Boulder 2160 thoughts

banpuku

New Member
Apr 24, 2010
12
0
1
MN
#1
I am considering a Boulder 2160 purchase to mate with my EMT JPA-66 pre-amp. Hoping that the mix of tube pre + solid state power amp would be a nice combination. My current speakers are re-built Quad ESL-63s, but I am not wed to them indefinitely. I have a custom made tube amp that I enjoy sonically, but given my 86db efficient speakers, there is limited output. So, looking at the 2160 to get the output / drive needed for the speakers while also have no sonic footprint (ie neutral, not forward). 90% of the time, string quartet music is my thing, so natural violin, viola and cello reproduction are most important. 10% of the time I listen to 60/70/80s rock, so I need the horsepower.

Hoping to get your input on two fronts:

1. Thoughts on the 2160 as a final amp purchase for the next 10 years?

2. Any other power amp ideas to compete with the 2160? Leaning towards solid state, but am willing to consider tube recommendations.

Thanks!
 
Dec 20, 2011
61
7
8
San Diego
#2
To answer your questions: 1. Yes. Most likely you will never sell it. 2. No. Not much competes with a 2160. A 2160 will get sound from those speakers that you did not think was possible. That said, you will probably want to drastically upgrade your speakers very shortly after installing the amp.
 
Likes: GMKF

Bodhi

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2014
892
268
63
Melbourne, Australia
#3
If you like a tube-like presentation, but am leaning toward ss, try to seek out an audition of the Vitus SS-103 paired with a SL-103 or MP-L201 preamp. They sound natural, organic and have a nice musical flow when the amp is in pure class A mode.
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
11,709
1,493
113
London
#4
I am considering a Boulder 2160 purchase to mate with my EMT JPA-66 pre-amp. Hoping that the mix of tube pre + solid state power amp would be a nice combination. My current speakers are re-built Quad ESL-63s, but I am not wed to them indefinitely. I have a custom made tube amp that I enjoy sonically, but given my 86db efficient speakers, there is limited output. So, looking at the 2160 to get the output / drive needed for the speakers while also have no sonic footprint (ie neutral, not forward). 90% of the time, string quartet music is my thing, so natural violin, viola and cello reproduction are most important. 10% of the time I listen to 60/70/80s rock, so I need the horsepower.

Hoping to get your input on two fronts:

1. Thoughts on the 2160 as a final amp purchase for the next 10 years?

2. Any other power amp ideas to compete with the 2160? Leaning towards solid state, but am willing to consider tube recommendations.

Thanks!
From what I understand it is almost impossible to beat the old Quads at the music you listen to 90% of the time. Not saying boulder is not a good amp, it is great, but more for the likes of Wilson, YG, etc. It might work on the quads too, but so might an OTL?

Also your phono and speaker and music choice make it difficult for me to believe otherwise. You are better off discussing this over PM with zerostargeneral who has experience with Quads, EMT, and has 300,000 recordings of the highest quality originals of the music you like. In his opinion, quads plus futterman OTL is one of the top two systems for such music. @gian60 will tell you the same

That's the zerostargeneral system that he prefers quads next to

https://www.whatsbestforum.com/thre...s-mayer-vyger-original-lps.27231/#post-550962
 

banpuku

New Member
Apr 24, 2010
12
0
1
MN
#6
To answer your questions: 1. Yes. Most likely you will never sell it. 2. No. Not much competes with a 2160. A 2160 will get sound from those speakers that you did not think was possible. That said, you will probably want to drastically upgrade your speakers very shortly after installing the amp.
For further context, I very much like the quad 63s for 90% of my listening, chamber music. But output levels fall short with both my current amplifier (DIY GM70 tube amp, 20watts) and quads when it comes to playing rock music (doors, zeppelin, Floyd, etc). So, I am open to ultimately changing speakers as well as my amps. That said, the immediate question is: what are you thoughts on building the system around the boulder 2160? Alternately, I have the option of going with a Boulder 1160 and new speakers (same total cost as the 2160), or saving my $s for a 3060 + existing quads and calling it quits for a while.

