Great review Rob, thanks for the efforts, it always very useful.
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REVIEW: Apex Arête Headphone Amplifier - Page 3
Gear mentioned in this thread:
No, I haven't, but thanks for the recommendation. I'm leaning toward the Peak because it seems to be favored over the Arete, going by early reports, but I'm having a hard time with whether or not the Peak is truly transparent. Specifically, how is it possible for a tube amp to be transparent when rolling can make such a difference in what we hear?
Despite the recently discussed theoretical advantage of vacuum tubes, I strongly suspect that, at best, a tube or hybrid amp can achieve genuine transparency only when it is designed, tweaked, and tuned for a very specific tube (or set of tubes). I'm thinking that rolling to a different tube set would surely destroy transparency, even if you started with perfection - which makes all tube amps suspect, in my mind. Not that transparency is automatically guaranteed with solid-state designs. It just seems that as soon as you make the choice to go with tubes, you've made transparency a lower priority than some of the transparency-killing traits for which tubes are justifiably prized.
I'm frankly intimidated by tubes - I don't want to get caught up in building a collection of them to suit my changes in mood or the genre of music I'm playing. I realize that I'll be missing out on all that fun, but my instinct is to get my hands on an amp that is commonly acknowledged as being ridiculously transparent, detailed, and neutral. Basically, I'm looking for a Stepdance on steroids.
If you are referring to different tube sets that can be subbed for each other, like a 5751 for a 12ax7, then the difference is pretty obvious. Many tubes which can be subbed for each other are actually pretty different, they have completely different distortion and gain characteristics, and simply changing one out for the other will obviously give you different results as the essentially both tubes are being biased and loaded differently which makes them perform in different areas of their distortion curve. As for changing from one 6sn7 to another, after years of tube rolling experience I have come to the theory that slight internal differences in the tube itself might lend them to having slightly difference electrical characteristics, and the possibility of age and corrosion over time, vacuum leak, getter contamination, etc. means that tubes, even of the same type, ultimately can behave electrically very different from what is stated on an official tube type electrical characteristics sheet. Just a theory and a hunch based on experience, but I do believe and wish more tube amp manufacturers just picked a single tube that was made very consistent across the whole manufacturing production of that series, and made sure the circuit was built to really maximize the tube itself, so us consumers didn't have to bother with rolling and fiddling. You don't hear of kids transistor rolling their solid state amps too often.
Somewhat on topic, but Pete millet is definitely an engineer who knows what he is doing and how to really maximize whatever tube he is using in a circuit. The $10,000 pinnacle is a wonderful circuit built around the px4 tube, and he uses the Sophia electric px4 which is a solid and stable operating tube and very consistent across the whole production line. IMO you would be silly to tube roll that wonderful amp when Pete clearly spent a lot of time getting that specific tube to shine.
Indeed they do. 30 days minus shipping. It was a deciding factor in my purchase. Of course I never needed it. I was hooked on the Peak/Volcano from the beginning. For those who ask "how can it really be transparent when it uses a tube?" They only need to hear it to put their fears to rest.
Thank you recstar24 - your experience has confirmed my thinking. I can't afford the likes of a properly desingned tube amp (i.e. Pinnacle), nor am I interested in playing flavor-of-the-month with tube rolling, so I'm going to stick with looking for a proper solid state amp. The Arete is certainly a contender.
No problem. IMHO there are many more excellent designed and wonderful sounding solid state stuff out there than tube. And most of them are significantly cheaper too. In addition to the apex audio stuff, I can personally highly recommend the head amp gear - the GS-1 is a personal favorite of mine, still one of the best solid state amps I've ever listened too, and should be on your short list if transparency and neutrality are priorities for you. I used to write for 6moons and my review is still in the archives, should be easy to find.
- My stock question is how does the Arete/Volcano handle classical music?
- Any thoughts on its tonal balance across the range, and does it lean at all towards dryness?
- What dacs are being used with it?
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