Monday, October 22, 2012

Objective2 Headphone Amplifier SS Front Panel

Machined 304 Stainless Steel O2 Front Panel Rev. 2

Buy one of my new Rev.2 panels directly from me! The panel and holes are laser cut from 304 stainless steel and the lettering/symbols are chemically etched into the surface of the panel and then filled in with a dark black paint. This yields a far nicer and more wear resistant appearance than the typical silkscreening or laser engraving processes used for most panels. These panels fit the "stock" Box Enclosures B2-080 enclosure.

Please ensure that your address on file is correct and in USPS standardized format.

All sold as of 2/20/2013!  I could have another batch made if there is enough demand but so far the batch of 20 has not been profitable for me and it doesn't seem like there is much interest.  Be happy if you're one of the few people that managed to get one!

When I decided to build a batch of five O2 amps with my friends I, like many others, went to JDSLabs to order their aluminum front panels.  When I got them, however, I was honestly rather disappointed - it looked all shiny and nice in the pictures on their website but the actual parts I received looked fairly lackluster and were rough around the edges.  I wasn't a big fan of their company logo on the front panel of my DIY amp either.  I decided to fire up my CAD program and look into getting some nice stainless steel panels custom machined for me...

DIY Audio Forum Thread

Rev. 2
This revision features chemically etched lettering and symbols filled with black oil-enamel paint and uses a #4 (brushed) finish rather than 2B.  The panel material remains 304 stainless steel and it can be either waterjet, laser cut, or CNC milled depending on my supplier's capabilities.

Overall I think it is much nicer than the panels from either JDSLabs or Head 'n' HiFi though admittedly it's a good deal more expensive to manufacture as well.

Here are some images of my initial prototype batch of 20 with Kunshan Krell:

For a production batch of 100 I can easily hit a $12 price point.  The main problem is that I never wanted to commit the investment for such a large batch since this isn't my full time job and I don't want to potentially end up sitting on a large pile of these.

Rev. 1
I had originally meant for these to be produced on a larger scale, but they ended up costing over $30 each to make and community interest did not seem to be there.  I went and had two of them machined anyway since a friend and myself each wanted one.  The panel and holes were laser cut from 2B finish 304 stainless steel, and the lettering and symbols were subsequently laser engraved.

Here are some pictures of how it looks:
You can see my holes fit a lot tighter around the buttons so they're not slopping around at all - also since the panel is thicker (~0.1") the 3.5mm jacks don't protrude out as much.  The lettering was a bit lighter than I'd like, but is quite wear resistant due to the laser engraving process as opposed to the silkscreening used on most front panels.

Sadly I scratched one of them a bit when I unpacked it with my knife, but luckily I able to patch things up somewhat by sanding the part down with 220grit sandpaper.  It kinda has a brushed look to it now too.
Silly me needs to stop knifing everything...


  1. Hey there Yang, I'm curious about trying a design myself. Where did you find your supplier?

    1. For smaller quantity projects I usually work with as they are willing to take on small projects and are fairly fast. made me a pretty good large batch quote though for this particular project.

  2. yzrandome,

    Nice work! It looks like you posted this around the time we were experimenting with CNC speeds and aluminum finishes. Quality should match our photos, with smooth edges. Please send us a note if you'd like replacement pieces!


    1. I did notice that your panels looked a lot nicer later on so good work to you guys as well!