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Triple Threat - Apex Butte vs Bottlhead Crack vs Hisound Rocoo Studio V

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

More information on these amps and my rig here

 

LL

 

 

Overall Clarity via the Apex Butte and Fiio E10

 

Its important to know that the stock version I owned came with a nice fabric laced cable with a stunning wooden adapter plug.  While it sounded and felt great, it was just too damned long for me ( lol...)

so I contracted a hired assassin who happened to have a business for modding headphones.  BTG Audio was the only recabler and modder who didn't try to screw me like Jabba screwed Han. I highly recommend contracting Brian to mod your gear.  He does amazing and beautiful work, absolutely stellar job. After some email exchanges we both agreed Silver cabling would be detrimental to the upper regions of the DX1000 experience.  They are super smooth and silky and any change would ruin it.  Silver usually makes it more sharp, more defined and a tad brighter in my experiences.  So I opted for a braided copper detachable cable that uses Sennheiser plugs.  Epic.  I am in love.  Sorry, Megan.  You are out, the DX1000 Recable is in.  Please pack your things and leave, we are getting married soon and you are not invited.  

 

 

Clarity is very good, not amazing.  Its on the level of the Denon D7000 after some modding.  There are sets half the price in the Orthodynamic area that are more clear across the frequencies.  This set is fatigue free, everywhere.  Clarity takes a side seat to the high musicality factor, you don't really care much.  Unless you are a super audio snob and only care about clarity and NOTHING else, skip this set, you have my pity. The Apex Butte sells for $499 over at TTVJ.  Its super cute and tiny, yet packs a serious punch.  This is a heavyweight, by no means something to skip over.  Sound staging is excellent, clarity is excellent and near the level of its big brother the $1000+ Arte'.  Dynamics and depth are exceptional for this price tier and via the DX1000 you really get a sense of center staging unlike most of the recent expensive headphones. This is a forward sounding amp with good height and width, excellent depth and decent separation.  

 

 

LL

 

 

 

Clarity Via the Bottlehead Crack

 

Absolutely on par with the Butte. This guy sells for around $225 with potential upgrades. The downside is you have to build it yourself or pay a large fee.  Make friends with your local bloodbank or hospital, you might need to sell some plasma or a kidney if you want the Speedball upgrade and have them build it for you.  This is a seriously tough call to make, which one sounds more clear?  Neither, its a total draw.  I've sat here for hours while my chair permanently indents itself into my butt ( how will I explain these marks to my girlfriend? ) trying to figure out which has the edge in clarity.  I've decided they are twins, blood brothers in arms.  I can't hear more clarity out of either.  This amp is noticeably more distant and I understand why people like it for the Sennheiser house sound, its ideal for a mid range locality and presentation, wider than tall by a smidgen and again has excellent depth.  Both of these amplifiers have excellent sound staging and belong up there when talking about great big sound in amps:  The beta22, the Bijou ect ect.  These two should also be included.  They both outperform all of the Schiit amps in sound staging, this bottlehead stock version with no Speedball is much nicer in depth and width than the Asgard which is Schiits largest sounding amp.  

 

Clarity via the Hisound Studio.  

 

I am having trouble believing my ears.  Clarity is nearly on par with both and could be considered " in their league ".  This isn't even a true amplifier, its a portable DAP with a secondary amplifier function.  The hisoundaudio Studio Rocoo V is an amazing player that sells for nearly $390US.  Its noticeably less clear than both amps mentioned above, but my god if its not one step down from them.  Amazing. 

 

================================================================================================================================================

 

Bass

 

The Butte

 

The Butte definitely has the most potent, deep and powerful bass of all.  Its super smooth and extends very well on my Hisound Live earbuds, the Golden Crystal IEMs.  Funny, how most Audiophiles think earbuds can't be Hifi.  You are all wrong.  The Live earbuds are insane and perform immensely well out of proper amplification, the sound staging qualities are ridiculously awesome.  The DX1000 bass is moderate in toxicity, but super smooth, very relaxing.  As most others who own it often say "it just just bass so well".  And it really does.  Highly musical and on the warm side, it compliments the mids and highs perfectly.  The Butte offers a stronger low experience than I would have guess and ends up being slightly less than what my Fiio E10 offers with its Bass Booster active.  Via the line out on the E10 > the Butte, the DX1000 low experience is strong and deep.  