Of course, Chuck, you could sell me your 3060 and then you could purchase a pair of 3050s. Just sayin. ;-)

Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,912
118
63
#7
Banpuku,

You have some great options there...congrats and enjoy the ride! For my own two cents:

1. I admire Boulder and heard the original 2060 when i was looking at Gryphon Antileon. i could have been happy with either, but went with Gryphon...but equally have continued to keep reading up on Boulder given my great experience with them.

2. I have been told by Boulder owners of the 3000 and 2100 series that the 2160 is a great upgrade over the original 2060...but also that the 3000 series is in a truly altogether different class and league...not just in areas where Boulder excels but in other areas where it might not typically come first to mind when thinking of Boulder...such purity of midrange tone (more often a term used in describing SET, etc).

3. Regarding whether you go all the way for the 3000 series, i personally have always balanced 2 things very very rigorously in acquiring pieces:
- sticking to a budget
- upgrading to seriously the most reference/major jump i can make...and then not upgrading for YEARS unless a super-bargain happens to come along
- for me, that means serious bargain hunting only (second hand, dealer demo, trade-in+, etc.)
- However, it has also resulted in my own satisfaction that i held out for what i could possibly say for me is 'the absolute best' i could contemplate

This approach has resulted in really only having 3 completely 'fully evolved' systems (if you cut out a boombox) for me for 30+ years...and each one being a seriously bigger/better than system than the first.

If you think you can reach to the 3000, i can hardly think you would regret the decision (at least from a music making perspective!)
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
11,709
1,493
113
London
#8
For further context, I very much like the quad 63s for 90% of my listening, chamber music. But output levels fall short with both my current amplifier (DIY GM70 tube amp, 20watts) and quads when it comes to playing rock music (doors, zeppelin, Floyd, etc). So, I am open to ultimately changing speakers as well as my amps. That said, the immediate question is: what are you thoughts on building the system around the boulder 2160? Alternately, I have the option of going with a Boulder 1160 and new speakers (same total cost as the 2160), or saving my $s for a 3060 + existing quads and calling it quits for a while.

Of course, Chuck, you could sell me your 3060 and then you could purchase a pair of 3050s. Just sayin. ;-)

Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
Hi you mistakenly emailed me instead of rye General. Anyway I will pass on your message. I know his main recommendation with the quads will be to find a refurbished futterman OTL.

Looking at your dilemma it will be a better idea to keep that system for 90 percent of your music and get another one for your 10%. A vintage tannoy 15 inch gold with an integrated like Vitus rocks on led zep and such rock

Also, the problem for your SPL seems to be the DIY 20w GM70 triode you are using
 
Dec 20, 2011
61
7
8
San Diego
#9
I have not heard the 1160. Based on what I know about Boulder and how they do things, I would think the 2160 is the obvious choice. The level of engineering and the materials used in the 2000 series is just a lot better. That translates into better sound. I would build the system around the 2160.

If you are thinking about the 3060, you need a 240V outlet to plug it in because it won't operate on 120 and it weighs 400 lbs. For me, if I were considering buying a 2160 now but knew that I could afford the 3060 in a few months, 3060 it is. If the 3060 was further out of reach, then I would buy the 2160. There is no wrong choice. If I could not have gotten the 3060, I would still happily own my old 2060.
 

banpuku

New Member
Apr 24, 2010
12
0
1
MN
#10
Banpuku,

You have some great options there...congrats and enjoy the ride! For my own two cents:

1. I admire Boulder and heard the original 2060 when i was looking at Gryphon Antileon. i could have been happy with either, but went with Gryphon...but equally have continued to keep reading up on Boulder given my great experience with them.

2. I have been told by Boulder owners of the 3000 and 2100 series that the 2160 is a great upgrade over the original 2060...but also that the 3000 series is in a truly altogether different class and league...not just in areas where Boulder excels but in other areas where it might not typically come first to mind when thinking of Boulder...such purity of midrange tone (more often a term used in describing SET, etc).

3. Regarding whether you go all the way for the 3000 series, i personally have always balanced 2 things very very rigorously in acquiring pieces:
- sticking to a budget
- upgrading to seriously the most reference/major jump i can make...and then not upgrading for YEARS unless a super-bargain happens to come along
- for me, that means serious bargain hunting only (second hand, dealer demo, trade-in+, etc.)
- However, it has also resulted in my own satisfaction that i held out for what i could possibly say for me is 'the absolute best' i could contemplate

This approach has resulted in really only having 3 completely 'fully evolved' systems (if you cut out a boombox) for me for 30+ years...and each one being a seriously bigger/better than system than the first.

