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Thread: Orchard Audio's BOSC - Review

  1. #1
    Join Date: Nov 2015

    Location: Wolverhampton

    Posts: 10,156
    I'm Oliver.

    Default Orchard Audio's BOSC - Review

    The BOSC is the brain child of Leo, who has been developing his OA brand for the last couple of years. The amps are all analogue and have a total output of 150w.

    Diminutive in size, barely bigger then a CD Jewel case on the face and maybe 2 inches deep, they are designed to be on short speaker cables and hidden behind your speaker, an antidote to ego stroking big brand mentality.

    The amps were left running and in place for 48hrs prior to any critical listening.

    The system consisted of a DCB1 preamp, Pioneer CS-77A Speakers, Allo Boss & RPI streaming via JRiver and Spotfire Cables throughout, which although isn’t the ideal setup, is the only setup I had available to use. Real world situations exist here so I felt it served a purpose.

    I started the listening with a few well know (to me) tracks and although I felt the amps were incredibly clear, I wasn’t feeling particularly “connected” to the songs. I tried a few tracks and I just wasn’t getting into the songs in the same way as usual.

    I decided to try a meatier set of cables, so I dug out my Spotfire “Emeralds” from the garage and plumbed them in. The Emeralds have a chunkier sound, so it was a good start that the BOSC demonstrated what I knew to be true already.
    I put a few tracks on and straight away I felt a bit more involved but still felt like a bit of something was missing. I contacted Leo and explained that, and he said if I was to use shorter speaker cables, all would be well. I hadn’t got anything sufficient at this time, so I thought I’d just listen and get something sorted out later.

    I put on Dave Brubecks “Take 5” and sure enough, the bit that was missing was some “slam”
    . The kick drum that forms the start of the song didn’t quite hit me in the chest in the way I have become accustomed to. However, before I knew it, I had just finished the whole album and hadn’t noticed the last hour or so had passed.

    Hmm, I thought in a puzzled way.

    Donavon was next. Universal solder to be precise. Donavon’s vocals soared out of the speakers in a way I haven’t experienced before. They were so clean and clear that I was genuinely taken aback. I sat here listening to the songs, one after another and again, the last song of the album came on and yes, I’d listened to every track intently, but the time had flown. I thought I had better write a few things down and decided to start with the gob iron (harmonica)

    The gob iron and Donovans vocals were absolutely crystal clear. I will say this now……….OPEN WINDOW

    I haven’t had an amplifier here that gets you as deep into to the recording as the BOSC. Stunningly transparent and neutral. I was hearing the tape “warble” on the second guitar track. I was hearing fret buzz, contrasting harmonics from the strings on the guitar, the plectrum land on the strings, you name it, if the mic picked it up, I was getting it here. Revelatory.

    I played a plethora of acoustic guitar tracks and every one of them drew me in and captivated me.

    I needed to change genre and did so.

    Madness – Greatest hits.

    House of fun started up and yes, superb clarity and transparency but the lower registers were slightly recessed, and I was really “feeling” the bass line. Don’t get me wrong, the detail from the bass is there but its not punching my chest. I am a huge believer that the bass line underpins everything else, so if that’s not right, we ain’t gonna get on!

    I must try something loud.

    On went Metallica – The God that failed.

    Unfortunately, in this instance it was the amp that failed, failed to give me sufficient levels of chest vibrations.
    Again, I am hearing details and layers of this track that I have NEVER heard before but IMO its missing the weight I know this track gives and more importantly, I am not wanting to smash the house up and scream the lyrics at my neighbours wall. This is a problem.

    I decide to do a bit more experimentation and play a few tracks via vinyl. For almost everything, the bass issue isn’t and issue via vinyl and again, I have spent at least 2 hours just letting albums run through and enjoyed every second of them.
    I decide to see whether the amps would sound as good via Volumio.

    As suspected and in accordance with my experience, Volumio “fattens” the sound somewhat and this is very apparent here.

