Octave HP 700 SE – Sound reworked in detail and even more flexible
Modular freedom, this already convinced with the Octave HP 700, which is now being replaced by the new Octave HP 700 SE prepress, and which is to offer even greater flexibility. But also in the presentation, they found a few details that could be refined, so the promise of the German high-end HiFi forge Octave Audio around the latest tube preamplifier.
The Octave HP 700 tube preamplifier has been part of the product range of the German high-end hi-fi manufacturer Octave Audio since 2014. This company came up with two outstanding features, on the one hand a tube technology that has been refined compared to previous systems, and on the other hand a high flexibility due to intelligent module technology, as described by the manufacturer itself. This ensured from the very beginning that it was a future-proof solution. Nevertheless, after all these years it is now time to take the innovative Octave HP 700 to the next level of sonic and technical excellence, and the result of these efforts is now available in the new Octave HP 700 SE.
As a particularly significant innovation of the Octave HP 700 SE compared to its predecessor Octave HP 700 from 2014, Octave Audio emphasizes the modifications of the circuit design, specifically the actual Class A output stage, which is supposed to have an extreme bandwidth, an impressively low output resistance, as well as sensationally low distortion, thanks to a new precision technology. Furthermore, new interfaces in addition to the proven modular concept provide even greater flexibility.
One sentence in the description of the Octave HP 700 SE in particular makes you sit up and take notice. Octave Audio promises that the user does not have to accept the sonic and technical conditions of the device, but that the technology of the Octave HP 700 SE allows the adjustment to the respective requirements and preferences.
For example, Octave Audio lists a large number of modules that can be used to configure the Octave HP 700 SE individually. Starting with input modules with RCA or XLR inputs up to various phono modules, a wide range of possibilities is available. The Octave HP 700 SE has two slots available for these optional input modules. The manufacturer refers to this as “Plug & Play”, so that the user can have modules retrofitted or even replaced at any time.
In addition, the Octave HP 700 SE is of course equipped with all relevant inputs and outputs ex works, but this can be purchased as an option to be integrated even more flexibly in various scenarios as a central interface. In the latest generation, this also includes two parallel XLR sockets, which can be found on the rear panel next to the two RCA outputs, thus allowing all conceivable variations. If the Control Module option is used, the output can be manually selected for playback in several zones, either via XLR, RCA, or at all outputs simultaneously. This way, all kinds of bi- and tri-amping are available, and separate headphone amplifiers or active speaker systems can be integrated without any problems.
And when it comes to flexibility, the sound character of the Octave HP 700 SE can be directly influenced by the already mentioned Option Control Module. The manufacturer refers to this as a new type of tone control, which is intended to guarantee precise correction of bass and treble with a channel difference of just 0.3 dB and thus tonal consistency, even at low levels. The balance can also be controlled with this system, with a frequency-compensated balance control in 1 dB steps via long-term stable 12-pin step switches. If desired, step switches are also used for volume control. These are frequency-compensated 47-pin step switches. Here, the channel deviation should be only 0.1 dB and the frequency bandwidth should be constant over the entire control range and free of distortion caused by the controller. However, this special design does not allow the use of a remote control, only the standard version can be used with a remote control.
The most important innovation, however, is, as already mentioned, the further refinement of the actual Class A output stage, for which the manufacturer uses the term precision technology and describes a circuit in tube technology that has a bandwidth of up to 1 MHz. At the same time, it has an extremely low output resistance of 100 ohms, very low distortion of 0.001 percent and three gain settings. This means that it is suitable for a wide range of different electronics and can also be fine-tuned to individual requirements.
Interestingly, the modification did not require any change in the previous tube configuration, according to the manufacturer.
The new Octave HP 700 SE measures 462 x 130 x 480 mm and weighs 10 kg. The power supply is outsourced and measures 110 x 90 x 277 mm and weighs 3.8 kg. Of course, the customer can also choose between silver and black for the new Octave HP 700 SE preamplifier, whereby the housing is made of aluminium in the proven manner. It must be emphasized that the new Octave HP 700 SE naturally replaces the previous Octave HP 700. An upgrade from the previous model to the latest generation is unfortunately not possible. The new Octave HP 700 SE will be available immediately in the high level version at the recommended retail price of € 12.000,-.
Getting to the point
As a really significant innovation of the Octave HP 700 SE compared to its predecessor Octave HP 700 from 2014, Octave Audio emphasizes the modifications of the circuit design, specifically of the actual Class A output stage, which is supposed to have an extreme bandwidth, an impressively low output resistance, as well as sensationally low distortions by means of a new precision technology. Furthermore, new interfaces in addition to the proven modular concept provide even greater flexibility.