Apex High-Fi Audio Peak and Volcano

General Information

The Peak headphone amp/preamp was designed by Pete Millett and sold exclusively through TTVJ.

The Peak is a hybrid amplifier using a 6SN7 input tube and a class A MOSFET output stage. The Peak comes with a standard multi voltage power supply or can be upgraded with the Volcano power supply.

A 1/4" jack is provided for headphone use. There are 3 inputs on the amp and 1 pre amp output.

Unique design as well as high quality parts make this amp sound so good and yet affordable.

Hand built in the USA!

Latest reviews

Pros: Open, liquid sound, reliable, made in USA
Cons: not portable, 2 boxes, needs separate DAC (if desired)
I purchased this from Todd the Vinyl Junkie along with a pair of Audeze LCD-3's. I had already decided to buy the Audeze's, and the Peak/Volcano was the #1 choice on this forum, and Todd offers a great return policy, so I felt confident in my purchase. I was more than satisfied with the result.
My source material comes  from my Macbook Pro running Audirvana Plus, feeding into one of two devices I have with high-end DACs. One of those devices is an OPPO BDP 105 that has been upgraded by The Upgrade Company in Michigan. This is a fantastic sounding player with its own headphone jack, but the sound quality was definitely better feeding the analog out from that device into the Peak/Volcano than using the Oppo directly.
As chance would have it, I needed to sell the preamp from my main system. That preamp was a Mark Levinson No. 32, which sells for about 7 times the cost of the Peak / Volcano. However, any port in a storm. I had ordered an integrated amp, but it took many months to arrive, and so I used the Peak / Volcano as my primary preamp for those months, in a system in which the wires were more expensive than that preamp. While I won't pretend that it was as good as the No. 32, it did remarkably well--really, outstanding for its price. It includes three single-ended inputs and single ended line out connecters. There's no remote control--just a volume knob, a standby knob, and an input selector--but I was amazed at how well it did. Compared with the far more expensive gear I was used to, its primary drawback was just a bit of emphasis on the upper bass--a feature that many users will probably appreciate (I tend to go for absolute neutrality).
I have only listed to it with the supplied Sophia Electric 6SN7 tube, although I have enjoyed reading the forums talking about tube rolling. During thie past 6 months, it has been totally reliable and consistent.
Back to its use as a headphone amp: I can't claim a fully accurate comparison, but it has sounded better than any of the headphone amps I have listened to in stores. Given that its sound quality as a system preamp matches that of preamps costing twice its price (although typically with better cosmetics and remotes), I would recommend it wholeheartedly. Adding to that is my appreciation for Todd and his very helpful policies, which take the risk out of auditioning it.
Pros: Powerful, yet balanced and detailed sound.
Cons: Stacking the units caused a feedback sound to my headphones.
Apex High-Fi Audio Peak and Volcano
You can read about the specs from the description and the other reviews.
There is a reason this set-up is listed as the most popular headphone amp - the audio quality and design and nothing short of amazing.
I am a noob in the headfi community.  I have been a member for just over a year now and have been able to make it to the mid-tier of headphones and headphone amps.  The HD800, LCD3, HE600 are still out of reach for my budget.  For this review I used the Hifiman HE4, Hifiman HE5LE, and the Denon 5000 to listen to my music.  My sources were my mac mini, iPhone, and Hifiman 601 player all using Flac or lossless music.  I listened to classical, classic rock, rap, r&b, and hip-hop.
The Apex High-Fi Audio Peak and Volcano was loaned to me by Todd, the CEO of Apex.  He was kind enough to let me demo his unit and because I loved it so much it is going to be my next big purchase.  
I have been using all of my headphones for the past few months with a Hifiman EF2A entry level tube amp and a Nuforce ICON HDP amp/dac.  Because I am so new to this hobby, this setup kept me more than happy, in fact I was in love with the combination of headphones I have as well as both amps.  I was up late one night and saw there was a demo program for Todd's amp/power supply combo.  Just like most of you, my curiosity got the best of me and I asked to take part in the program.  Todd responded to me the next day and within 2 more days the unit was shipped to me to San Diego all the way from Michigan.  This demo program costs a lot of money just to ship the unit.  So, thank you Todd for your generosity.  But by no means, is this review a reflection of his kindness.  It wouldn't be fair to anyone if I wrote this review under the influence of his kindness.  I read all of your reviews and trust that your reviews are your own thoughts because that's most likely where I will be spending my money next.  Sorry for the long winded explanation, but now onto the review.
The first thing I noticed when I unboxed the demo unit was the build quality.  Just by the looks and feel, I have no doubt that this setup would last years and years before anything failed.  I would have no issues buying this unit used on headfi because I know that any unit used responsibly will last me forever.  Unfortuneatly I never see these used, probably because the owners don't want to part ways with this set-up.