 

A'la Botthead

 

Noticeably less strong but not by much, less solid sounding, more relaxed and spacious, thinner, equally as clear and responsive as the Butte.  Offers excellent experiences when listening to live recordings like Sebastien Giniaux newest Album boasts.  Very aired out, very musical and not overbearing in the slightest.  What a great song, by the way.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nq4eScQiw1Q

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Via the Rocoo V

 

Very light and airy.  This dap offers a lack luster bass experience in terms of quantity, but quality is again stellar.  The notes responsiveness in the lower bowels of the bass regions are exceptional.  They just are not solid or potent like the other two full size amps.  This is how Hisound apparently designed it, a more balanced experience I guess.  The "P" version has much stronger bass but noticeably less clarity.  The DX1000 performs very well despite the lack of bass right out of the Studio V, so good in fact that I paid BTG to recable them with a 3.5ft cable.  I often sit outside in my secluded area and was tired of the giant cable.  The DX1K is super easy to drive, yet with the already potent Rocoo studio V, it is a well fed BEAST.  

 

LL

 

 

 

 

================================================================================================================================================

Mids

 

The DX1000 has one of the best mid ranges I've ever experienced and could certainly compare to the Audeze LCD2 and similar sets known for amazing Mids.  Its slightly dry but retains just enough color to be considered musical yet also natural sounding.  Due to the forwardness of this headphone, the vocal experience is top notch and scary good at times ( as are my Hisound Golden Crystal Iems which pretty much nobody owns, again I pity ).  The are exceptionally clear and realistic depending on the track and handle nature sounds and scapes insanely well.  Yes, better than all the Orthos I've owned and tested.  Outside of the Stax, the mids on this set are my favorite.  I would look to no other headphones in existence if I wanted to hear someone sing.  Since the Bottlehead is more distant sounding than the Butte, I tend to gravitate, gyrate and jiggle away from the Bottlehead and into the Buttes loving arms.  Once again, the Rocoo V isn't far behind but I would definitely take either larger amp over it. 

 

================================================================================================================================================

 

The Highs

 

The DX1000 is super smooth and relaxed up in the clouds, I am sure Odin would agree.  They extend so high and are so forgiving and responsive, it takes my breath away sometimes.  I don't like pokey sound, I prefer something I can enjoy no matter what the track offers me and sometimes, due to poor gremlin trolling audio mixers, the tracks can get sibilant.  Thankfully, the pain is drastically reduced with the DX1K, I couldn't be happier.  They are far from bright and far from neutral, I call them dry and natural.  Monitor sounding they are not! This is extremely rare in Summit Fi.  

The Bottlehead seems to offer a slightly recessed highs experience, Hendrix told me so, who am I to argue?  Via the Butte, they are more potent and lively, noticeably brighter but equally as clear.  The studio v actually is the most bright of trio.  Sometimes it can be too much, lets face it our ears crave Bass and with the lack there of in the V, our ears notice the brighter and less clear highs very easily.  Like a deer in the headlight...they are not bad but I would not place them into the category of the super smooth highs the Bottlehead and Butte offer.  Its noticeably less " Hifi"

 

 

================================================================================================================================================

 

Soundstage

 

Well, well, congrats on reading this far without skimming.  Outside of the Audio Technica WX5000 and 3000 special edition, The Victor DX1000 is the largest sounding closed back can in existence.  Its absolutely breathtaking if you are not prepared for it.  Excellent height, excellent depth, excellent width, excellent separation.  Again do to the forward natural presentation, everything is so lively and intimate that it becomes strikingly hard to go listen to another hifi headphone.  Makes me cringe at my Orthos, I don't really want to use them anymore, they just are not as musical and fun to use as the DX1000 is. Phenomenal.  If you want the biggest soundstage in a closed back can, this is for you.  Its much more coherent and dynamic than the Denon D7000 even after mods to my ears.  The Bottlehead Crack offers the most all around sound, its big and tall, wide and deep.  Excellent imaging qualities and good separation.  The Butte only 1upped the Crack in the depth department, its got stellar depth and imaging.  But the real star of the show is the Rocoo V.  Its on par with both AGAIN for some qualities, and even trumps both in others.  The Rocoo V easily has the best sound staging in the entire portable dap world, nothing comes close and it alone with the DX1000 does them justice.  Incredible.  The HM801, Colorfly and Ibasso DX100 don't even come close in my opinion.  Spaciousness and imaging is 10/10, its noticeable lighter and airier than both the Crack and the Butte.  However, width and height is also noticeable less.  All three are amazing and should be spoken of more.  All three are sound staging kings that mesh well with the JVC DX1000.  

