Boulder 866 experience? Users?


Hello,
Is there any Boulder 866 owner? How is your experience? :)Almost finalizing my next year setup, my last consideration becomes All-in-One solution.

- So far my consideration is Pass Int60 + Bryston BDA 3.14
Then these three candidates come in.

1) Devialet - Honestly, I haven’t thought about it.      
But I heard a recommendation that this can work as preamp+amp+dac+streamer

2) darTZeel LHC-208 - ironman from Swiss, looks exotic

3) Boulder 866
My first interest is Boulder 866 because it’s from the US. (I live in the US, so expect to be easy to fix or do something).  

My questions are,
1) How’s your impression? (Especially compared to Pass, Devialet and dartzeel)      
Not just better/worse but how’s different?

2) Do you experience any technical glitch? (In terms of touch screen, wireless integration)

3) Can you use Apple Airplay? (It’s important to me, I use apple music/idagio and need to stream it.)
Positive feedback review mentions NO airplay capability but other reviews mention it’s capable.

Thank you.
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1. Devialt: class D so it can go to hell.
2. darTZeel: never heard one but you can get really cheap clones off AliExpress.
3. Boulder: this unit also interests me and reviews are universally positive. What bothers me though are the internals: it doesn't LOOK like it would sound as good as the reviewers claim. I'd have to listen to one first.
Devialt is class D, right. So it was out of my radar. But I happen to learn that one dealer uses 400 as mono set up with Magico M2 for his reference. I think he knows what he’s talking about. Maybe not my cup of tea in terms of sound character, but I think it’s interesting to consider in terms of sound quality.

About Dartzeel, I just saw the clone (not Int model, but its higher amp. In local market it’s about $1000 USD. Not heard it but it seems sounds not that bad too. It also seem to have a small but solid fan base.

Boulder seems to be company that stands behind its product. I like the fact that this company doesn’t introduce the product every year with marketing gimmicks. I think not many companies can do this.
They give me the impression - a boutique version of Bryston.

I’m on the verge of Bryston amp+ DAC / Pass + Bryston DAC / All in one unit.
Great integrated looking at these listening tests and measurements, not cheap at $12.5K
https://www.whathifi.com/au/reviews/boulder-866-integrated

Around the same $$$ I’d wait to see mid Feb the new Technics SU-R1000 integrated, it’s got everything as well even phono and a dac. Class-D but it’s heritage is the SE-R1 flagship
https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/technics-su-r1000-a-new-class-d-gan-technology-integrated

Cheers George
When Whathifi lists its “Against” like that for a product like Boulder 866, honestly, I start to think it’s really damn good, and Boulder doesn’t just pay enough money to its advertiser - more credibility for the product quality.

What I’m really interested in is its DAC performance. 
These don't sound the same and I think you're making decisions based on features, reviews, and opinions on forums (of wildly varying quality), not sound. If you heard them you'd know which one you prefer. Try to schedule auditions! You may find the unit you thought was the one isn't.

disclaimer: I'm a darTZeel dealer, among others.
I've owned the Boulder 866 with the onboard digital for about five months or so and just love it.  I'll cut to the chase with my appraisal: it is the most correct and complete presentation of music that I've ever had in my room. For the relatively small difference in cost, getting the analog + digital version is a no brainer.

I had a Devialet for about a year and thought it sounded clean, dynamic, and quiet but it was ultimately not as musical or involving as the tube gear I was used to, so I moved on. The Boulder is another story entirely, at least in my system. The only way I can think to describe it is also pretty boring--it is just about dead neutral, neither over nor under emphasizing any particular aspect of the sonic picture. Don't get me wrong. The Boulder is anything but boring. In fact, it checks all of my boxes, has plenty of power, and is the first solid state unit I have owned that did not have me pining for tubes within a couple of months. I guess I've always felt that tubes have that "breath of life" that solid state just can't do, but the Boulder 866 is definitely alive. It is dynamic and resolving, but also has texture and a holographic soundstage, though not artificially so. I can and do listen to it for hours without a hint of fatigue, and it excels with all kinds of music, which is crucial for me.

I have heard some Pass Lab mono blocks at length at a friend's house and was suitably impressed, but I would be hesitant to draw much of a conclusion without a head-to-head comparison in my room and in the context of my own system. I have always been intrigued by darTZeel gear, but once I was able to audition the Boulder, I knew my search was over. When I listen to the 866, there is no nagging sense that something is missing or just a bit off. It just sounds right to me.

