Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphone Amps (full-size) › Apex Peak/Volcano Review
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Apex Peak/Volcano Review - Page 2

post #16 of 392
Thread Starter 

Well, time marches on, and I promised that I would write some more about my thoughts and experiences with the Peak/Volcano.  I previously mentioned that I would touch upon the unit as a headphone amp, and while I will do so in a minute, Achristilaw, the next reviewer, and I have been exchanging notes, and I am hoping that he will have a bit more to offer on the subject shortly (no pressure there Achristillaw, my friend ).  I did get manage to squeeze in a bit of listening with my HD-600's before shipping out the Peak, but most of it was a low volumes.  It was quite nice, and did not leave me with any fatigue, so it clearly passed my biggest test.  I guess I was spoiled by using the unit as a preamplifier, because while listening through headphones was quite nice, listening to my speakers was just that much more fun.

 

I did, however, bring the Peak to the Seattle gathering last week, and seemed to be received well.  Most everybody seemed to comment on the range and quality of the highs that the Peak could produce.  They seemed very extended, but not shrill or glassy.  Its not something one normally expects with a tube amp, but this is a hybrid design, and I have to believe that Pete knew how to take the best of both worlds and make them sing (pardon the pun).  Several listeners raised concerns about the mid-range being "congested", and I was not able to get in a listen before the meet ended and the amp was packed up for shipping.  I mention this issue because Achristilaw mentioned that the stock tube may have been damaged in transit, or possibly before, and that this problem seemed worse when the unit arrived.  Fortunately, had had an identical stock tube, and, with a quick roll, he felt all of the problems cleared up.  so, I cannot comment about the mid-range issues with any confidence since it may have been a the fault of a tube that was damaged or going bad.  I'll leave that issue to Achristilaw to further comment upon.

 

I think its now time to summarize.  But where to begin?  The Peak clearly made a huge difference in the sound of my system, and anything that can do that with such magnitude is always something for consideration.  I almost sprung for a Rega Apollo whenthey were first released, but held back the differences in the sound from my system were very subtle.  So, purchasing the Peak will not leave me wondering if my purchase had an impact on my system.

 

A headphone amp/preamplifier combo?  Yes, they are in the market, but many excel at one function and not the other.  Todd and Pete seem to have got it right on both counts in my book, and I think that they are offering a high quality sound package at a reasonable market price, especially when you compare them to the competition.  The unit is hand built by Todd and Pete in the US.  If you live in the US, I find this to be a big advantage if you should ever need service.  Shipping items outside the US, for US residents, is expensive and time consuming.

 

Finally, its hard to put a price on being able to audition a piece of equipment in my home, and to also be offered a 30-day money back guarantee.  There have been many pieces of gear that I have considered, but they are not available locally, and their on-line dealers offer nothing other that to describe the sound of the gear to you (insert your own pithy comment here).  I am sorry, but my budget does not allow me to spend over a grand on something that I cannot return if it does not perform in my system.  I can understand a restocking fee, but final sale does not cut it for me.  Are you listening Almarro?  So, hats off to Todd and Pete for giving us the Peak and Volcano!  Its been causing me a few sleepless nights.  Oh well, as I said earlier, "Ignorance was bliss".

 

--Ken

post #17 of 392

Yeah, the "stock" tube was out of spec.....and has been trashed. I let it warm and then set off to play, after one minute I was making the bitter-beer face. It was shrill and very hard sounding...UGH!! I have a boat-load of the 6SN7's and happened to have the same Russian made "Tung-Sol", so I will include it when the amp does happen off again on it's journeys. I'm using all the quality NOS 6SN7's and 5692's I have....I don't like the Russian signal that was included (even when it works properly). But the experimenting and tube rolling is in the lap of the buyer anyway......

 

The hybrid design captures the sweetest of sweet spots...It offers the Dynamic snap of the Dynahi, and has the timbrel texture with the dimensional space of the Leben in a single package. It truly is a Hybrid, in every sense!

 

  I ORDERED mine (the Peak/Volcano combo) as it matches perfectly the demands of the Audez'e. NONE of the Mosfet fog and vagueness or rounding of transients here....just one of the most capable amps I have run across sonically. It's the rendering of the Micro-Dynamic is one-of-a-kind....

