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Burson Audio Bang

Rating:
4.375/5,
  1. davidimdpt
    Burson Audio Bang
    Written by davidimdpt
    Published Dec 17, 2018 at 12:19 PM
    3.0/5,
    Pros - 1. Solid metal exterior construction.
    2. Sound after the initial "pop" or "screech" is full and detailed.
    3. Enough power to drive my 4ohm Orb Audio Mod 2.1 speakers without much effort
    4. Option to insert into an open bay on your desktop with a 4-pin Molex connector. (not really practical due to heat issues though. See list of cons)
    Cons - 1. This is the second Burson Audio product I have reviewed and both units have had issues with odd pops or sounds when operating the unit. Also, based on my review partner's experience with the same unit I don't feel confident in their quality control and am hesitant to trust my expensive speakers with their products.
    2. The unit gets very warm with prolonged use. This would be fine as a desktop solution but I don't see how this would work well inside a computer.
    3. Dang that blue light is bright!
    4. Not a fan of power bricks but since I don't see it after it's plugged in I can live with it
    Full Disclosure: I was contacted by another member here with an opportunity to review the Burson Audio Fun and Bang. Initially it was an opportunity to keep a review unit after giving it a review. I wasn't looking for another desktop amp in this price range but for the price of free and an honest review I figured why not? In the end there was a miscommunication with Burson that did not allow both reviewers to keep both units. I decided to keep the Fun instead of the Bang since I listen primarily to headphones or my Dali Helicon 800's for two channel.
    Here's a link to my original Burson Audio Fun review https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/burson-audio-fun.23238/reviews#review-20998
    Also, I was unable to review the Bang in conjunction with the Fun as i'm sure the designer had intended since I did not have access to both at the same time. As a result I used my Schiit Ragnarok as a preamp.

    Equipment Used:
    Before I did this review I had planned on reviewing this unit with my Dali Helicon 800s. However, after the issues my review partner had with this unit in regards to pops and screeches I decided to pull out my Orb Audio Mod2 speakers rather than risk damaging my Dali speakers.

    Speakers: Orb Audio Mod2 Satellites 4 ohms

    Ampifiers: Schiit Ragnarok used as a preamp. Compared to Schiit Vidar

    Source: Microsoft Surface Pro 4 with Roon connected to a Schiit Bifrost Dac with multibit

    Song lists:
    Paul Mc Gowan's dirty dozen from PS Audio
    https://www.psaudio.com/pauls-posts/pauls-picks/

    Zeos's song list for testing headphones that i compiled from his you tube videos
    https://tidal.com/playlist/a0d3509b-d8c2-4116-b9f1-83909b34d105

    Cecilia Bartoli St Petersburg
    https://tidal.com/playlist/7c327507-dc9a-44de-8a58-d61ed71f3ff7

    Pure-Maria Callas
    https://tidal.com/playlist/c2fd08bc-9eee-4453-a4cf-9e98568608cf

    and other songs from my playlists.

    Review
    Burson Audio's line of products are made with solid metal construction that feel solid and feel like quality. The Bang feels well made and I wouldn't hesitate to stack other components on top of this unit. This unit comes with two RCA cables, a tool to remove the top to Opamp roll and a power brick. Connection wise it has two RCA inputs and a set of stereo speaker inputs. It also comes with a 4-pin Molex connector which would allow you to use it inside an open bay in your desktop.
    In my listening tests I used the Schiit Bifrost multibit and Schiit Ragnarok as a preamp. Upon first turning the unit on with my speakers attached I did hear the "pop" that my review partner warned me about but after that I heard no additional questionable sounds. The sound from my speakers were well controlled within the speakers reproducible range. I did not hear any distortions at low or reference levels. In comparison to the Schiit Vidar the transients weren't as quick and the sound wasn't as full. At lower listening volumes the Vidar was able to produce a wider range of sound than the Bang at volume adjusted levels. However, even though the price of the Vidar is comparable to the Bang, the Vidar is about 5 times the size of the Bang and has more power output. If the footprint of your amp is a concern then the Bang is definitely a great option. I also noted the unit got very warm during the review. I don't see how this would be good inside a PC case.
    Overall, I would say this is a good unit if staying inside the Burson Audio line. If it wasn't for the quality control issues that have plagued the Fun and the Bang that I have reviewed, I would whole heartedly recommend this line.

