Apex Pinnacle2 and Pinnacle2 Ultra Loaner program
Jan 2, 2018 at 1:30 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 25


Headphone Vinyl Meister
Member of the Trade: TTVJ Audio
Jun 21, 2001
HI All,

This loaner program is going to be very limited. I will give first priority to those who purchased a Pinnacle or Teton from us. If you did not purchase one from us it will not exclude you from being able to participate. I will be limiting the participation of both amps to 3 people. and only 3! Then they will be going out to reviewers for online and magazine reviews.

We would ask if possible for the loaner units to be use both as a headphone amp and as a preamp.

The Pinnacle2 will be on its way to one of our good friends to kick off the reviews this Friday and there will be 3 more slots open.

The Pinnacle 2 Ultra will be going out for review in early to mid February. We sent the first unit out previously but it is not coming back... so a new unit will be available to 3 more loaner participants soon.

Standard TTVJ loaner rules apply -

Loaner Program Rules:

Send your name and address as well as a telephone number and your Head-Fi user name to me at todd@ttvjaudio.com. Do NOT PM me as you will not be included in the program without an email.

You will get the loaner for 1 week to use in your home with your system. After your one week is up, you must send it to the next loaner participant. Email me (todd@ttvjaudio.com) the tracking info so I can pass it on to the recipient.

You MUST write a review and post it in this loaner thread. It must be posted in the same thread as this announcement for the loaner program. Please post the review here first and feel free to post it somewhere else if you like!

Once you have received the loaner, email me to let me know you have it and I will send the address for the next person.

Our loaner programs are USA only.

If you live outside the USA, under the right circumstances we would consider sending a unit to a Head-Fi meet or for review by a few local Head-Fi members. A deposit for the Pinnacle2 or Ultra will be required for this to happen.

Jan 2, 2018 at 9:53 PM Post #2 of 25
@Todd wow man this is an awesome opportunity! Much to rich for my blood, as I've got no real experience with TOTL Tube amps, as always thanks for extending such awesome gear out to the community for touring!

Best of luck to those of you ready to give this thing a whirl!
Jan 2, 2018 at 10:45 PM Post #3 of 25
I am excited about this loaner program and hope I have a chance to participate. I have been researching different TOTL tube headphone amps. I have an "all tube" vinyl rig that desperately needs a tube headphone amp! I'd like to see how the Pinnacle pairs with my VPI turntable / Graham Slee phonostage.
Jan 3, 2018 at 6:03 AM Post #4 of 25
I'm based in Australia and would love the chance to compare the apex pinnacle 2 to my Eddie current studio. I'd be happy to cover postage as well as pay the deposit.
A full review would be written and posted to headfi
Jan 3, 2018 at 1:15 PM Post #5 of 25
Hi All,

I will post on Friday those who will be in the loaner program. So if you would like to participate please email me by Friday morning at 9am MST. For out of country loaners, that will happen after the US loaner program is completed.

I will consider your request Xecuter. Would there be more than one person able to hear the Pinnacle2 if we were to send it? It would be best to email me and we can continue this conversation... todd@ttvjaudio.com

Jan 4, 2018 at 1:51 PM Post #6 of 25
In the opening post, Todd says he sent the first unit out, but it’s not coming back. This is why:

I have been MIA on these boards for nearly seven years – but for the best of reasons. In 2010 and 2011 I went through one of my periodic upgrading spasms, and came out so happy I haven’t done much since then except listen to thousands of hours of music, always with great pleasure. My main system remains based on physical CDs, now played through a Parasound Halo CD1, into a hot-rod version of the original Apex Pinnacle, at first into the HD800, then for a spell into the Focal Utopia, and now into a recent pair of the HD800S.

I was happy as a clam. In the long term the Parasound has proved to be a great player. It works through a twenty-second RAM buffer, so really you’re listening to a bit-perfect computer file. I had a long-ish flirtation with the Focal Utopia, and it’s a terrific headphone. It’s warm, friendly, endlessly seductive, and it does absolutely nothing wrong and most things spectacularly well. Many times, at the end of a long session, I would think, wow, that’s a great headphone. Which was ultimately the problem. I wasn’t saying, wow, that was great music. Physically the Utopia feels like a headphone – comfortable, but slightly cramped and crushing all the same. Maybe in a subliminal way the sensation makes the brain see a fabulous vapor-deposited beryllium dome, instead of music floating in the air. So I tried the HD800S, which seemed to make perfect sense, to me at least. It was way more comfortable, and it fixed the tiny flaws in the 800, while enhancing the strengths.

The hot-rod Pinnacle was a constant delight throughout. I loved the standard Pinnacle – it was one of those steps forward that felt like walking through a door into a room you never knew existed. I wondered if there were any more doors and rooms, so I asked for a single-input, single-output version, no switching, no relays, no gain control, no nothing. And it sounded a little better. Maybe not a whole extra room. Maybe just a hallway or a lobby. But a great place to be. I hung out there for seven happy years.

