I have been looking forward to putting together this Boulder 866 and Soulution 330 battle for a few days now. The Boulder 866 has well and truly won me over and the few times I have written about it I have been very excited. Today though, it is going up against a real heavyweight contender in the Soulution 330. These are two very popular high-end amplifiers that are aimed at those who have serious money to burn. There is no way in hell I could ever get away with spending this kind of money on an amp, but I did have a chance to play around with both of these and that is why I want to smash them head to head and get my thoughts about which one I liked the best out there!
One of the most surprising things about this Boulder 866 and Soulution 330 is the price. I thought for sure that this would be closer than it is, but there is actually a pretty big difference in the price between these two. Hey, they are both very expensive! It is just one is super expensive and the other is radically expensive!
There are two versions of the Boulder 866 out there. There is one that comes with the DAC and one that does not. You are looking at around the $12,000 mark for the one without the DAC and if you want the DAC, you are looking at a couple of extra thousand bucks. I know this is a great deal of money to be spending on something like this, however, out of all the higher-end amplifiers that I have seen over the years, I would have to say that I think this one here is probably offering some of the best bang for your buck. I have tried to find one of these used on eBay, but so far none have popped up.
The Soulution 330 is considerably more expensive than what the Boulder is going for. You can get this with or without a DAC. Without it, you are easily looking at $18,000 and with it, chances are it is going to cost you over 20 grand! This is a very expensive amp and the rather radically difference in price makes it kind of hard to compare. I had a look on eBay to see if I could find a cheaper one on there, but I could not. Chances are you are going to have to pay a hefty premium if you want to add this thing to your setup. Still, I have seen other amps of this kind of quality that are right around the same price so it is not as if this is way out of line.
The Verdict: I have to be honest and say that for me personally, this is a pretty easy win for the Boulder 866. Even with the DAC, you are looking at a cheaper price than the base Soulution 330. I am not saying that the Soulution 330 is completely out of hand, but between these two, I 100 percent feel that you are getting better value for money with the Boulder.
We come to my favorite round in this Boulder 866 and Soulution 330 match and that is where we look at the design of these amps. These are two very stylish looking amps and they both have a silver design to them which I think is very, very cool! I would happily have either one of these out on display in my home.
Boulder 866: As of me writing this in August of 2022, the Boulder 866 is probably my favorite looking high-end amplifier on the market right now. Just check out this The world’s BEST integrated amplifier. The Boulder 866. I’ll never be the same. video and you can see it from every angle and get a better idea of why I am so in love with this thing! To start with, the silver body of this amp is very cool, but let’s get straight to what you want to know about and that is the LCD touchscreen that this has. I love this thing and it is so much fun to mess around and play with the features and settings on this thing. Now, another thing that makes this interesting is that the whole front of the amp is angled and not flat. This not only looks very cool; it makes looking at the screen much easier. It is pretty big, but I have certainly seen larger and heavier amps. The dimensions of the Boulder 866 are 16.7″ x 17″ x 7.25″ and it comes in at around the 50 pounds mark.
On the back of the amp, you have all your ports that you can make use of. Now, the version that I had the pleasure of checking out did have the DAC built in, so there were digital as well as analog ports. I like how spaced out everything on the back of here is and I think that is great if you have a digital music collection as well as a whole bunch of vinyl. Boulder has also made sure that all of the ports are clearly labeled as well. There is no remote control with this and usually, that would really grind my gears, however, I am giving the Boulder 866 a pass as I liked using the touch screen so much. Plus, you can also download an app to your phone and tablet and control this that way.
Soulution 330: I have to say that the Soulution 330 is one of the most stylish and cool looking amplifiers that I have ever seen! It comes in at around 66 pounds so it is a bit heavier than the Boulder and at 16.9” x 5.5” x 19.29”. It is a lot shorter than the Boulder, but otherwise, it is a kind of similar size to it. Now, the silver they have used gives this thing a very modern kind of look that I am a huge fan of. It just oozes style and there is no way you can look at this and not think that it is super cool! It has a very minimalistic and smart design on the front. You have a nice LCD that gives you the essential information about what you have connected. On the other side of the unit, you then have your volume dial and in between the dial and the LCD, you have three buttons, one for power, mute, and input. It is a very elegant kind of design and it is something that I really do like.
Before we get to the back of the amp, I have to say that I love the little feet that this thing stands on. I know it is a silly thing to think is cool, but it really does help add to the aesthetic of the amp. On the back, we have a very elegant design when it comes to the various ports. One section will be blank if you do not have DAC installed. However, the labels for the digital options are labeled just like the other ones are. Everything is kept nicely spaced out which makes setting things up so much easier. The Soulution 330 has one of the most awesome remote controls that I have ever seen. It is not a rectangular shape like normal. This has a weird, round design to it that I just love! It has all the buttons you need and it is such a cool looking remote and it fits the style of the amp perfectly.
