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  #11  
Old 12-10-2009, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by PHC1 View Post
True but when an experienced reviewer says he couldn't hear a difference and actually preferred a $7k CDP to a $24K Boulder unit, one can't help to wonder what the extra $17k buys you in this case.
This certainly raises some questions. $17K could purchase a high end, stand along DAC along with the AYRE if that was a desire.

Does either, or both, offer any form of upgrade potential for long term software considerations?
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  #12  
Old 12-10-2009, 01:21 PM
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The Boulder CD player offers no external inputs to access the DACs with other digital sources. It makes me wonder why Boulder would drop their stand alone DAC, and not just upgrade it.

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Old 12-10-2009, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by PHC1 View Post
True but when an experienced reviewer says he couldn't hear a difference and actually preferred a $7k CDP to a $24K Boulder unit, one can't help to wonder what the extra $17k buys you in this case.
Did a factory tour at Boulder a few years ago. Their design philosophy is "let's make the most expensive boxes we can and sell them in Asia." I was not impressed by the equipment demo at the end either, very sterile sounding gear and room.
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  #14  
Old 12-10-2009, 02:38 PM
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Did a factory tour at Boulder a few years ago. Their design philosophy is "let's make the most expensive boxes we can and sell them in Asia." I was not impressed by the equipment demo at the end either, very sterile sounding gear and room.
I have not yet "warmed up" to the sound of Boulder either.
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  #15  
Old 12-10-2009, 04:11 PM
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Gee this is getting to be like that Steve's thread about why the MS-750 costs so much. There is a limited market out their for high priced gear. We can debate all day about whether any product is worth the additional dollars if there is something that does the same for a lot less. Guess what, a $40 dollar watch from Wal-Mart that syncs with an atomic clock keeps better time than a Patek or Vaschron. You will not convince many people that there is over $300k worth of sound in Wavec Amps compared to (fill in the blank). Cars are probably the perfect example. For the extra dollars we get some extra speed, nicer leather, and EXCLUSIVITY.
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  #16  
Old 12-14-2009, 11:44 AM
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This seems very strange to me and also speaks to what I've seen as a trend in Stereophile reviews recently: that the reviewers can't hear or can barely hear a difference between different products. I specifically refer to Atkinson's claim that the Boulder, Ayre and Meridian players sounded very much the same. I've heard the Boulder and Ayre players in one of our local stores here in Chicago and they sound absolutely nothing alike - the Ayre has a pronounced midrange and little bass response (it seemed to have a certain "presence" at first but I eventually figured out that this coloration made everything sound the same) and the Boulder was very clean and taut with a big bottom end. I've also been to a store in Dallas where I heard the Ayre in comparison to Audio Research and the characteristics of the Ayre were similar. In that store, the salesman told me that they could hear the difference between the Ayre and Boulder from down the hall, that the review was a bit of a joke. What I find disturbing is that I was in the market for the C-5xe prior to this based on the reviews I've been reading. Now I'm suspicious about why so many reviewers are writing things that are counter to what my own ears tell me and also why so many of them seem to own gear from the same manufacturers. Methinks a little back scratching is going on!
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  #17  
Old 12-14-2009, 02:18 PM
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Default A Little Clarification

Okay, there seem to be a few misconceptions here and I've already been pinged by e-mail about them multiple times today, so I'll do my best to make things clear:

* The competing players: no point in discussing how they sound in comparison since I get paid to tell you our stuff is better! Forum members proclaim the stuff they own to be the best (gotta protect one's investment!), manufacturers say the same of the stuff they make (gotta move boxes!), and dealers do it as well in order to sell gear. Advice: ignore all of them and go listen for yourself. You have no one else to impress or answer to, so you may as well spend your money on the pieces you actually prefer anyway.

