Reviews by jon parker

jon parker

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: True reference quality amp, Intricate detailed presentation for sensitive IEMs, and effortlessly powerful for high ohm Headphones. Very well implemented tuning giving holographic imaging, sublime depth of imaging with well balanced bass, mids and liquid smooth highs
Cons: The display is a little bright & basic but as far as the amp goes - No cons!
Burson Audio – Conductor 3 Reference – Headphone Amp / Pre-amp / DAC

I have had the good fortune to spend some time with Burson’s new Conductor 3 Headphone Amp. I was excited to hear the amp having previously spent time with, and absolutely loving their ‘Swing’ Pre-amp (Review HERE)

What is it and what does it do ? – From the Website:

The Best DAC / Headphone Amp / Preamp

Being the best of its time. This has been the sole design goal of each Burson Conductor since 2007. The C3 Reference took 3 years to built and it leaves the competition for dust.


Advanced Digital

The SABRE32 / ESS9038Q2M DAC and XMOS USB receiver chips are the most advanced and expensive in the industry. There are two ESS9038 DAC chips in our C3 Reference and its USB receiver comes with customised driver by Thesycon, Germany. The result is unsurpassed processing power, perfectly playing back DSD512 and 38bit/786khz audio. The C3 Reference also features a Bluetooth 5.0 receiver Qualcomm/CSR8675 [+] with aptX HD audio codec. It pushes Bluetooth playback beyond CD quality and ease of use to the highest level.
Max Power X 5


Max Current Power Supply (MCPS) [+] raises voltage frequency from 50Hz to 170kHz, pushing noise beyond human hearing. Its low impedance ensures abundant and instant energy for output transistors. The C3 Reference uses 5 sets of MCPS: Which means, Display/Functionality, DAC, analouge left and analouge right are all separately powered.

The Cool Case

Let’s face it, most audio equipment cases are ugly and impractical. They usually have visible screws everywhere, sharp corners and boring colours. Class-A amplifiers even have finger cutting heat-sinks! They diminish the aesthetic of any living space especially modern desktops where every other electronic is slick and refined.
Made from high-density aluminium and electroplated to space-grey. The Cool Case [+] has only 4 visible screws under its belly. It is also a unified heat-sink that is 300% more efficient than previous Conductors. It is audio jewellery at its finest and It looks and plays very cool.


Smooth Control

The all-new OLED screen and interface program deliver a calming and intuitive user experience. Its machined solid aluminium knob offers the fines control and feels luxurious.

The Review

[Disclaimer] - I have no affiliation with Burson and was loaned the amp for the duration of the review period only

As with my previous review on the Swing I will be focussing on the sound itself. There are other excellent reviews that cover the technical details especially by Head-fi member Darku

Equipment used:

For my source I used iBasso DX200 Line out and Coaxial output.
For headphones – Sennheiser HD 540 Reference 1 - 600 ohm - Sony MDR-CD900ST
For IEMs –- IMR Acoustics Beryllium/Piezo/Planar Hybrid - Sony EX800ST
+ Others

Reference Music:

A Winged Victory for the Sullen – S/T [24/96]
Crosby & Nash – Another Stoney Evening [24/96]
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories [24/192]
Joe Walsh – Country Fair [SACD]
Fleetwood Mac – Rumours [R2R]
Gillian & Welch – The Harrow & the Harvest [24-96]
Stevie Wonder – Innervisions [SACD]
Peter Gabriel – SO [SACD]
Steely Dan – Aja [24/96]
Talk Talk – Spirit of Eden [SACD / 24-192]
Tom Waits – Closing Time [24/96]

Just briefly to touch on the general operation of the BAC3. I had no problems working out how everything worked as BAC3 has a huge display, four buttons and a smooth and quick dial to make selections with. Each selectable item is represented by a large icon – simply moving the dial and pushing it in selects the item, turning the dial again once selected gives the different options and pushing in the dial again selects your new choice. Easy!

The Sound

Sound stage / Imaging / Layers

This is one area that immediately stands out as nothing short of extraordinary. Its difficult to fully appreciate just how profound music can sound until you experience it directly with an amp of this calibre. The one thing I noticed at first was how the BAC3 doesn’t immediately strike you as having an ‘excessively’ huge soundstage but this a real boon as it shows how great the imaging and separation is.
Sometimes companies use gimmicks to make areas such as soundstage and bass sound bigger than they actually are which initially can give a certain ‘wow’ factor but this is not realistic or true to the recording and so rarely stands the test of time.
The BAC3 however, is the real deal. Due to the three years of research and design, the best possible components used including the worlds most advanced DAC - the ESS Sabre 9038; the BAC3 gives a truthful representation that more than lives up to its Reference classification
The imaging in particular is exceptional. The BAC3 somehow manages to give each instrument its own unique place in the mix in such a way that you can focus in on and not only enjoy all the subtle and micro details, but also the special characteristics of each instrument.
With the track ‘Aja’ from Steely Dan you clearly hear the wood of the drum sticks hitting the cymbals both in the background, to the left and then the right and despite all the other instruments; the crash and full decay of the cymbals.
This level of detail and imaging is a clear indication of a great reference amp and really is the stuff of dreams as far as Audiophile listening goes

The depth and positioning of the instruments is also beautifully presented, again subtle but there to be enjoyed by the discerning Audiophile. The way instruments are separated is also presented in a layered manner, so not only do you have everything in its own position both from left, right and centre but you can hear instruments both in front of and behind each other in the space before you! Something I had as yet not had the pleasure to experience…until now

The instruments are also presented with firm authority. This is not as easy term to define. An analogy to try to illustrate is - like the difference between a timid and nervous singer and a singer on top of their game – in the sense that each note feels full, rich and supremely confident!

Highs / Mids / Low End

Sometimes I think that if you can hear certin characteristics with the highs then something is not quite tuned as well as it should or perhaps could be. With the BAC3 everything is extremely well balanced. You rarely hear anything other than the music. When you do hear the high frequencies it tends to come from the clear but brassy crash of a cymbal or the ‘zing’ of acoustic guitar strings – they always seem to be a part off the whole rather than trying too hard.

Again, with the Mids the vocals always sound clear as day, have a natural timbre but are so well balanced with everything else you tend to just get lost in the emotion of the song as a whole. Male and female vocals just sound ‘right’ . . . as they should coming from a Reference Amp.

The Low end is both deep, rich and very well textured, neither dominating the mix or surrendering any of its qualities to the mids. Listening to the rolling drum kit intros of Joe Walsh ‘Country Fair’ SACD and to the later rhythm drum / percussion sections of the song shows how good the ESS Sabre 9038 really is. The tonality of the drum hits are perfect, varied and textured whilst still maintaining the brass crash and full decays of the cymbals.

Where as with the Swing pre-amp I sometimes found this area could be a tiny bit weak with the BAC3 Im clearly hearing everything is now as near to perfect as I could wish for. Its very impressive how they have upped the game with the BAC3 in subtle but very meaningful ways

In fact the quality of the BAC3 has made writing a review particularly difficult in the sense that there is nothing I can find wrong with it. But here is the most important point that I would to make about the BAC3

1. It is a Reference Class Amp and performs perfectly in this role. I can reference any music I own, from DSD to Hi Res Flac to CD. I can listen and appreciate that the information the BAC3 is giving me I can use as a reference point to how the audio actually sounds and to measure other amps too.

