CanJam at RMAF - Outstanding Product: Apex Butte

Apex Hi-Fi Butte Headphone Amp ($495)
I'm sure this amplifier sat quite and almost unnoticed during the show. It's a very simple looking amp, with very simple features. I've reviewed it recently ... don't let it's plain-Jane looks fool you, this is an amazing little amp.

I got to talk with Pete for a bit about it at the show. He's got a day job as a Texas Instruments electrical engineer, and said it's fun to sometimes stumble across a cool device and get the inside skinny from the designers there. In this case the OPA552 high-current, high-power op-amp. Often used as a servo driver, this little part is evidently very good at driving reactive loads. Pete got some inside tips on the part, and designed it into the Butte with fabulous results.

But that in and of itself isn't what prompted me to feature the product. It was the shouts of "damn that sounds good" and "Holy crap! How much is that amp?" that I heard as a number of the headphone faithful gathered around the Butte at one point driving the new Audez'e LCD-3. Both these new products are spectacularly clean sounding, and together they make a formidable pairing. I've got the Apex Hi-Fi Arete at home and the new LCD-3 coming, and these will be a more appropriate combination. But if I were a headphone n00B at the moment, I think a Butte would be high on my list of amps as it would serve very, very well while auditioning headphones. Once I got the cans I really like, only then would I spend big bucks on a more expensive amp.

Nice work Pete and Todd!