Go for the Octave with black box. I am a C1 and Octave V70se owner. My local dealer has both Naim and Octave and in my opinion the Octave sounds better.
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Thanks for the response. A few more questions, if I may. What is the significance of black box? Where is your dealer? What kind of maintenance is involved with the Octave? What did you like better about the Octave sound? Did you listen to the Naim separates I mentioned -- I'm not a fan of the Supernait which many team with the C1s.
It was the supernait I compared to not separates. The black box adds 4X capacitance (super black box is 10X) which really lowers the noise floor and adds authority/control to the music. Kind of the same as Naims flatcap/supercap/hicap etc. As far as maintenance it has tubes. The bias is stupid simple and shouldn't need to be adjusted unless rolling output tubes. Personally I prefer the EL34 tubes over the KT88's and 6550's so changing the tonality is just to swap out some tubes (can't do that with SS).
Hi, Thanks for your responses. I guessed right that you had heard the supernait. I'm not a fan of that amp -- it is too forward for me and not very refined. The separates are more laid back and much more refined but still with the Naim pace and oomph. How would you describe the Octave amp sonically? Enjoy your system. I'm sure it is great. I think the C1s are incredibly special speakers. What cd player did you choose to go with this set up?
I have the meridian G08 cd player. The Naim stuff has incredible prat. I personally think the Octave has just as much prat but a little more oomph. Sonically the KT88's are very warm sounding with a little extra in the bottom end (it's amazing how much bass the C1's have with those tubes). The 6550's are more linear with a tighter bass - a little less warmth in the mids and a little more in the highs. The EL34's just have a magical mid range and highs but do lack the lower end. The EL34's do make the mids and high seem more forward (which I too am not a big fan of) but oh how nice they sound. I do use a Rel B3 sub.
I also have Nordost Frey speaker cables and soon Ic's (doing a Nordost in home demo presently) with Fusion Audio power cords. The Nordost cabling bring out the 'air' between the instruments and vocals very nicely and with great speed.
I can't see replacing any of my current system unless something dies.
Handsomeck - Where are you located? Your Dyn dealer could contact Dynaudio and ask for an Octave demo. They have been known for doing that. If I'm not mistaken Octave has only been in the USA for about 2 years. I also have the V70SE which I got just before the RMAF where it was introduced. I never heard the V70.
I would think that you want a bit more power with the C-1's than a Supernait will provide - 150 good solid-state watts. I'm absolutely not advocating running them with a high-powered amp (I think most high powered amps sound like shit), but a really good solid-state amp putting out around 150 watts would seem to be helpful with Dyns, which unfortunately require power (I think the C-1's are less efficient than my 3.3's were, and it's not just efficiency - power makes Dynaudios come alive).
Nothing against the Supernait - it's a super little piece - just not with this speaker, I wouldn't think.
Thanks everyone. I haved nagged the Dynaudio guys about getting an Octave demo in my area. They haven't been able to do it yet. I have heard before that the C1s need a lot of power (and I'm not interested in the supernait -- it is too forward and not refined enough for me) but I have heard the Naim separates on more than one occasion in a room that is similar to mine in size and the power seemed adequate and the dynamics not compressed. Maybe it's my ears. Also, I tend to listen to music that is not bombastic. I'm also told that the Naim's high voltage amps are more meaningful than amps in a cheap power amp. I don't know if that's true or bs. I am going to try to listen to the Octave if I get a chance.
You will have no issues driving the Dynaudio Confidence C1 with the Octave integrated amplifier. In fact, Octave has been using Dynaudio speakers to demo their products in many of the German audio shows I have attended. See this link for a review of one of their products:
Compared to solid state amps or even other tube amps for that matter, the Octave products will showcase their ability to convey the emotion of the music in an ejoyable manner with a unique quietness. I have heard some top line Mark Levinsons and Krells not sound as good as my Octaves (MRE 130).