2. The DAC chip is of the highest possible pedigree. The ESS Sabre 9038DQ2M is one ofm if not the best out there. I must confess to always liking the Sabre chips. They are not trying to be ‘clever’ or offer a special type of sound, they just want to give you the raw audio you have given them and give in return an honest, yet powerful and detailed sound. When these chips are tuned/implemented to perfection you find yourself with a powerful animal that can roar but that can also offer the sweetest quietest emotions when needed.

With the Swing Pre-amp, when initially listening with the V5 Opamps installed I found a nice neutral, soft, clean, yet analytical sound that had a defined Audiophile level of detail. Moving over to the upgraded V6 Opamps I found a more energetic powerful sound that seemed like going from a tight well executed orchestral piece to a top rock band. Both Opamps offered their own unique sound that was enjoyable for different genres. I enjoyed each one in its own way but felt they each offered at times something the other did not depending on what I was listening to

With the BAC3 I was very pleased to find they had somehow managed to combine the best of each of the Opamps characters and on top of that create an even more mature, reference level of quality. The detailed clear and almost delicate way each note is handled, reminiscent of the V5, coupled with a fuller and slightly more energetic sound, like the V6, negated the slightly negative aspects of the characteristics of the different Opamps that I had picked up on before. That they have managed to do this is a testament to the skill of the team of Burson! Whilst these improvements in one sense are quite subtle, at this level of quality even the smallest niggle can interfere with ones full enjoyment and absorption into the music.

In summary, Team Burson have taken the finest qualities of their Opamps, the ESS Sabre Dac Chips and along with their MCPS power supply and newly designed chassis have produced a market leading Reference Amp

Thank you to Burson for the opportunity to spend some time with this excellent Amp
Wonderful review, thanks, Barra, timely too. I've been wanting a really good grunty amp for my venerable 31 year old Sennheiser HD540 Reference cans, an amplifier I wouldn't have to replace for some time and I think I may have found it now. The HifiMAN HE400S can would probably enjoy the C3Ref as well and any future classy cans. However, at this stage, it's an amp that has the very qualities you have reviewed so well above that I have been looking for. Valve like tone and texture with power and control, perfect. In my experience, the HD540 Refs beat the heck out of many modern cans for textural and organic tonal qualities, as well as the sheer joy of communication and immersion.
I was looking at hybrids such as the Project Ember II and smaller powerhouses like the Schiit Asgard 3 (which may yet be a good match), but your review has swayed me to look a bit further up the quality scale, AND it has a DAC built in!

jon parker

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Upgrading to the V6 gives you a warmer, richer more powerful 'Concert like' feel. More focus on instruments. Better PRaT. Incredible energy yet still maintaining details, soundstage and imaging.
Cons: Similar to the 'Basic version' its difficult to find ANY cons! Maybe the display could be bigger? but as far as the sound goes, no cons at a all
  • Burson Audio Swing Pre-amp ESS9038 + V6 vivid Duals– Review

    [Disclaimer] I have no affiliation with Burson and was loaned the amp for the duration of the review period only. I would like to thank Burson for this opportunity (and patience!) to spend time with, enjoy and review the Swing Pre-amp

    [Background] I have been collecting IEM’s & headphones for over 20 years and have been a Producer, Sound Engineer, Editor & Mastering Engineer for 10 years.
    I find myself always looking for and interested in that all too elusive truth and purity of audio reproduction!

    The Actual Review

    Previously I reviewed the Burson Audio Swing Amp ‘basic’ version :

    Now I am delighted to be reviewing the Burson Swing Pre-amp with the upgraded Opamps 2x V6 vivid Duals!

    burson 4.png

    Impressions during playtime
    Highs, mids & lows


    Headphones used:

    Full size
    Sennheiser HD 250 Linear - 300 ohm
    Sennheiser HD 540 Reference 1 - 600 ohm

    Sony EX800ST
    Auriaonics ASG 2.5
    iBasso IT01

    One thing that I found surprising was how the BAS+V6 was not only able to offer a different sound quality to the base version but also the degree to which it somehow ‘corrected’ one of my favourite headphones !
    I decided to spend some time with [arguably] one the best closed back headphones ever made, certainly one of the best vintage closed back cans made, the Sennheiser HD 250
    It’s difficult to express what it means to have a ‘prefect’ tonality but [for a closed back] and being the sister headphone of the legendary open back Sennheiser HD 540 the Sennheiser HD 250 has the potential (with the right pads + cable) to be as close to ‘perfect’ as you could hope for
    However, listening to the BAS+V6 I was presented with a headphone I had never heard before. Everything - the layering, separation, clarity, High/Mid/Low balance, tonality/PRaT is just spot on. I could find nothing that I feel could be improved upon. Moreover, despite being presented with so much to hear, at the same time I find my self effortlessly being able to let go into the music itself.
    This in itself is a very important point. There is so much audio gear out there that is tuned to impress as oppose to being tuned to be as truthful and accurate as possible. One of the best examples of this in recent times was the ‘Beats’ headphone with its mighty bass. Many [perhaps less experienced] people thought the headphone was great largely due to its celebratory endorsement and its huge low end. It had a real ‘WoW!’ factor. In other words it was tuned to impress but at the end of the day it couldn’t replicate what the music actually sounded like in any realistic way.
    Anyway, so this is my point about why the BAS+V6 is so good – it is tuned to be truthful and accurate to the point where you can enjoy so many aspects of what is in the music and yet still be able to just relax into it.
    The combination of the ‘Audiophile’s’ delights of detail & realism and the PRaT of the ‘Music Lover’ are married so skilfully together with the BAS+V6 it’s such a joy and feels like a privilege to be able to experience it.

    So it is perfect? The only thing I would say and its not so much a criticism as an explanation of the type of sound the V6 Vivids offer is that the V6 Vivids are real monsters! They give you everything. They are a real rock concert sounding Opamp that delivers such a rich powerful sound whilst still maintaining all the pedigree of a top Audiophile amp. You really get the best of everything. If you love your rock, soul etc then this amp will save you a lot of money in having to go to actual concerts!
    In comparison, I found the Basic Opamp to be more of a ‘classical concert sound’ I found similar details but the sound was sweeter, quieter over all
    Listening to a DSD recording of ‘Steam Hammer’ by Peter Gabriel I was struck by how much energy and power from this track was portrayed in such a beautifully balanced manner. Every instrument was given its own space to not only breath but to shine and thus I was able to not only hear but to fully enjoy each and every single instrument in the track

    Listening to a combination of 24/192 vinyl rips and SACD’s of Joe Walsh it also strikes me what a great ‘equalizer’ the BAS is! Despite there being obvious differences between the warm analogue of a vinyl rip and the accurate clean detail of DSD there always seems to be a similar over all tone in the sense that you wouldn’t necessarily know that each song is coming from different albums never mind mediums.
    Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. To achieve this level of consistency and quality and with a powerful energy is rare. It is this very quality though that makes me feel the V6 Opamps are maybe more suited to the music lover, someone who just wants to relax and enjoy the music in the manner that the Artist and the Sound Engineer intended.
    Certainly from memory, the ‘Basic version’ with 4x ES55320 Opamps seemed more detail orientated perhaps being more suitable to the detail obsessed Audiophile! Or for the Headphone only user?