    I played “Talk Tonight” by Oasis and by god, the hairs stood up on end, but it lost some nuances, micro detail and a bit of the imaging, likely caused by the lack of up-sampling without JRiver. I was streaming at 32/96 and now we’re at 16bit. Once again, the whole Oasis back catalogue is at risk of being auditioned and I must get up and walk away for a few minutes to get my brain around what I have heard.

    SO, what do I think so far?..........

    The BOSC are phenomenal imagers. I played some classical music via vinyl and sat here feeling like I was at a Royal tea party. It was all very polite and dignified. An air of prim and proper about it. Delightful, but not dramatic, Safe not stirring.

    I played some acoustic guitar tracks and I heard deep into the recording. I was absorbed and engrossed.
    I played some metal and whilst being dazzled by the amount of detail and new things I hadn’t heard before, I didn’t feel very "metal" at all. No head banging, not screaming at the neighbors and the family were all relatively unperturbed by my behavior.

    Truth is, I loved most of my music via the BOSC but it seemed to me that the experience varied, album by album. On the good stuff, they were phenomenal. Bass was tight and dynamic, and the clarity was unbelievable at times. However, on other stuff, it was like the bottom end had been rolled off and the emphasis was on the HF. I’d like to say that it was poor mixing but I have material here that is deliberately mixed to have a hump in the mids and it sounded “normal”.

    29 Palms – Robert Plant being one of them. I have this track for this exact reason and yet through the BOSC, it sounded normal.

    The Beatles 50th anniversary Sgt. Pepper always sounds a little bass heavy here, regardless of amplifier and again, it just didn’t.

    There are a couple of reasons why this could be…. 1) The BOSC need shorter speaker cables as advised or 2) The BOSC are a little lean.

    After a bit of experimentation and a few hours playing some vinyl, I decided that these amplifiers were good. Good enough to disrupt the monopoly of big HiFi brands pushing out Class D amplification, but I also had another task to perform. I needed to introduce the Pecan Pi.

    Using the Pecan Pi meant I could go directly to the amplifiers and cut out the DCB1 and ALLO Boss. The BOSC has been designed for this very configuration and straight away, it was obvious that this was the best way to use them.

    I used JRIver to upscale the media to 32/96 and the BOSC was suddenly alive!

    There was a distinct addition of body and the weight improved too. Obviously running the BOSC via the DCB1 had not been optimal. If I thought they were good before, how good are they now?

    Truth be known, the combination of Pecan Pi and the BOSC was superb. I played the usual repertoire of well-known tracks and finished with Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Bridge over troubled water’

    I was moved by the intimacy and personalization of the performance. The crescendo made every hair on my neck stand up. I must admit that until this moment, I hadn’t made that connection with the BOSC but as I said, the combination of Pecan Pi and BOSC was special.

    In comparison with the original setup:

    I had felt on a few occasions that whilst things were incredibly clean, concise and insightful, the sound didn’t convince me of any organic matter making the music. It was a recording and the recording was laid bare but the connection to the singer or the song itself just didn’t happen. However, with the PP in the chain, the feeling changed and whilst I did not detect any loss of detail or insight, the sound now resonated with me and I got into the tracks on an emotional level.

    Marvellous stuff.

    What I am left with, is a certain confusion or lack of understanding about why I couldn’t get the BOSC to do the same trick with far more expensive pieces. Pieces I KNOW sound fabulous.

    I spoke to Leo about this and even though he suggests the BOSC will be fine with ‘Modern’ equipment, I still believe that IF the BOSC could be even more flexible in their partnering equipment, they would sell well to a wider audience.

    After about 20 hours of listening to this BOSC and then another 10 hours listening to the Pecan Pi and BOSC, I can only say that I think the Pecan Pi & BOSC are a superb combo, best digital (streaming) I have heard here and if you are looking to spend around $2000 on a standalone streaming & amplifier rig, I suggest you start auditioning them. They were simply stunning with the transparency and neutrality on display. Channel separation is as good as it gets, obviously!

