Yes, you can do it!
The majority of Bottlehead kit builders are first timers
- and many go on to build an entire system!
Come join the ranks of DIY audiophiles and find out how much better your system can sound when you invest your money in excellent design and high parts quality without having to pay for factory assembly. The Bottlehead Forum has hundreds of members ready to answer questions and offer support to your first kit build
"Long before 'content marketing' and 'social media' became business buzzwords, the good people at Bottlehead created a forum for tube audio enthusiasts that remains one of the best audio sites on the web and a brilliant way to encourage prospects to take the leap and buy its products."
100 Content Marketing Examples, Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute
Come visit Bottleheadquarters
9415 Coppertop Loop NE Suite 101
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
best to call ahead so we can have our listening rooms warmed up for you 206-451-4275
Doc's Interview on Positive Feedback Online
David Robinson and Lila Ritsema of Positive Feedback Online came up for very fun visit. David recorded a conversation we had about Bottlehead, VSAC and other misdemeanors and put it up in the form of a podcast at PFO
The Bottlehead Tode Guitar Ampifier
Announcing our new all pentode 5 watt single ended combo amp kit for studio and practice
Bottlehead at Ball and Buck
Bottlehead is proud to have our products on display at Ball and Buck, Boston's hottest new men's store
We have teamed up with Blumenstein Ultra-Fi and SOTA to create special Ball & Buck signature sound systems
Bottlehead at RMAF 2011
Queen Eileen stands ready to greet RMAF showgoers in the Can Jam room at the beginning of RMAF 2011. From left to right on the table are the Smack headphone amp, Paramount 300B monoblocks, a prototype Bottlehead DAC, the Crack OTL headphone amp, and the S.E.X. 2.1 headphone/speaker amp. Behind the table is our modified Bottlehead Nagra T Audio tape machine with Bottlehead Tube Repro tape head preamp, playing Tape Project tapes. Thanks to everyone for the raves we got at the show!
"the beautifully designed Bottlehead Smack WOT (with output transformers) headphone amplifier kit...I listened to it, too. I neglected to take notes because I was too busy following Piper Payne around, but I remember thinking that the music had natural highs and a clean, clear midrange.
Stephen Mejias, Stereophile
"Dan "Doc B." Schmalle and the Bottlehead crew visited CanJam for the first time and boy am I glad they came...The Crack sounded fabulous to me. I'll be building one soon."
Tyll Hertsens, InnerFidelity
"For me the standout, and a real game changer for me personally, was the high-current Crack with the Sennheiser HD-800s and the BH dac -- in fact this was one of the highlights of the show for me. I had never heard a headphone system sound so musical, so right, and so impressive! This system did full justice to the music, but also had plenty of those audiophile trimmings like thunderous, tight and deep bass, dynamics to die for, tone, resolution, balance, and also a soundstage and imaging that truly was approaching that of a very well setup speaker system, and better than many poorly configured systems...Good going Bottlehead and company -- you guys make some fine, serious audio gear that us mere mortals can afford, have a blast building and modifying, and which in the end, just play music nicely, which is where it all comes out."
Jim Rebman, Bottlehead Forum
Bottlehead at Seattle Head-Fi Regional meet August 20, 2011
"As a first-timer... I stood, rather shy, in front of the Bottlehead table with my AKG K601 headphones. Doc noticed me and said, "Come on down! Have a seat." in the most welcoming way -- like a 60's talk show host or something. The other listeners at my sides were very friendly. Doc took his time answering all our questions and was very knowledgable.
With my K601s, the S.E.X. sounded great and I was happy enough right there, my K601s never sounded better. But then I listened to the new Smack -- Doc set it to the 128 ohm setting to match my cans -- and the difference between it and the S.E.X. was: I could turn up the volume more with the Smack and, rather than getting louder and more piercing, the soundscape got bigger, more lush and enthralling. Once my budget allows, I'll be placing my order for the Smack. Thanks Doc for making the meet a great experience for me :)
P.S. The tape rig was awesome; Doc looked like a film projectionist when changing the reels! And the K1000s through the Paramounts was the best sounding set-up I've ever had the pleasure of hearing."
Head-Fi member larcenasb, on the Head-Fi forum
Bottlehead at CAS2011
big news here, though, was the tapes via The Tape Project.
