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Apex Peak and Volcano Loaner Program - Page 2

post #16 of 47


Originally Posted by tunarat View Post

HEY achristilaw! Did you get the amp yet? I've gotta hear your impressions with the LCD-2's. For the heck of it, do you think you could do a quick compare with and without the Volcano and the Audeze? My wallet's taking a thumping as it is, but this might be a must have as I'm looking for an uncolored hp/pre amp, and i've got a lot of 6SN7's to play with.

He should be receiving everything tomorrow unless UPS has a problem with delivery.  Also, somebody may have tried the LCD-2's with the amp at the Seattle meet last Saturday, but I cannot remember for certain.



post #17 of 47

Great! Yeah, I checked out the Seattle meet, wish I could have made it. Just a quick mention of the Apex setup there. Many there were taken by Doc's setup, but from what I understand the source was reel tape and that's ...well, just not fair. haha. Many thanks for your informative review regarding it's use as a pre-amp. I was not expecting anyone to extrapolate upon that aspect, even though Todd suggested it.

post #18 of 47

I would agree with your comments.  It was not really "fair", but it was quite enjoyable.   I hope to post a few more comments in the next day or two.  But, in short, while I enjoyed the unit as a headphone amp, it really called to me as a preamplifier.  I am not certain if that is because my speakers seem to reveal more, or because they can create a soundstage in a room, but the Peak really shined for me in my home system.  I am guessing that Alan's upcoming review will be a good contrast to mine because he has quite a nice system, and much more gear to compare against the Peak.  But, for a "mid-fi" system, changing out to the Peak made a huge difference in sound, and that is not always the case when you change components.



post #19 of 47

I just wanted to say thanks to Todd for letting individuals like me have a chance to spend some personal time with the Peak / Volcano.  

post #20 of 47
Thread Starter 

The new upgraded Volcano is set to be completed in the next 10 days! The loaner program will resume at that point with Skylab getting it next.


There is still room for a few more loaner recipients so if you are interested, please e-mail me at



post #21 of 47

Thanks for the update Todd!  I'm really looking forward to listening to this amp at the comfort of my home and with my equipment.  I was super impressed with it at Canjam and it seems to be an extremely well priced amp for what it delivers!

post #22 of 47
Thread Starter 

Hi All,


The Peak and Volcano is now in the hands of Skylab (as of this week) and has been back in circulation for the last few weeks. I am looking for those who are getting the amp for a listen to write some impressions here. You might say that is my reward for sending the amp out in the first place. I do not expect full on reviews but something is required.


Anyway, I can still take a few more loaner recipients if anyone is interested. I have 2 or 3 after Skylab so you would be looking at 6-8 weeks before you would get it. E-mail me with your shipping and contact info if you are interested.



post #23 of 47

Here are my impressions, pasted from a thread in the amps forum, sorry I forgot to put them here too.


Let me start by saying that this was my first hybrid amp that I've spent any time with but I was able to squeeze into the loaner program to grab some listening time with my gear (Thanks Todd!).


I used a variety of tracks ranging from 96/24 FLAC all the way down to Apple 256. I used both the uDac and Vdac and primarily used the HD800 for all testing.


The first thing that was significant and obvious to me was the added weight I'd been looking for with the HD800 headphones. There was considerable warmth and low end impact that I really wasn't sure if I'd get from these... the texture was unchanged but extension seemed reach further down and there was more weight in the overall impact. It did sound a bit more boomy than I'd been used to but I never got the sense it was uncontrolled. As with other quality tube amps I've owned or spent any time with in the past the Peak bombarded the aural senses with it's ability to properly convey percussion tones. Timbre was captured perfectly and distinguishing between the various instruments was effortless.

I also found that the warm character did a nice job taking the edge off the HD800's top end. The top end remained well extended with discernible detail but with just a bit less bite. Cymbals were rendered faithfully with natural sounding shimmer and medium decay. The overall tonality was very smooth and strident free. Soundstage was reasonably intimate and maintained a very balanced presentation from left to right and front to back. At first I thought it sounded slightly collapsed but after doing some A/B with my SRG II that was found not to be the case.

The mid range was the real star of the show, very warm, natural and audibly arresting. Vocals were brought up a few rows and were presented in a very lively manner with superlative body. Emotion and purity of female vocals were immediately engaging and maintained a rich dynamic presentation with every track I listened to.

Sorry for the somewhat brief review but hopefully this at least gives an idea of the general sound of this fine piece of gear.

post #24 of 47


I was sent the review loaner Peak/Volcano set-up from Todd The Vinyl Junkie.  This system has been making the rounds to quite a few head-fiers for evaluation and comment, and I was happy to be able to take part in that, since I had heard from some folks that it did a good job driving the Audez’e LCD-2.