I even took my Octave MRE 130's to a Mac dealer to compare to the MC501's, the Octave won hands down, driving the same speakers, the B&W N800's, that I own at home. Many suggest that you might need a lot of power, watts or current (amps) to drive speakers with difficult loads, below 4 ohms. Based on my experience, the Octaves can drive almost anything you plug into them. Granted the V70 only has 75 watts per channel with 80 watt surge capability, but they will drive a 2 ohm load easily.
I am pretty amazed that the Octave products are built so robustly and are very easy to adjust tube bias. I mean, anyone can adjust the bias for each tube on an Octave amp in a matter of minutes with just a screwdriver, while it is on.
The only way for you to really know if you like them is to listen to them and make that decision on your own.
Sorry, I have not had a chance to audition Naim separates. I have owned in the past a pair of Bryston 4BSST's to drive the B&W N800's and although it was a good combination, it was not as musical as the Octave was on those speakers. I am pretty sure that almost any Octave speaker combination will yield the same results. The Naim products do look like they are reliable and are built to last. I highly suggest that you do a comparison of the two if possible.
I think I can answer that question. As you move up the line in the integrated and into the MRE 130 mono amps, the designer has chosen to step up the plate voltage as you step up into the bigger models. I have the specs for the integrated's, I will post later, however, I believe the MRE 130 has a plate voltage of 530 volts. I measured the output in milliamps of the recommended bias settings on the amp using the Tube Amp Doctor Biasmaster and measured .38ma for the desired bias setting according the manufacture. I was using KT88's. That seems to me a conservative reading. Of course, I can go higher in regards to milliamps, in fact I have, using KT120s in an experiment running at .65ma with no problems.
This is my belief, Octave uses a stepped up plate voltage approach as you go higher in the lineup, always taking into consideration tube life, equipment usability and robustness and ease of use. Essentially, plug and play concept of use. Perhaps the V40 is measured using the EL34 tubes and not the optional 6550 or KT88's. I do know that the plate voltage is a big factor and therefore as you move up the line, you get higher output. The two EL34's on the V40 do not output as much power as a pair of KT88's on the V70.
Although the 202/200 are musical amps, they are not considered to be the most successful in the Naim line. If you find the C1's to sound good on them, chances are likely the C1's will sound better with the higher range models. The 282 is considered to be at the sweet spot in the Naim line providing good sound at a sensible cost(although higher up there is the 252 and the 552).
The Supernait lacks the refinement of the separates. I should add that all current Naim amps(except the 5i) can be upgraded by adding an external power supply to the preamp stage.
Best bet is to audition both Naim and Octave side-by-side.
Handsomeck, I have not tried the 282 in my system(202/200) although I've listened to the 282/250 in another system. If you browse through the Naim forum, the general consensus is music becomes more real and believable when going up the Naim ladder. You are correct that the next model up represents a significant increase in expense, usually two times or more the cost. That is one reason I will stay put with the 202/200 for the time being. If I ever want to upgrade(not at this point of time though), the 282 is where I would want to stop.
The 250 is an improvement to the 200 if the speakers require the additional current. However, from what I was told the 250 is voiced differently from the 200 apart from having a more robust power supply that's fully regulated. Some may prefer the lean sounding 200 over the 250 that has a warmer and fuller presentation.
Since Xti thought the Octave amps sound better, it is prudent that you compare both before making your decision. Naim amps do sound good but I feel the higher range amps are costly for what they are. There may be others which provide good sound(not necessarily the same sort of presentation) at a lower cost.
I just looked up the Octave V70se and noticed it is a tube integrated amp. I am quite sure the Octave will sound quite a bit different from the Naim amps being tube. Hence it is best if you are able to listen to both and find out for yourself which house sound do you prefer, the Octave or the Naims.
If you are going to the CES in Vegas, I just read that Octave is doing a demo of the V40 and the MRE 130 with the Saphire speakers.
"Octave Audio will be exhibiting in Venetian Suite 30-230, and company founder and chief engineer Andreas Hofmann will present the companys MRE 130 monoblock amplifiers, Phono Module phono-preamp on the Sapphire loudspeakers, as well as the V40SE integrated amplifier on the limited-reissue
Dynaudio Special Twenty-Five.
For all of you attending CES, we look forward to seeing you in Las Vegas."