Then Todd Green e-mailed from TTVJ, the Apex distributor. Did I want to be part of a loaner review program for the Pinnacle 2 Ultra? He told me the details. Originally I felt that Pete Millett, the Apex designer, must be one of those rare and precious guys, simultaneously 100% engineer and 100% lunatic. Now it sounded like he had upped the percentage on both. I said, sure, send the amp.

It would be totally unfair to call it a Pinnacle done right, because there was nothing done wrong with the Pinnacle in the first place. Really it’s a Pinnacle done in a spirit of inquiry – possibly cautious and even skeptical. It’s an engineer saying, yeah, theoretically these fantastically expensive transformers and these fantastically expensive capacitors and all these other fantastically expensive components should improve the result … but let’s see for ourselves, shall we?

And we do. It’s a door into another room. Mostly it’s about a huge, vast soundscape, inside which is locked a rock-solid three-dimensional image, immaculately detailed and stable and specific, so clear you feel you can step close to one performer and then another, and around them, and in fact so clear you can hear behind them. You can listen to a crazy reverb from a measure and a half ago cartwheeling away into the silent distance, miles and miles behind the front wall of sound, which is moving right along, throwing off crazy new reverbs, which you could follow if you want to, one, two, three seconds later. All of which is why the 800S is a natural match. If total clarity and extreme spaciousness is your thing, there is no better combination.

I’m not qualified to say what makes the difference. Probably all of it. The most visible change is a subtly more-expensive look – or at least less kitchen-table – and the huge Emission Labs PX4s. I’m not an expert on who owns who in terms of Czech corporations, so I don’t know if they’re just a label or a separate operation, but the tubes are physically magnificent, shapely and silvered, and they sound better than the Sophias or the KRs. Supplied is a NOS 6SN7 – I got a nice Sylvania VT231, shipped to the U.S. Navy in late 1962, maybe around the time of the missile crisis. It sounded great, but because everything else seemed so extraordinary, I broke out a UK Marconi-made B65 clone, at which point I decided to buy the amp. Which is why Todd isn’t getting it back for the loaner program. Looking ahead, with the 800S, I can’t imagine anything better for at least another seven more years.

It’s a lot of money – or is it? We all know you can get 90% of the very best for just a couple of grand. Maybe 95%, if you choose very carefully. Which, I feel, puts anything beyond a couple of grand into a different category. Now it competes against other discretionary things in your life. What brings you the most pleasure? Some people take world cruises. Some people like cars. Or motorbikes, or racing bikes. I like listening to great music at home, with complete focus and immersion. I would rather have a Pinnacle 2 Ultra than a Porsche or a Harley. So at 18k I’m saving tens of thousands of dollars. It’s a bargain.
Jan 5, 2018 at 4:15 PM Post #7 of 25
Hi All,

First, a big Thank You to InnerSpace for kicking off the loaner program with his review.

So, I do not have the Head-Fi user name for the first participant but here is what the lists looks like. I will be sending the Pinnacle2 out today to the first loaner (someone I know and had asked a while back to give it a listen).

The Pinnacle2 is shipping in a Pelican case to protect it from the bruising delivery people. Please pack it as it was shipped to you and notify me if there is any damage to anything inside. There are 3 6SN7 tubes included - the stock Electro Harmonics, a Sophia and a Sylvania that I like a lot. Please be careful with all of the tubes! The Pelican case weighs in at 80LBS! Be prepared to receive it and ship it out on time. 7 days in your system. Then off to the next person. I expanded the list to include 6 people total for the Pinnacle2. Have fun, enjoy and I look forward to your impressions on our newest headphone amplifier and preamp!


2. ngoshawk

3. Shenanbay

4. T Bone

5. gsr108

6. jerick70
Jan 10, 2018 at 10:41 AM Post #9 of 25
Hey everybody... I thought it might be useful for me to describe a bit about what's different between the original Pinnacle (hard to believe, but I've been building it for over 6 years) and the new Pinnacle 2.

You can see by looking at it that there are some cosmetic differences. But the main changes are inside...

The basic circuit topology is unchanged. The amplifier is still a single-ended circuit, using a 6SN7 coupled to a PX4, with transformers in and out.

The output transformers are new. The Pinnacle 2 uses C-core transformers, mounted on top of the amp under covers. The regular Pinnacle 2 uses a silicon iron core; the Pinnacle 2 ultra uses an amorphous iron core.

A change was made to the output signal routing, so you can now use balanced IEMs (the output selection and output impedance are now on two separate selector knobs). Also, a switch was added to the back of the amp that allows you to lower the gain by 6dB for all modes.

The stepped attenuator was upgraded to one with 47 steps, to give more resolution in volume setting. Many people found that 24 steps was not enough.

