Boulder 812 Preamp/Headphone Amp/Dac
Jun 8, 2021 at 9:12 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 90

Ricky64

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Hi All;
I had a chance to play with this high end piece of kit, as I live locally. I'd been passing their building for years, and decided recently to call them and stop by for a tour. Boulder Amp has been in the upper echelons of the 2 channel world for years. This piece is around $8K, so it's still rarified air for the lucky few. It pulls technology from their uber high end components, and is a Roon endpoint. Needless to say, it sounds very good. It also offers an avenue into building a 2 channel separates system down the road.
Value is certainly a relative thing, but it is an impressive piece.


SPECS​

812

DAC PREAMPLIFIER (COMING SOON)
  • CONNECTIONS (FRONT)
    •4-Pin XLR Headphone Connector
    •1/8” Headphone Connector
    •1/4” Headphone Connector
    •Pentacon Headphone Connector
  • CONNECTIONS (BACK)
    •2 Pair XLR Analog Inputs
    •1 Pair XLR Preamplifier Output
    •4x USB Host
    •Ethernet
    •USB-B
    •2 Optical Digital Inputs
    •Coaxial (RCA, SPDIF) Digital Input
  • SOFTWARE FEATURES
    •Based on 866 DSP Filter and DAC topology
    •Configurable Headphone Sensitivity
    •Available Fixed DAC out
    •HTML Programming
    •Control through Boulder Controller App
    •Input Trim
  • HARDWARE FEATURES
    •Switch Between Headphone and Preamp Outputs
    •Volume Knob & Chassis Machined In House
    •100 db Optically Encoded Volume Control
    •Innovative Protection Circuits
  • DIMENSIONS
    12”x12”x 3.5”
  • WEIGHT
    14 lbs

812-Front-Render-1200x543.png
 
Jun 16, 2021 at 5:35 PM Post #2 of 90

gonzalo05

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Hi All;
I had a chance to play with this high end piece of kit, as I live locally. I'd been passing their building for years, and decided recently to call them and stop by for a tour. Boulder Amp has been in the upper echelons of the 2 channel world for years. This piece is around $8K, so it's still rarified air for the lucky few. It pulls technology from their uber high end components, and is a Roon endpoint. Needless to say, it sounds very good. It also offers an avenue into building a 2 channel separates system down the road.
Value is certainly a relative thing, but it is an impressive piece.


SPECS​

812

DAC PREAMPLIFIER (COMING SOON)
  • CONNECTIONS (FRONT)
    •4-Pin XLR Headphone Connector
    •1/8” Headphone Connector
    •1/4” Headphone Connector
    •Pentacon Headphone Connector
  • CONNECTIONS (BACK)
    •2 Pair XLR Analog Inputs
    •1 Pair XLR Preamplifier Output
    •4x USB Host
    •Ethernet
    •USB-B
    •2 Optical Digital Inputs
    •Coaxial (RCA, SPDIF) Digital Input
  • SOFTWARE FEATURES
    •Based on 866 DSP Filter and DAC topology
    •Configurable Headphone Sensitivity
    •Available Fixed DAC out
    •HTML Programming
    •Control through Boulder Controller App
    •Input Trim
  • HARDWARE FEATURES
    •Switch Between Headphone and Preamp Outputs
    •Volume Knob & Chassis Machined In House
    •100 db Optically Encoded Volume Control
    •Innovative Protection Circuits
  • DIMENSIONS
    12”x12”x 3.5”
  • WEIGHT
    14 lbs

812-Front-Render-1200x543.png
Damn that thing looks awesome. Would you say the price is justified? Thanks.
 
Jun 17, 2021 at 9:38 AM Post #3 of 90

Ricky64

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Hi;
I don't know that I could tell you the exact characteristics of this piece based on my audition; I plan on going back and listening further. I do know that this is a company that has established their reputation by competing successfully at the highest level of 2 channel audio (individual components, such as phono stages, start at $19K and their top end monoblocks go for $190K a pair!). They are perfectionists and, while introducing "lower priced" (?!) products to enter the market of the new brand of audiophile (headphone, streaming, smaller listening spaces) they are very aware of the need to protect brand reputation. They've released a new integrated that includes streaming functions, the 866, for around $14K with built in DAC. It is garnering rave reviews, and they cannot keep up with orders. It is competing with much higher priced separates.
So, I believe the 812 will perform and compete at the highest level.
Seasoned audiophiles will look at this as a "value" way to get into Boulder Amp gear, and have a built in Roon endpoint and DAC, or just to have a high end desktop headphone unit.
Younger audiophiles can look at it as a way to build an endgame quality headphone unit, that could expand to a two channel system with time (one guesses that there might be a companion stereo amp to come along at some point).
It will be a personal decision whether this is worth $8K to the buyer, but this will compete sonically with the Chord and DCS competition, and be more versatile.
 
