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The Apex High Fi Audio Teton! - Page 4

post #46 of 67

beyers seem to like otl,  though from the description of "Fast with great transients and no smudging", seems like its gonna be similar to a zana deux :(


 guess this is a no-go for me

post #47 of 67
Originally Posted by barleyguy View Post

Since no one else has posted impressions in this thread, I will give mine from RMAF...

I tried HD800's, Beyerdynamic T-90s, and Audeze LCD2s on this, all from the TTVJ headphone table.

The impression I got from it overall, and I remember saying this repeatedly, is that it is FAST.  When I say fast, I mean that there is not the slightest hint of smudging of the signal, and transients and dynamics are all intact.  Also, the detail level is very good.

On the HD800s, the Teton has less bass than the ALO Studio Six, which I listened to immediately before it, also with HD800s.  My preference with those particular headphones would be the Studio Six, because I think HD800s would be too bright for me on the Teton.  There's a lot of personal preference in that statement though.  The treble detail of the combination is stellar though, so if you dig treble detail, it may be just the thing.

On the Beyer T-90s, this amp was just sublime.  I thought the combination had excellent synergy.  I hogged this amp and the T-90s for two entire Mark Knopfler songs, and was just thinking "Wow".

The LCD2s were also excellent on the Teton.  Same impressive sense of speed, but with a great sense of fun.

My overall impression, as I said, is one of impressive speed and absolute lack of murkiness.  As Pete Millet implied in his post, I would agree that synergy with a particular pair of headphones could be really important with the Teton.  My favorite synergy of the three headphones I tried was the Beyerdynamic T-90.

My two cents,

I listened quite a bit this last weekend to the teton,with the hd800s and i thought it was the best synergy with the senns,i have ever heard,so much so that i purchased the teton from todd last day of the show.
For me, the hd-800-teton combo was a dream come true.
This amp was everything you mentioned and ill add the musicality factor also.
I will have to try the beyers,when i recieve my teton
post #48 of 67
Also, i did not find the hd800s bright with this amp.
Pete millet mentioned some wonderful tube rolling possibilities,i look forward to trying
post #49 of 67

Congrats.  If you still have the SDS XLR, that would make for an interesting comparison.

post #50 of 67
Originally Posted by Radio_head View Post

Congrats.  If you still have the SDS XLR, that would make for an interesting comparison.
Yeah,i still have my singlepower sds xlr,however i have not listened to it for awhile.
Lately i have been spending alot of time with my ray samuels darkstar and balanced lcd-3
Combo. I just love this combo for my many rock and roll tracks. The lcd3 just soaks up all the power from the darkstar,so fast,impactfull and smoooth.
As far as the teton,i find it to be somewhere imbetween the the apex pinnacle and the eddie current balancing act,having the best of both worlds.
Also,with the hd800s,the soundstage is massive with the teton
For a single ended unit,it plays like a balanced amp
Edited by decur - 10/17/13 at 4:49pm
post #51 of 67
Originally Posted by decur View Post

Also, i did not find the hd800s bright with this amp.
Pete millet mentioned some wonderful tube rolling possibilities,i look forward to trying

My perception was mainly a comparison between the ALO Studio Six and the Teton.  The Studio Six has, in my experience, significantly more bass with the HD800 than the Teton.


It's all relative though.  If the Teton is "just right" then maybe the Studio Six is "too much".  But I really liked the way the Studio Six brought out the bass.

post #52 of 67
I agree,
The bass from the alo studio six was better on the hd-800.
The alo studio six is an outstanding amplifier,and ken has alot to be proud from this amp.
However, my personal preference was for the the teton.
The teton is very neutral,like the apex pinnacle,but warmer like a 300b/2a3 amps
I also found the teton to have fantastic separation between the notes very 3 d like and airy.
post #53 of 67
Todd played pink floyd the wall on vinyl both sides for me on sunday,and the bass had some nice slam to it.
I wonder how tube rolling the teton will have impact.
I cant wait to try!
post #54 of 67

I like this amp. Transformerless amps like this have the potential to sound as uncoloured as the best transistor amps while retaining all the advantages of tubes.