The Verdict: Come on, you know the way I am going here, right? I am picking the Boulder 866 as the winner, I just freaking love the overall design of that thing, and the touchscreen is just the icing on the cake. There is not a single feature about that amp that I do not love. Now, the Soulution 330 is also a gorgeous looking amplifier, as a matter of fact, it has come closer to beating the Boulder 866 than any other amp, I have put it in the right with so far. However, it does come up short, but not by much!
The main event as it always is with these things is checking out how these will bring your music collection to life. Now, this is a very interesting round in our Boulder 866 and Soulution 330 contest as I have been going back and forth about which way I want to go here.
Boulder 866: With the Boulder 866 looking so good, it can be easy to ignore the fact that this is a fantastic amplifier that is going to really make your favorite albums sound amazing. I managed to snag the Purple Rain – Exclusive Limited Edition Purple Colored Vinyl LP on Amazon a few months back for a great price and I used this as the perfect opportunity to check it out and all I can say is wow. There is a real “authenticity” about the sound you are getting out of the Boulder 866. It is very well balanced and while I did play around with the settings to find that sweet spot that was just right for me. I would wager that most people would be more than happy with the way this sounds with all the default settings. Another 80s icon that I listened to while playing around with this was Very Best Of Billy Ocean… Yeah, I like Billy Ocean and there was a time in the 80s, I would have said that I liked him better than Michael Jackson. Anyway, it sounded great, the vocals and all of the instrumentation were perfectly on point.
I ended up playing around with this for the better part of a day and I threw all kinds of music at it. Another great example of what the Boulder 866 is capable of is America’s Least Wanted by Ugly Kid Joe. In a just world, these guys would have been one of the biggest bands in the 90s. Rock sounds amazing pumped through this thing, it is loud, it is raw and it is kickass! Rock is probably my favorite genre if I had to pick one and I could see myself having a ton of fun with these things. Of course, I had to fire up some Guns n Roses and I went for Use Your Illusion II as it has You Could Be Mine on it which is my favorite song of all time. I can hand on my heart say that it sounded as good here as I have ever heard it sound! I will admit, I did wonder if this amp would be more style over substance, but that is not the case at all. It looks great and it sounds great too!
Soulution 330: When it comes to sound, the Soulution 330 is truly something special. I was floored when my buddy and I first started messing around with this. He really wanted to listen to some Rolling Stones so we put on, Hot Rocks, 1964-1971 which features some of their most iconic early hits such as my favorite, Paint It Black. What impressed me the most about this is the sheer power it offered. Not just that, but you get this powerful bass and treble, but not at the expense of any kind of clarity. There are many videos like this Ajasom-Portugal-Avalon PM1-Soulution 330 INT video, where people show off their setups and you can tell from them all that they are very happy with what the Soulution 330 is offering them. I have never once claimed to have the most sophisticated “audiophile” ears on the planet, but I must admit, there is a slight increase in overall sound quality here over the Boulder 866, it is not much, but I did notice it.
A bit of a controversial one here, but as much as I love the guy, the pricing for the 2022 Bruce Springsteen tour tickets sucks! Anyway, we did fire up Bruce Springsteen: Greatest Hits [2LP] which is the ultimate collection of The Boss’s best hits. What I did when we listened to this album was, first of all, put on Born in the USA to hear this thing really rocking. Straight after that, Streets of Philadelphia was what we listened to and with two very contrasting songs by the same artist being played back to back, you could really see just how much versatility this thing has when it comes to the sound. As we were on a real Springsteen kick, we decided to listen to a few tracks from Legacy Bruce Springsteen Live: 1975-85 and I can happily report that live music sounds amazing played through this thing as well.
The Verdict: On paper, I know that I should like the Soulution 330 better. However, I do not think that there is much in this at all if I am being honest with you. I know that a hardcore audiophile would be able to tell you the intricacies and so on of each amp. However, I just consider myself a music lover and both of these sounded fantastic. However, I am giving this round to the Boulder 866. I know I said that I think the Soulution 330 had a slightly better sound, but I do not think it is like ten grand better!
Which Is Better?
I know that the Boulder 866 has won every single round in our Boulder 866 and Soulution 330 contest today, but this was actually closer than you may think. So far, the Boulder 866 has steamrolled the competition. The Soulution 330 really did impress me and if I am being honest, if it had been the exact same price as the Boulder 866, the sound and the price category may have gone another way. However, I have to say that the Boulder 866 is picking up the win here. It is the better priced amp; I preferred the design and I really do not see much difference in the sound capabilities of the two at all. Plus, even with the DAC, the Boulder 866 is cheaper than the Soulution 330.