Numerous component changes and upgrades were made, many reflecting the improvements in parts that are available now as compared to 6 years ago.

The Pinnacle 2 Ultra is an upgrade form the Pinnacle 2, adding silver foil in oil capacitors, Emission Labs PX4 and US NOS 6SN7WGT tubes, Strange Attractors feet, and the amorphous core output transformer, as well as gold-colored knobs and transformer covers. The Ultra provides measurable improvements, and listeners report an even higher level of transparency.

Jan 10, 2018 at 6:52 PM Post #10 of 25
Holy buckets! That is sooo cool! I am honored and psyched! Thank you @pmillett & @Todd for this tremendous honor!

Amy recommendations on where I can read up on Apex and/or previous reviews would be most appreciated.

Thank again!
Jan 17, 2018 at 12:50 PM Post #11 of 25
I have been the lucky recipient of the Apex Pinnacle 2 (P2) for the past week via Todd's extremely generous loaner program. I was able to use it as a preamp in my 2 channel speaker system and as a headphone amp. The source is a PS Audio DirectStream DAC running via my network and Roon. The 2-channel system consists of a PrimaLuna Dialogue Premium preamp and monoblock HP amps running KT150's. These are driving Sonus Faber Elipsa SE (Red) speakers. My headphone of choice is the Sennheiser HD800S and headphone amp is the PrimaLuna Dialogue HP integrated amp.

My first impressions of the P2 are as a preamp. Bottom line...I cannot believe what an amazing difference a top notch preamp can make in a system. My philosophy has been speakers first, source a close second, then amps. If the preamp can simply get out of the way, adjust the volume and change sources, then that is all I expect. Although this may still be the "correct" philosophy, I will never again underestimate the value of a good preamp.

My PrimaLuna (PL) Dialogue preamp is a well reviewed unit and supposedly a terrific value, comparing favorably with other much more expensive equipment. Well, the P2 put it to shame. More natural detail, greater soundstage and imaging. I have never heard piano reproduced more faithfully. Treble is smooth and never draws attention to itself. The midrange is glorious. The bass is tight and tuneful. Relative to my PL, the bass impact and weight is a little less via the P2. I do not know if my PL is exaggerating the bass output, or the P2 is a little more reserved, but the difference was there. Vocals are beautifully resolved via the P2 and the surrounding acoustics easier to hear. Compared to my relatively dry PL, the P2's vocals were a touch more spread out and ethereal. All-in-all, music sounded more real and "live".

As a headphone amplifier, my thoughts were pretty much in line with my comments made about the original Pinnacle ( https://www.head-fi.org/threads/rev...one-amplifier-and-stereo-preamplifier.500906/ ). All that I said above about the preamp were mirrored using headphones, with the P2 being an outstanding match with the HD800S. My only quibble with the original Pinnacle was with the stepped attenuator, namely its limited loudness variability due to only having 23 steps. This problem has been eliminated with the new P2. The 47-step attenuator is much better in fine tuning of loudness levels, and I had no issues with adjustability. Basically, the P2 is the best headphone amplifier I have had the pleasure of listening to.

One thing of note is the need for proper warm-up. When cold, I found the P2 to be too ethereal with significant lack of bass output. Although 15-30 minutes of warm-up helped, I found that the best sound came after a few hours of use. If you happen to have the fortune of listening to this piece, make darned sure it is warmed-up prior to your listening session. Your ears will thank you.

Like my previous experience with the original, boxing up the Pinnacle 2 was difficult to do. I completely understand why the first reviewer of the Pinnacle Ultra simply sent Todd the funds and kept it. Perhaps someday soon I can get one of these fabulous pieces for my own system...one that I can keep and enjoy for a long, long time.
Jan 30, 2018 at 12:17 AM Post #13 of 25
I'm not sure I have enough superlatives to describe the sound, let alone my feelings for such an otherworldly "device," such as the Pinnacle 2. My review is almost done, and thankfully, I still have two more days (I think!!) in which to listen. No matter what I throw on the P2, it sounds simply superb. Who would have thought that such a Summit-Fi unit as this could be so copacetic with your own critters....astounding.
Feb 7, 2018 at 3:12 PM Post #14 of 25
Look what arrived today! The pelican case is huge. Can't wait to unpack it this afternoon.
I will be taking this unit with me to this weekend to HeadFi meet in Phoenix. I am really looking forward to sharing it with a handful of fellow HeadFi members.

Feb 7, 2018 at 5:23 PM Post #15 of 25
Look what arrived today! The pelican case is huge. Can't wait to unpack it this afternoon.
I will be taking this unit with me to this weekend to HeadFi meet in Phoenix. I am really looking forward to sharing it with a handful of fellow HeadFi members.

Hey! I know that box! Enjoy the heck out of it. I thought about crawling into the box with it, too...

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