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This review first appeared in the October 2011 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of the Octave V70SE in its original German version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with the publishers. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of fairaudio or Octave - Ed.

Markus Sauer
Sources: Heed Obelisk DT CD transport and DAC
Amplification: Tom Evans The Vibe+ with Pulse power supply phono preamp; Jeff Rowland 102, Symasym
Loudspeaker: JBL LSR 6322, Magnat 1005
Cables: various
Review component retail: €4.800,-

Some reviews nearly write themselves. Others are more work. This was of the second kind not because the subject of Octave’s V70SE integrated amp was difficult to suss out. No, the challenge was that Ralph Werner and Martin Mertens had already reported on the Octave V80 and Octave V40SE respectively. As you might know, proper audio review protocol assumes that readers have never before read anything about a given manufacturer and his products, never mind the actual component under consideration. But where reports by colleagues of the same publication are concerned, one feels inclined to make an exception and admits to actually having read them prior to sharpening one’s own pen.

Guess what? What they’ve written about the V70SE’s stable mate applies in spades to today’s machine. I frankly can’t describe it any better. I’ll thus take an exception and avoid pretending to live on an island. Instead I’ll assume that if you’ve had interest in Octave gear, you’ve likely already done a fair amount of research on the subject in these very pages. I’ll thus neither get into Octave’s history or the emergence of its boss Andreas Hofmann. Simply reference the V80 review and associated factory tour. I’ll also spare myself and you coverage of the absolutely impeccable shipping materials, the included accessories, the bias adjustments, the smart eco mode for low-power consumption and such and refer you to the V40SE writeup. I truly have nothing meaningful to add. That happens rarely. If I had to add anything to the bias adjustments, I couldn’t put it better than the exemplary owner’s manual available as a PDF download here. I’ll even bypass the general company philosophy about valves as signal-path amplification devices and semi conductors for peripheral circuitry. I’ll instead focus on V70SE specifics.

About the distinction between V70SE and its non-SE precursor, the first is the larger chassis inherited from the V80. This allows for more space between parts and accordingly reduced interactions. It's also said to benefit the €450 optional all-transistor phono card I didn’t have on hand. Then the output tube drivers were changed. The earlier model ran one double triode for both channels. The SE gets a discrete bottle per side which fractionally increases output power. I’d also expect benefits for channel separation since dual triodes exhibit capacitive coupling in the upper frequencies. The output transformers remain unchanged. Andreas Hofmann frankly had no new ideas to improve them. These  are wound on so-called PMZ cores—a special alloy that can be sourced from only a single Swiss supplier—and in a fashion that’s less lossy than classic EI core types. This scheme reduces stray field radiation and improves the noise floor. This in-house transformer design also claims 30-40% broader bandwidth over common competitors.