 

I do have issues with external transformer hum on the supplied unit. Some damping of the case is whats needed to help there. I can arrest most of the hum by using finger pressure. The sheet metal is thin, and rapping lightly with finger tips on the amp section makes a buzzing sound that would add to micro-phonics, if it is resting in a rack (when being used as a Pre-Amp for example). Small, correctable issues that can be addressed easily enough. I will add damping to mine if Pete does not for my build.

 

The gain is HIGH, and might be problematic if you owned an Audio Technica or Denon for example. With the pot you will pick up one channel first, starting from 0 (the right channel leads) and might cause problems with low impedance, high sensitivity. I don't have issues because I'm down to using one Ortho (the Audez'e) and want all the gain that can be mustered...Mister.    

 

I have a lot more listening and impressions to add later as my familiarity grows. It is highly susceptible to the source in front...If you don't like what your hearing...look there first! It is very dutiful in it's job description (as an "Amplifier"), being very accurate (with good signal tube) and neutral. I was caught off guard by the sincere high-end attributes of Pete's latest design. A few external issues are non-existent when you start listening and hearing the possible from the sonic master-work!!!! I had to own it....once experienced I can't imagine doing without it! It could wrap itself in a sack cloth and I would anti up....


Edited by achristilaw - 7/25/10 at 4:39am
post #18 of 392

This is horrible news. Sounds like a perfect match for me using the LCD-2's and feeding the Almarro 318B. Deepwater Horizon got nothing on my wallet.

post #19 of 392

epic fail... two pages and no links or pictures?

post #20 of 392
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by tunarat View Post

This is horrible news. Sounds like a perfect match for me using the LCD-2's and feeding the Almarro 318B. Deepwater Horizon got nothing on my wallet.


Man, I absolutely love your signature.  I can think of few places that afre better to be in the northwest other than the back roads of Oregon!

 

--Ken

 

P.S.  Have you had any experience with Almarro's A205?

post #21 of 392
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by oqvist View Post

epic fail... two pages and no links or pictures?

 

That can be easily remedied.  Here is a link to a shot somebody took at the recent Seattle meet: http://www.flickr.com/photos/27177305@N08/4804331812/in/set-72157624526245348/ .

 

--Ken

post #22 of 392


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by replytoken View Post

Quote:


Man, I absolutely love your signature.  I can think of few places that afre better to be in the northwest other than the back roads of Oregon!

 

--Ken

 

P.S.  Have you had any experience with Almarro's A205?

Stole that from Greg Brown  "Eugene" ...you got pm

 

 


 

post #23 of 392

I have been doing a bit of tube rolling, and my findings are consistent with the strength of the vendor type.

 

My favorite has been the red base 5692 RCA...smooth and balanced with quite the extension. Nice jump and glow! Same can be said of the RCA 6SN7, black plate/side getter...very nice and definitive over-all balance with good resolution (and for the money can't be beat). 

 

The GE offers a lush and warm mid-band with a soft top and warm/full bottom (a little slow). Same can be said of the Motorola badged 6SN7's

 

The Sylvania GTB (silver-top) is very transparent (almost spooky), and I find it involving. Almost as smooth over-all as the RCA. Still it makes a good case for favorite status. Nice Tube!

 

I like the Tung-Sol (NOS American). Not as agile down below as the best but has a clarity that I find appealing. I have a few examples of the circle and "D" top getter...nice for the price!

 

I went ahead and ordered a Shuguang Treasure CV181-Z just to try...I'm interested as a friend claims it can run neck n' neck with the NOS favorites!   


Edited by achristilaw - 7/27/10 at 4:46pm
post #24 of 392

The Sylvania W blows away the GTB imho, but the 6H8C 1578 is amazing. Whoa! This ain't a tube thread. Can we get a little amp love here?

post #25 of 392



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tunarat View Post

The Sylvania W blows away the GTB imho, but the 6H8C 1578 is amazing. Whoa! This ain't a tube thread. Can we get a little amp love here?



 Actually you can have the cake and gobble it also with the most adequate Shuguang Treasure. It has been running a large part of the day and into the night (in yesterdays UPS). The CV181-Z has the smooth operator down (like the RCA), and the see through "speed" quality of the Sylvania.

