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post #31 of 235
Thread Starter 

I have been listening the Teton and the 4-45 again tonight, doing more critical side-by-side comparisons. I want to offer a bit more insight into the differences between the two amps, at least as I heard them tonight through my HD800s. 

 

I have been listening to Frank Ocean's Channel Orange and Tame Impala's Lonerism, both of which I have listened to many times before through headphones or speakers.  Both are in the rock genre, with multiple instrumentalists.  The vocals at times are multi-tracked and backup singers are brought into the mix on both albums.  Channel Orange is very well recorded.  Tame Impala is not a poor recording, but is not mastered nearly as well as Channel Orange.

 

The major noticeable difference is that the Teton offers more detail and resolution at all frequencies, but especially in the mid-range.  On Channel Orange, Ocean's voice through the 4-45 sounds comparatively recessed, lacks a bit of texture, and the backup singing and other vocal tracks are less distinct.  On the Teton, Ocean's voice, the additional vocal tracks, and the backup singing have textural detail that is comparatively MIA on the 4-45.  The Teton creates this detail without sounding clinical and as a result feels more musically insightful than the 4-45.  The same improved  detail also applies to the treble and the bass of the Teton, so the Teton creates a greater sense of air and it images better than the 4-45, especially front to back.  The Teton also has better bass than the 4-45.  That was my initial impression and it is confirmed again tonight.  Bass guitar and kick drums seem ever so slightly attenuated on the 4-45 compared to the Teton.

 

The Teton is a faster sounding amp than the 4-45.  The Teton's dynamics are simply exceptional.  When I listen to the 4-45, the contrasts between loud and soft passages are not quite as evident. 

 

The 4-45 has a bigger soundstage.  I like this aspect of the 4-45 in general, but at times the soundstage comes across a bit like a "wall of sound". Maybe I am not a "soundstage monster".  I own expensive speakers, the Behold Tanara, that create a more realistic soundstage than any headphone I have ever heard.

 

The 4-45 is certainly not a boring amp, but it didn't attract the same rapt attention as the Teton did tonight. For most music, the Teton is just more musically immersive.  Yes, someone dubbed the 4-45 the "God amp".  If so, I am not sure what to call the Teton, which in the most important respects sounds better than the 4-45.  

post #32 of 235

Really appreciate the great insight here, I am just concerning about the performance of both amp on Low-z headphones like Fostex, Grado and Sony. Because it is an OTL amp, so I am not sure if it will work well with low-z headphones. Based on my experience with EC2A3MKIV, I think 445 should be able to handle various headphones including most sensitive ones. I am also considering buying Teton but just wondering how good it sounds with low-z headphones. 

 

But I think the design goal for this amp is mainly for high impedance headphones like HD800, LCD-3 F. Really there is no point to ask it to perform well for low impedance headphones too. Maybe if I am only allowed to have one amp, 445 would be a better buy? I am still really tempted by Teton. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by minimus View Post
 

I have been listening the Teton and the 4-45 again tonight, doing more critical side-by-side comparisons. I want to offer a bit more insight into the differences between the two amps, at least as I heard them tonight through my HD800s. 

 

I have been listening to Frank Ocean's Channel Orange and Tame Impala's Lonerism, both of which I have listened to many times before through headphones or speakers.  Both are in the rock genre, with multiple instrumentalists.  The vocals at times are multi-tracked and backup singers are brought into the mix on both albums.  Channel Orange is very well recorded.  Tame Impala is not a poor recording, but is not mastered nearly as well as Channel Orange.

 

The major noticeable difference is that the Teton offers more detail and resolution at all frequencies, but especially in the mid-range.  On Channel Orange, Ocean's voice through the 4-45 sounds comparatively recessed, lacks a bit of texture, and the backup singing and other vocal tracks are less distinct.  On the Teton, Ocean's voice, the additional vocal tracks, and the backup singing have textural detail that is comparatively MIA on the 4-45.  The Teton creates this detail without sounding clinical and as a result feels more musically insightful than the 4-45.  The same improved  detail also applies to the treble and the bass of the Teton, so the Teton creates a greater sense of air and it images better than the 4-45, especially front to back.  The Teton also has better bass than the 4-45.  That was my initial impression and it is confirmed again tonight.  Bass guitar and kick drums seem ever so slightly attenuated on the 4-45 compared to the Teton.