    Swopping back to the ‘Basic version’ with 4x ES55320 Opamps I thought would be interesting as IEMs tend to a bit more subtle than cans!
    It was very interesting hearing the ‘Basic version’ again after spending so much time with the ‘V6 Opampsespecially having spent so much time with Headphones and now having spent time with IEM’s. Straight away there was more detail evident but there was still plenty of energy, just a different kind of energy. Again reminding me of a previous insight that the ‘V6 Opampsare very suitable for people who want to rock out to the joy of music in its full glorious quality where as theBasic versionis maybe for people who want to bliss out with the full and joyful experience of a concert hall performance. They are both full of passion, power and energy but the feel is different.

    To be fair, it’s clear that listening to the upgraded V6 Opamps in the BAS this Preamp would make an incredible addition to a full ‘Hi Fi’ system and in fact would completely ‘make’ the system.

    Unfortunately, Im not currently in a position to be able to run a full system where I live so I will have to leave it to others to review the BAS in that particular set up but having spent a lot of quality and very detailed listening time with the BAS its clear the Upgraded BAS is a ‘Monster’ of a Pre-amp that has the power to really shine with unashamed magnificence and yet gives the detail and precision of the Sabre ESS/ESS9038 full reign

    IEM Conclusion:

    I wanted to spend some time with 3 very different sounding IEM’s to get a feel of how well the BAS+V6– a powerful, warm, rich Preamp would behave with more delicate and sensitive types of headphone IEMs, at different price points and quality levels. I experienced zero hiss, no issues at all, in fact listening now to the relatively neutral EX800ST I am breathless at how effortlessly and naturally and frankly perfect the music is presented.
    I find that in my daily listening sessions it is very rare to arrive at a place when I would not change a single thing about the sound I am hearing and yet here I am

    The Low end, Mids and Highs:

    Rich and smooth, deep and controlled – Never overbearing and yet majestic.
    Acoustic bass lines have that wonderful ‘woody’ richness that brings visions of the bass player being immersed in each pluck , thoroughly enjoying the timbre of his 1970’s Fender, losing all sense of time as each perfect bass note vibrates through his body.
    Anyway, my point being that there is a natural rich acoustic tone to many of the bass guitars that is addictive and makes a fertile imagination sing with joy!
    There is a more visceral, meaty, more immediate depth and width to the Bass with the V6’s sounding like you are nearer to the instruments than with the ‘Classic Opamps’ The soundstage may suffer slightly because of this although this is not so much as a fault as a different presentation of the music

    The sub bass is superb and certainly seems more prevalent and of a higher quality than the Basic OpampIt is wonderfully controlled and detailed offering a powerful visceral feel and yet has a definable level of quality and accuracy. It is not just there as a gimmick but has the same excellent detailed expression of the bass, mids and highs, a rare and pleasurable surprise!

    Going over to vinyl of ‘Ella Fitzgerald – Ella & Bassie’ and listening to “dream a Little Dream of Me’ You are met by a thunderously rich and warm organ – the physical feeling of is frighteningly like hearing it in a live setting. Mixed in with this is a delicate guitar strumming in the background which despite being far back in the mix is crystal clear. There are trumpets that come into the right stereo field that sound and feel realistically ‘brass like’ Again I was struck by their exciting ‘live’ sound.
    When Ella starts singing she is full, rich with an incredible space around her voice. The BAS has a wonderful ability to keep the 3D space of the recording studio intact
    Over all, female mids seem a bit more prominent where as male vocals, although not recessed are more integrated into the mix. Perhaps better to say that as the V6’s offer a warmer, fully richer sound making male vocals appear to sit deeper in the mix.
    As I mentioned earlier the BAS has an amazing ability to somehow equalize all elements in the mix so that everything has a chance and a space to express itself in and yet the vocals, when important in the mix, are perfectly clear and set in their own space – centre stage

    Somehow the highs are crystal clear and yet never display any sibilance. On tracks that have hot highs already present on the recording the BAS seems to be able to keep the energy and yet somehow keep any sibilance ‘hidden away’ It could be tempting to say the highs are slightly rolled off but I think better to say that they are tuned perfectly in relation to the mids and lows. No details are lost and yet they seems smooth and buttery clean
    In one sense, it’s not easy to comment in detail on the highs, mids and lows as they are all so very well balanced with each other. There is nothing given any prominence.
    One aspect that is very impressive and is an important aspect to point out with the highs is that amongst the ‘tour-de-force of the majestic presence’ of the sound you can still clearly hear full transients

    Final Thoughts:

    With the BAS+V6 you have an over all presentation that is powerfully energetic, warm, rich yet balanced perfectly. Everything in the mix has a chance to breath and shine. You feel physically much closer to the actual instruments which makes the V6 Opamp upgrade a very interesting proposal if you want something more than the [essentially sweet detail] of the original ‘Basic’ version. They are both superb each offering a different flavour

    Main music I use for testing…amongst others:

    Natalie Merchant – Ophelia [cd 16-44]
    Bane & Doe – Endangered by me [cd 16-44]
    Right Away, Great Captain! – The Bitter End [cd 16-44]
    A Winged Victory for the Sullen – S/T [vinyl 24-96]
    Bjork – Post (Hyper-ballad) – [vinyl 24-96]
    Crosby & Nash – Another Stoney Evening – [flac 24-96]
    Ella Fitzgerald – Ella Swings Lightly – [vinyl 24-96]
    Janis Joplin – Cheap Thrills (Summertime) – [vinyl 24-96]
    Jimi Hendrix – Band of Gypsies [vinyl 24-96 - Capital 1997]
    Joe Walsh – (Country Fair) [ DSD]
    John Martyn – Solid Air [vinyl 24-96]
    Lou Reed – Transformers [vinyl 24-96 MFSL]
    Nirvana – Nevermind [vinyl 24-96 DGC]
    Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool – [vinyl 24-96]
    Stevie Wonder – Innervisions – [DSD]

jon parker

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Subime natural 'true to life' tuning, 3D holographic imaging, Incredible Instrument separation, Cohesion, Balance,
Cons: TBH its a struggle to find any 'cons' On occasion I would like a tad more low end punch but this is purely preference is not a fault of the BASA by any means
Burson Audio Swing Pre-amp – Review

Today I am happy to be reviewing the Burson Audio ‘Swing’ Pre-amp.
To begin – what is it and what does it do?


The BASA is a pre amp that features at its heart the mighty Sabre32/ESS9038 DAC chip, the most advanced dac chip in the world.


Together with a Xmos USB receiver, Swing does PCM 32bit/768khz and DSD512 audio files with the highest possible precision. And it plays effortlessly with MS Windows, Apply OSX, iOS and Android devices. Apart from its top quality USB input, Swing also features a Toslink input, a coaxial input and a USB-C connector. From traditional CD transports to smartphones to gaming consoles such as the Xbox and the PlayStation, from music listening to gaming, this DAC goes with a swing!