 

 

Which one is best? Hard to say.  All three are great and work well with certain gear.  My DX1000 and Hisound Live earbuds sound best with the Butte, where as my Golden Crystal sounds great with my Botthead, my lower tier headphones all sound better with the Hisound V, those sets with more of a balanced sound that are a bit cheaper and dont have a ton of bass simply mesh with the Rocoo more due to its aired out flavor.  If I had to pick, I would pick the Butte.  Its more me than the others and I wish TTVJ would just give it to me!  JUST GIVE IT TO ME, TODD! My Butte is just a loaner and I am super sad to see it go, it literally pains me to have to send it back to TTVJ.  I'm willing to resell my Bottlehead just so I can keep the Butte. I'd expect anyone with Sennheisers as their main headphone to do the reverse though.  The Butte looks so good on my desk and sounds so great.  I highly recommend all of them but my personal favorite for more expensive headphones is definitely the Apex Butte.  The Botthead is a hassle to use, tubes will break over time and the entire unit gets super hot.  It also has a small pop sometimes when you turn it on and happen to have your headphones in, its not nearly as bad as the Schiit amps which are scary in that respect, but its there and should be mentioned.  The Butte has a soft and much more gentle sound when you turn it on, the extra feature of toggling between a standard interconnect and an RCA is awesome.  That little dedicated button is a godsend! I love it! Its super quite, a nice black background on both the larger amps surely, but the butte is a little darker.  Its super cute and tiny, easy to tote anywhere, hell I sit with it OUTSIDE for cripes sake.  Its just gorgeous in every way.  The Rocoo v has a PAINFUL...let me say this again...PAINFUL POP when you plug into the amplifier input.  Its scares me to death every time I do it.  Its noticeably less dark than the others, more bright and lively than both.  But it gets serious points for being a DAP AND an AMP.  

 

Take my impressions with a grain of salt, its just my view.  Some people will like the Butte more than the Botthlehead, some will like the Bottlehead more than the Butte.  It depends on your headphones and Dac.  If you prefer a more close up and lively sound, the Butte is what I recommend.  If your gear is more relaxed and slightly middle ground in presentation, the Bottlehead is for you.  If you need something to tote around on the go along with a small dac, the Hisound V is worth every penny.  The lack of Bass is offset and aided if you choose direct input on a bass boosting Dac, like my Fiio E10.  While the V is connected to the Fiio E10s line out, bass quantity takes a nose dive, however if its plugged into the front side with BB active, it outperformed BOTH the Bottlehead and the Crack ( only when running the off a Dacs lineout. ) By the way, I think the Studio V is more clear and spacious than the Schiit Asgard, just with less bass.

 

I recommend all three!

 

 

 

LL


Edited by swbf2cheater - 6/13/12 at 10:16pm
post #2 of 17

Nice review! im jelly.... my poor D7k... now you realize I haveto get the JVC or an R10 (yeah right I would haveto rob a bank) 

post #3 of 17

Keep those impressions of the Crack coming - I'm interested in their SEX, but its all good. 

post #4 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by estreeter View Post

Keep those impressions of the Crack coming - I'm interested in their SEX, but its all good. 

 

I've built both... and prefer the Crack. Now I've had this Smack kit sitting here for a couple months; maybe I should start on that. 

post #5 of 17

Great review ! I really like how it's structured. 

 

I'm now strongly considering the Crack to pair with my HD600s.  The last thing I need to figure out is if I really want to live with the disadvantages and the hassles of a tube amp ! If I decide going SS, I'll probably go with the KICAS Caliente.  Do you think the "hassle" using a Crack is worth it for HD600s, or should I be going the SS path ?

