We've been waiting!
I first saw the preproduction Boulder 866 at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver this Fall. It was a brand new, preproduction Boulder integrated that they were showing for the very first time at RMAF.
I took this video at RMAF and a few photos to show Russ and Connor.
I was absolutely in love with it - the heatsinks, the engraved Boulder logo, the heavyweight perfectly fitting panels, and most of all the idea behind it: A 200-watt all-in-one with optional digital inputs. This would be absolutely perfect for those who wanted a high powered reference level one box solution.
You can see from the photo below how perfectly the panels fit and how thick the faceplate and mill stock is. The finish is also quite remarkably - a bead blasted aluminum surface that is hand-sanded and finished at the Boulder factory.
The new heat sinks:
I really liked that Boulder took a new approach instead of the traditional straight line heat sink fins. The lines remind me a bit of the Aspen trees you see in Colorado. If anything it's a nice organic look that brings a good energy to the design.
At long last, about a week ago, a strong box with Boulder Amplifiers on the side arrived!.
Inside, we found this:
We set the new 866 up in our small room along with Dynaudio Confidence 20 standmount speakers and Nordost Valhalla speaker cable and power cords. Nordost Valhalla's signature speed, imaging and fine detail make a superb match for the studio-level resolution of Boulder components.
For playback we fed the 866 a 24-bit digital signal to its internal DAC and much to our delight the system sounded remarkably like our much larger and more expensive Boulder separates in the large sound room. The Boulder sound was completely evident with the same no-detail-left-behind quality that made you question if you were standing in a studio listening to a live feed. The system also had the instantaneous bass and dynamic authority of our larger Boulder system in the big room, only on the scale of the room and speakers.
For reference, the larger Boulder system consists of Dynaudio Confidence 60 speakers with the Boulder 1110 preamplifier and 1160 amplifier. This system has tremendous power and scale and can pull off large orchestral works with ease.
To see the difference in speaker size, here is the much larger Dynaudio Confidence 60 compared to the floorstanding Contour 30 to the left, and the stand-mount Confidence 20 right behind.
The Boulder 1060 and big Confidence 60 in our large room is spectacular but the Boulder 866 and Dynaudio Confidence 20 is a better system for our 12 x 14 room. In that room its absolutely wonderful in its own way and produces excellent bass that is very well proportioned and articulate. If we put the larger amp and speakers in that same room it would absolutely overpower it. This is another reason we are so pleased to see Boulder producing a reference quality 200-watt integrated amplifier - it's the right size for a good number of speakers and rooms.
If you would like to hear the new 866 feel free to stop on by. We will be hosting an official Boulder event either late this Spring or early next Fall. Here is a link to the factory website Boulder 866.