As if this wasn’t enough you also go Opamp rolling to compare and appreciate different sonic performance in your own comfort zone giving a valuable opportunity to develop listening preference and taste.

Facilitating opamp rolling in all stages on the signal path, you can swing it your way.

Also, Burson have developed a new power supply so as it states on the website:
Our power supply revolution is in full swing!

Burson-Swing-S3 - power.jpg

The Burson Max Current Power Supply is the thumping heart of the this DAC. Debuted in the Burson Play, our proprietary MCPS overcomes the deficiencies of both traditional transformer-based linear power supplies and conventional switching power supplies. It redefines the size and performance ratio and it is the reason why Head-Fiers fell in love with the Play instantly.

With Swing, we have a further enhanced MCPS. It delivers even cleaner power. Tuned to Class-A, music shines from a pitch-black background.

[Disclaimer] - I have no affiliation with Burson and was loaned the amp for the duration of the review period only

Introduction / Preamble

It’s been a genuine pleasure spending some quality time with the Burson Pre-amp.

As the Head-fi-er ‘Wiljen’ did such a great job showing what comes with the BASA and explaining the technical details I have focussed all my attention on the sound itself

To this end I ran the pre-amp from a laptop via the supplied USB, through an O2 Objective Headphone Amp. The O2 is one of the most neutral, clean and quietest amps out there and as such proved a perfect medium to focus on what the Burson pre-amp could offer

Mainly I use the Sennheiser HD 540 Reference 1 headphone for reviewing. It’s an [open back] headphone I am familiar with and is one of the best reference quality headphones ever made, certainly in terms of an exceptional true to life timbre – (something the engineers at Sennheiser were trying to create in the mid 1980’s)

I must confess to having great respect for The Burson company and their philosophy. They clearly know what they are doing but they are not afraid to try new ideas based on what their ears tell them! They also offer their products for a reasonable price putting high end products within reach of most everyone. In other words, they are genuinely passionate about music and audio

I would like to start with how I would like to end!

by saying that Burson have knocked it out of the park with their ‘Burson Swing’ Pre-amp. They have somehow managed to achieve something very special with some rare qualities. Essentially they have managed to not only include ALL the qualities I would hope for in an ‘end game’ amp but also to make the music sound so natural to life that it makes me smile every moment I listen to the Swing. There are so many well made amps available these days that offer ‘this’ quality or ‘that’ quality but few that offer a feeling of such effortless naturalness! This expression is one that keeps coming to mind every time I relax into the beautifully presented world that the BASA offers

The Sound - in General:

As the fundamental function of an amp is delivering sound to ones ears I would like to begin to talk in general about the qualities of the Burson Swing

Everyday I take a 30 minute nap. During that time I always listen to the same album; the Self-Titled ‘A Winged Victory for the Sullen’ a collaboration between Dustin O’Halloran and Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie. Superficially it’s a very nice meditative Modern Classical album containing Dustin’s Solo grand piano amongst swirly rich synths, and sparse stringed instruments.

On the surface this album sounds very nice…certainly a contender for one of the best ambient, post classical ever recorded [IMO] :wink: BUT there are a myriad of subtleties within the music that is only really revealed with ‘high end’ gear. Qualities such as the replication of various aspects of the instruments themselves, the subtle movements within the sound stage and the relationship between them as a whole

I wanted to begin this review by talking in general about this particular piece music in part because there is no music that I am as intermate with than AWFTS and that, to be honest; the BSA has revealed an album I have never heard before!

Timbre is something that really strikes me with the BASA. With this album the timbre of the piano is one of the best I have ever heard!

In general when you hear a note on a piano there is the initial hit, then a decay and you have the particular sound that a piano has; a sound usually recorded in a certain way. But there are other things going on such as the resonance with the wood of the keys, the wood of the body, the strings and the mechanism of the playing itself, which unless you are up and personal you will likely never hear on a recording.

This is part of the magic of the BASA. Somehow it seems to be able to pick up and present the timbre of acoustic instruments in a way which is just magical to not only hear but experience as well

The P.R.a.T – Pace, Rhythm and Timing is phenomenal – Its not just that the BSA delivers the music technically, extremely well its more that it has that special feeling you get listening to a band playing live.

There is something about live music that makes your heart sing. I find this same experience listening to the BSA. In that everything is done so well in the amp everything just sounds so ‘right’ that the audio disappears and you really are left just with the emotive impact of the music

Stereo imaging is in a word - exceptional. Ever instrument has its own unique place not only in the sense of left and right but very much in a 3 dimensional sense.

But what makes this truly exceptional is that it sounds so ‘right’ so ‘true’

Every instrument sounds like an actual person is right next to you playing. Breathtakingly organic.

There is not a huge soundstage in fact you could call it average but this is a very good thing because firstly it shows how good the separation and clarity of the instruments really is.

Every instrument is in its own unique space to the degree you can effortlessly spend time with each or any one and enjoy ALL its qualities To equate how this feels - quickly moving over to the ‘Brandenburg Concertos’ by Café Zimmermann is like sitting in the middle of the orchestra on a summers evening whilst being in love!

The Sound - in Particular:

Listening to the album ‘Rumours’ by Fleetwood Mac. In this case a superb Reel to Reel rip in 24bit/96,000 and a few others to fine tune and share what I find with particular attributes of the BASA, good and bad

‘Second hand news’

there is an acoustic guitar that plays quick little chords in the right channel. It is extraordinarily clean and clear in its own space. You can even hear that the guitar has a new set of strings! Now THAT is intimate!


The bass guitar on this one comes across straight away as incredibly tight, clean with immediate decay. The female vocals here float in their own space. Again the acoustic guitar in the left channel reveals far more details and nuances than should be possible in the middle of a song!

Its strikes you how everything on this recording has its own space and in that space you hear so clearly the attributes that each individual instrument has. Everything has a space, nothing dominates and yet as a whole there is an amazing cohesion.

‘Never going back again’

I have a sound engineer colleague who uses the acoustic guitar into to this song as a standard to compare to for recording acoustic guitars. Ive heard in many different ways with different gear and headphones. Here it sounds more organic and 3D than I have ever heard.

In fact all the music I hear from the BSA has an addictive 3D holographic imaging.

‘Go your own way’

Perhaps most famous due to the unique drum signature. Here I find the first aspect to the sound that makes me pause – The drums are incredibly balanced and mix with everything else in the music very well but Im wondering if they could be louder or the low end more prominent, especially moving into the area of sub-bass. Im also hearing the cymbals have a very quick decay, maybe too quick so…

On too some tracks I use to check drums and cymbals

Joe Walsh ‘Country Fair’ SACD and Stevie Wonder – ‘Too High’ SACD

With these two it seems that there is somewhat of a lack of extra sparkle. The decay is just about there for ‘Too High’ but it sounds very soft. The cymbals are not crashing with that specific ‘brassy-ness’ – they sound a tad muted – almost as if the cymbals are made of thick steel. I noticed also on the drums with ‘Country Fair’ there is not quite the expressive range of different frequencies from each of the various drums that I would like.

