New Stuff from TTVJ: The Arête, a Pete Millett Designed FET Output Headphone Amplifier

My good buddy Todd the Vinyl Junkie (TTVJ) had donned his Hawaiian shirt in my honor my little visit to sample his new Pete Millett designed FET output amp.

It was a lovely 35 mile motorcycle jaunt on the interstate through flooded pastureland to Three Forks, Montana; and lovelier still to hear the Arête when I arrived at TTVJ HQ. Let's have a quick look at this new product ....

Todd Green and Pete Millett
Geez, I've known Todd for over 20 years. Back before I started HeadRoom we worked together at a laser company. It's been a long road where both of us have lived life's journey within the other's view; I count Todd amongst my friends. Todd is definitely the genuine article, and he's definitely a top-notch purveyor of fine audio gear. My bias' notwithstanding, I can heartily recommend TTVJ as a knowledgable and ethical etailer and maker of headphone gear --- the wake of satisfied customers he leaves behind himself is ample testimony. He's also a vinyl addict, and if you like vinyl too, I'd advise caution calling him. His stash of LPs for sale is epic.

Pete Millett is ... well ... legend. He's also one of the nicest, laid-back guy you'd ever have the pleasure to meet. Pete's play with audio is a contribution so deep I can't really sum it up in few words.

Pete designed the Millett Hybrid headphone amp DIY project, which is a favorite among enthusiast builders. I have no idea how many have been built, but I'd guess it's likely well over a thousand. HeadRoom sold a commercial version of this amp. Pete also designed, to the best of my knowledge, the world's first portable USB headphone amp, which was subsequently redesigned into the HeadRoom Bithead as the first commercially available device of this type. You can thank Pete for instigating the rash of USB headphone amps found today.

I think it's really cool that Todd and Pete have teamed up in Apex Hi-Fi --- a boutique brand of sweet gear designed by Pete; assembled in the U.S.; and sold exclusively through TTVJ. I was tickled pink when Todd called and asked if I wanted to scoot over there for a listen to his new baby.

The Apex Arête ($1095) and Volcano Power Supply ($700)
I had the similar Apex Peak hybrid tube headphone amp with optional Volcano power supply on my desk for a month a little while ago and enjoyed it tremendously. The new Arête is a solid state headphone amp in the same family, and also uses the Volcano power supply as an optional upgrade from the stock wall-wart switching supply.

I think I'll let Todd's press release do the talking:

    Both Pete and I have been hard at work creating new products for the high end headphone listener. Our newest creation is the Arête. The Arête uses a single ended discreet JFET gain stage and the same MOSFET output stage as our Peak. It serves as both a headphone amplifier and a preamplifier. The Arête is $1095 and comes with an external switching power supply and can be upgraded with our Volcano power supply!

    You can save $50 if you order the Arête and Volcano together (the switching supply is not provided in this package) or upgrade to the Volcano later for $750. Both power supplies operate 110v - 240v 50Hz to 60Hz.

    The Arête is now in production and orders are being taken. The first amps will be shipping in 1-2 weeks. Get in line and order one of these great new amps!

I had a nice little listen with my CD of test tracks and Audez'e LCD-2 headphones. Very clean and nice, I can't wait to get one here at home for and extended audition. I also tested it with some HiFiMAN HE-600 headphones to check out how much umph it had: It was up to ear-bleed levels before I heard it break-up.

Todd also showed me the Butte ($495), a new little desk top amp that will be available shortly, and asked if I wanted a listen. "Sorry," I told him, "I have to split and go write this up. We'll do it next time."

I did, however, snag a little video before I walked out the door. Resource links follow the video!

Apex Hi-Fi page for the Arête.
TTVJ and Apex Hi-Fi websites.
A vast storehouse of audio geek information at Pete Millett's DIY Audio Pages".
TTVJ Head-Fi forum area and Arête thread.

Todd the Vinyl Junkie
405 2nd Ave E
PO Box 1335
Three Forks, MT 59752

shinn's picture

Hi Tyll,

It seems that you have quite an extensive listening to the Apex Peak. Do the Peak and Arete sound similar? From your brief experience with the Arete, which of those two impressed you the most?


Tyll Hertsens's picture
I had such a short listen and need to bring it home with a familiar source to say anything more than the Arete sounded fine. The Peak, however, was great fun to have at my desk for a little while, and it struck me as a very transparent sounding amp with a touch of tube lushness, which is pretty much what you'd expect for a tube/FET hybrid. I really enjoyed listening to it.