Greetings mate and Welcome aboard!
Stuart Charles here, HomeStudioBasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions, so…
For some time now, I’ve had the intention of reviewing the Bravo Ocean tube hybrid amplifier.
This amp is still sought after today, and I’ve eagerly anticipated the opportunity to delve into its features, construction, and performance.
In this review, we’ll explore its design, functionality, and any nuances that may have gone unnoticed.
So, let’s embark on this long-awaited journey to uncover what this amplifier truly brings to the table.
Bravo Audio Ocean
- Shu Guang 12AU7 tube
- Aluminum casing
- Input power: DC 24 V
- Input sensitivity: 100 mV
- Input impedance: 100 kohms
- Output impedance: 20–600 ohms
- Gain: 30 dB
- Frequency response: 10 Hz–60 kHz +/- 0.25 dB
- Signal-to-noise ratio: > 90 dB
- Dynamic range: 84.6 dBA (300 ohms), 89.8 dBA (33 ohms)
- THD: 0.016% (300 ohms), 0.45% (33 ohms)
- MD + noise: 0.045 (300 ohms), 0.42 (33 ohms)
- Inputs: RCA, 1/8 in (3.5 mm) jack
- Outputs: RCA, 1/8 in (3.5 mm) and 1/4 in (6.3 mm) headphone jacks
- Dimensions: 4.53 x 3.23 x 3.07 in (115 x 82 x 78 mm)
Build & Features
The Bravo Ocean tube hybrid amplifier is an intriguing piece of audio equipment in that it doesn’t look quite like anything I’ve ever seen before; which I’m sure is part of its everlasting appeal.
Crafted from solid aluminum with a striking cyan finish, it exudes an air of quality and durability.
Just don’t take it to the beach; you may get jealous when all the babes pay attention to it and not you. xD
Despite its compact size, the amplifier feels remarkably substantial, thanks to its robust construction.
The front contains the On/Off switch, a 6.35mm (1/4″) headphone jack, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and the Volume Potentiometer.
The Volume Pot is smoothly responsive and does stick out quite a bit, but I suppose I’m not complaining too much.
That said, there’s a somewhat “industrial” looking vibe to this unit despite its bright, kind of flamboyant-ish appearance.
On the back panel, you’ve got RCA line outs and line inputs which provide compatibility with a range of audio sources and playback devices.
Additionally, a 3.5mm line input further extends its connectivity options.
Lastly, there’s a 24V DC power jack for use with wall power.
Under the hood, the Bravo Ocean houses a 12AU7 tube, and with a power output of 500mW, this amplifier boasts the capability to drive even the most demanding of headphones, delivering a powerful and dynamic audio performance.
This amplifier’s build quality and functional design make it a noteworthy addition to any audio setup, catering to both aesthetics and performance while leaving a rather tiny footprint on your desk.
While the Ocean offers several appealing features, there are a couple of caveats worth mentioning.
Bright Front Panel Light
One thing you’ll notice immediately is its exceptionally bright power indicator light on the front panel.
This can be somewhat distracting, especially in a dimly lit room or if the amplifier is placed within your line of sight.
Some users may find it necessary to either cover the light or position the unit in a way that mitigates the glare.
This aspect of the design may not be ideal for those who prefer a subtler visual presence in their audio setup.
But hey, if you’re into your amp looking like the Terminator, more power to you (no pun intended).
Being a Class-A amplifier, the Ocean tends to generate a significant amount of heat during use.
While this is characteristic of Class-A amplifiers due to their continuous operation at full power, it’s important to note that the unit can become quite hot to the touch.
This might not be a major issue in a well-ventilated room, but it could potentially be problematic if the amplifier is placed in a confined space or near other heat-sensitive equipment.
That said, it’s not going to burn your hand or anything, but you should exercise caution anyway and engage in best practices.
In other words, remember to turn it off when not in use or when you leave your home.
Now for the sound.
The Bravo Ocean tube hybrid amplifier, despite its classification, doesn’t quite deliver the “warmth” that’s often associated with tube amps.
In fact, it falls short of the expected “cross between a tube and a solid-state” sound signature.
Instead, the predominant impression it leaves is more akin to a solid-state amplifier – in my opinion, anyway.
- Related: Tube Amp vs. Solid State
While it may not have the characteristic tube warmth, it does offer a clean and distortion-free sound output, which can be appreciated by those who prefer a more clinical audio presentation.
Moreover, it provides ample power to drive a variety of impedance loads, ensuring that even the most demanding headphones are handled with ease.
However, it’s crucial to note that if you’re specifically seeking that classic tube warmth and the harmonically rich, slightly saturated tones associated with tube amplification, you won’t find it here.
For that, I may direct you towards something like a Bottlehead Crack.
The Bravo Ocean leans more towards the analytical and precise end of the sound spectrum, which may not resonate with users who cherish the warm, vintage characteristics of traditional tube amplifiers.
Therefore, it’s essential to set your expectations accordingly and be aware that this amplifier may not fulfill your deepest, most tube-iest desires.
You’ll need a DAC
To complete the audio setup, it’s important to note that the Bravo Ocean is solely an amplifier.
For it to work, it’s necessary to pair it with an external DAC (Digital-to-Analog Converter).
- Related: Beginners Guide: What is a USB DAC?
In wrapping up our exploration of the Bravo Ocean tube hybrid amplifier, it’s evident that this audio device has its strengths and shortcomings.
Its solid aluminum build exudes quality, and its array of connectivity options and power output make it versatile and suitable for a wide range of headphones.
However, it’s important to note that its sound signature falls more in line with a solid-state amplifier, lacking the classic warmth typically associated with tubes.
While its clean and powerful sound can be appreciated for its precision, it might not meet the expectations of those seeking that characteristic tube audio experience.
Ultimately, the Bravo Ocean is a well-constructed amplifier that offers a specific sound profile.
For users who prioritize clean and powerful audio without a strong preference for traditional tube warmth, it can be a valuable addition to their audio setup.
However, for those who cherish the vintage, harmonically rich tones of tube amplifiers, it’s advisable to explore other options better suited to their sonic preferences.
If you’re after a true tube sound, I like Crack (not actual Crack, the Bottlehead variety of said Crack).
Well, that’s about it for today folks! I hope you’ve enjoyed this Bravo Audio Ocean Hybrid Tube Amplifier Review and came away with some valuable insight.
Thoughts on the Ocean? Is it worth a shot? I would love to hear from you. Until next time..
Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Let me know in the comments below or contact me!! I would love to hear from you…
Until then, all the best and God bless…