Not a big deal and it is quite subtle but noticeable

On the topic of the percussion. Moving to - Muddy Waters ‘Folk Singer’ 24/192 – One of the things the BSA does very well is pushing some air with the low end, giving a nice warmth life to the drums, and bass. I found this on a number of albums but not on all. Its only there when the recording calls for it.

Over all I don’t exactly find anything lacking in the low end, there is no emphasis given to it. Everything in the mix has an equal chance to shine.
In this sense I find there seems to be some roll off in the extremities of the highs and lows. Considering how good the music sounds over all though I would say this is part of BSA character rather than flaw.

As far as vocals go both male and female vocals are always effortlessly presented in the mix in their own space with enough level never to have to compete or ever dominate the music.
Another particularly intriguing quality of the BSA

In general Jazz and Classical musical is recorded, mixed and mastered with a lot more care than your average pop or rock record. Its clear that the BSA loves and really comes alive when given quality audio, especially with more acoustic based Jazz and Classical.

If I start talking about how well the BSA presents classical music then this review would go on for many more pages. To summarise: Listening to classical music through the BSA is a profound and moving experience. I have never heard classical music outside of a live event to sound this true to life and just SO natural and organic. In terms of sound-stage you find yourself inside the orchestra with the acoustic natural material of the instruments sounding . . . in a word, just heavenly

Moving on to some pop music. I confess I am a little too old now for ‘pop’ but . . . Listening to Ellie Goulding – Halcyon was interesting because although its clear the BASA handles loud compressed music very well you can hear some of the more negative attributes that happens to music that has had its audio butchered in terms of hot compression!

What is amazing though is still how much extra detail is presented – Ellie’s voice has been doubled and you can clearly hear and differentiate her other ‘ghosted’ voice, a detail normally completely lost!

Listening to FKA twigs – ‘Two weeks’ and ‘Video girl’ is pretty mind blowing hearing well recorded electronic music done well. The electronic low end here is huge and encompassing. The textures and 3D presentation of the soundstage is so addictive here. You feel completely enveloped IN the music

Moving to more atmospheric OST’s – Hanz Zimmer’s ‘Interstellar’ is a profound experience! The opening track ‘Dreaming of the crash’ begins with sounds of a windy, dusty outside which puts me right back into the film, bizarrely I would say in a much immersive way than actually watching the film !! – Then having the sub-bass organ sounds coming in near the end…is just goosbump territory

Moving to Rock. I mentioned above I felt some areas of the low end were slightly lacking but listening to Jimi Hendrix – ‘Band of Gypsies’ (an album I have listened to many many times) it strikes me it may be unfair to [personally] wish for more low end in that it would take away from a remarkably cohesive and balanced presentation of the whole. A presentation which me frankly astounds me every time I listen to the BASA. The drums of Buddy Miles are maybe only 1-2 db’s less in terms of volume that would make them perfect but again Im conscious that is more personal preference than, by any means, a fault of the BASA

A quick mention should be made here of the track ‘On the run’ from ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ by Pink Floyd. In terms of how well the of the clarity of how ell the BASA reveals details - every detail of the announcers voice and what she says is clear as a bell. I daren’t say much more about listening to Dark Side of the Moon through the BASA as that could take up many pages, Suffice it to say, listening to DSotM through the BASA is like previously hearing the record and then seeing them live! Lets’ just leave it at that analogy

I think I had better stop here. I hope I have managed to express adequately how darn great the Burson Swing Amp is in terms of the actual musical qualities it offers. I am not an expert but I can say with 100% confidence this is a VERY good amp. Actually no, this is a truly great amp. I have heard things in music I have never heard and in ways I haven’t experienced before.

It should be noted that the review here is ‘only’ based on the entry level model. Opamp rolling can and indeed does change and build on the great sound already presented here. It frightens me a bit to think that the quality here can be increased from what it already has!
Having previously upgraded the opamp in my LittleDot Tube amp to a Burson V I can certainly attest to how a simple change in your amp can give a huge upgrade in quality and enjoyment!

I would also like to add that in all honesty I don't have a huge amount of experience with how power supplies can make a difference to an amps quality although from what I have researched on this topic it seems clear that a clean, powerful, well designed power supply can create a significant upgrade to the sound quality.
I can say that with my time with the BASA I experienced a dark almost silent background that revealed details in exceptionaly clear way

Huge thanks to Burson for the opportunity to spend some time with this amp. I very much hope that this amp gets the credit it deserves.

jon parker

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: An essential upgrade Opamp for the LD1+, Superbly balanced, rich yet clean Highs, mids, and low end, Very well made
Cons: Quite a forward rich sound - Not a con, a matter of taste

I received the Burson V5i opamp free of charge in exchange for an honest review and feedback. I have no connection to Burson

Screen Shot 2018-08-08 at 19.53.01.png

Preamble / Equipment used:

I bought the Little Dot 1+ amp a couple of years ago as I was interested in exploring the ‘tube’ sound. The LD1+ amp had stella reviews. Combining an upgradable opamp and the capacity to try different tubes all whilst remaining affordable made it a perfect choice. One thing I wasn’t expecting was just how great a sounding amp the LD1+ is, even in its stock set up! I spent a long time trying many different tubes finally settling on one tube that seemed to offer by far the most balanced and superior sound of all the tubes I tried, the
6HM5 EC900 EI Yugoslavia – Platinum.

As I am most familiar with these tubes I used them for the reviewing process although I also tried other tubes with different sonic qualities to verify my thoughts in relation to the unique qualities of the V5i opamp.

In terms of headphones I mainly used the Sennheiser HD 540 Ref 1 as I have had more time with this headphone than any other. Again, I also tried many other headphones to clarify my thoughts on the qualities of V5i

I mainly used the iBasso DX80 line out for input and on occasion the Cowon i9

For testing audio components I use many albums, too many too list! but ranging in quality from
Vinyl 24-192, DSD, 24-192 Digital, 24-96 and some Flac 16-44. Classical to Hip Hop!
Essential I try to cover all the bases!

Screen Shot 2018-08-08 at 19.33.03.png


Fitting the opamp is quite easy. The amp is easily accessible by unscrewing the screws on the end of the amp. Once the insides are accessible, gently prying up the opamp gives access to the seat of the opamp. Making sure the amp is the right way round fitting is very easy.

One thing I did notice is how easy and perfectly the V5i opamp connects. It feels professionally made, much more so than the opamp the LD ships with.
(You can see the V5i Opamp sitting nicely just below the yellow rectangular 'Tenta' thingy!)

Screen Shot 2018-08-08 at 19.35.43.png

First Impressions:

My immediate thoughts, ‘straight out of the box’ were of an obvious immediate increase in quality. What came across in the first few minutes even, was how much richer, louder and ‘meaty’ the V5i was. The mix had more authority and a better balance.

Burn In:

I noticed the first big change after approximately 60 hours of burn in with a further refinement after 100 hours

In Brief:

Burson have created an opamp that is tuned not to ‘show off’ but to allow the player, amp and headphones to give the best they have. In other words the V5i is tuned with great skill, care and a deep understanding and appreciation of music.

The V5i offers a balanced sound in the sense that it allows everything an equal share, the highs, mids and the lows with a touch of warmth in the low end and also gives exceptional instrument separation and accurate soundstage placement.