 

The Teton is a faster sounding amp than the 4-45.  The Teton's dynamics are simply exceptional.  When I listen to the 4-45, the contrasts between loud and soft passages are not quite as evident. 

 

The 4-45 has a bigger soundstage.  I like this aspect of the 4-45 in general, but at times the soundstage comes across a bit like a "wall of sound". Maybe I am not a "soundstage monster".  I own expensive speakers, the Behold Tanara, that create a more realistic soundstage than any headphone I have ever heard.

 

The 4-45 is certainly not a boring amp, but it didn't attract the same rapt attention as the Teton did tonight. For most music, the Teton is just more musically immersive.  Yes, someone dubbed the 4-45 the "God amp".  If so, I am not sure what to call the Teton, which in the most important respects sounds better than the 4-45.  


Edited by chengka7 - 9/3/14 at 9:46pm
post #33 of 235

:D

Summary, teton beats eddie current 445  to the bottom!

post #34 of 235

lol

post #35 of 235
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chengka7 View Post
 

Really appreciate the great insight here, I am just concerning about the performance of both amp on Low-z headphones like Fostex, Grado and Sony. Because it is an OTL amp, so I am not sure if it will work well with low-z headphones. Based on my experience with EC2A3MKIV, I think 445 should be able to handle various headphones including most sensitive ones. I am also considering buying Teton but just wondering how good it sounds with low-z headphones.

 

But I think the design goal for this amp is mainly for high impedance headphones like HD800, LCD-3 F. Really there is no point to ask it to perform well for low impedance headphones too. Maybe if I am only allowed to have one amp, 445 would be a better buy? I am still really tempted by Teton.

 

As Decur said, the Teton + HD800 gets you pretty close to the Blue Hawaii Special Edition + Stax SR009.  I certainly feel that the Teton + HD800 is significantly better than any other dynamic setup I have heard or owned.  So, one option would be to think of your other headphones as "sunk costs" and buy a pair of HD800s to go with the Teton.  That is essentially how I think about my surplus of headphones.  I own the LCD-2, the JH Audio Roxannes, and the JH Audio JH16.  I paid full price for them but no longer have any desire to use them -- ever.  They just don't come close to the experience of listening to well-recorded music on the HD800s and the Teton.

 

But if you have too much invested in low-z headphones or need them for some other reason, then the OTL design of the Teton probably is not ideal.  In that case, another choice like the 4-45 will work.

post #36 of 235

Thanks for the advise, really tempted trying Teton, My 445 will be coming in 2 weeks, and I think I will also get a Teton after I sold my 2A3MKIV. 

post #37 of 235
Quote:
Originally Posted by minimus View Post
 

I have been listening the Teton and the 4-45 again tonight, doing more critical side-by-side comparisons. I want to offer a bit more insight into the differences between the two amps, at least as I heard them tonight through my HD800s. 

 

I have been listening to Frank Ocean's Channel Orange and Tame Impala's Lonerism, both of which I have listened to many times before through headphones or speakers.  Both are in the rock genre, with multiple instrumentalists.  The vocals at times are multi-tracked and backup singers are brought into the mix on both albums.  Channel Orange is very well recorded.  Tame Impala is not a poor recording, but is not mastered nearly as well as Channel Orange.

 

The major noticeable difference is that the Teton offers more detail and resolution at all frequencies, but especially in the mid-range.  On Channel Orange, Ocean's voice through the 4-45 sounds comparatively recessed, lacks a bit of texture, and the backup singing and other vocal tracks are less distinct.  On the Teton, Ocean's voice, the additional vocal tracks, and the backup singing have textural detail that is comparatively MIA on the 4-45.  The Teton creates this detail without sounding clinical and as a result feels more musically insightful than the 4-45.  The same improved  detail also applies to the treble and the bass of the Teton, so the Teton creates a greater sense of air and it images better than the 4-45, especially front to back.  The Teton also has better bass than the 4-45.  That was my initial impression and it is confirmed again tonight.  Bass guitar and kick drums seem ever so slightly attenuated on the 4-45 compared to the Teton.

