The focus of German high-end audio manufacturer Octave is on serious and innovative development with an emphasis on uncompromising products. This is clearly evident in the company's smallest model, the V 40 SE integrated amplifier, which embodies all the virtues of the Octave philosophy. Octave essentially optimizes the capabilities of each of its products to the maximum limit within the respective price range. While price will naturally affect the company's development and production efforts, it of course also provokes the question "what if?".
As an answer to this question, to push the limits, first provoked Octave in 1995: the company started thinking about an entirely new amplifier design. Thus Octave embarked on a most challenging project: a reference preamplifier.
It took over three years from the initial concept until the Octave Jubilee preamp was completed. It was the starting point of Octave's highly acclaimed Jubilee series and remains in the range to this day - having been continuously optimized in accordance with advances in technical possibilities.
The great success of course spurred Octave to offer a reference chain of amplification. However, the power in an integrated or power-amplifier represents an entirely different challenge.
There is a very simple philosophy at Octave. Octave amplifiers are uncomplicated, reliable and sonically harmonize at the highest level with any loudspeaker in the world. This essentially means that Octave matches the stability and performance of the finest solid state devices, while the company definitely strives to offer more in some disciplines. Especially when it comes to dynamics and authenticity.
Octave's founder and chief designer Andreas Hofmann is a profound lover of classical music (especially opera) and as such does not want to miss the full impact of a large orchestra. For comparisons in his own listening room, it helps to have the renowned Karlsruher Staatstheater nearby.
The requirements for the Jubilee line thus meant that Octave would need to break down barriers and overcome limitations of the venerable tube technology.
Octave has met this ambitious challenge for a long time. The company completely revised the classic push-pull principle with the first Octave mono amplifiers, the MRE 120, and subsequently developed it significantly further. Back then, Octave made it possible to overcome the known limitations of this seemingly maximized technology for the first time. And this approach promised further potential. After this experience and the pursuit of perfection, the pentode circuit has been optimized consistently. But this process went on for years until 2003, when Octave's monumental mono power amplifiers set a new, higher standard in the power/output range: the Jubilee Mono. They were the perfect complement to the Jubilee preamp and remained a dream team.
Over the years, Octave has gained new perspectives thanks to further developing new advancements in technology, new components and the experience from the thousands of models it has built. There were also exciting new speaker models in the market. The results in all configurations were outstanding and showed the class of the Octave circuits. Over the years, the mono amplifier proved its impressive universal capabilities in all imaginable combinations.
For all these listening sessions - live and with the world's most renowned speaker models – Octave was able to add further refinement and functionality. This, and the extensive experience the company had gained, allowed Octave to realize an even more profound revision of the Jubilee Monoblocs. The main focus was always the desire for more ease, an even more buoyant flow and a most authentic stage. The keys were again the dynamics and bandwidth. Thus, the Jubilee SE models should perform with boundless sovereign authority - without fuss or quibble.
Octave wanted a bit more than the already imposing 250 watts of the Jubilee Mono. But it took another 12 months before the elaborate concept materialized - in the same design and only with the little extra SE. But the sheer values made it unmistakably clear that the Jubilee Mono SE had moved the yardstick of many parameters dramatically upwards. Together with Octave's characteristic, absolutely stable power, which drives the rhythm unequivocally with 440 watts per channel.
The technical requirements for this were immense. In order to realize this concept, extremely complex output transformers were devised. The winding of a single transformer alone takes a complete workday. The power supply goes beyond the traditional limits. An audible sound, when switching the unit on and off, is due to the professional protection relay. Of course one will also find all the typical Octave security features for a perfect safeguard in the elegant Jubilee SE mono amplifiers. Octave's Power Management System ensures the gentle start-up of all operating voltages. That prolongs life for all components on one side and on the other side prevents inrush currents, to which a household fuse would react immediately. Even the innovative Ecomode circuit was implemented and thus the amplifiers automatically switch to standby when there is no input signal for more than ten minutes. The high voltage is switched off and only the input stages are still under voltage - quite audiophile.
Wonderfully simple and practical is the bias setting, although technically it is not a trivial feat with a total of eight tubes per amplifier. The setting is done via eight 10-turn potentiometers (one for each tube), as precise as the measurement itself. All this is rounded off by an accurate digital display on top of the chassis. There you can select tube by tube with an elegant rotary switch and then individually adjust them to the correct value via the potentiometers on the back of the unit. This facilitates the exchange of a defective tube as well as the change of the entire tube set to try different types. This is an advantage that one can enjoy in any integrated or power amplifier of Octave, as well as in the large monos. The distinctive sonic characteristics of different tube types (KT88, 6550, KT120, KT150, etc...) offers the opportunity to make an individual fine tuning in the chain.
The unique appearance, the elegant lines and first-class quality materials are not only due to the aesthetics. The massive materials on the front serve an additional function and purpose. They very effectively dampen the housing and prevent mechanical resonances. The combination of the fully-milled aluminium cheeks together with the wonderful stone in the centre of the front plate is a composition of superlatives. Special feet, which have been proven in protracted tests, perfectly complete the secure and stable chassis. Massive speaker terminals and gold-plated connectors of the Jubilee Mono SE amplifiers underscore the uncompromising approach and further confirm that nothing has been left to chance.
Octave was able to experience the result in many different configurations and the enthusiasm was always overwhelming. Because the power is delivered to the speakers naturally with such refinement, control and authority it conveys a quality not experienced with any other amplifier. This performance is accompanied by a rarely heard speed. The dynamic capability of the amplifiers is breath taking and evident with any speaker. At the same time, the two powerhouses recreate the expressive and so important midrange just as perfectly. The human ear is extremely sensitive and senses unnatural timbre as very disturbing. The naturalness of the Jubilee SE sets impressive new standards. The delicate high-frequency signals integrate seamlessly into the overall picture and unfold details as multifaceted as the view through a kaleidoscope.
A journey through the music with the Jubilee Mono SE is exciting and relaxing like never before: classic, modern, absolutely reliable, impressively innovative and sonically superior.