Boulder 1110 Preamplifier and 1160 Power Amplifier

Remarkably Good

Equipment report
Solid-state power amplifiers,
Solid-state preamplifiers
Boulder Amplifiers 1110,
Boulder Amplifiers 1160
Boulder 1110 Preamplifier and 1160 Power Amplifier

Boulder 1160 Amplifier
As I’ve already noted, the sound quality, nuances, and “voicing” of the Boulder 1110 and 1160 are largely identical. Once again, however, Rich Maez provided a list of useful insights into Boulder’s design process, and intentions in the accompanying sidebar. What Rich does not mention is that this amp is a bit of a beast. It is relatively compact, but it weighs 135 pounds, and can take advantage of a dedicated AC line with a special plug and a 240-volt connection. I did not have one to try, but I do have a dedicated 120-volt AC line for my power amps and it did make a slight improvement.

The 1160 delivers a massive amount of clean power and does so in ways that have advantages over much of the competition. It can drive almost any speaker to its limits without changing sound quality, and it can handle even the most demanding transients in an almost effortless fashion. I’ve reviewed a number of power amps in the past—some with higher power ratings—that could not provide the same lifelike musical dynamics or control speakers as well in the deepest bass.

At the same time, the “voicing” of the 1160 had one characteristic that I did not hear with the 1110. The 1160’s bass is very tight and “fast,” and this is particularly apparent with organ music and major bass and kettle drum strokes. Many other amps seem slightly “warmer,” and provide more apparent bass energy, albeit at the cost of definition. This is particularly true of many of the Class A amplifiers I’ve reviewed, and is worth listening for if you audition the 1160. I can’t tell you which nuance is “right,” as my own preferences varied by recording, but again, it is worth listening for.

Summing Up
The Boulder 1110 preamplifier and 1160 power amplifier are truly superb pieces of gear. They do have their own sound character, and this is audible even using a wide variety of front ends, interconnects, cables, and speakers. If you are building or improving a great system, you still need to listen carefully to the Boulders’ nuances and give them the same attention you do in auditioning every other component. You also need to be aware that you will hear the different mix of nuances imposed by your other components once you insert them into your particular system.

The Boulders’ great strength, however, is that they provide outstanding performance in every dimension, and have very little sound character of their own. Their “voicing” reveals the music rather than colors it, and this makes them remarkably good core components for building a truly excellent system.

Specs & Pricing

1110 linestage preamplifier
Balanced inputs: Five on XLR jacks
Balanced outputs: Two on XLR jacks
AUX balanced outputs: One on XLR jacks
Maximum input level: 7Vrms
Maximum output level: 28Vrms
THD+N: 0.0008% (-102 dB)
Maximum voltage gain: 20dB
Frequency response: 20Hz–50kHz
Input impedance: 333k ohms balanced
Output impedance: 100 ohms balanced 
Dimensions: 19" x 9.25" x 18"
Weight: 78 lbs.
Price: $21,000

1160 stereo amplifier
Power output: 300Wpc into 8 ohms
Peak power output: 300Wpc into 8 ohms, 600Wpc into 4 ohms, 1200Wpc into 2 ohms
THD+N: 0.0009% 20Hz–2kHz
Dimensions: 27" x 26" x 33"
Weight: 135 lbs.
Price: $28,000

255 South Taylor Avenue
Louisville, CO 80027
(303) 449-8220