 

The Teton is a faster sounding amp than the 4-45.  The Teton's dynamics are simply exceptional.  When I listen to the 4-45, the contrasts between loud and soft passages are not quite as evident. 

 

The 4-45 has a bigger soundstage.  I like this aspect of the 4-45 in general, but at times the soundstage comes across a bit like a "wall of sound". Maybe I am not a "soundstage monster".  I own expensive speakers, the Behold Tanara, that create a more realistic soundstage than any headphone I have ever heard.

 

The 4-45 is certainly not a boring amp, but it didn't attract the same rapt attention as the Teton did tonight. For most music, the Teton is just more musically immersive.  Yes, someone dubbed the 4-45 the "God amp".  If so, I am not sure what to call the Teton, which in the most important respects sounds better than the 4-45.  

 

Thank you so much for your comparison. I have the 4-45 on order. Does the Teton have at much output juice to power HE6, or speaker outputs? To me, that will be the key distinguishing factor between the EC 4-45 and the Teton (or Pinnacle). I'm not interested in buying the best headamp for dynamics, I need an amp that can also drive the HE6 and speakers, partly because it will replace my WA5 and partly because I'm waiting for the BHSE:P

post #38 of 235
Thread Starter 
The Teton
Quote:
Originally Posted by lojay View Post

Thank you so much for your comparison. I have the 4-45 on order. Does the Teton have at much output juice to power HE6, or speaker outputs? To me, that will be the key distinguishing factor between the EC 4-45 and the Teton (or Pinnacle). I'm not interested in buying the best headamp for dynamics, I need an amp that can also drive the HE6 and speakers, partly because it will replace my WA5 and partly because I'm waiting for the BHSE:P

The Teton is a preamp, with RCA outs. It does not have speaker binding posts. So to use it with speakers, you would need to connect it to a power amp first.
post #39 of 235
Quote:
Originally Posted by minimus View Post

The Teton
The Teton is a preamp, with RCA outs. It does not have speaker binding posts. So to use it with speakers, you would need to connect it to a power amp first.

 

Thanks Minimus. After extended listening would you say that the 445 sounds more similar than dissimilar than the Teton, or that the two are more or less in the same class? In your words would you still say that "both amps are head and shoulders above the competition"? I ask this because my understanding of what you are saying is that the Teton is the more resolving amp compared to the 445, noticeably but not by much, and it seems to me you are just trying to identify the subtle differences which when described in the form of words may sound like "teton beats eddie current 445 to the bottom" (as per one member above). 

 

If you have the time, would you mind sharing with us which one you think is richer or with more body or with a more realistic tone of instruments of voices? i do enjoy a bit of tube warmth and a more engaging tone.

 

Not that your answers will deter me from buying the 445, which I need to drive speakers and the HE6, but I am interested because I have a nice stash of 6SN7 and 5U4G / U52 tubes and might consider the Teton one day!

post #40 of 235
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lojay View Post
 

 

Thanks Minimus. After extended listening would you say that the 445 sounds more similar than dissimilar than the Teton, or that the two are more or less in the same class? In your words would you still say that "both amps are head and shoulders above the competition"? I ask this because my understanding of what you are saying is that the Teton is the more resolving amp compared to the 445, noticeably but not by much, and it seems to me you are just trying to identify the subtle differences which when described in the form of words may sound like "teton beats eddie current 445 to the bottom" (as per one member above). 

 

If you have the time, would you mind sharing with us which one you think is richer or with more body or with a more realistic tone of instruments of voices? i do enjoy a bit of tube warmth and a more engaging tone.

 

Not that your answers will deter me from buying the 445, which I need to drive speakers and the HE6, but I am interested because I have a nice stash of 6SN7 and 5U4G / U52 tubes and might consider the Teton one day!

 

Well, when you get to a certain price point, you are primarily talking about subtleties, not night-and-day differences.  Both amps are significantly better than other amps I have owned -- including the WA22, the Luxman P-1u, the Singlepower Extreme, and the Eddie Current Super 7.  They are better than other headphone amps, including the WA5, I have heard at shows.