If you think you can reach to the 3000, i can hardly think you would regret the decision (at least from a music making perspective!)
LL21, thanks for the thoughtful and reasonable reply. I like your thinking. Much appreciated
 

banpuku

New Member
Apr 24, 2010
12
0
1
MN
#11
I have not heard the 1160. Based on what I know about Boulder and how they do things, I would think the 2160 is the obvious choice. The level of engineering and the materials used in the 2000 series is just a lot better. That translates into better sound. I would build the system around the 2160.

If you are thinking about the 3060, you need a 240V outlet to plug it in because it won't operate on 120 and it weighs 400 lbs. For me, if I were considering buying a 2160 now but knew that I could afford the 3060 in a few months, 3060 it is. If the 3060 was further out of reach, then I would buy the 2160. There is no wrong choice. If I could not have gotten the 3060, I would still happily own my old 2060.
I do have 240V and plan on using it with the 2160 or the 3060. Please tell me, Chuck. What are your thoughts on the ability of the 2160 or 3060 to reproduce string instruments that sound natural? Most notably, solo violin, cello. Violin has an attack / leading edge that can be overdone with an amp that is too aggressive and underwhelmed with a under powered amp. Tonal purity is so important with string reproduction.

I am confident that the boulder amps can do all of the bass and dynamics that I could ask for. But what is most important are the string instruments and ability to portrait a floating violin with lifelike SPLs and attack. This would be the ultimate goal. Please share your thoughts on Boulder's ability to compete with the best tube amps when it comes to floating a violin with lifelike SPLs and attack. And, does the 3060 do this significantly better than the 2160?

Thanks!
 
Dec 20, 2011
61
7
8
San Diego
#12
Terms like "sound natural" and "tonal purity" are used a lot in audiophile circles and reviews -- generally meaning the "pleasant" distortion of tubes. If that is what you are seeking, the Boulder 2160 or 3060 is probably not for you.

I have written elsewhere about my audition of the ARC 160Ms, "natural tonal purity" distortion was plainly heard and they are great for that sound, which many people prefer. For lifelike SPLs and attack, which is not the same thing, I have heard no other amp that can do it as well as the 3060, every nuance of, for example, Joshua Bell playing a Strad reproduced -- or Perlman or Heifetz etc. etc.

Months before I got a 3060, I went to the Boulder factory to hear it compared to the 2160, expecting there would not be a vast difference. How could there be?
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,912
118
63
#13
Terms like "sound natural" and "tonal purity" are used a lot in audiophile circles and reviews -- generally meaning the "pleasant" distortion of tubes. If that is what you are seeking, the Boulder 2160 or 3060 is probably not for you.

I have written elsewhere about my audition of the ARC 160Ms, "natural tonal purity" distortion was plainly heard and they are great for that sound, which many people prefer. For lifelike SPLs and attack, which is not the same thing, I have heard no other amp that can do it as well as the 3060, every nuance of, for example, Joshua Bell playing a Strad reproduced -- or Perlman or Heifetz etc. etc.

Months before I got a 3060, I went to the Boulder factory to hear it compared to the 2160, expecting there would not be a vast difference. How could there be?
hi Chuck,

And I presume there WAS a big difference between the 3060 and the 2160? In any event, for me, i would like to think when i say tonal purity i do not mean distortion (who knows?...maybe I do). But having heard the 2060 which is basically a full 3 generations older than your 3060, i appreciated (relative to its peer set) that when a violin string started to soar...i got purity of tone as in dynamics, that ultimate soar/pierce/resonance without overhang or bloat...but to me it felt pure...again, relative to its then peer set of 7+ years ago.

I somehow feel that from the descriptions of the 3060 i have read...that this area in particular has really continued to improve significantly. But in truth, i would need to hear it for myself to know...certainly would love to do it one day!
 
