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Michelle Surdi
Review Component Retail: €3,850 incl. VAT in Italy

There isn’t much to system building. Fit the speakers to the room, then fit the amp to the speakers. The first part is easy. All you need is floor space, money, a dealer willing to lug boxes up or downstairs on spec and a trained ear. Pie in fact. The second part is where it gets tricky. "Good speakers are 8 ohms" Peter Walker used to say (he also designed the very first ESL amp killers).

How does that translate to speaker/amp match up particularly if—as in my case—you like tubes best? Good sense must show that you ought to use transistors with high current-draw speakers or tubes with lower current draw i.e. higher impedance speakers. Sure you can pump Sound Labs with stacks of custom-built beam tetrode modules or goose ESLs with 4-ohm internal impedance SETs. If you like the sound, it’s not illegal. Experimentation is bound to be costly however so I’ve always tried to stick with Walker. Which makes me very wary of  distributor-induced match ups of tubes with high-current speaker solutions. What sells best and sounds good is not necessarily what sounds best.

I’m curious though and my dealer is the Italian importer for Octave and has a V40 line integrated, the basic 4 x EL34 ,1 x ECC82, 1 x ECC83 model on his shelves. After reading Srajan’s V80 send up, I thought I’d try it out. The dealer gets some free publicity  and I get  some valuable experience on the cheap. What’s not to like? Now, I don’t do torture or enhanced tests because they’re based on bad choices by supposition. The very same dealer however is also the importer for two speakers which, besides being as different as two speakers can be, are perfect examples of what I consider recommended and risk-prone matches for a tube amp.