 

It flat looks awesome with it's ST shoulder bad self! Sounds great! Really Great.....stop the presses great! 

 

Right now I'm finishing the break-in of the most excellent Raysonic CD238. I bought it specifically for Leben use....now it's Leben, Peak/Volcano use.

 

Pete was/is more proud of this creation than the lofty Pinnacle...I can see why. Roy Allison made a wonderful observation about designers in general. Roy is a legend (like Kloss, Villchur) in Loudspeaker design. He claims any designer worth his salt, given unlimited budget can make a statement product. The real trick, is being able to shadow the very best available while not surpassing a prescribed limit! Pete smacked one out of the Park with this one...damn fine Mr. Pete!

 

I don't hear any compromises in the Audio quality from the Peak/Volcano. It has taken over the top spot for amping the Audez'e!

 

No small feet! I have the Leben and Dynahi on hand...both of those offer very capable means. But the Peak/Volcano optimizes the best qualities of the two...while dousing the shortcomings. The Leben doesn't have the clout of the Dynahi, like wise the Dynahi can't approach the tonal nature of the Leben. The Leben won't accommodate low levels like the better solid-state can (The Audez'e is a great low-level phone). It's current arrives after moderate levels are reached.

 

The Peak/Volcano offers the taste of both...with the draw back of neither.....NICE!!

 

In a few days I'll drop the Volcano...and try just the stock switching supply (probably tomorrow). I don't suspect a big drop off...you'll hear me howl if I do!  


Edited by achristilaw - 7/29/10 at 5:37am
post #26 of 392

Glad to hear the Treasure CV181 is sounding good.  I had planned to try it in the Peak.  I also have the Pope 6SN7 along with the red base RCA 5692 so it will be interesting to hear the differences.

 

post #27 of 392
Quote:
Originally Posted by achristilaw View Post



 



 Actually you can have the cake and gobble it also with the most adequate Shuguang Treasure. It has been running a large part of the day and into the night (in yesterdays UPS). The CV181-Z has the smooth operator down (like the RCA), and the see through "speed" quality of the Sylvania.

 

It flat looks awesome with it's ST shoulder bad self! Sounds great! Really Great.....stop the presses great! 

 

 


Okay, maybe it's time to cross over to the dark side. I'll have to check one out. Is tubestore the preferred vendor? Unfortunately my de capo i driver just bellied up, so I won't have a chance to play for a few weeks

post #28 of 392



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tunarat View Post




Okay, maybe it's time to cross over to the dark side. I'll have to check one out. Is tubestore the preferred vendor? Unfortunately my de capo i driver just bellied up, so I won't have a chance to play for a few weeks


Yup, unless "Luke" you continue the eBay journey and the piece comes from Hong-Kong direct.
 

post #29 of 392
Quote:
Originally Posted by Audio Addict View Post

Glad to hear the Treasure CV181 is sounding good.  I had planned to try it in the Peak.  I also have the Pope 6SN7 along with the red base RCA 5692 so it will be interesting to hear the differences.

 



Ah-Right! Cool!  Nice to have a crop of options! The amp will be nice and toasty when it gets to you, It has been running 6-8 hrs. everyday (maybe more).

 

I had the switching supply running today. After a week straight of dining with the Volcano....I was put on a days worth of diet. Everything had smaller portions...Dynamics, Scale, Frequency Extremes are rationed. The roundness of tone and sense of image space diminished. It took and humbled a great amp and shoe-horned it into a size too small.

 

It worked, you just can't devour the potential and feel a full belly!

 

The Volcano shouldn't be considered JUST an upgrade path, I would consider it a Final Destination! 

post #30 of 392
Quote:
Originally Posted by achristilaw View Post



 


Yup, unless "Luke" you continue the eBay journey and the piece comes from Hong-Kong direct.
 


Well okay then, 30 bucks is 30 bucks. Let the market take it's course as long as you're not amazoning/walmarting then. But hey, have you heard the 1578? It's like a telefunken on acid after a few hours warmup

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Headphone Amps (full-size)
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphone Amps (full-size) › Apex Peak/Volcano Review