Dan Schmalle, Managing Director of The Tape Project, brought down a 1/2" Otari MTR-20 with Bottlehead Tube Repro (Schmalle is also President of Bottlehead). I had heard of The Tape Project, some crazy guys who were releasing classic albums on reel-to-reel, duplicated directly from the original studio masters, but I hadn't experienced it myself. I was happy to find that the reports of this being the best sounding medium in the world are not overstated."
Clark Robinson, Enjoy The Music
The Bottlehead Tube Phono
shockingly reminiscent of my reference ARC Ref Phono 2...It's
not much to look at--kind of like a Dynakit--but it certainly
sounded fantastic... To be fair, all three phonostages sounded
great. The Bottlehead one, in this application (using the
high-ouput Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement), just sounded a bit
more alive and transparent. "
Jonathan Valin, The Absolute Sound
Bottlehead at the RMAF 2010
"Its always hard to pick a single best sound because the selection of source material can influence ones judgment. But I will say that I had a startling experience with the Magico Q5s; I opened my eyes at the conclusion of (The Tape project's) Nojima Plays Liszt, played on a one-to-one open-reel copy of the original master (on the Bottlehead Nagra T/Tube Repro), and was momentarily startled to find myself in a small hotel room with a pair of speakers in front of me."
"Two rooms stood out: the first was the Magico Q5 room, where a (Bottlehead modified) Nagra T audio tape machine spun a staggering rendition of the justly famous Nojima performance of Liszt (TP-019). The transparency, dynamics, and low noise floor were spellbinding"
Jacob Heilbrunn, The Absolute Sound
"Might as well spill the beans right here. The aluminum-boxed $60k Magico Q5 multiway floorstander (with beryllium tweeter) was, IMO, the best speaker at RMAF. Its sound was astoundingly beautiful and natural on a Tape Project tape of Nojima Plays Liszt (played back through Dan Schmalles smashingly goodand extremely rareNagra reel-to-reel tape deck). In fact, next to Robert Silverman playing Mozart on a real grand piano in the Marriott lobby, it was the most realistic grand piano Ive heard at a trade show."
Jonathan Valin, The Absolute Sound
Bottlehead at the HeadFi Seattle regional meet October 2, 2010
"I can't really capture everything I heard but I wanted to mention the various excellent sounds coming from the Bottlehead room. This was my first time hearing the AKG K-1000's and simultaneously hearing them coming off of a pair of beautiful 300B monoblocks (the Bottlehead Paramounts, I think Doc said). This combo should definitely get into the Hall of Fame. For those of you wondering about the new Crack amplifier, this is also very sweet and enticing set up. I think I heard the version with the extra add-on circuit. That was lovely with a variety of headphones, including the HD-800s. Ahhh."
Head-Fi member flatmap
Dan Schmalle and Queen Eileen: The Crack is amazing. I'm sure someone would have tackled me at the door, but I really wanted to just run out the door with it and keep it for my own. I'm sure your mega tape system had a lot to do with the great sounds I was hearing. Never mind. The Crack is seriously good for not serious money. Well done!
Head-fi member bhjazz
Bottlehead at the HeadFi Seattle regional meet July 17, 2010
the HD800. To my ears, they are the most speaker like and the soundstage was absolutely huge. I had the pleasure of listening to them on the Doc's tape rig coming out the heavily modded S.E.X and damn! I can now hear why analog has such a strong hold within the audiophile community. HeadFi member alphaphoenix
The MOT's that came this time had some amazing gear. Doc B is a Rock Star...There was a line forever trying to listen to Doc B's gear. HeadFi member Big Poppa
posted by recent bottlehead convert "q"
heard some great systems (used to be in the High End business in
the UK). I am humbled by what I
hear now. I used to think that you could only get to a certain
level in DIY. You could always accept the compromise with saying
to yourself "Hey I built it all myself". Well that's
out the window now.
thx again guys
Review by Myles Astor of the Bottlehead Tube Repro tape head preamp in Positive Feedback Online, November/December 2009:
"The Repro, and one must allow at several hours of being powered on and/or playing music before critical listening, is extremely quiet and transparent, allowing one to resolve the minutest music details on The Tape Project tapes. (the tape deck too benefits from a couple of hours being on before playing.) Through the Repro/Technics combination, The Tape Project tapes display a soundstage limited only by the associated equipment and software. Instruments and singers have a much more realistic sense of body and realism. Strings are as sweet as sugar, if not gently rounded, without tipping over into euphonic territory. One can literally hear the violin bow changing direction and feel the pressure of the bow on the strings. Low frequencies are very dynamic..."