But, everyone knows the best beers are made in Europe.

post #55 of 67
Originally Posted by Dubstep Girl View Post

beyers seem to like otl,  though from the description of "Fast with great transients and no smudging", seems like its gonna be similar to a zana deux frown.gif

 guess this is a no-go for me

I have the loaner Teton right now. This amp is awesome and pretty far removed in sound from the Zana Deux. It is really "beautiful" sounding, with the right tubes, yet has fantastic bass, detail, layering, and soundstaging. If you are familiar with VAC amps/preamps, that is what the Teton sounds like, and that is meant as a high compliment. I will write more after I have spent more time with it.

Kudos toTodd and Pete.
post #56 of 67

I was fortunate enough to be the first on Todd's Teton loaner list. Here is my take on the Teton. This is not a formal review but hopefully it will give you a sense of how I felt about it. Conclusion is at the end if you want to jump down. 



Headphones: I tried the Teton with LCD-X, HD800, HE-500, and FitEar ToGo 334. I used the LCD-X the most because I had them for only a few weeks and it has hogged the Teton. Most of my impressions will be based on using the LCD-X unless otherwise noted.


Sources: Linn Klimax Renew DS. I only tried my Ayre QB-9 for a few minutes so I'm not going to comment on that.


Tubes: The Teton came with a few extra tubes to roll but I only tried what I believe was the stock tubes (except I used the Sylvania 6SN7GT and I think the Tung Sol is stock). I'm sure others will comment on how the amp responds to tube rolling. 



Music: I listened mostly to indie rock and electronic, with some R&B/rap, ambient, and acoustic music.



As I was unpacking it, the first thing I realized was how beastly the thing is. Solid, heavy, nice sturdy chasis. The volume pot has a nice feel to it. Look-wise I really like it and it's a bonus for me that the power supply and amp section is all in one chasis. It isn't huge, not tall (with the tubes), not that deep, and not crazy wide. It does heat up my personal space somewhat. There are 4 blue LEDs on the front and they aren't blindingly bright. I assume they are similar to other TTVJ amps. The switches on the front have a nice click to them. The large volume knob travels very smooth and is very easy to get the right volume - it's sensitive (with my headphones) and responds nicely and as expected with small adjustments/movement. I have to admit that over time I really enjoyed the volume control. It feels like quality and is well implemented and surprisingly became one of my favorite things about this amp. 



It is unbalanced. Has 3 unbalanced inputs and one unbalance headphone jack. I like the headphone jack - plugs slide in and out in a nice easy manner. One set of loop outs. I like how simple the front panel controls are. Left knob is for Standby or On. Middle knob is input selector. Right knob is for IEM, Unbalanced, or Preamp mode. More on the IEM mode later. I did not use it as a preamp and I probably wouldn't for the lack of a remote (I'm lazy and I have a serviceable preamp with remote in my speaker rig). I really like that there is a standby switch and that it is in the front. I like to keep my primary gear in standby mode if possible since I listen to it every day. All in all, the build is high quality and makes you feel like you have a statement product. 




The first thing I noticed about the Teton is how detailed and resolving it is. I was able to hear things in recordings that I haven't heard before. The nuances in voices and instruments were all there without invading my attention too much. It was a clear notch above the resolving capabilities of my Eddie Current Balancing Act (ECBA) but not by magnitudes. It has great extension on both ends - the best I've heard other than the Pinnacle. The edges seem sharp (not in a bad way) and clearly articulated. The highs especially seemed to soar. The bass is very tight and controlled and seems to go as deep as possible. 


I think this adds to how fast the amp sounds, especially since the decay sounds more correct than almost all other amps I've tried. It sounds aggressive and in attack mode, rather than laid back and relaxed. But it is not aggressive in terms of overly bright (or overly anything) or too in-your-face. It sounds aggressive because it keeps pace with the most demanding music and still sounds like it can take more. Not sure if PRAT is the right term. If the music is relaxing then it can sound relaxing but it always has this 'fast' quality about it that I can't shake.