    Pros
    1. Solid metal exterior construction.
    2. Sound after the initial "pop" or "screech" is full and detailed.
    3. Enough power to drive my 4ohm Orb Audio Mod 2.1 speakers without much effort
    4. Option to insert into an open bay on your desktop with a 4-pin Molex connector. (not really practical due to heat issues though. See list of cons)

    Cons
    1. This is the second Burson Audio product I have reviewed and both units have had issues with odd pops or sounds when operating the unit. Also, based on my review partner's experience with the same unit I don't feel confident in their quality control and am hesitant to trust my expensive speakers with their products.
    2. The unit gets very warm with prolonged use. This would be fine as a desktop solution but I don't see how this would work well inside a computer.
    3. Dang that blue light is bright!
    4. Not a fan of power bricks but since I don't see it after it's plugged in I can live with it
      Alcophone likes this.
  2. Alcophone
    Burson Bang: The little amp that could be better
    Written by Alcophone
    Published Dec 4, 2018
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Sounds pretty nice
    Opamp swapping can help
    Compact size
    Stacks with other Burson products
    Cons - Can cause speaker pop when turned on
    Can screech when turned on
    Holes in binding posts don't line up
    One binding post wasn't fastened properly
    Unit wobbles
    12 AWG speaker cables don't fit
    LED on chassis too bright
    LED on power brick too bright
    Huge power brick
    No manual and broken link on website
    Burson Bang Review


    Disclaimer

    Burson Audio reached out to me about their Fun & Bang review tour. You can find my review of the Fun here. My review partner mentioned that he would probably want to keep the Fun, and so I went into this review with the expectation of keeping the Bang. Nevertheless, this did not influence my opinion of the Bang.


    Summary

    The Burson Bang in its stock configuration for $499 sounds quite nice and is definitely a big improvement over my cheap AV receiver. Swapping the stock opamp for a Sparkos SS3602 yields excellent imaging, but does not elevate the Bang in all areas. The Schiit Vidar is not that much more expensive, but sounds better than the stock Bang in every way. The Bang I received had some embarrassing build quality issues and caused some concern when being turned on repeatedly.


    Externals

    The Burson Bang is a power amplifier for speakers with one stereo pair of RCA inputs, and two pairs of speaker binding posts to connect a pair of speakers to. It has a pretty big external power supply, but can also be powered by a 4-pin Molex connector. That's because its form factor allows mounting it inside a PC case. While I can see someone do that with the Burson Play (a DAC with headphone amplifier) or the Burson Fun (a headphone amplifier), it seems a bit far fetched for a speaker amplifier given the need to route four speaker wires to somewhere outside of the case. But if you want to, you can. The form factor is definitely convenient if you want to use a Play or Fun as a preamp for the Bang.

    Front.jpg

    Back.jpg

    The power switch is located in the back, and a blue LED on the front indicates whether the unit is powered on. That LED is in the center of the unit instead of lining up with the Fun's, appears to have a slightly different shade of blue, and is much brighter from a wider variety of angles.

    Stacking.jpg

    Size comparison.jpg

    The Bang's power supply puts out 12 V and up to 10 amps in contrast to the Fun's 12 V and up to 6 amps, so the Bang's power supply can be used with the Fun, but not vice versa. The power supplies are otherwise completely different: The Bang's DC plug is angled, the Fun's is straight, the Bang's power supply has a pretty bright blue light, the Fun's a dimmer green light, and for some reason, the two-prong plug of the Bang's power supply cable does not have the usual holes, unlike the Fun's. In terms of cable lengths, they are roughly the same, though.