Very much an upgrade from the stock opamp of the Little Dot 1+ The V5i shares and in some areas, sometimes even surpasses the qualities of well known high end opamps such as Sabre, Burr Brown and the OP687

In Detail:

The V5i opamp had around 160 hours burn in. Initially I found the low end to have a warmth that I found a little invasive over all and perhaps a little loose and unfocussed. After 60 hours of burn in and use this tightened up nicely and after the 120 hour mark this was improved further until finally any initial 'issues' I had disappeared

The ‘Highs’

The treble is just spot on, never sibilant yet always delightfully clear. Its hard to say much about the highs as they just . . . work! They have what I would consider a ‘reference’ quality in terms of their accuracy. Importantly they work perfectly in relation to all the other frequencies presented in the music

The ‘Mids’

I feel similar to the mids as to the highs, they are tuned sympathetically in such a way that vocals, both male and female are always clear in the mix and come across as natural and real. They can be a little forward but not in a way that is unsympathetic. I would be hard pressed to fault them

The ‘Low End’

In general the low end is impeccably behaved presenting the bass that is present in the mix. What is also impressive is the quality and balanced restraint. On classic ‘bass’ tracks such as ‘Royals’ by Lorde the low end offers a perfect middle ground of having that big low end sound without exaggerating it, allowing a detailed and organic bass. Very impressive to hear


The soundstage is presented as it is in the recording. Because of the superb detail retrieval of the V5i everything is clearly positioned where it should be and in its own place.

Sometimes with audio and audio components certain ‘studio type tricky’ is used to make something apparently sound 'better' to the inexperienced ear than it actually is. Burson Audio I find refreshingly pure and honest in their creation and tuning of the V5i opamp

Instrument Placement:

A very impressive aspect of the V5i is how everything in the mix has its own clear place, all of which is clear and detailed. With some albums it seemed the V5i almost magically ‘sorted out’ bad mix’s!

All Together:

I should begin by saying though that I have a definite sense that Burson have, somewhat humbly, got themselves ‘out of the way’ and tuned their V5i to allow the recording, the player, the headphones to do what they do best. A sign of a company that is manned by true music lovers

Its nice to say but I’m not sure whether the V5i is a bit too good! in the sense that it truly reflects the quality of audio you feed to it so if you listen to badly mixed poorly compressed audio then that is exactly what you will hear

As such the following points should be taken not as big faults but more as subtle flavours that someone such as myself, who enjoys and seeks audio perfection has noticed. The V5i opamp is a very, very good chip.

The first aspect of the opamps sound that I noticed was how the highs, mids and low end all seem to get an equal footing in the presentation of the audio. Combined with a touch of warmth in the low end this sometimes creates something of a paradox (although only with certain albums) On the one hand you have an ‘audiophile level’ of details in the treble and the mids with a weight in the low end that holds everything together very nicely but sometimes it can be a little too much. However this is just personal taste, I don’t think of this characteristic as a fault or an issue

To look at it another way, at times I feel I’m listening to a high end HiFi tuned opamp yet other times with >better recorded albums< I had a definite Audiophile level of detail, resolution and PRaT touching at times on being close to perfection!

As I mentioned above I think this is indicative of the quality of this opamp and is not a fault

Another aspect of the V5i character which was noticeable was how much ‘louder’ it is than the stock Little Dot 1+ opamp. This amp sounds like it really wants you party with and enjoy the music. The amp delivers a very confident rich sound which on occasion leads me to turning the amp down a tad.

In Conclusion:

There is no doubt the Burson V5i is a huge upgrade to the Little Dot 1+ amp. The V5i opamp is a TOTL capable opamp that gives great detail, amazing instrument separation, a confident soundstage and an ‘equal opportunity’ for the highs, mids and lows to all have a chance to shine in the mix.

I remember reading a while back that the addition of the V5i opamp made the LD1+ into a amp that was way, way above its price point and brought it in line with some other amps costing $1000+
Is this true?
Well, I have no desire to go out and buy a $1000 amp so . . .

Im certainly very happy to now have had the chance to test this out for myself and see what everyone has been raving about

I would like to thank Carlos & Burson Audio for the opportunity to enjoy their wonderful V5i Opamp and I would like to wish them continued success in their future endeavours. I will be watching this company very closely in the future