* High resolution playback: the 1021 will play just about any high resolution file type you put into the disc tray, all the way up to 32-bit or 192 kHz. To the best of my knowledge, the Ayre player doesn't do that - it's a standard SACD/DVD-A player and will only play those higher resolution formats, both of which we see fading off into the sunset soon (I'm not aware of what the Meridian plays). Actually, DVD-A is already way over the horizon and has fallen off the edge of the world as far as we can tell. Because we didn't modify a player from one of the big Japanese corporations to begin with, we have the ability to make the 1021 whatever we want it to be, including:

* Making the 1021 a network DAC. By using server and renderer software, the 1021 can be connected to your home network and utilized as a network DAC to play any file in your digital library at native resolution in its original data format. This means that it can have equal to or better than sound quality in comparison to the original disc straight from your computer. This upgrade is slated for release in January. It has no digital inputs other than the Ethernet connection, but Ethernet gives you access to anything you can rip.

*The demise of the 2020: it can't be upgraded to operate like the 1021. There are too many differences in their internal workings. There are differences in the way the two sound, too, but demand for the 2020 declined significantly after the release of the 1021. We can build one upon purchase, but we're no longer stocking or sub-assembling them. Other D/As with traditional digital inputs? Yep, in the future, based on what we learned with the 1021, including 800 Series and a replacement for the 2020 eventually.

* What the reviews say: I'm not even going to go there. VERY few members of the public know of or understand the dirty politics involved in the audio review world and kinda like making sausage, they'd recoil if they did. Simply visit a dealer and use your own ears - they're more reliable.

* The TAS Product of the Year Awards: I don't think we're eligible for 2009 because the review was technically in a 2010 issue.

If anyone else had any other questions that were passed on to me and I didn't answer them, I don't frequent the forums much, so e-mail is the best way to reach us. Now if you'll excuse me, it's lunch time!

Last edited by Masterlu; 04-01-2014 at 07:52 PM.
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  #18  
Old 12-14-2009, 04:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spiny View Post
I've heard the Boulder and Ayre players in one of our local stores here in Chicago ... I've also been to a store in Dallas where I heard the Ayre in comparison to Audio Research ...
This is the reason I wish the general public could attend CES and similar. It is simply impossible to A/B a wide range of products if you rely on the retail store approach. Few stores carry a wide range of products [for many reasons, I suspect].

Of course, CES, and the like, have brand pairings in the different demo rooms [based on business affiliations, etc.]. But, at least you can keep some of your listening thoughts fresh in your mind as you meander down hallways and travel in the elevators between floors. That freshness is certainly lost in the car, train, and/or plane between retail stores.

As for the Boulder 1021 CD player, I remain torn. I like the one box approach and one less set of IC's. But, I also like the flexibility that a separate DAC offers with regards to component change outs within a system. Of course, you can bypass the internal DAC's, but then you paid for something not being used.

Boulder
Ayre
MCD1000/MDA1000
MBL

They're all so impressive that it seems only a full system comparison makes sense. Either you use the same system and slide these different CD components in and out for a true A/B, or you place each CD component in its ideal system and try and compare the overall result. That would appear to be the CES approach. You select a sound from a specific demo room as being your favorite, and you buy that collection of components, IC's, and speaker wires: acoustics aside.
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  #19  
Old 12-14-2009, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by jdandy View Post
The Boulder CD player offers no external inputs to access the DACs with other digital sources. It makes me wonder why Boulder would drop their stand alone DAC, and not just upgrade it.
I agree. It seems odd. They claim that the 1021 surpasses the 2009 stand alone DAC. The very same DAC that garnered enourmously favorable reviews. Can their claims be true? Or, is this a simple way to disguise a shift in manufacturing by reducing one component from the inventory?

Have I missed a recent pendulum swing from separates back to integrated components that a $20,000+ per component company would go in this direction???
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  #20  
Old 12-14-2009, 04:50 PM
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Default The Public at CES

CES wouldn't be a good venue to attend as a member of the public - it's the one show a year where all of our dealers and distributors gather and we have a chance to discuss business for the past and coming years face to face. We visit all of our dealers at least once a year, but there are some distributors we wouldn't see otherwise.

Because of this, demos are limited (or none), sound is a secondary concern, there are conversations taking place, people would be walking in front of you, hotels sound awful, every hotel room is different and room treatment is different or missing, etc., so your comparative listening experience would be more than a little compromised.

There are alternatives to CES, however: The Rocky Mountain AudioFest in October of every year and (if it manages to get off the ground) the AXPONA expo in Florida. The hotel sound will still be awful, but at least at consumer events the demo-ing is respected.
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