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Integrated AMPLIFIER                                 Integrated tube amplifier. Rated at 40W/4ohm

                                                          Made by: Octave Audio, Karlsbad, Germany

                                                 Supplied by: Elite Audio (Distribution) Ltd, London

                                                                                Telephone: 0203 397 1119


                                                                                                Price: £3895

Octave Audio V40SE

Now shipping into the UK, Octave’s tube amplifiers are intended to be as easy to use

and dependable as possible. Here we test the company’s entry-level integrated

Review: Steve Harris Lab: Paul Miller

Comfortably established in

             Karlsbad, in southern Germany,     facility. If you want to run the V40SE as a         Conventional rotaries provide volume

             Octave Audio has just celebrated   preamp only, you can use a third position       and source selection. The source control

                                                on the rear-panel Ecomode switch, to turn       selects from four line inputs, with a fifth

                                                                                                position for output-stage bias adjustment,

its 30th anniversary of amplifier the power amplifier section off completely.

production, although its big range of           The rear panel also houses a four-pin           and a sixth for home theatre bypass. The

tube models has only recently found a UK connector for Octave’s optional Black                  volume control is motorised to respond to

distributor. So it seemed appropriate to try Box [see boxout, facing page], a passive           Octave’s chunky two-button remote [see

out Octave’s most popular integrated, the component that adds extra reservoir                   p47], which provides no other functions.

£3895 V40SE.                                    capacitance to the power supply.                LED LIGHTSHOW

    Octave’s founder and designer Andreas           With its visor-like safety cover in place,

Hofmann actually developed his first            the all-black V40SE looks rather forbidding, On switch-on, the display panel will show

amplifier design in 1975, but the origins       although it is also available in silver. With   a green LED at the left to indicate the

of the business go back further, to the         the cover removed (via two hex bolts), it       source, plus two on the right, one for Soft

Hofmann transformer-winding factory             looks a lot more welcoming, as pictured,        Start (which goes out when warmed up)

established by his father in 1968. Hofmann with its array of four big Western Electric          and one for power on (which stays on).

specialised in high-voltage phase-shifting      6550 power tubes. Just peeping out from Also on the right, a yellow LED warns when

transformers for industrial use, but this       the raised front-section cover are two          you’ve selected Front Channel or home

expertise also provided a great starting-       smaller double-triode tubes. An ECC83 (or theatre bypass mode, which sends signals

point for a tube amplifier company. In          12AX7) provides first-stage amplification       from the Front Channel input sockets

2000, Octave formally took over Hofmann, of both channels, while a 6922 (or ECC88/ straight to the power amplifier. A red

and it continues to design and build its        E988CC) is the phase-splitter.                  LED appears if the protection circuit has

own transformers to this day.

the ecomode system

The V40SE has been around since

2009, replacing the earlier V40 and

V50 models. The SE suffix doesn’t stand

for ‘single-ended’ because all Octave’s

output stages are push-pull, but indicates

‘Second Edition’. Along with many internal

improvements, the V40SE embodied

some new user features, notably Octave’s

‘Ecomode’ system to reduce heat and

unnecessary power consumption.

    With Ecomode selected, after nine

minutes without receiving a signal, the

amplifier powers down to a ‘sleep’ mode,

with the heaters and high voltages for

the power amp section turned off, thus

consuming less than 10W from the mains

compared with around 140W in normal

operation [see Lab Report test table, p47].

When a music signal is detected, it turns

back on with a start-up time of about 35s.

    Also included on the V40SE is a home

theatre bypass and a buffered pre-out

RIGHT: Lifting the protective cage reveals the

ECC83 and 6922 double-triodes in the preamp

section and matched pairs of 6550 output

tubes. Bias adjustment is manual, not auto

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