Dec 20, 2011
61
7
8
San Diego
#14
I owned the 2060 for several years and it was by far the best amp I had heard so I just did not expect that there was much room for improvement. I frankly thought the 3060 was just a big, expensive status piece built for the Asian market that would not offer much actual performance increase -- until I heard it. The Asians know more than I do. I'm listening right now to Joshua Bell and the Philharmonia Orchestra, Zinman conducting, West Side Story. The violin, the orchestra -- the purity of sound, all the detail, floating freely, effortlessly. As great as the 2060 is, the 3060 is in a totally different league.

You do need to hear it to know.
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,912
118
63
#15
I owned the 2060 for several years and it was by far the best amp I had heard so I just did not expect that there was much room for improvement. I frankly thought the 3060 was just a big, expensive status piece built for the Asian market that would not offer much actual performance increase -- until I heard it. The Asians know more than I do. I'm listening right now to Joshua Bell and the Philharmonia Orchestra, Zinman conducting, West Side Story. The violin, the orchestra -- the purity of sound, all the detail, floating freely, effortlessly. As great as the 2060 is, the 3060 is in a totally different league.

You do need to hear it to know.
Fantastic. I know it sounds silly...and to a certain degree it is...but listening to the South Korean owner on youtube of the Wilson XLFs...same room, same source? DCS, but different amps...you really can hear the evolution of his system...and i think his system seems to have made great leaps with the 3000 series Boulder amps.

In fact, that is one of the reasons i am most intrigued... there is just something incredibly suggestive in his videos of his room...again same room, same source?, same speakers, an evolution of amps...that really has achieved something with the Boulder 3000 series that I have to admit comes across (i know, in a video) incredibly well and well beyond his prior amps.

Would love to hear it.
 
Likes: Hieukm

Hieukm

Active Member
Oct 2, 2016
163
35
28
#16
Fantastic. I know it sounds silly...and to a certain degree it is...but listening to the South Korean owner on youtube of the Wilson XLFs...same room, same source? DCS, but different amps...you really can hear the evolution of his system...and i think his system seems to have made great leaps with the 3000 series Boulder amps.

In fact, that is one of the reasons i am most intrigued... there is just something incredibly suggestive in his videos of his room...again same room, same source?, same speakers, an evolution of amps...that really has achieved something with the Boulder 3000 series that I have to admit comes across (i know, in a video) incredibly well and well beyond his prior amps.

Would love to hear it.
My friend who used to listen to this same Korean system on youtube then bought Boulder 3060 to go with Marten Coltrane Supreme 2. He said he used to admire the Korean system but no more after he sold DCS and bought Boulder DAC. Cabling is similar with Siltech TC mostly.

His system is on youtube too if you are interested. :D
 
Last edited:
Dec 20, 2011
61
7
8
San Diego
#17
https://www.tonepublications.com/review/boulder-3050-monoblock-amplifiers/

This is the only review of 3000 series amps I know of. Mr. Dorgay is right on everything and what he wrote also applies to the 3060. That review is over 6 years old and still true. Many amps as big or bigger and similar price or higher have come out since and it is fun to look at them and hear them. I will check them out again at RMAF next month. I am not that surprised that you can tell the difference even in a YouTube video.
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
8,856
975
113
E. England
#18
I just smile to myself that Boulder are built in, and named after, Boulder.

Imagine if the same amps were built in a city called eg Pacify, or Cloudy etc.
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
11,709
1,493
113
London
#19
I just smile to myself that Boulder are built in, and named after, Boulder.

Imagine if the same amps were built in a city called eg Pacify, or Cloudy etc.
There's a city in Austria called Fucking. It has a population of 109. And you have to cross the border from Kissing and Petting in Bavaria to get to Fucking. We need source, pre, and power made in each of those cities respectively to turn on sequentially
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,912
118
63
#20
https://www.tonepublications.com/review/boulder-3050-monoblock-amplifiers/

This is the only review of 3000 series amps I know of. Mr. Dorgay is right on everything and what he wrote also applies to the 3060. That review is over 6 years old and still true. Many amps as big or bigger and similar price or higher have come out since and it is fun to look at them and hear them. I will check them out again at RMAF next month. I am not that surprised that you can tell the difference even in a YouTube video.
Great review...i have read it before and saved in my files already. Thanks for posting...a great re-read!
 

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