feel the need to say a few things about DIY audio before each post. If that’s the case, I should just make a single post going over it.

One of the things any new DIYer will quickly realize is that making something yourself is not always cheaper than just buying something pre-built. Audio is no different. Do not get into DIY anything thinking that it is a way to save money, it’s the opposite. It’s a money pit, but cheaper than going to the bar.

With that out of the way, if you can tick all these boxes, congrats, DIY audio is for you!

  • Like music.
  • Like to problem solve.
  • Like to learn.
  • Don’t mind fucking up.
  • Do not already have a hobby that eats through your disposable income.

Cost is a thing

Yep, still going on about cost. It’s expensive and your cost breakdown for building a quality amplifier looks like this, from largest expense, to least.

  1. Enclosure ($$$$)
  2. Quality transformers/Chokes/etc… ($$$)
  3. Tubes/exotic ICs ($$$)
  4. Heatsinks/other metal stuff (if applicable) ($$$)
  5. PCB ($$)
  6. Good wire, switches, potentiometers, big capacitors, general other hardware ($$)
  7. Normal capacitors ($)
  8. Everything else – Resistors, LEDs, rando things, etc..

Things can move around and decisions get to be made – do I go with a cheaper Bourns potentiometer, a nicer Alps, or a super slick stepped attenuator? If a super slick attenuator, that could shoot up #2 on the list. If you’re building a tube amp, tubes could either be like $10 or hundreds or more. All depends. But you get the idea.

Most projects will include an estimate on how much it’ll cost you to build it in their Build of Materials. Pete Millett’s Butte is a little over a hundred including an enclosure. However, once you really start to customize things, it can get spendy quick. I’ve not even talked about the tools you’ll need to build something – that’s a whole other list and discussion I’ll get to at some point.

This is not about saving money, but building and enjoying the process and product. And it’s worth it.

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