    As a standalone product, the BOSC wont suit everybody’s system. They benefited hugely from the introduction of their stablemate and based on my experience, I would suggest discussing the addition of them to your system with Leo. If you have a Preamp that will match them, you will have real Hi-End SQ for a fair price.

    The BOSC (with PP) are quality amplifiers but match them carefully!

    Thanks to Leo for the loan of his equipment.

    ***I have received no incentive to review these items and all views expressed here are solely my own. The information provided here is purely opinion based. I urge personal audition before any purchases are made***

  2. #2
    Join Date: Mar 2019

    Location: New Jersey, USA

    Posts: 205
    I'm Leo.


    Thanks, great write-up.

  3. #3
    Join Date: Nov 2015

    Location: Wolverhampton

    Posts: 10,156
    I'm Oliver.


    No worries Leo, just what I thought whilst listening. Glad to do it.

  4. #4
    Join Date: Mar 2019

    Location: New Jersey, USA

    Posts: 205
    I'm Leo.


    Now that Oli has finished his review would any other members here be interested in trying these amps?

  5. #5
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: West Yorkshire

    Posts: 405
    I'm Andy.


    Quote Originally Posted by orchardaudio View Post
    Now that Oli has finished his review would any other members here be interested in trying these amps?
    I'd be interested to hear how the amp compares to my valve and chip amp if OK?
    Main system:

    Philips DCC 730
    Technics SL-PJ28A CD Player
    Michell Orbe with arm decoupling kit & Pete's Pylons. SME V. Goldring Elite MC and Firebottle OTP MKII Phono Amp
    Lenco L75 in Birch ply plinth. Linn Basik Plus. Denon 103M cart Cairn Boost Phono Amp
    Network Player.
    Raspberry PI plus IQAudio DAC+ (also used as a CD player) plus Pi NAS Server
    Pure Sound A30
    Reiver Jenna floor standers
    Sennheiser HD545 Ref, HD600, HD477
    Headphone Amp
    Myryad Z40 (also used as a pre amp)
    Backup Speakers.
    TDL RTL2, Some home made concoction...
    Backup Amps
    Audiolab 8000a, Armstrong something or other, Amstrad Quadraphonic something or other, home built EL34 power amps.....

  6. #6
    Join Date: Mar 2008

    Location: Galashiels

    Posts: 13,213
    I'm inthescottishmafia.


    I wouldn’t mind giving them a go on my Bastanis OB’s.
    “Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of fuel. Sentimental people call it inspiration, but what they really mean is fuel. I have always needed fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio”

    Hunter S Thompson

  7. #7
    Join Date: Mar 2019

    Location: New Jersey, USA

    Posts: 205
    I'm Leo.


    Tour parcipants:
    1. gninnam
    2. Ali Tait

    Those who are part of the tour please send me an email at leo@orchardaudio.com. So that shipping can be arranged.

  8. #8
    Join Date: Mar 2019

    Location: New Jersey, USA

    Posts: 205
    I'm Leo.


    Another great write-up:

    Before I go into any detail, let me say up front that these amps are something special.* Detail and clarity galore with a transparency that grabs your attention and doesn't let go.* The amps run cool to the touch and are so small that they can be easily stashed away out of site in any system.* In my opinion, they punch way above their price point and easily turn a background music system into something that cannot be easily ignored... or at least, that was my experience.

  9. #9
    Join Date: Mar 2019

    Location: New Jersey, USA

    Posts: 205
    I'm Leo.


    Another great write up:

    This is an extremely good amplifier, something I could live with easily if I didn't own the Modulus 286. The noise floor is very low, and you hear tiny details into the background on many recordings. The amplifier is very similar sounding to the Modulus 286 which is a major compliment! Big, bombastic dynamics, excellent tight very well delineated bass and yes, ethereal high end. Soundstaging was wide, and performers were well placed, such that you could easily distinguish the differences between them.*

  10. #10
    Join Date: Mar 2019

    Location: New Jersey, USA

    Posts: 205
    I'm Leo.


    If you are in the NYC area come check out our equipment on September 21st.

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