jon parker

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: tuning, balance, space, engaging lively sound, comfort, quality low microphonics cable
Cons: The fit may not be ideal for some
iBasso IT03 [1xDD 2xBA]
the mission statement of the company iBasso is
“To capture the essence of music for all to enjoy” On their Facebook banner it also reads “We do it for music, We do it for you”
Add to that a genuine passion for quality audio at an affordable price you can see why I was excited to receive an email from
Paul at iBasso asking simply ‘would I be interested in reviewing their new IEM, the IT03, a new universal in ear monitor offering:
  1. an in house designed dynamic drive unit
  2. a single dynamic drive + dual balanced armature drive with  3 way crossover
  3. accurately calculated front and rear chamber design
  4. Femm 2D magnetic field analytical calculation & Nd-Fe-B magnet
  5. Detachable cable with MMCX connector
  6. Comfortable contoured shape for a great concha fit
  7. Vegetable-tanned leather pouch from US sourced leather
I have been using iBasso DAP’s exclusively for a number of years, enjoying the DX50, DX90 and now my current DAP the DX80.
The reason for this, is mainly the sound quality. With the DX80 I find myself in that rarest of places of being completely happy with
an audio product!
One thing I admire about iBssso is that they do not follow the practice of charging as much as the market can bear and thus making
their products unavailable for the majority, instead they produce affordable products utilizing the best possible components to arrive
at a sound quality that is very hard to beat and affordable.
I confess to having a soft spot for iBasso!
I have no connection or affiliation with iBasso other than testing the occasional beta firmware update for the DX80.
About me:
I am a 46 year old Sound Engineer working in recording, production and mastering mainly working with vocals and some music,
who loves and is fascinated by audio. I sometimes also enjoy music!
Why review?
Simply because if I love something I want to share it with others. has been an oasis for me and a wealth of vital information in my journey through the headphone world.
I am deeply indebted to everyone here who has shared so much of their invaluable knowledge that has helped me making my own
headphone purchase decisions.
My intention is to give a review that will give a clear as possible, non biased view of the product.
I endeavor to help portray the sonic characteristics as faithfully as possible.
However, I encourage people to check other reviewers
who can more faithfully articulate in detail other characteristics and thus you can get a full understanding and appreciation of the headphones
To begin – A summary:
I will get to the details below but because I may be end up having quite a lot to say I will summarize here:
The iBasso IT03 are a skillfully tuned well balanced energetic headphone with a real presence and a ‘live’ feel that easily puts them in the
top of the ‘Mid-tier’ league and shares many aspects with much more expensive 'high end' IEM's
They have managed to carve out a unique sound signature that puts them in a unique position with their peers. At the risk of sounding lazy
 they are just ‘right’ in so many ways…More details below
Out of the box:
The first time you put headphones in your ears fresh out of the box can be a moment of trepidation because they can give an immediate indication
of their innate nature and if you don’t like this first sound… and yet through experience I have found iem’s can change a lot with burn in and tip choice
so I tried not to be over analytical, but . . My first impression was basically ‘Wow, these are bright, and energetic’
After a short while an analogy came to mind of getting a new puppy – You instantly are delighted by the energy
but after a while you hope he calms down a bit!
Listening to some Bach I found myself virtually dancing around my kitchen with the amazing life and energy the IT03’s
However I did hope they would calm down a bit! And so started the burn in . . .
Burn in, Equipment & Tips:
As of writing this review they have had +130 hours of burn in.
Main equipment used was the iBasso DX80 & Cowon X9. I use classical music to burn in to give a full as possible range of dynamic frequencies
I have also tried many different types of tips to see how much difference they made to the sound signature
I personally didn’t get on very well with the tips supplied, at first.
I found the narrow bores to be [in general] the most suited for these iem’s.  I found wider bore tips, in general, to make the low end
a little bit bloated and 'shouty' 
However, after burn in this issue mostly disappeared
*I should say here that I have large ear holes so it’s quite possible that the tips supplied are not quite big enough for me to always get a
guaranteed  best possible seal.
Post 100 hours the issues I found at first are no longer applicable but the sound is certainly richer and warmer for me personally with other tips
During the burn in process the tips that gave the most balanced sound [for me] where  spin tips
The fit was a deep insertion which although made them a secure fit may not be to everyone’s liking however it does give an excellent isolation and kept my
listening levels very low. However **Please see the section ‘The Treble:’
I did find that tip positioning was important – get it right and the low end can be full and rich – get it wrong and the bass is not so present although not to the
degree that this ever became as issue although as I mention I have very large ear holes so this may not be applicable for you    
Packaging is elegant, simple and functional. I think it’s fair to say iBasso invests as much as possible of its finances into the products rather than flashy packaging.
Contents were minimal with a nicely made leather bag containing 3x 3 of different shapes and size of ear tip., a warranty, instructions and a graph
02-it03-boxinner.jpg     03-it03-boxinner2.jpg
Weight, Housing, Wire & Fit:
The iems’ are a very light, elegant well made plastic.
The inner housing has a lump that helps helps keep the earphones in place. The fit is very stable, similar design to Custom IEM's.
Once in they do not move at all. I can imagine they would be great for exercise
Initially the way I was putting them in they stuck out a bit but after some experimentation I found a way to twist them in so they now sit flat in the ear.
Edit: They actually work just as well either with a deep insertion or sitting in / sealed on the outer ear hole area
The wire itself feels almost metallic. The memory part that hooks round the top of the ear is very good. The wire looks thin but feels strong.
The wire has almost no microphonics and as such the earphones are a joy to walk / move around with
The Sonics – How do they sound?:
So let me start by saying, that here is where I found these earphones to be fascinating during the burn in process –
they seemed to be an earphone of seeming contradictions and yet they worked wonderfully!
They were bright yet not harsh. There didn’t seem to be an excess of bass and yet you were never left wanting more.
With some albums though the bass was deep, warm and rich. They were bright and energetic yet they easily left you alone to enjoy the music
without begging for attention! Having spent a long time with them now Im finding it hard to fault them!
The Treble:
You’ll notice that above I express my findings in the past tense. I thought I had mostly finished my review, I had tried many tips, given a generous 75 hours burn
in when two things happened.
Firstly, Paul from iBasso posted that 150 hours were needed so I thought it prudent to give more burn in time and
Secondly, whilst lying down for a good late night listen I noticed that if I pushed in the earphones more deeply into my ears
(they were already deep & equipped with Spin Tips) 
I was noticing a lot more bass. At this stage they had over 100 hours and I was already enjoying big improvements.
I had a pair of white large silicone tips that I had left over from an old pair of Fidue A83’s.
Putting these on the IT03’s I was immediately hit by one of ‘those’ magical moments that headphone users dream of. What had previously been a light airy lovely
headphone seemingly transformed into . . . something else altogether.  
The treble is now beautifully refined, natural and silky smooth with no graininess. There is not much sparkle.. which is a good thing as the treble works so wonderfully
with the mids and low end. Its actually hard to define the characteristics of the treble because the earphones are balanced and tuned so very well.
All frequencies are given their own space yet they complement and support each other remarkably well.
I will leave it to other more experienced reviewers to talk in more detail about the highs!
The Mids:
The mids remind me of the amazing mids produced by the FLC8s which give female vocals a presence that is simply magical. Unlike the FLC8s the mids are deeper,
smoother and warmer. I find them tuned in a complimentary manner in that they are neither too forward or too recessed. I don’t mean to say this in a critical way but I
find them tuned in a more ‘mature way’ than the FLC8’s
I feel that the IT03’s as a whole have been tuned with a genuine love not just of music but of the emotion that music can give when you hear it at its best.
The way the vocals stand out in the mix and are given their own space is exceptional 
The Low End:
The low end reminds me of the Fidue A83 – deep, richly warm but what impresses me the most is that the low end is never allowed to dominate.
They hit when they need to hit and support when they need to take a more background position. When the music calls for it the low end is deep rich and
impactful but I have heard on a number of records that where the bass is overbearing or perhaps not mixed very well the IT03’s seem to be able to
tame them and put them in their place, never allowing them to interfere with the other frequencies. It’s quite intriguing how iBasso have managed this.
One subtle thing I have noticed is that upon occasion, the IT03’s excelled at organic low end such as bass guitar, cello but struggled a bit with more
digital, man-made bass of an ‘excessive’ nature – Think ‘Lorde – Royals’ or ‘James Blake – Limit to Your Love’
However in retrospect this was mostly the result of the IT03’s needing burn in. Now, listening to those two tracks again 50 hours later,
the bass is very well implemented. You still get the deep low down sub bass but as I mention above everything is still kept respectfully where it needs to be,
nothing is allowed to become overbearing. 
Having said that, if you give them well recorded, mixed and mastered music made with real instruments then they will reward you greatly!
Imaging and Sound Stage:
Imaging and sound stage is very good indeed, in fact like most aspects of these earphones, they are just . . . ‘right’
There is enough ‘out of head’ to create an involved experience and yet never so far that you become distracted by an unrealistic or exaggerated
separation of instruments. You very much become part of the music – I don’t find myself in front off, on the stage with, or anywhere ‘outside’ of the music. 
For me they allow a very involved emotive experience where you just mix with-in the music.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the review, with these earphones I often find myself just wanting to dance to whatever Im listening too
or maybe even air guitar it!
The other main impression I have and this is perhaps the only aspect that I think some people may not like as it is a big characteristic of the IT03’s and that is the
sound reminds me of
 [imagine if you will] the sound inside for example Abbey Road Studios in that – Imagine sitting inside an orchestra as they play. As well as enjoying not only
the energy and emotive impact of the music you are also aware of the room you are in. you hear the reverberation of the frequencies
as they move around the room.
I often found an almost reverb like warmth and space that combined with an incredible energy gives the AT03’s their unique sound.
There is often an airy space that gives them a live feel.
Personally I think they have knocked the ball out of the court with the tuning and design leading to the sound that these earphones produce
but for those who prefer a more analytical, softer and refined approach to their audio . . .or in other words, basically a $1000+ TOTL headphone!
this quality may not be ideal. This is not a criticism, more just an analogy to describe an aspect of the sound
In all honesty I have not found it easy to find areas of the IT03’s that I found needed to be addressed or criticized.
In terms of a review Im trying to avoid personal preferences and to just honestly and fairly engage with what my ears are telling me.
Technically I think its difficult to fault the tuning, balance or design
However they do have a clearly identifiable sound signature and as such there may be people who dislike these attributes.
The two areas I would mention are:
1, Their energy – they are an energetic IEM that sometimes I feel loose a bit of cohesion at louder levels, however, if anything I found myself
turning down the volume whilst listening so I don’t think this is actually an issue. This is a case of peoples preference.
in that different tips can make a big difference, this is nothing to worry about!
2, Their ‘gold like sheen’ The IT03’s have this over all gold like sheen that reminds me of harmonic excitation
 (a recording studio audio signal processing technique used to enhance a signal by dynamic equalization, phase manipulation, harmonic synthesis of
(usually) high frequency signals, and through the addition of subtle harmonic distortion )
By this I mean they have a live energy that gives them a compelling listening experience.
For these reasons I would not class them as a TOTL earphone but this is not a criticism, its more that they are tuned and balanced to offer a ‘certain sound’
For me a TOTL earphone is called such because it replicates audio faithfully and naturally to the source. Having said that,
when you consider the price of the IT03’s these points are pretty irrelevant!
I appreciate that people may hold their own view of what a TOTL signature is. This is just my own view
In Conclusion:
I genuinely feel that iBasso have achieved something magical with these IEM’s. They have created an earphone that captures the life and
emotive energy of music in such a way as to offer a unique sounding earphone in today's market.
The headphone has an exceptional balance of highs, mids and bass that combined with the emotive energy have reminded me
why music is so important. 
The tuning is masterful and mature and allows all the frequencies their correct place and space to shine.
They are quite an engaging lively earphone and yet I often found the music disappearing into the background,
in other words there is nothing about the sound signature that try’s to grab you or distract you. This is what I mean by a ‘mature’ tuning
The IT03’s clearly love music and almost seem to deliver it with a shout of joy for the sheer exuberance and love of the music
I would like to thank iBasso for the opportunity to spend time with and come to know this gem amongst earphones
jon parker
jon parker
Whats great about them is that they have  quite a unique signature so I think they will find a nice place with and be complimentary to other headphones in ones inventory
Thanks Jon..great review. Thanks for sharing all the info about IT03. I have just ordered mine by penonaudio. :)
Great review Jon, makes me want to put these on my Radar....

