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My Review of the Apex Pinnacle (and comparison to the 307a)

post #1 of 96
Thread Starter 


(above) The TTVJ Pinnacle at CanJam 2010 Chicago


Ladies and gentlemen,
I was fortunate enough that Todd was willing to allow me to audition the new Apex Pinnacle in my home for a week.  I want to clarify that I am no way affiliated with TTVJ or Pete Millett.  All my opinions expressed are unbiased.
I bought a Millett 307a from Todd in March of this year.  Since then it has spoiled me as one of my favorite audio components in my collection.  I bought a SDS XLR by Single Power about 3 years ago.  For those that don’t know my story, Single Power delivered an amp which although sounded great, broke after 4 days of usage, and when I delivered it back to them, I was never returned the amp nor the money.  That was 10k stolen right out from under me.  I had been aching to replenish this loss for some time and in March I finally saved up enough funds to do so.  The Millett 307a is a very very neutral sounding amp.  To my ears it is the least tubish sounding tube amp I’ve ever heard.  It really sounds quick and clear and when you use it you are under its spell.
The Pinnacle is by far BY FAR the best amplifier I have ever had the pleasure of hearing, and as of this date, the Pinnacle is in my opinion the headphone audio component most worthy of the designation “high end.”  I want to clarify that to my ears, the Pinnacle is ever so slightly warm when compared with the 307a.  I do not however call the Pinnacle a bloated or super warm amp.  I am of the belief that a tube amp benefits from being a touch warm.  It is in the sound of a tube amp that I search for the relief of a DAC’s digital sound.  No matter how much you spend on a DAC (I own a 6,000 dollar DAC MSB Platinum DAC III) there is always an etchiness that is non present in a great vinyl system.  I also have had the pleasure of hearing great Studer Reel To Reel systems, I believe a great 2-inch reel to reel is by far the most transparent source on the planet.  Anyway, I look for a tube amp to feel rounded and beautiful.  The Pinnacle IS rounded and beautiful but does not compromise in detail.  When I was listening to the Pinnacle I began to feel for the first time in my life that I no longer need to upgrade my headphones.  The Pinnacle makes every headphone sound the best I’ve heard.  
The HD800 have bass, clarity, speed, detail, tremendous soundstage, and are about as transparent as humanly imaginable.  The 307a by comparison feel more analytical which is a benefit for some listeners who prefer less bass weight.
The T1 were in my opinion a special treat with the Pinnacle.  Maybe my favorite in terms of synergy.  Just perfectly liquid, balanced.
The K1000 were driven without any problem and sounded the best I’ve heard.  The midrange on this amp is jaw dropping.
The PS1000 were not to my taste.  I was auditioning Todd’s pair, I did not enjoy the headphone so I cannot comment, but I feel they sounded about the same on both amps.
The LCD2 sounded to my ears - equal on the 307a as it did on the Pinnacle.  The LCD2 sounds more liquid-like and lush with the Pinnacle, there is a tad more clarity with the 307a.
The R10s sounded better with the Pinnacle, but it’s very hard to make the R10s ever sound bad.
The HD600 sounded the most balanced I’ve ever heard with the Pinnacle.
Finally I want to say,
The sound of the Pinnacle is in my opinion, deserving of its price tag, despite the price tag being up there.  Usually I am of the opinion that an amp can not effect the sound to the degree of redefining the sound of a system.  The Pinnacle made my system better in every aspect, and I’ve decided to forget about investing in a Stax system for now and save up for the Pinnacle.  If you have the chance to ever hear this amp, specifically with an MSB DAC, you will be hearing the best sound I’ve ever heard in my life and I think that’s pretty damn awesome because I’ve made it a point my whole life to hear the BEST sound possible.
post #2 of 96
Nice impressions, Dave. Which tube type did this Apex come with: PX4 or 307A?
post #3 of 96
Thread Starter 

The tubes were the PX4, I believe that is the only configuration that they will be offered in for the rest of the run, but I have no complaints..... I may go into a more detailed review further on in this thread.  I am definitely eager and willing to answer any questions regarding my experiences.


I really was caught by surprised by this amp....I really wanted to like my 307a better, but oh well.

post #4 of 96

Thanks David for the impressions of the Pinnacle. I am not so unbiased but when the Pinnacle arrived to me from Pete and I plugged it into my system, well I could not believe that it bested the 307A either. But it did. The 307A is what I considered the best I had heard until the Pinnacle stole the show. And I cannot wait to get my Pinnacle back! Unfortunately for me it will be a couple of months. It is going to THE AUDIO BEAT for a review and then to one other Head-Fier that I promised could listen to it.


