Octave Audio V 80 SE

Right now it appears that both Europe and America are cultivating a new, more refined vision of what a tube audio amplifier should look and sound like. Both sides of the Atlantic are making tube products that (again) sound at least a little like actual vacuum tubes and less like high-strung solid-state racing cars. Both cultures now want genuine tube sound but demand 21st century tube longevity and reliability—and, of course, a discrete headphone amplifier.

The new V 80 SE integrated amplifier ($10,500) from Germany's Octave Audio is just such a creation. It delivers 120Wpc (into 4 ohms) of push-pull KT150 power. The V 80 SE user can roll-in some KT88s if he or she so desires. And if the V 80 SE sits with no signal for ten minutes, the heater and B+ voltages will shut down. Octave Audio's power management system ensures a slow, gentle tube start-up, and LED indicators assist in tube biasing. Best of all, Octave Audio offers two levels of plug-in power-supply upgrades: "Black Box" and "Super Black Box."