Octave V16: a European TOTL single ended tube amplifier

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by sacredgates, Oct 4, 2017.

  1. sacredgates

    sacredgates Audio-Technica's high priest

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    I don´t know if this deserves its own thread, but I did not know where to post it elsewhere.
    I visited the XFI Audioshow in Holland over the weekend. Only two product releases made an impact on me: the Metrum Acoustic Jade and Onyx dacs and the Octave V16 amplifier.

    Octave, situated in Germany, is a well respected brand in Europe and Asia. I don´t know how well known it is in the U.S.
    I myself own an Octave V40 push pull integrated tube amplifier for more than 10 years, which I have been very happy with.
    Founder and chief engineer Andreas Hofmann now with the V16 integrated for the first time went for a single ended design.
    He has been looking especially to solve magnetic preload of the output transformer in a novel way (normally countered by an air gap in the iron core). By the way, Octave winds it´s own tranformers in house.
    The somewhat strange outer casing design was a no compromise choice to allow for very short signal / current paths and ideal lay out of parts from a technical viewpoint.

    I will not post full specs and technical explanations. For those interested I will add some links underneath.
    Just a few basics:
    Output tubes: KT120 (EL34, KT77, 6CA7, 6550, KT88)
    Driver tubes: 1 x ECC82 / 12AU7 and 2 x EF800 (EF184, 6EJ7)
    2 x 8 watts in 8 Ohm
    very low S/N ratio
    Speaker and headphone out
    price something like 8.500 €

    I could get some first impressions during the show with both my modded ATH-W3000anv and ZMF Eikons which gave me some isolation from the noisy surroundings. The amplifier was brand new, but output tubes were replaced with burnt in ones. They set it up for me on the floor in a relative quiet corner behind the speakers in the large room.
    Even under show conditions I could tell this one scores really high on technicalities, just wow. I could put "extreme(ly)" before every of the following qualities:
    - extension
    - (bass) control
    - fast / transients
    - three dimensional
    - micro -and macro dynamics
    - transparency
    - black background (as far as I could assess that on the show)

    This was the equivalent of driving a TOTL sports car. It left something like the Feliks Audio Euforia or Auris Audio ha-2se far behind (which does not mean they cannot give one a pleasurable listen!). I did enjoy Audio Technica´s hybrid AT-HA5050H in another room at the show as well, but that felt more like driving a great classic car.

    Was there anything to wish for? Yes. I would play with some alternative (NOS) tubes and a matching source to bring in a little sweetness. Also, listening to such an amplifier gave my brain quite a lot of information to assimilate ;-)

    Further reading for those interested (all English):
    Product presentation + technical info
    Manual with lots of technical info
    Not saying much review by Stereoplay

    N.B. that fat cable in front of the headhones is some seriously overkill Van den Hul speaker cable...
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2017
    sfoclt likes this.

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