Boulder 1012 D/A preamplifier Page 5

Changing to the 16/44.1 version of the same recording through the Wadia transport direct into another of the digital inputs, I found the sound slightly less relaxing but more dynamic and swingin'. It sounded good, too, but more sharpish—like the polygons, squares, and circles that graphics softwares use to create an image. The high-resolution recordings from Classic and Chesky sounded more of a piece; more put together and finalized, so to speak, and embodying that special ease I crave and associate with SACD.

I also tried feeding the 1012 with upsampled 16-bit/44.1kHz recordings courtesy of the Purcell. I was nearly blown away by the quality of sound. Ah, but how many people are going to buy a Purcell to use with their Boulder 1012, when a good deal of that special sauce is available when you feed the Boulder a 96kHz signal from a legacy DVD player? If you're after the best of the best, it's a close thing between a Purcell/Elgar Plus and the Purcell/Boulder 1012. But that's only if you're a maniac like me, and you just have to have the best of the best...or perish.

If you want to have almost the best of the best, the 1012 will work nicely with your current "Red Book" transport, and a little better still if you feed it hi-rez Chesky or Classic material through an appropriate DVD transport. [While the first-generation Technics DVD-A10 provides a 24/96 output stream, the more recent DVD-Audio players we have reviewed are hardware-limited to 44.1kHz and 48kHz sample rates, unfortunately.—Ed.]

Mr. Murphy Strikes Again
"Knock knock."

"Who's there?"

"Murphy's Law, and we're comin' for you!"

You may have noticed that there are two serial numbers listed in the specifications Sidebar at the end of this review. Just before I was ready to pack the 1012 up for JA to measure, it stopped in its tracks. Obviously, something had gone down.

A quick call to Boulder ensued, and another unit was sent to JA for measurement. The information I got from Boulder was that a tantalum capacitor had shorted the output stage. Bruce van Allen was poleaxed with shock: there are 832 parts on that surface-mount board, and of course...

Don't wrap it up, I'll wear it out!
From any aspect, the Boulder 1012 is almost akin to a feat of magic. It sounds great through its own very special high-speed DACs, and sounds clear, transparent, and colorful through its line-level inputs as well. Find a way to feed it low-jitter 24/96 data and it'll give your system a little more of that wonderfulness we're all searching for while working the Boulder's DACs to their bursting point.

If you've got the bucks, go for it. This is one very extraordinary component.