I spent time listening to the P/V as a headphone amp, using the LCD-2, the HiFiMan HE-5LE, and the Beyer T1.  I compared it to the WooAudio WA2 driving the T1, and to the Leben CS300X driving the LCD-2 and HE-5LE.  I also listened to the P/V as a preamp, driving Dynaudio BM5E powered monitors.  Sources were either my Audio By VanAlstine tube-hybrid DAC, or the Yulong D100 DAC.


The P/V is a tube-solid-state hybrid, using a single 6SN7 type tube for gain, and using solid state devices for output.  The “Peak” comes with an outboard power supply, but I used it only with the “Volcano” upgraded power supply.  The review loaner was supplied with re-issue/current production Tung-Sol branded 6SN7’s, which I don’t really like, so I did not use them.  I used a 1960’s era “real” Tung-Sol 6SN7WGT, and later a Mullard ECC32 (after checking that the P/V can safely use such a tube, which I was informed it can).  I slightly preferred the ECC32, for reasons I will outline below, but the sound was excellent using both.







The P/V is a very fine sounding amp.  I think the most appealing part about it is that to a significant degree it actually manages to pull off the Holy Grail trick for a hybrid amp – it has a touch of tube midrange magic, but still has solid-state-like treble extension and bass control.  The P/V is very slightly lush in the mids, but not in a colored way.  It is also, regardless of tube choice, just a touch forward in the treble.  There is a treble presence that I think is just a little on the hot side of strictly neutral, or at least a little “spotlit”.  The treble quality is excellent, though – clean and very transparent, and seemingly limitless in extension. 


The treble balance contributes to what is outstanding soundstaging – the soundstage is very well defined, with excellent image specificity and lateral image placement.  The soundstage seemed to have slightly better definition than the Leben, although the Leben’s soundstage was deeper and a little more holographic.  I preferred the treble from the Mullard ECC32, which came across as just a little more natural than it did with the Tung-Sol 6SN7WGT.


Bass impact was outstanding.  The amp is very neutral through the bass.  Depth is outstanding, and the bass is there when called for, but there is no added bass weight.  It’s not an amp to buy if you want extra bass, but the bass that is there is really outstanding. 


The bass performance also contributes to an overall sense of very strong dynamics.  The P/V can be really explosive when the music calls for it.  It is also a very powerful amp – It drove the HE-5LE with great ease, and those are the hardest headphones to drive that I own.  The driving Piano in Ben Folds Five’s “Fair” was reproduced incredibly cleanly. 


And yes, those mids.  Especially via the ECC32, the midrange was very nice.  I prefer the mids on the Leben, which are just a little more organic and natural sounding to me, but we’re talking about levels of awesomeness here – both amps excel.


In fact, in general, that is how I felt about the comparisons.  While there were ways in which I marginally preferred either the P/V or the Leben on certain tracks, or in certain situations, overall both are of such high quality that it was really difficult to say that one is “better”.  They are DIFFERENT, though.  The Leben is more the “organic, gets the music right” sort of amp, and the P/V is more the “here is what you are listening to” sort of amp.  But don’t misunderstand – the P/V is not what I would all call clinical or unmusical – far from it (nor is the Leben gooey or overly romantic – FAR from it).  This is just a good way for me to try to express a difference between two outstanding amps.


I also enjoyed the P/V as a pre-amp.  The amp mutes the pre-amp outs whenever headphones are plugged in, which is a nice touch.  The amp has basically the same sonic attributes as a preamp as it does a headphone amp.  While it was definitely outclassed by my Cart SLP-05 as a preamp, the Cary is more than 3x the price of the P/V, and the SLP-05’s headphone amp is disappointingly bad.  The more interesting preamp comparison was in my office system, where the P/V replaced the identically priced Ray Samuels The Stealth.  The Stealth is more romantic and tubey than the P/V for sure.  I liked both, but they are really very different. 


I wish I had room to buy the P/V – I liked it that much.  But I absolutely do not – I have way too many amps around here as it is!  Still, the P/V is really impressive, and while it’s undeniably expensive,  you get a lot of performance for your money.  As such, I definitely recommend it – the P/V clearly belongs in the upper echelon of headphone amplifiers.

Edited by Skylab - 11/4/10 at 9:35am
post #25 of 47

Wow!  I wish I had some decents cans so I could apply!

post #26 of 47

Skylab nice review...


Very enjoyable, to the point, and as always with your reviews. I learned something..

post #27 of 47

Nice impressions and I would think the price is way too high compared to other amps out there.thanksThanks for the great impressions Rob.

Edited by Frank I - 11/4/10 at 10:56am
post #28 of 47

Skylab how does it compare to the concerto?

post #29 of 47
I don't think that's really a fair comparison. The Concerto is a great amp for the money - but it's not in the same league as the P/V.
post #30 of 47

I could care less if its fair or not I'm more interested in the benefits that come from an amp of that level. 

Originally Posted by Skylab View Post

I don't think that's really a fair comparison. The Concerto is a great amp for the money - but it's not in the same league as the P/V.
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