Second, it literally took me 2 minutes to set the unit up.  One power cord from the power supply to the amp, insert the tube and plug in the power cord into the wall.  I then hooked up my mac mini to listen to Apple lossless music with all three of my headphones for a hour a night for 4-5 nights for each set-up.  The most impressive trait of the unit is the clean and clear sound of the music.  Nothing is over expressed - the power had a balanced natural sound that enhanced and got the most out of all three of my headphones.  The biggest surprise to me was with the Denon 5000.  Before I demoed the Apex set up, I never really enjoyed my Denon's.  I thought the bass was too muddled and the sound was too unbalanced for me.  But I do prefer Hifiman headphones because I prefer the sound of the orthodynamics- they are more balanced and clearer in my opinion(I know all of this is subjective though).  The 5000's were my first headphones to demo and it was instantly clear how clean the power output is.  The denon's became enjoyable to listen to.  The bass became so much clearer and less muddled that I actually enjoyed listening to them for the first time ever.  I was on the verge of listing them on headfi to sell, but I realized that my problem was the amp.  It was that or commit more money and send them away to get modded...Now I can keep them as they are and when I want that closed sound I just need to buy my own Apex setup.
I then used my hifiman headphones with the hifiman 601 and I was amazed.  I no longer have the desire to buy the HD800's or the LCD3's...I am in love with this setup.  I haven't purchased a single new headphone after demoing the APEX unit.  I realized that the APEX brought out the best of my hifiman 601 and the headphones.  A lot of people complain about the high sound that comes out of the Hifiman ortho's and it is true with the Nuforce HDP.  The high treble sound puts too much pressure on my ears and my ears get fatigued quickly.  With the Apex Peak I listened to the headphones for hours.  My wife actually came and got me out of the office to go to bed.  I was listening to my music until 3am...I had listened to all the genres of music I have for 4 hours straight.  It was one of those moments where I completely tuned into my music and nothing else existed.  That was it for me...I knew I had reached and end to desire more expensive gear.
I know this review isn't technical - I apologize I don't know as much as all of you in that sense.  I do know what sounds good though and this is it.
There is a reason this AMP is number one on the headfi list and it is because the sound is amazingly awesome.  For me, this will be my next purchase.  If anyone has one they want to sell to me, send me a PM.  If I missed something in this review that you would like to know, please send me a PM.
Nice review! Haha, kind of interesting though that you say you can't afford the HD-800, LCD-3, etc but the Peak and Volcano are gonna be your next purchase? Do you believe that amplification is more important than source/transducer? Interesting
Pros: Speed, clarity, incision, impact, separation, dimension.
Cons: Very slight emphasis on upper frequencies.
I was listening to music through the Peak yesterday.  And it was such a thrilling listening session.  However, I did something unusual: I stopped.
I hit the pause button after a particularly great song, and took off the headphones.  I held my breath for a moment, and closed my eyes.  I wanted to remember this moment.  Just in case it never sounded this good again.
"That was it," I said to myself.  The place I've been trying to find for a few years now.
Then, as I recalled the long and expensive journey that got me here, I became a little upset with myself.
I was upset with all the money I had spent on "audiophile headphone amps" which, as it turns out, left so much to be desired.  Then I thought to myself:  Without that journey, would I be able to appreciate just how good this amp truly is?  Probably not, I concluded.  But I suppose I'll never know for sure.
So, I came back to the Peak today, and began listening.  And, you know what?  The magic is still there.
The music is immediate, alluring, and crystyal clear.  It is exceptionally well defined, but never analytical.  I can follow each instrument, and locate it spacially.  From the moment of attack, all the way through its decay.  Transients are incredible, but the music never becomes shouty.  In fact, the control through busier passages is something of a revelation to me. 
I will admit that I hear something of an emphasis on the upper frequencies, as others have.  But I will go one further in saying that my ears have been listening to tube amps for a while now, and I'm fairly certain that there's simply more high frequency information here than I'm accustomed to.
In summation:  This amp is fantastic.  That's just all there is to it.
Update - May 2012:
I just purchased my second Peak/Volcano, giving me matching (sort of) work and home rigs.
And I am pleased to report that the standby and power lights on the Peak/Volcano now are matching yellow, in lieu of the green standby LED used in the first batch.  A subtle change, sure, but one that makes the Peak/Volcano a touch better looking when switched off. 

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