 

Once again, thanks a lot for this great review !

post #6 of 17

Are you eyeing the KICAS on the sale forums? They're hard to come by nowadays, and are fantastic sounding amps. 

post #7 of 17

Yes, there are a two or three on sale right now, and if they aren't significantly "lesser" than the praised Crack, then I might just end up getting one of them !  Did you get a chance to compare them to the Bottlehead ?  The way swbf2cheater speaks of it in his review makes me think an SS amp is going to have a lot of trouble competing against the Crack's soundstage !

post #8 of 17

Anyone know what happened to the guys behind Purity Audio ? They had considerable success with the KICAS/Caliente. then packed up and left the business:

 

http://www.purityaudio.com/

 

Dont think this is the same guys:

 

http://www.purityaudiodesign.com/purity%20products.htm

 

Sad to see (fwir) gifted designers/builders pack up their shingle. 

post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by frank611 View Post

Yes, there are a two or three on sale right now, and if they aren't significantly "lesser" than the praised Crack, then I might just end up getting one of them !  Did you get a chance to compare them to the Bottlehead ?  The way swbf2cheater speaks of it in his review makes me think an SS amp is going to have a lot of trouble competing against the Crack's soundstage !

 

I did get a chance to compare them. In general, I preferred the Crack with my Sextetts and Senns (basically all the high impedance cans), and the Kicas with everything else (particularly of note: Grados). For sheer transportability and ruggedness though, the Kicas wins hands down, and it still did a very good job with the high impedance cans. If you have orthos, the Kicas is also better suited to those. 

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by estreeter View Post

Anyone know what happened to the guys behind Purity Audio ? They had considerable success with the KICAS/Caliente. then packed up and left the business:

 

http://www.purityaudio.com/

 

Dont think this is the same guys:

 

http://www.purityaudiodesign.com/purity%20products.htm

 

Sad to see (fwir) gifted designers/builders pack up their shingle. 

 

I doubt those are the same guys. The Kicas builders are Canadian. 

 

I had sent them an email ages ago, and the Kicas was originally just a couple big production runs and no more. It was never intended to go beyond that. They said they are cooking up something new, but it is a casual side project with no expected completion date. 

post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 

Both are wonderful and depend heavily on your rig.  I prefer the forward sound and the user friendly nature of Solid State amplification.  One thing I didn't mention is that the Bottlehead is capable of much more when great tubes.  My Amperex ecc82 and RCA 6AS7G combo is absolutely awesome and they are relatively cheap, like $20-30 a piece.  Some of the tubes I have sound noticeably smaller, more potent in the bass than the Butte but less clear, ect ect. The above mentioned combo sounds larger and more bass potent than the Butte.  However, all my other tube combos sound too similar to the Butte to say which is better.  


Edited by swbf2cheater - 6/15/12 at 12:27am
post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Armaegis View Post

 

I doubt those are the same guys. The Kicas builders are Canadian. 

 

I had sent them an email ages ago, and the Kicas was originally just a couple big production runs and no more. It was never intended to go beyond that. They said they are cooking up something new, but it is a casual side project with no expected completion date. 

 

Thanks for that - its interesting that there are so many more SS options now, yet we still have folk seeking out the KICAS. Its always interesting to hear different views on the 'wire-with-gain' amps vs something with a little more warmth - the PA guys worked very hard to build the former but were forced to release the Caliente when customers started asking for the latter.  

post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by WiR3D View Post

Nice review! im jelly.... my poor D7k... now you realize I haveto get the JVC or an R10 (yeah right I would haveto rob a bank) 

 

You can trade your new Vmoda gear for a used DX1000 <3

post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by swbf2cheater View Post

 

You can trade your new Vmoda gear for a used DX1000 <3

Not gonna happen :p... actually. i am against selling it for profit or anything, but i cant use the vamp, so havent decided what I am going to with it.

post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 

I was kidding

post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by estreeter View Post

 

Thanks for that - its interesting that there are so many more SS options now, yet we still have folk seeking out the KICAS. Its always interesting to hear different views on the 'wire-with-gain' amps vs something with a little more warmth - the PA guys worked very hard to build the former but were forced to release the Caliente when customers started asking for the latter.  

 

Hmm, I thought the Kicas was originally designed with the Caliente option in mind. It's just some jumpers inside anyways. A friend of mine had one modded with a switch to flip back and forth. 

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