I feel like the Teton is the best of solid state and tubes. It has that musical liquid flow and dynamic layering but it also has that resolution and speed of the best solid states. The layering is dynamic and integrated so that everything flows well together and retains the soul of the music. The soundstage is immersive and very large when it is called for. Even with the HD800 the large soundstage never sounded too diffuse like it can with other amps. With both the LCD-X and HD800 it sounded very 3D and holographic and it even spooked me a few times. In my opinion the space that the Teton creates is one of its best qualities. I'm not a huge soundstage freak especially when it comes at the expense of being able to easily follow and get lost in the musical flow but the Teton is doing it right.


It has a very clean sound but it does not seem lean to me. I can see people with the HD800 thinking it can be somewhat lean because even though the bass sounds fully extended, accurate, and fast -  it is not prominent. I do not think the Teton is lacking throughout any frequency range but if you like your bass a bit more pronounced, perhaps you'll be able to tune it with different tubes. I think the bass was just about right, blending nicely with the rest of the spectrum. The only headphone that I felt could use a bit more bass presence was the HD800 (unmodded and with Silver Dragon cable). The stock configuration is good enough for me but I would likely try other tubes to see if I could bring out the bass just a tiny bit while keeping the response of the rest of the spectrum relatively the same. In comparison I thought the LCD-X bass sounded great.


When listening to well recorded live acoustic music like The Eagle's and Alison Krauss & Union Station, it's easy to hear when Alison pulls away from the mic a bit and I can't remember hearing this effect so distinctly. The instruments sound so real, the audience sounds like an actual part of the performance (debatable whether this is a good thing for you), and the voices cut right through with detail and presence. Everything sounds like a live performance with the energy and interplay that you expect. Nothing gets lost.


A few notes about the HD800 combo. The Teton won't transform it. I still have to listen to it at lower volumes than other headphones (except for PS1000) because the treble is a bit sharp. I have a Silver Dragon cable so I'm sure that doesn't help tame the treble. Before the LCD-X arrived the HD800 was my most used headphone, but I got my LCD-X a few weeks ago and I always go through a honeymoon/burn-in phase so I rarely switch to my other headphones for a while. I sometimes think the HD800 can have a plasticy type sound but other times I think it is perfect. I can pick out the differences between gear the best with them so I figured I'd use them as much as possible. With the Teton, the bass is just fine, accurate, deep but is not as an integral part of the overall sound as with my other headphones. To me this is the nature of the HD800 and it has this quality to some degree on all the other amps I tried it with. If you upgrade to a good source it will help a lot in this area. But what the Teton does really well with the HD800 is soundstaging, imaging, and resolution - which are strengths of the HD800. It creates a huge sense of space with accurate imaging and never sounded diffuse to me. On certain recordings it's almost scary the way it sounds with its holographic effect. There are times when too large of a headphone soundstage becomes distracting to me. It brings me further away from the musicality and makes me pay attention to the pieces and technicalities rather than the whole. But the soundstaging here is immersive and does not detract from the emotional connection to the music. It flows effortlessly - a phrase often used to mean probably nothing special but I'm using it anyways. When there are two voices singing at the same time (The XX is a good example) it sounds very pleasing and voices are both clear and in their own sense of space. Ambient music is also very enjoyable. There are probably people wondering if the HD800 and Teton are the ultimate combo. The HD800 never sounded better to me except maybe on the Pinnacle. But I've also heard the HD800 sound almost just as good or about even (depending on your preferences) on different amps in the same general price range.


Volume and Noise:

No hum, no hiss, even with my highly sensitive headphones/IEMs. It's very close to completely dead quiet and this is important for me. I plugged in some of my sensitive full sized headphones to test this out further. The TH-900 and W3000Anv were dead quiet. The combination of a black silent background with a great volume control (not stepped) makes this a very versatile amp. Some people may not care too much for this but I find this to be one of the best qualities of this amp - it allows you to quickly get the perfect volume, with no background noise, no matter the sensitivity of the headphone.


