I have never had or heard a tube amp before. So I did not know what to expect with this amp. In my mind tube amps were supposed to be warm and mid focused. This was definitely not the case on the Pinnacle 2. The Liquid carbon I have sounds much warmer than this amp. Tube rolling was also fun to do. I used the Sylvania tube for the majority of my listening. It sounded the best for me. The Sophie and Electro Harmonix sounded a bit cluttered for my taste. Also as the source I used a iFi iDSD nano with RCA output and the standard setting on the filter. No EQ was used.
Pinnacle 2 Specifications
Tube complement: Input - one 6SN7 •Output - two PX4, Sophia (standard)
Inputs: Three, all with XLR and RCA connectors, balanced or unbalanced
Line output: XLR and RCA, balanced or unbalanced
Volume control: High quality 47-step attenuator
Headphone outputs: 1/4" TRS unbalanced, 4-pin XLR balanced • Can drive loads from 16 ohms and up.
Dimensions: Amplifier - 17" wide x 3" tall x 11" deep • Power supply - 17" wide x 3" tall x 11" deep
Power: 120V or 240V, 50/60Hz, 100 Watts
Maximum gain High Impedance: 27dB
Low impedance: 21dB
All can be reduced by 6dB via rear panel gain selection switch
Maximum output High Impedance into 150 ohms: 27V RMS
Low impedance into 32 ohms: 10V RMS
IEM into 16 ohms: 1.6V RM
Frequency response 20Hz – 40kHz +/- 0.5dB
the pinnacle is built like a tank. I mean the sheer weight and all around metal construction assures me that this thing will last for decades. It looks beautiful in a black brushed metal finish, and those beautiful tubes just add to the beauty of this amp. While there is a led intensity knob in the back of the unit, I would have liked to completely turn the led indicators off. The knobs deserve a spot on the build quality section of this amp. They have a nice grip and a satisfying click when you change from one setting to another. The volume knob does not have the grippy texture on it. While changing the volume I did notice the tiniest sound of “tsk”. It was only hear on very low volume music.
Murder One – Metallica
HD6xx – I would have liked a bit more crunch on this song. One thing it was increase the bass and also the soundstage. While it increased the quantity of bass it was a bit loose. Imaging on the other hand was impressive as I could hear the bass line from main riff very clearly
Jhaudio 10x3 – I was surpised to find out that this massive behemoth of an amp was able to drive sensitive iems without a problem. It did take out some of the crunch from the song, but it increased the soundstage by a very noticeable way. It did make the bass a bit out of control. Though it did not seem to leak into the mids. No background hiss
Spanish Harlem - Rebecca Pidgeon
Jhaudio 10x3 – unlike the track murder one, the bassline on this song was presented beautifully. It sounded very full and very real. The female voice and the violins sounded amazing. The shakers that were played in the background sounded so lifelike in this song. I had to listen to the song again to make sure that I was hearing it properly.
hd6xx – I almost fell asleep on the couch listening to this on the HD6xx. It was so soothing and sweet to the ears. The female voice and the violins were so beautiful. The shakers did not sound as clear as it did on the 10x3. It sounded distant and it also lost detail. The bassline was just the tiniest bit loose sounding. I only picked it up when I listened to it critically
Full Moon in Paris – Amber Rubarth
hd6xx – by far the most beautiful presentation I’ve heard of this song. Wow! Ambers voice is incredibly detailed and so soothing to listen to. The cello has the most realistic sound. The imaging is just out of this world. There is a Cajun playing on the right year and the placement of where it plays and how separate it sounds is just so amazing. The bass, mids and treble are just spot on this track through this amp.
Jhaudio 10x3 – this song did not sound anywhere even close to how good it sounded to how good it sounded on the HD6xx. The female voice and the violin was sibilant at times. The bass sounded overpowering. It did however increased the width of the soundstage.
NFB 11.28 vs Pinnacle 2 – while I did not have the NFB 11.28 when did the testing the P2. The sound signature on the 11.28 was much more cooler than the pinnacle 2. the nfb 11.28 also had more output on the single ended side. The treble was much nicer on the 11.28. soundstage and imaging were greater on the pinnacle 2
Gilmore Lite mk2 vs. Pinnacle 2 – the pinnacle and the Gilmore lite kinda has the same tone. While the bass has more quantity on the p2, I prefer the tighter more controlled bass on the Gilmore lite mk2. The Gilmore is preferred on genres like metal where a faster and tighter bass sounds better. The p2 definitely has more soundstage width and better imaging.
Massdrop Liquid Carbon vs Pinncale 2 – the Liquid carbon sounds much more warmer than the P2. The P2 definitely had more soundstage compared to the LC. the LC sounded more intimate which I preferred on some tracks. While both amps are very enjoyable to listen to, I prefer the P2 cause of the greater soundstage and also imaging capabilities of it.
for $12,000 I had very high expectations. There are probably around 50 people in the world who would invest this much money for a headphone amp. Almost 97% of my expectations were met or superseded. One thing you can’t look past is how beautiful and how well made the amp is. Sound wise, undoubtedly, it’s the best sounding amp I have heard so far. It did have some issues here and there. Mostly in the bass, in some tracks the bass was loose and slow. Also when I listened to a test track that sweeps through 8 Hz to 10kHz there was a roll off around the 4k-6k point. I don’t know if it was the Sylvania tube I had or just a characteristic of the amp. Soundstage and imaging were the best pros of the amp. I had never tried a tube amp before, so my expectations for tube amps have been set really high with this one.
Almost forgot to mention the very nice Nordost power cable that was included. It felt very high quality, but also a bit unwieldy. Kind of wish it was bit less thick. The $12,000 question is, Would I pay that much money to own this amp? At the moment no. as much as I love the amp I don’t see myself owning one anytime soon. Mostly cause I can’t afford it, but also since you could get around 80- 85% of the performance through something that is 1/10th of the price of this. If I did have the funds I would just buy one right away. since this is my first tube amp it has set the bar really high for other tube amps, which I highly doubt will come even close to this beauty. Thanks again to Todd from TTVJ for including me and letting me try out the amp.
PS : one interesting thing that I found out was that there was some mechanical noise that I was able to hear through my headphones. Like reducing the volume all the way down to 0 would make a sound like a gong in the headphones. Also when the impedance setting was high these sounds were louder. They were very apparent with iems.