I have an Octave V70SE integrated and love the sound. The only other all tube unit I've owned is a Rouge Audio Tempest II Magnum that I really liked but the Octave does everything better.
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Love the Octave's! I have owned a range of Octave products including integrated, preamp, monoblocks, as well as Phonomodule. I compared my Octave V110 against my friend's CJ preamp and monoblock combo and the V110 simply blew the CJ out of the water! Octave was just more musical and dynamic. My dealer carries AR and VTL as well and he much prefers Octave's sonic quality over those of AR and VTL. My Octave monoblocks have more slam than my 600w SS monoblocks. As an added bonus, the Octave gives that irresistible tube-warm sound to female vocals.
Octave products are built in house with high quality part and are very reliable. As a bonus, Andreas the designer and owner is very nice and easy to communicate with via email or even phone.
Octave makes great products and imho underrepresented in our good old USA.
Hi Inna and Mike,
I use Focal speakers with the Octave. As you know, Octave is represented by Dynaudio of North America; however, Focal speakers are actually a much better match for Octave and I have listened to both. Andreas, the designer and owner of Octave, actually has an old pair of Focal Utopia that he uses in his listening room. My dealer also carries KEF and Wilson and these work well with Octave too.
It has been awhile but I believe that the CJ products that my friend has are either the ET5 and LP260 or the previous generation equivalent, I compared the Octave V110 to these CJ's using them on the Focal's. To my ears, the Octave sounded much more musical, more dynamic, and surprisingly had a more euphoric sound. The CJ combo sounded sterile compared to the Octave. I understand that Octave since then has upgraded the V110 to SE version. The V80SE, Octave's top of the line using KT150 tubes, is supposed to even sound better than the V110. The V110SE can be used with KT150 tubes as well.
I owned the Octave V70se and later the V110 along with the black box. The black box lowers the noise floor while adding a hair of headroom. As far as sound quality it depends which tubes are used. When I got the V70se the stock tubes were all SED. I had the EL34 6550 and KT88's. SED is no longer in production. Of course the V110 came with TS KT120's. The KT120's were my least favorite tube. There is a switch on the back that kicks down the plate/grid voltage so lower power tubes can be used like the EL34-6550-KT88.
That said the EL34 has a to die for midrange but really lacks lows punch and the highs are slightly rolled off. 6550's very linear from top to bottom with good punch. KT88's is warmer with good punchy lows. Mind you those were the stock tubes. GL reissue KT88's sound like a cross between the 6550 and KT88 (very good for the money). EAT KT88 Diamonds are the most linear with a tremendous amount of detail but super expensive. Ei KT90 has a huge soundstage and a midrange that is close to the EL34 while having great lows and highs. The Ei KT90's had no problem running in high power and sounded better with the V110.
That said a lot will have to do with what speakers you're driving. When I had the Dyn C1 and later the Signatures I preferred the original TS 6550 solid grey and black plates. Very warm sound with a killer midrange. The EAT did not sound very good. Ei KT90's were very good and I swapped them with the original TS 6550's a lot. The KT120's were very shouty and sounded too much like SS. Original KT88's are very linear and detailed like the EAT's. Not a good match IMO with the C1's. Later I got Raidho D1's and now the D2.1's. Well those TS 6550's sounded very mushy. The Ei KT90's and original KT88's were my favorite hands down. As far as EAT I lost too many (5 out of 8) in less than 2 months while I had the Dyns so I didn't have a full quad when I got the Raidho's.
That said I don't have Octave anymore. With the Dyn's I had no problem even when pushing the C1's very hard. The Raidho's on the other hand did start to peter out when pushing the volume to the max. Now IMO tubes should not be used if you want to try to get to concert levels. But if you mostly listen to levels 85db or less tubes are heavenly.
Ampus and XTI16, thank you, valuable experience and details.
I will always have warmer sounding speakers, this doesn't mean artificially warm and unbalanced, think of more balanced than in reality Grado Reference wooden headphones. And I almost never push speakers and electronics hard. It appears that Octave could be an excellent choice especially with the right tubes, it is good that they work with many. I don't think that I like "beautiful" sounding amps but I most certainly dislike sterile sounding amps, and Octave is neither.
I remember - SE models, I might actually try even lower powered 40SE.
I did have a V40se in my system for a short while. It worked very well with my C1's. What I did notice when moving up the line was a hair more control with each step up. Didn't really notice the output power to make much of a difference except for the control. I never owned the V80 but a friend had one. The V80se or the V110se would be my highest recommendations if within your budget. Followed by the V70se then the V40se. I can't recommend the black or super black box enough. The SBB makes a larger difference if your speakers have multiple drivers (more than 2 plus tweeter).
My last post I mentioned various output tubes (some especially the vintage ones can be very expensive). The little tubes also make a difference. Mullards are nice and warm. Rca's are very nice along with Telefunken. Lots to choose from. There is one drawback with swapping the little tube with the V40/70/110. That being the sockets are super tight and recessed in the chassis. I found removing the output tubes and the 6 or 8 allen screws holding down the cover plate should you decide on swapping them.
Last biasing is a breeze with the octave. I would however recommend ever so slightly under biasing them for longer output tube life. The protection circuit is second to none.
Xti16, of course I would expect better control with more powerful models. Important thing is that basically the sound remains the same throughout the line. With the speakers I have now, Michael Green Audio free resonance speakers, the point of control is especially important. I believe, they were, generally speaking, designed to be driven by transistor or hybrid amps, but I think I would want to try tube amp at some point, and it seems that Octave could be an excellent choice, this side of some great separates. And replacing speakers would be a difficult and expensive endeavor. Free resonance speakers have their drawbacks but they have the advantages too.