IEMs - FitEar ToGo 334:

I normally don't use IEMs at home unless I really need to block out background noise. My closed headphones don't block out everything. So I was happy to see the Teton with an IEM mode. Previously it always sounded like there was a slight haze when using my IEMs in almost all my setups. Background noise is obvious straight from the DX100 and even more so from the ALO RXMK3. First thing I realized with the Teton was that it sounds dead quiet with music or no music playing. Then I realized how easy it was to get correct balance between the channels and the desired volume without fiddling with the volume knob. Sound-wise I enjoyed the bass and impact. Listening to Drake's new album when it went from quiet to loud thumping passages, I really felt those little buggers shake inside my ears. The space created was about as good as I think it gets with IEMs. I went into this review thinking I would just test out the IEM mode quickly to report how it worked in terms of noise and achieving the desired volume. I got drawn into the music and ended up using the 334s a lot. I think because it sounds somewhat neutral and fun at the same time, while being technically capable of achieving what most full size headphones can. It may sound silly to use IEMs on such an expensive big home amp but I assure you it's not. Hearing IEMs on my reference home source and the Teton rather than on my portable setup was a new discovery for me. For anyone wishing to use IEMs in their home setup, this is a great choice. I also tried the JH16 briefly and had similar thoughts.


Quick comparisons:

I never thought I'd think the ECBA is slow. I still don't think it is but the Teton is incredibly fast and clean in comparison. Things seem lively, dynamic, and in a more up-front sort of way where the ECBA seems a little more laid back. Both are extremely musical. Keep in mind the tubes I'm using with the ECBA are the EML 300B Mesh and TSRP 6SN7. I still love the ECBA but I have to give the nod to the Teton for detail/resolution and soundstaging. For me the ECBA is just as versatile as the Teton in that it sounds good with just about every headphone I own but the Teton has an added IEM mode, standby mode, and more juice. The ECBA has noticeably more pronounced bass (not better) but that probably has a lot to do with the EML Mesh tubes.  



I had the Liquid Glass for a month and enjoyed it but I enjoyed the Teton more. I've had some issues with Cavalli but the LG was a fun amp as I was able to roll in different tubes and tailor the sound to my headphones. It's sound changes a lot based on the tubes. With that said, I would rather pay the extra money for the Teton. It just seems more true to the source but then again you probably shouldn't buy the LG to be exactly true to the source. I also didn't like the limited amount of travel on the volume knob on the LG. The Teton allows for better volume control so I can easily use my sensitive headphones and not worry about fidgeting with the knob too much. The LG will not work well with very sensitive headphones and IEMs unless you get an adaptor with resistors. The one headphone that I really thought shined with the LG was the HD800. The HE-500 was pretty good but it is on most other amps I've had or tried. The LG was not a good match with the TH900.  Since I don't have the LG anymore I won't comment much further. I also have the Liquid Fire and the Teton outclasses it easily as expected.



If you're after detail and speed above all else, this is a great choice. Really extended and clean without being bright. You can hear all the little nuances in voices and instruments but it's not distracting like trying to blast hyperdetail into your brain. The natural layering and soul/flow of the music is still intact. Even in complex passages you can hear everything in its own space and imaging is accurate. The soundstage is both holographic and immense when it should. The bass is not lacking to me but it is not as prominent as with other amps and I can see this not being the best match for some depending on preference. I bet different tubes would change this.


And if you own the LCD-X you should try this amp. It was my favorite combo. I really enjoyed my time with the Teton and miss it. It's not cheap and I can't afford it right now but I'll probably be saving up for it soon. Pete and Todd - thanks for bringing this to market. It deserves serious attention from anyone looking for an unbalanced dynamic amp in this price range. 

post #57 of 67
Thanks for a very informative review. I enjoyed listening to it at RMAF this year.
post #58 of 67

Not a good NAME for an piece of gear...

post #59 of 67
Thread Starter 

Well we have been naming all of the Apex gear after mountains or mountain formations - the Butte, Pinnacle, Arete, Peak - so the Teton is after the Grand Tetons in Wyoming.


And is there anything more pleasant to look at than a teton?



post #60 of 67
Originally Posted by Todd View Post

Well we have been naming all of the Apex gear after mountains or mountain formations - the Butte, Pinnacle, Arete, Peak - so the Teton is after the Grand Tetons in Wyoming.


And is there anything more pleasant to look at than a teton?




True. Are the amps made inplants?

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