This review page is supported in part by the sponsors whose ad banners are displayed below

The first is the current all-British authentic version of the hallowed Rogers LS35a. Well, the Rogers brand name is legally owned and British-made it probably is but authentic it can never be since the original  plastic drivers are no more. All the same, it’s commercially and technically as well executed a replica  as one can wish for. I’ve owned the KEF version as secondaries and  always thought them over- specified KEF Codas, likeable and quite good value for the money (that was then) but in the end like all nearfield monitors too uninvolving for my taste.

Still, besides being a widely known reference, they are the perfect example for my theory. They are wheezingly insensitive around 86dB, prone to crumple if driven loud but  were originally designed for puny 16-ohm output trannies and as such even in later versions the all-important impedance and phase curves are extremely well behaved and perfectly suited to tube amps like the Octave - particularly since this is quite by design a very low (for a glass amp) internal impedance product.

The other speaker used in the evaluation was the Dutch Audiostatic DCI. That's a classic
all electrostatic speaker eschewing the Quad 63 point-source gimmick for a crossover-less single panel and a superior step up transformer at the usual cost of starved sensitivity—again around 86dB—a severely limited low bass and indifferent dynamics along with frightful impedance dips at higher frequencies. All in all if not a straight-out amp buster, it’s an inherently compromise-based design like all electrostatics. This works out to the usual devil’s bargain of a considerable potential which can only be realized by monster amps with all the attendant problems and expense.

Talking of expense, the Octave V40 used was without the optional black box supercharger and still no throwaway (list prices for most of the equipment mentioned here can be found under the Listini header at Fit and finish are however extremely good even when compared to the industry gold standard maintained by hi-end Japanese manufacturers. Construction quality is high-grade industrial, the opposite of boutique artisan, with solid attention to things that matter like the double hull frame and the ceramic and silver contact tube sockets. You get your money’s worth and then some. Makes you wonder how some American classics get away with it. Also, it’s massive. User friendliness is in a class of its own (witness the captive screw bolts when the cover is unscrewed - that’s impressive) and the rationalist aesthetics are distinctive though post-Wirtschchaftswunder. While providing idiot proof bias adjustments, the LEDs and display are a matter of taste. Note the offset placement of the input tubes. It reveals attention to ideal circuit design, not coffee table symmetry. By the way, you even get a spare EL34 tube along with an exemplary touch screen remote.

The  setup source was the reference-grade all-conquering Nagra CDP which—in my partisan opinion at least—is the definitive one-box legacy Redbook player. Cabling was Nordost  Red Dawn, Quattrofil and Tyr, all too revealing and ideally transparent to amplification foibles—with a passing nod to the V40’s adequate  input sockets and a big hello to the juicy binding posts—-while power was off the wall through an Isotek distributor and Nordost Heimdall.