Keep your eyes out on the TTVJ forum here at Head_Fi - I am considering a 3 person, 1 week each, loaner program for the Pinnacle. I would love to do it if I can bring myself to part with the Pinnacle for 5-6 weeks.




post #5 of 96

i'd love to hear them side by side. i've heard the 307a (sort of like a more affordable 300b with perhaps more favorable characteristics, no?) at canjam in florida and california and have been quite impressed with it. it's a great sounding, and highly versatile, amp that seems to work really well with any dynamic can that you can throw at it.

i heard the pinnacle in chitown and it was nice but i didn't care for it with the rewired, and balalnced, T1s i heard it paired with as it made them seem like they can be too hot on top, a characteristic that i've heard with that can on a number of amps (but certainly not all). i'd really like to hear that amp with 307a tubes. it's particularly interesting that you found it that much better than the superb 307a millet amp. you mention impressions of several prime cans on the pinnacle without giving your specific take on the 307a (ie. t1, k1000, ps1000, hd600) although with other cans you talk about them on each amp.  it'd be nice if you could flesh out your thoughts here.

thanks for sharing your impressions of these 2 amps as you may be the only one other than pete and todd to have done that comparison (at least i've not seen other posts along these lines).

there's no doubt in my mind that these are amongst the top amps out there, and i tip my hat to both pete and todd for bringing them to market. for those who admire these great products but aren't not prepared to spend the $ necessary to obtain them i'd recommend checking out the excellent TTVJ solid state fet-a & hybrid apex amps. i had the pleasure of spending a reasonable amount of time with the former and it's a scary good amp with a nice warm and wet sound (and don't take that to mean sloppy - there's no slop here!) and fine imaging, and it'll give some much more expensive amps a run for their money, if not outright embarrass them! the latter i heard at canjam and it'll give you a good chunk of the pinnacle's performance for a fraction of the price, and it can be upgraded with a fancier power supply, iirc.

post #6 of 96
Thread Starter 
Ill reply in more detail later but by hot on top you mean bright? The 307a appears much brighter so I don't think you would like it with the t1
post #7 of 96

yeah, i've found that in some systems the T1 can give me a case of ear burn!

post #8 of 96
Thread Starter 

Have you heard the ZanaDeux or Balancing Act?

post #9 of 96

Very good post.  I echo your opinions that the Pinnacle is perhaps the very best dynamic headphone amp in existence, and despite how wonderful the 307A is, the Pinnacle is an easy step above.  Your thoughts on the differences in sound are also the same as mine.  The 307A is NEUTRAL.  The Pinnacle is just as clean, clear and detailed, yet has more richness, body, and warmth, without ever sounding tubey or thick.

Edited by 4N6 - 10/10/10 at 5:04am
post #10 of 96
Originally Posted by DavidMahler View Post

Have you heard the ZanaDeux or Balancing Act?

i've heard them both, though not in a way to allow me to compare them to Todd & Pete's amps. the BA is clearly a competitor to the TTVJ pair as a tube amp that can power virtually any dynamic can. the ZD can run neither K1000s nor balanced cans. however the EC ZDT can.

Edited by daveDerek - 10/20/10 at 8:12am
post #11 of 96

Thnx for your impressions! another great amp to consider!

post #12 of 96

How come most high end amplifiers are tube based ?

post #13 of 96

The chasis doesn't look like expensive but its a 10000$ amp, wow

post #14 of 96

value is very subjective. but to get an idea one would need to compare the pinnalce to other balanced amps to see how much more (if any) it offered.

post #15 of 96




My guess is the Pinnacle is so niche that the only buyers are genuine enthusiasts whose lives - overall - are models of anti-consumerist frugality, but also full of the joys of music.

 As a potential Pinnacle buyer, I would say that is true about me.  I paid $120,000 for my house and it's been paid off for years.  No one would even blink if I bought a $200,000 home, a $400,000 home, or even a $600,000 home.  No one would even question it.  People add or subtract tens of thousands of dollars from a house's selling price without much thought, are you sure you're not getting 'ripped off' by tens of thousands when you buy a house?  How do you know?  I can't tell, but I can sure tell the difference between my $1000 amp and the $10,000 Pinnacle.

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