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Gryphon Diablo 300

To Jeff Fritz,

I rarely if ever send notes to audio reviewers and usually trust my own ears. However, I read your recent “Jeff’s Getting a New Stereo System” and found that you and I are going through a similar situation. I have decided to focus on one single system rather than have two very good, albeit smaller, systems -- one in my family room and one in my library.

This all started because I have always wanted a Boulder 1060 and have been considering an 1160. So I have decided to sell my Boulder 865 and Viva Solista [integrated amplifiers] and put the money into a great power amplifier. My source is a Vitus DAC-preamplifier, although I may move to a tube front end at some point in the future. I use Wilson Audio Sasha Series 2 speakers.

I am weighing three [amplifier] options right now: Boulder 1160, Boulder 1060, and a Coda (either 15.5 or System 150).

I know very little about Coda, other than the fact that some seriously well regarded audiophiles love the product, think that it is the best deal in audio, and, well, you. So rather than guess, what I wanted to get your direct feedback and thoughts on was the Coda 15.5 or System 150 and how they might compare to Boulder. Is the quality on the same level or is Coda a tier below Boulder?

Warmest regards,
Jonathan L.
United States

Brace yourself for one of those truly unsatisfying answers because I can’t tell you exactly what you should buy.

Coda is a brand that flies under the radar, but shouldn’t. Doug Dale and his staff know power amplifiers as well as any, and have building great amps for decades. I have an older Model 11 that I just love and believe that the newer System 150 would compete with most anything made today. I base this opinion on the fact that I owned a System 100, the model in which the 150 is based on, and it was spectacular -- one of my favorite all-time amps.

Boulder is also a favorite brand, albeit a higher-profile one. Their products are built to a higher standard than anything I’ve ever seen in hi-fi electronics and the sound quality is among the most neutral and resolving you’ll ever hear. I owned a 1060 and thought it was fantastic, and would imagine the 1160 would be better still. This gear is expensive, but unlike a lot in high-end audio, you get what you pay for with Boulder.

Whichever way you go, I think you’ll be happy. No, thrilled. Since you read my article on amplification you know that these two brands are ones that I am considering as well. I can’t guide you to one specific product, but can tell you there is no wrong answer among your choices. Let me know what you decide to do. . . . Jeff Fritz