jon parker

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Solid quality build, Good instrument separation / sound stage, Well balanced sound, Exciting 'live feel'
Cons: Cup fit may be uncomfortable for some, Microphonic cable
As other reviewers have already posted pics, company info etc I mainly want to talk about how they sound.
I am a Sound Engineer and Producer by trade, an Audiophile for pleasure and sometimes a Music Lover as well :) 
I listen to all genres but prefer 'Hi Res' 24/96 / Vinyl rips / SACD. My main DAP is the iBasso DX80
In Brief...
The highs have been wonderfully tuned, no sibilance yet never lacking in clarity or detail. I confess to
being a bit of a 'high head' and not so much a 'bass head' Im also not a huge fan of 'warm sounding' headphones
but I find the silky smooth crisp highs to be SO nice on these headphones.
Listening to the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Billy Holiday is simply divine
Seem well tuned and sit nicely in their own area without being adversely effected by lows and highs
Look to other reviews for a more detailed analysis in this area! (to be honest, mid's are not my strong point)
This is where it gets interesting for me. the bass is certainly a part of what this headphone is about. You
wont ever find it lacking! I am no bass head so for me this is perhaps the only thing I would personally like
to see toned down a bit. Another reviewer touched on this adding that 'although it is always there, its not really a
problem'...but can be noticeable. However, when the bass works, it works Really well.
Classical music is an absolute delight with cello bass for example, sounding warm and natural.
Its important to add though that even when the bass is a tad prominent [for me] the mids and highs still shine and
maintain their presence... a lovely quality of this headphone
The Meze 99's are a good example of a headphone that rewards you with well mixed and mastered audio 
I think most reviews have reported the Meze 99's as having a wide sound stage, especially for a closed back headphone 
I would agree with this but at times I have noticed that the sound stage has two other qualities that I really enjoy:
1, They have a lovely 3D sound stage. Sometimes with classical you can hear and clearly visualise where the various
instruments where in the auditorium during the recording session. There can therefore be a wonderful sense of space with
each instrument having its own space to shine in - useful if you are a Bach lover!
If the singer or band where recording in an area that had a lot of space these headphones do a delightful job of reproducing this
2, One thing I noticed today was how the sound stage is not only great in the left and right but also does a great job filling in
the middle as well, something I didn't realise other headphones don't always do so well until listening to the Meze 99's!
Due to these points I find these to be something of an 'Audiophile' headphone in that they are great for detail.
Over all sound
Meze claim to have produced a neutral tuned and warm [fun?] sounding headphone. I find this a bit of a contradiction!
not in a bad way although I do find elements of both [neutral & fun]
When I read that these headphones had been tuned neutral I was excited because as an Audiophile I seek neutral headphones
so that I can enjoy music that is well mixed and mastered on a DAP that has the quality, presicion and power to replicate as
close as possible, the sound of the original studio recording
When I read they had a 'warm wood earcup sound' and (did I read 'fun' somewhere?) I was also looking forward to this because sometimes
I just like to listen to and enjoy music ( as oppose to 'critical detail' Audiophile listening!!)
To be fair, it must be difficult to find a balance between tuning a 'neutral' headphone whilst keeping them interesting to listen to as well
I feel Meze has done a very good job here with this although they don't sound to me like how the graph appears :) 
So I find myself very happy and yet a tiny bit dissapointed with these headphones.
A tad dissapointed because... I don't think they could be considered 'Audiophile' headphones BUT if that bass was a tad more balanced . . .  
they would start getting into that area.
To be fair though Meze have not sold them as such and I say this, if anything, as a compliment.
I find myself very happy with these headphones though because they are such fun to listen too...for pleasure!
>>> In essence, they have an energy, a life to them which reminds me of that 'live music feeling' you get at concerts.
As soon as I put them on for the first time they just seemed to sing, straight out of the box. They seemed so happy and excited to play
some music for me :)  They are a very endearing headphone and I already find they have a place in my heart
The bad
The cups - I have to agree with other reviewers - I have small ears and the fit is snug so for people with big ears...?
The cable - If i scratch to cable above the cinch it sounds like my fingers are scratching inside the cups themselves! I tend to listen to headphones
lying down so this is not as issue for me, but the microphonics are not great
The bass - sometimes can be a little intrusive to my tastes but not to the degree that is becomes a problem
In conclusion the only downsides are the cable and the small cups (which may effect some)
I feel they are priced about right.
I think Meze have done a great job, producing a lovingly well made, high quality headphone with an interesting & wonderfully energetic, engaging sound
that when given well mixed and mastered audio will give great delight and a wonderful dynamic experience to the listener 
To give a score out of 100 I would probably only take off 10-15 points
thank you Meze! I will be keeping a very close eye out for future headphones