Bottlehead at the HeadFi Norcal regional meet August 8, 2009
didn't listen to everything but the Bottlehead rigs were far and
away the most impressive to me. That killer tape rig probably had
a lot to do with it.
Here are my impressions from the Bottlehead forum:
Best sound of show (IMO). Big Nagra rig with Tape Project Tapes + Tube Repro Head amp.
K1000's driven by Paramounts. (AMAZING)
HD600(650?) by sex upgraded iron (Very engaging)
HD800's by Professional Headphone amp (Hard to peel me away from this)
Quickie's for sale and for listen with Sennheisers (no Sex amp but still great)
Best, and thank you so much for coming,
Head-fi member chrismercurio
Doc with Tape Project recording artist Jacqui Naylor and his Nagra T Audio with Bottlehead Tube Repro preamp.
Bottlehead at VSAC 2008
"I think the only room that I went nuts over was the Bottlehead room, which had a beautifully reconditioned Technics 1500 tape deck feeding Bottlehead amps and crossovers driving direct radiator speakers arranged in a line source. I think the amps were 300B. (yup, they were stock Paramounts, Pete) The midrange driver was a good sounding but fairly inefficient 4 ohm 5 inch unit driven by four power amps in series, each with the output transformer connected to drive one ohm. One power amp per woofer. One power amp per tweeter. Electronic plus passive crossover. Four six inch ported woofers per side. Each speaker module used a small and narrow Parts Express cabinet laid on its side, driver centered. Cabinets were stacked. Four woofer cabinets, one midrange cabinet, one tweeter cabinet. Felt applied to front of cabinets. Woofer modules vented. It was pretty wonderful. Huge sound with a lot of nuance, air, inner detail, soundstage, and imaging. Bill (Van Winkle) and I were gaga over this system."
Pete Riggle, Pete Riggle Audio
"The Doc schooled us all in setting up a room once again. All I could say is wow.... how the hell he got all of that designed and assembled in a couple weeks is beyond me. Sound? Damn impressive and one you won't fully appreciate unless you have done something like this before."
Kevin Haskins, DIY Cable
"Well, certainly the Bottlehead room with the Wall O' Amps was a standout. I don't know why Doc's solderin' arm wasn't in a sling."
Dave Cope, Triode & Co.
Bottlehead At CES 2007 - Best of Show
"Folks, I've heard some mighty fine stereo systems over the years...But fed by the (Tape Project/Bottlehead) Technics tape deck and those Japanese oddball electronics from BA Labo, the Magico Model 6s reached a level of realism from full orchestra to solo voice that I've simply never heard matched."
- Jonathan Valin, Best of Show CES 2007,The Absolute Sound, April/May 2007
Bottlehead Amp Building Class, 2006
Bottlehead at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2004 - Best Sound of Show
"If we were going by the usual "Best Sound of Show" standards and concentrated purely on the sound rather than attributes like impact, displacement, soundstaging, scale and weight which require free-air in-room speakers, Doc B. would have won, hands-down and with no possible disagreements." Srajan Ebaen, Sixmoons.com
"Doc B. showed off his new foray into the world of serious headphone listening with a prototype amplifier being fed by a Nagra tape unit. Really cool, but not for the faint of heart. The presentation left little to find fault withthe music was just there!" Dave and Carol Clark, Positive Feedback Online
Bottlehead at VSAC 2003 - Best Sound in the Show
Sound in the Show" Dave Glackin, Positive Feedback
"Doc B.'s room (Bottlehead/MagneQuest/Progressive Engineering/Paul Stubblebine Mastering) was in an awful lot of ways the best of the show....The Doc has got some exceptional SET designs going these days gorgeous to see, wonderful to hear. Quite a lot of work went into his setup, it's clear." David Robinson, Positive Feedback Online
"And finally, we come to the Bottlehead room. I don't care what they said at the Digital Shoot-off, the best source at the show was (the) Ampex 350 tubed, open reel tape deck." Rod Morris, Audio Asylum