 

I received the Teton a few months before I received the 4-45.  When I first heard the Teton, I was awestruck by how good it sounded.  When I first heard the 4-45 two months later, I was disappointed and underwhelmed.  After doing a lot of tube upgrading of the 4-45, I now feel the differences between the two amps are mostly subtle, unless the recording quality of the source material is really good.  On really well-recorded music, I feel that the differences become more pronounced, with the Teton surpassing the 4-45 in resolution, detail, tone, and imaging.  I do feel that the Teton is capable of producing more realistic tone of instruments and voices. Of course, this assessment is based on the tubes I have chosen for each amp, my source equipment, the fact that I really only use the HD800s these days, and my listening priorities.

 

Let me put it this way.  If I could go back in time, I would cancel my order of the 4-45.  On the other hand, if the Teton fell off my equipment rack and shattered into a dozen pieces, I wouldn't feel the need to order another one, certainly not immediately.  The 4-45 on most music is close enough and, in my mind, it only pales slightly in comparison to the Teton.   

post #41 of 235
Quote:
Originally Posted by minimus View Post

Well, when you get to a certain price point, you are primarily talking about subtleties, not night-and-day differences.  Both amps are significantly better than other amps I have owned -- including the WA22, the Luxman P-1u, the Singlepower Extreme, and the Eddie Current Super 7.  They are better than other headphone amps, including the WA5, I have heard at shows.

I received the Teton a few months before I received the 4-45.  When I first heard the Teton, I was awestruck by how good it sounded.  When I first heard the 4-45 two months later, I was disappointed and underwhelmed.  After doing a lot of tube upgrading of the 4-45, I now feel the differences between the two amps are mostly subtle, unless the recording quality of the source material is really good.  On really well-recorded music, I feel that the differences become more pronounced, with the Teton surpassing the 4-45 in resolution, detail, tone, and imaging.  I do feel that the Teton is capable of producing more realistic tone of instruments and voices. Of course, this assessment is based on the tubes I have chosen for each amp, my source equipment, the fact that I really only use the HD800s these days, and my listening priorities.

Let me put it this way.  If I could go back in time, I would cancel my order of the 4-45.  On the other hand, if the Teton fell off my equipment rack and shattered into a dozen pieces, I wouldn't feel the need to order another one, certainly not immediately.  The 4-45 on most music is close enough and, in my mind, it only pales slightly in comparison to the Teton.   

Thank you, that is a very clear and thoughtful response. It is helpful to know the limits of your equipment and compare it to ones in the same class. When it gets to this price point it is not financially feasible for me to buy all of these amps, roll them to their optimum tube combination, and compare. I can only experience these amps and hear these differences vicariously through the ears and experience of others.

It seems that I will enjoy the 445, subject to the right tube combination. Without hijacking this thread, do you the old stock RCA 45s and WE 417A will do the 445 justice?
Edited by lojay - 9/7/14 at 6:01pm
post #42 of 235
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lojay View Post

It seems that I will enjoy the 445, subject to the right tube combination. Without hijacking this thread, do you the old stock RCA 45s and WE 417A will do the 445 justice?

 

Not a problem.  For the 4-45, I bought a matched quad of RCA "globe" 45s and a matched pair of WE 417As from Andy Bowman at Vintage Tube Services.  Craig Uthus, the man behind Eddie Current, in an email to me said he prefers the NOS 45s to all current production 45s, that the former sound "more like music" than the latter.  He does not think very highly of any of the current production EML 45s on the market, although some 4-45 owners seem to like EMLs.  When it comes to EMLs, the price of entry is high and long-term reliability is open to question, so why bother if the amp manufacturer doesn't even like the EML brand all that much?  Andy Bowman at Vintage Tube Services, who is a big fan of the 45 triode tube and keeps a large stock on hand, told me the "globe" version of this tube is the best sounding and the most rare of the 45s still available.  He also thought highly of the WE 417A and gave me a good price for a set of them.  All in, the 6 tubes I bought for the 4-45 cost me around $1,000.  I would not source these tubes on eBay.  The 45 tube rarely shows up there as a matched quad, and prices seem exorbitant.  I feel I got a good deal relative to what I would have paid on eBay for the 6 tubes I bought at Vintage Tube Services.