I am able to stream Amazon Music HD and Qobuz from my iPad, so I wouldn't think you would have any issues there, though I am unfamiliar with your source and would obviously defer to a dealer on that question.

If you can get an in-home audition, do it. Yes, it is "really damn good."


Yes, in regards to the Technics SU-R1000 there's a local dealer who expects to get one in, I will definitely go give it a listen.

Another integrated which I heard a few years ago at a show and which managed to turn my head was the Mark Levinson No.585.  I've been so happy with my Odyssey though that I haven't been in a huge rush to upgrade. Maybe I won't until it's time to move into something endgame.

I've learned a very dear lesson over the years -- most people online aren't as discerning as I am with audio quality. The Odyssey Stratos (now a Kismet) was a happy surprise since I had picked it up originally to be a filler amp until I get one I really wanted. It's not a high-end competitor, please don't get me wrong, but the performance checks all the boxes for a very decent price. Besides that all my best choices came from listening to them before hand. When I can't listen I always end up going around an expensive buy-return-sell chain of frequent disappointments until finding a winner.
@Waltersalas, I’ve sent the message. You’ve experienced most of them from the perspective I’m in. I’m really curious about your further opinion.  
I’m in this same place. I have a moon 390 streaming Dac in my work office with focal Utopia headphones. At home I use a PS Audio Directstream dac with bridge II through a Violeletric HPA V281 final edition and the Utopias as my reference. My main listening room is a Lumin T2 and Atoll AM 400 amplification playing SF Guarneri Evolution speakers along with 2 REL carbon special subs. All cardas clear beyond cabling and speaker wire and all music is roon/tidal streamed. I’m feeling like taking the next step in electronics in my main room. Not sure if I should invest in a top shelf preamp to go with the Lumin and atoll amplifier or scrub the existing electronics and go all in with something like the Boulder 866. I will be auditioning the Boulder 866 at Music for pleasure it ST Louis as soon as I can get out that way. Not an expert but I feel magic is missing in my main room. My utopia headphone through the Violectric is so emotionally engaging. I need this magic in my main room. I know I need to invest in more acoustic treatments for this room, and this is the priority. Any experts out there as to synergy with tube equipment and the Guarneri‘s?  It feels like getting an audition list together for tube equipment and including the Boulder is next. Thanks. 
@sonyedman2
I’m looking forward to hearing back from you once you audition Boulder 866. Unfortunately, my local dealer doesn’t have one, and Boulder is likely do drop shipping to me once I order one. 

I heard Boulder doesn’t compromise in its DAC section, and many people hold genuinely high regards on Boulder’s top line sound. (Neutral but refined manner.)
I am extremely happy with my Aestheix, Mimas. I did not get the internal Dac, but heard it is excellent. I use Chord for Dac. 
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I purchased my Boulder 866 with the DAC/streamer about 4 months ago and I agree with everything the other gentleman said on 12/27. This is a ethernet DAC and I would highly recommend getting ahold of Andrew at Small Green Computer for the Optical Module set up. I added the Optical Module and the SonicTransporter i5 (Roon server) with absolutely fantastic results. I believe that combination extracted the best sound that I can get from the 866. I hope this is helpful for you. 

My Boulder 866 with the digital option was just delivered over the weekend.  My plan is to use it with Maggie 20.7s and a REL S/812 sub using Qobuz and a Synology NAS hard drive for locally ripped tracks.  I was a bit concerned if the 866 had ample power for the Maggie's as they can be challenging speakers to drive correctly. 

Right out of the box with no burn-in time my concerns about power were gone as it has ample power for the Maggies and drives the mid-bass panel of the Maggies as well as any amp I've tried. There's no exaggeration of any frequencies that you sometimes experience with other amps. It sounds correct and is a pleasure to listen to.  I've been picking up new musical artifacts in songs I've listened to hundreds of times which is a testament to it's DAC/Streamer and networking section.  Why anyone would purchase an 866 without the digital inputs / networking option is a mystery to me.   

I've read that some people think the 866 is an expensive all-in-1. I think it's actually a bargain as you don't have to purchase a separate DAC/Streamer, pre-amp and amp.  Not to mention all the power and interconnect cables and shelf space.  I used to own a Devialet and there's no comparison in sound quality, especially as you increase the volume.  The Devialet seemed strained to me as the volume increased.  The 866 delivers the same sound quality, just more of it.  

Boulder hit a grand slam with the 866.