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That’s probably what this game is all about – matching our audio system to allow us to emotionally go places, to leave our room and receive a dose of energy put into music on the other side of the microphone/console. It’s possible to achieve that level of realism with comparatively inexpensive gear. It must be good, the whole system properly matched and set up in an acoustically adapted listening room. But if we want to experience something on the verge of magical, if we want to erase the imaginary line between here and there, we need to spend far more. To achieve that top level we need at least a preamp of Jubilee caliber. As this review should demonstrate, a lot can be had with less expensive preamps. Even the five times more affordable ModWright LS 36.5 gives its all to present us with powerful emotions. However the German shows that as just a prelude; great and successful but a prelude nonetheless.

Let me repeat then that I do not know a better preamp except perhaps for the Soulution 720 and to some extent my Polaris III (and thus also the Ayon Audio Spheris II by extension). The Jubilee's elegant design and ease of use (what a shame that it has no remote control) makes this a machine for forever. We can sense a real person behind it. If you had talked with Andreas Hofmann and heard his deep silky smooth voice tailor-made for radio, you’d know what I mean. It is a thoroughly thought-out sound that’s extremely versatile and in some sense forgiving. You can listen to everything and experience much joy with all of it.

This preamplifier receives our Red Fingerprint award.
This was previously bestowed on the Dynaudio Focus 260 floorstanding speakers; Musica Ibuki Digital USB DAC; JPLAY software audio player; Pro Audio Bono Acrylic AP anti-vibration platform; Hegel H70 integrated amplifier; Leben CS-1000P integrated amplifier; and ModWright LS 36.5 linestage

Review methodology. The Octave Jubilee was compared to my reference preamp, the Polaris III custom version from Ayon Audio as well as the ModWright LS 36.5, Audio Research Ref5 SE, Avantgarde Acoustic PRE, Soulution 720 and to direct coupling my Ancient Audio Lektor Air V-edition CD player to my Soulution 710 power amp. The Jubilee drove two power amps, the Soulution  and Leben CS-1000P. It connected to the AC mains via a Harmonix X-DC350M2R Improved Version power cord and was seated on the Franc Audio Accessories ceramic disc spacers resting on the Base IV custom version rack.

The auditions took the form of A/B comparisons with both A and B known. Music samples were two minutes long. I also auditioned entire albums. Cabling was via RCA both on the source and power amp sides. Despite the fact that the preamp has XLR balanced inputs the audio circuit itself is described as an unbalanced topology. Indeed RCA cables sounded better than XLR cables.

Design. The Jubilee is a preamplifier from German manufacturer Octave Audio. It was designed together with the Jubilee Amp to celebrate a company anniversary. It is manufactured to order for a particular customer or distributor. The Jubilee is a sizeable two-chassis affair with external power supply. The audio section employs four tubes all of the ECC82 family. Andreas Hoffmann, an admirer of NOS tubes, recommends certain exotic types like the rare E80CC in the input stage. The enclosure is almost entirely made of aluminium.

Linestage – front and rear. The front panel has a distinctive shape and consists of three parts, a shallower recessed mid section made of natural stone flanked by two very thick aluminum panels. You can order the unit in marble or slate like the Transrotor Super Seven La Roccia TMD turntable. In the center of the stone section is a large volume knob with the company’s logo engraved below. Both aluminum sides feature smaller knobs with mostly blue LEDs around them. The left knob selects the source either from a set of inputs without tape monitor loop (source) or from two inputs with monitor loop. There is also a mute position confirmed by a red LED. The right knob is a proper input selector.

The rest of the enclosure is interesting because it is not a simple box. It resembles McIntosh products in that there is an upper higher chassis placed within a lower wider chassis. The sides sport long handles. The top cover also consists of three parts. Its sides are made of perforated aluminium and the middle is translucent Plexiglas. You can see a few LEDs through it, some of which are voltage gauges in the power supply but one red LED indicates whether the power supply capacitors have discharged after power-down. Anyone who had anything to do with tubes surely knows how this is quite useful.