Jun 17, 2021 at 10:45 AM Post #4 of 90

gonzalo05

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Hi;
I don't know that I could tell you the exact characteristics of this piece based on my audition; I plan on going back and listening further. I do know that this is a company that has established their reputation by competing successfully at the highest level of 2 channel audio (individual components, such as phono stages, start at $19K and their top end monoblocks go for $190K a pair!). They are perfectionists and, while introducing "lower priced" (?!) products to enter the market of the new brand of audiophile (headphone, streaming, smaller listening spaces) they are very aware of the need to protect brand reputation. They've released a new integrated that includes streaming functions, the 866, for around $14K with built in DAC. It is garnering rave reviews, and they cannot keep up with orders. It is competing with much higher priced separates.
So, I believe the 812 will perform and compete at the highest level.
Seasoned audiophiles will look at this as a "value" way to get into Boulder Amp gear, and have a built in Roon endpoint and DAC, or just to have a high end desktop headphone unit.
Younger audiophiles can look at it as a way to build an endgame quality headphone unit, that could expand to a two channel system with time (one guesses that there might be a companion stereo amp to come along at some point).
It will be a personal decision whether this is worth $8K to the buyer, but this will compete sonically with the Chord and DCS competition, and be more versatile.
Thank you so much for the feedback. I really hope to audition this unit someday.
 
Jun 20, 2021 at 1:27 PM Post #5 of 90

goldwerger

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Hi;
I don't know that I could tell you the exact characteristics of this piece based on my audition; I plan on going back and listening further. I do know that this is a company that has established their reputation by competing successfully at the highest level of 2 channel audio (individual components, such as phono stages, start at $19K and their top end monoblocks go for $190K a pair!). They are perfectionists and, while introducing "lower priced" (?!) products to enter the market of the new brand of audiophile (headphone, streaming, smaller listening spaces) they are very aware of the need to protect brand reputation. They've released a new integrated that includes streaming functions, the 866, for around $14K with built in DAC. It is garnering rave reviews, and they cannot keep up with orders. It is competing with much higher priced separates.
So, I believe the 812 will perform and compete at the highest level.
Seasoned audiophiles will look at this as a "value" way to get into Boulder Amp gear, and have a built in Roon endpoint and DAC, or just to have a high end desktop headphone unit.
Younger audiophiles can look at it as a way to build an endgame quality headphone unit, that could expand to a two channel system with time (one guesses that there might be a companion stereo amp to come along at some point).
It will be a personal decision whether this is worth $8K to the buyer, but this will compete sonically with the Chord and DCS competition, and be more versatile.
I’ve had my eyes on it and can’t wait for it’s release - did they give any indication when it may become available?

I also wonder what the specs of the DAC and headphone amp are. No detailed specs released yet..
 
Feb 6, 2022 at 1:11 PM Post #8 of 90

goldwerger

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From Audio Lounge in the UK:

“I have been informed that the factory is doing some final testing on the first batch to reach the UK.

These tests are scheduled for the next 2 weeks and that by the end of March, our demo unit should be with us!”



On another note, having only single XLR outs seems an odd choice. I’d use this for my power amp/speakers, but I’m missing also RCA out that would go to my active sub. Is there a practical way to split a single XLR out to put XLR and RCA out? Not sure if practical or safe, but definitely a design limitation that’s not ideal.
 
Feb 6, 2022 at 1:57 PM Post #9 of 90

gonzalo05

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From Audio Lounge in the UK:

“I have been informed that the factory is doing some final testing on the first batch to reach the UK.

These tests are scheduled for the next 2 weeks and that by the end of March, our demo unit should be with us!”



On another note, having only single XLR outs seems an odd choice. I’d use this for my power amp/speakers, but I’m missing also RCA out that would go to my active sub. Is there a practical way to split a single XLR out to put XLR and RCA out? Not sure if practical or safe, but definitely a design limitation that’s not ideal.
That's great news! I contacted Boulder about two weeks ago about any updates and no response.
 
Feb 12, 2022 at 10:39 AM Post #11 of 90

chesebert

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I think from a value perspective your money would go further with a $5k dac and $3k amp. Now that does leave you without a streamer. You will have to use your computer or an existing streamer until you can allocate another $5k for streamer. Something to look forward to, right?

I can see this may be a good fit for a second/office system. If I were Boulder I would skip these mid-priced stuff. As much I dislike the product direction of AMR/ifi, I think they made the correct business decision. I think Boulder would do well to have a second brand that pushes out entry level stuff.
 
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