CanJam SoCal 2015 Member Table Zashoomin

Ben (Zashoomin on Head-Fi) is a fun, enthusiastic, and outgoing guy. He's been in the hobby for less than two years and has found himself swept up in the DIY electronics part of the activity. With one exception the list of amps in his profile at Head-Fi reads like a who's who of the DIY headphone amp world.

AMB Labs Beta 22 - Fully Balanced
KG Dynahi
Krell KSA-5
Yamaha A-S500
AMB Labs Beta 22 - 2 Channel
Bottlehead S.E.X.
Millett Hybrid MiniMax

He brought a three of his creations to CanJam.

The first of which is his First Watt F4 clone seen next to Ben in the photo above. This amp designed by audio guru Nelson Pass is a current gain amp—it has no voltage gain. Ben told me he has spent quite a bit of time Checking out Pass' work on line. Nelson is an avid supporter of the DIY activity and has a entire website dedicated to the activity. I looked through the DIY section on the F4 and couldn't find it. But when I went to the First Watt F4 page, I found a link to the manual that is so comprehensive that an accomplished DIYer could could easily—well, it's a lot of work—produce a working clone. Nelson Pass is the man!


Ti Kan's Beta 22 is a classic DIY build. One unusual characteristic of this amp in it's 3-channel form is an "active" ground that is essentially the sum of the left and right channel but inverted. It was designed to give you some of the benefit of balanced drive with unbalanced headphones. Ben has built one in that form, but the amp shown here has four boards and is configured in a fully balanced form.

Here's a link to all of the Beta 22 documentation on the AMB Labs website.


There are only two commercially available headphone amps for dynamic headphones that I'm aware of that existed before I started HeadRoom in 1992: The Melos SHA1 tube amp; and the Krell KSA-5 (shown in photo inset). I actually owned one twenty years ago. Ben discovered the project over in the DIY forum area. There, in the Krell KSA5 Klone thread, Dr. Kevin Gilmore talks DIYers through the process building their own killer klone.

Just to make sure I get all the DIY links in, Ben also frequents the DIYAudio forums. A superb resource and group of folks very well versed in audio electronics over there.

I really enjoyed talking with Ben. He's going to college studying math. I asked if he had an interest in electronics professionally as he looks forward in life...there's math in electronics, right? He looked at me kind of funny and said he has a strong interest in deep maths. I got the feeling he was a pretty smart cookie and if I asked him what kind of maths that might be, I would be getting back an answer that would zoom right over my head.

Here's a short video of our conversation. He'll tells us about his gear, but we also talk about the community and his relationship to it. I'll be doing that with all my videos this time. I hope you take the time to hear what folks said to me this CanJam, I think it'll give you a better feel for what is was like to be there by the end of my reports.

eggil's picture

I missed the meeting. Have been sad about seeing so few young DIYers and seeing this guys is a good sign. Keep it up!

tony's picture

Sure, I'm gonna enjoy seeing all these completed projects.

DIY is doing well in Gourmand Cooking, Crafts, Remote Control Airplane stuff, Woodworking, Bicycle building, Photography ( the iPhone selfies and iPhone videos + the GoPro videos ) , etc…..

I meet olders that got their start building Ham Radio Stations ( I'm W8FDS from the 1950s ) we all seemed to build our own back them days.

Headphone stuff is so good now, home building hardly seems worthwhile i.e. $300 to Schiit gets a pair of little M&Ms that would take 4ever to design and construct on someone's workbench ( providing they owned the Scope, metering, board building stuff, soldering equipments, drill press w/tooling ( I do ) and confidence that the completed design would suffice for what seems like an ever changing musical format 16/44 to 24/192 not ruling out DSD. Plus the differing requirements of headphone designs . Phew! Scads of time investment here, probably better to purchase a "Name" Brand that is sellable on ebay .

I admire these DIYers you are interviewing, I'd love to have this group as friends and acquaintances, these are people that think things thru and are able to act.
I just happened to meet a man that constructs and flys 1/4 Scale Airplanes, a fascinating conversation erupted spontaneously , too bad he lives 50 miles away but I will meet him again.

These DIYers have "2+2=4" as True North on their Life's compass , they seem scientists to me, they seen not all that interested in spending hours watching TV, these are my sort of persons. Thank you for bringing them to the international view for all us to admire.

Tony in Michigan

ps. I'm rather taken with functionality ( and musicality) of Wireless Sennheiser systems: RS120s , RS220, 300 G3 IEMs

MattTCG's picture

Ben build a Crack amp for me about a year or so ago and did a great job!! It's good to see him get some recognition for his DIY skills :-)

Three Toes of Fury's picture

I'm digging your approach to reporting on CanJam. It helps expose those of us fans who couldnt be there to more than just the drool-worthy gear. Thanks for sharing sir and kudos to @Zashoomin on the AMAZING DIY gear. I imagine it must be incredibly rewarding to hear music though an amp that you build yourself. Might have to dust off the soldering iron one of these days (and remember not to grab the hot end when its turned on!).

Peace .n. Living in Stereo