 

Back to the topic of this thread: It is a shame that the Teton gets overlooked relative to the 4-45.  I am not sure why.  Since getting involved in this hobby 8 years ago, Pete Millett, the man who builds and designs all the Apex amps, has had an impeccable reputation as an amp designer.  Unlike some amp builders, he does not maintain a high profile on this or other audio forums (except DIY).  Maybe the $5,000 price of entry is too daunting for many.  I will say that I have owned some very expensive stereo components in the last decade, some costing as much as $30K, and the Teton is among the top four I have owned -- on par with the VAC Phi 200, the Behold Gentle G192, and the Behold Tanara speaker.

post #43 of 235
Quote:
Originally Posted by minimus View Post
 

 

Not a problem.  For the 4-45, I bought a matched quad of RCA "globe" 45s and a matched pair of WE 417As from Andy Bowman at Vintage Tube Services.  Craig Uthus, the man behind Eddie Current, in an email to me said he prefers the NOS 45s to all current production 45s, that the former sound "more like music" than the latter.  He does not think very highly of any of the current production EML 45s on the market, although some 4-45 owners seem to like EMLs.  When it comes to EMLs, the price of entry is high and long-term reliability is open to question, so why bother if the amp manufacturer doesn't even like the EML brand all that much?  Andy Bowman at Vintage Tube Services, who is a big fan of the 45 triode tube and keeps a large stock on hand, told me the "globe" version of this tube is the best sounding and the most rare of the 45s still available.  He also thought highly of the WE 417A and gave me a good price for a set of them.  All in, the 6 tubes I bought for the 4-45 cost me around $1,000.  I would not source these tubes on eBay.  The 45 tube rarely shows up there as a matched quad, and prices seem exorbitant.  I feel I got a good deal relative to what I would have paid on eBay for the 6 tubes I bought at Vintage Tube Services.

 

Back to the topic of this thread: It is a shame that the Teton gets overlooked relative to the 4-45.  I am not sure why.  Since getting involved in this hobby 8 years ago, Pete Millett, the man who builds and designs all the Apex amps, has had an impeccable reputation as an amp designer.  Unlike some amp builders, he does not maintain a high profile on this or other audio forums (except DIY).  Maybe the $5,000 price of entry is too daunting for many.  I will say that I have owned some very expensive stereo components in the last decade, some costing as much as $30K, and the Teton is among the top four I have owned -- on par with the VAC Phi 200, the Behold Gentle G192, and the Behold Tanara speaker.

 

Thank you for the reference. I will check with Andy but it seems he only responds to telephone calls. An old fashioned tube vendor he is! 

 

US$1,000 for the quad alone would be a good deal. In my locality, there's a quad set of De Forest 45 globes selling used online (and without any indication on how used these are) for more than US$1,000. Perhaps the fact that those tubes were produced by the father of triodes is used to justify the exorbitant price but it just doesn't cut it for me.

 

I've been involved in the hobby 10 years ago since I've joined headfi, and I recall that the top names were Pete, Kevin Gilmore and Mikhail. Of the three only two remain reputable. I think the EC 4-45 is getting more air time on headfi because its proponents are more vocal and because the ECBA has achieved a near godly status whilst being far more affordable than Pete's recent top of the line offerings like the Pinnacle, which enables Craig to gather a following of people who actually own his amps.

 

I might be considering the Pinnacle as my next step, but for now, I will wait for the BHSE for the SR-009. The Teton is surely an interesting choice if one enjoys the HD800 as the primary headphone. The postscript in Inner Fidelity's review of the Teton suggests that the Teton may not be designed for relatively low-impedance planars, and I doubt it will drive the HE6 satisfactorily given its appetite for power.


Edited by lojay - 9/7/14 at 11:13pm
post #44 of 235

Todd told me Teton has the power driving all the current production headphones, so I assume it should have the power drive HE6

post #45 of 235

Just ordered my Teton, really looking forward to it. 

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