It’s all well and good to learn theory and read schematics, but the real enjoyment comes from building your very own circuits. Here’s a list of vendors to purchase components for your next DIY audio project:
Mouser – One of the largest worldwide suppliers of electronics components, they have nearly anything that you’d ever need (close to three million (!) items). To actually find the part you are looking for is a task in itself; in no time at all, you’ll be knee-deep in filtering menus, datasheets, and a dizzying array of component variation. They send a very large catalog when you place a large order that is very useful for quick hands-on searches as well as holding doors open. Mouser’s sales people are very friendly and you can be connected to a technician should you find yourself confused. Most of the price breaks come from ordering in bulk.
Jameco – Catering to the hobbyist, Jameco has a lot of what the average DIYer wants. Although they can be a bit pricey for some components, they more than make up for it on smaller quantity orders. They have a partnership with Make Magazine, so there are a lot of good things happening here for the DIY community. You can learn a lot just from visiting Jameco, and they offer kits for all sorts of circuits and applications.
eBay – The source for great deals on electronics components. If the major suppliers don’t have it, a quick eBay search might tell you who does. Always double-check where the item is being shipped from and how much the shipping is going to be. Also, make sure you read the feedback that sellers receive – many ICs from China have been revealed to be counterfeit and fake.
Digi-Key – I have never ordered from them, but they appear to be a large electronics distributor similar to Mouser.
Radioshack – I mention this one only because they’re probably local. Radioshack has a reputation for a huge markup in prices and a general sense of apathy towards their electronics components drawers. Don’t bother asking the salespeople any technical questions, as they seemed to be trained to only sell cellphones and batteries. NEVER buy a soldering iron from them! Many of their stores repackage returned items, so you may buy an IC that’s been the victim of ESD. They do however have some great prototyping circuit boards. I’ve also just been informed that they now carry Arduino boards. Maybe Radioshack is going to clean up their act…
Before spending any money, check out our Free Samples page for a list of companies that give out small quantities of components for free, or at least the cost of shipping.
If you live in or are planning to visit the Portland, OR metro area, visit our Portland Electronics Resources page for some great local resources!