    Barrel Plugs.jpg

    Plugs.jpg

    Power supply lights.jpg Power supply labels.jpg


    Internals

    Just like with the Fun, the case's top has a sticker on the back that points out the location of the opamp. It also describes two configurations of two DIP switches on the PCB, labeled Low Input and High Input. My review unit came set to High Input. The only explanation I could find is on Burson's web site for the Bang. An image mentions a "selectable gain buffer stage". The text above it says "Bang has a built-in buffer stage with selectable impedance levels. From high-end DAC and preamps to portable players and smartphones, Bang matches perfectly with any source components, giving you the perfect performance and volume control every time." There's also a link to https://www.bursonaudio.com/impedance-matching-in-cable/, but that just redirects to Burson's home page, like apparently any other page that does not exist.
    I'm assuming low input is meant for non-standard sources like a phone, and high input is meant for a proper preamp. Unfortunately, the Bang did not come with a manual, nor can one be downloaded.

    PCB.jpg Instructions.jpg

    The Bang's power supply consumes 0.8 W by itself (Fun: 0.4 W) and draws 0.02 A (Fun: < 0.01 A). When the Bang is on, but idling, it consumes about 10 W (Fun: 10 W, Vidar: 48 W) and draws about 0.15 A (Fun: 0.14 A, Vidar: 0.55 A). In use with the satellite speakers of the Yamaha NS-SP1800BL 5.1 set with the volume set pretty high, it consumed about 15 W (Fun with MrSpeakers Ether Flow: 10 W, Vidar with ELAC BS 403: 54 W) and drew about 0.25 A (Fun: 0.14 A, Vidar: 0.61 A). All figures were measured with a P4460 Kill A Watt.


    Accessories

    The package includes a pair of 2 ft long mono RCA cables, a replacement fuse and an allen wrench. That is because Burson encourages you to replace the opamp in order to change the sound to your liking - the solid state equivalent to tube rolling.

    Accessories.jpg


    Dislikes

    I have two big issues with the Bang. One is the build quality: not only does this amp wobble quite a bit (see videos below), it's also the only audio product I have ever used that came apart when unplugging something. During initial testing of the amp I used my cheap Yamaha satellite speakers and encountered some distortion that I thought might be the result of the satellites not being able to handle a full range signal. So I inserted a pair of Harrison Lab's FMOD crossovers into the RCA jacks of the Bang in order to attenuate the bass. I then realized the distortion was the result of other devices connected to the Yggdrasil, shorting their inputs when turned off, which the Yggy does not like. Having sorted that out, I wanted to resume testing without the crossovers, but when I unplugged one of them, the ground ring of one of the Bang's RCA jacks got ripped out. I was able to remove it from the crossover with pliers, and push it back in, after which it stayed put when unplugging regular RCA cables. The crossover plugs appear to have a rather strong grip, but this still should not have happened.

    Crossovers.jpg RCA Ground.jpg

    In addition, one of the binding posts was not properly secured on the inside, which meant that loosening the binding post cap also turned the actual binding post, which is soldered to a wire on the inside. Turning the cap meant putting tension on the solder joint and twisting the wire. Not a good feeling. It's relatively easy to fix after opening up the amp, but not everyone will feel comfortable doing so. Even after fixing that issue, the holes in the binding posts aren't lining up straight. That probably would have caused issues for me, but "luckily" the holes are too small to accept my 12 AWG speaker cables (let alone the 10 AWG ones I normally use), so I had to use banana plugs anyway.

    Binding Posts.jpg

    The second big issue is that the amp is not properly muting its outputs when turning on - at least when being turned again shortly after having gotten turned off. Without speakers attached, the unit itself produces a relatively loud, nasty screech. With speakers attached, a disturbingly loud popping sound from the speakers joins the cacophony. I don't like worrying about destroying my speakers every time I turn on the amplifier.





    As far as I am concerned, this unit should not have made it past QC.

    I suppose it's nice that the amp has a variable gain stage, and the need for two switches is probably due to the Bang's dual mono design. However, locating them on the inside of the unit is extremely inconvenient. The Singxer SU-1 DDC also has DIP switches, but they are positioned on the bottom of the PCB, along with a cutout in the bottom part of the chassis. While still inconvenient, at least you wouldn't have to remove four screws to reach those switches. Luckily, most people won't really need this feature, and some of those who do won't need to reconfigure it on a regular basis.

    The LED is too bright, depending on the viewing angle. Burson is not alone with this issue, it's a well known phenomenon with Schiit's products as well. Apparently dispersing light evenly is hard. Always good to have some LightDims handy!

    Glare Bang.jpg

    Glare Fun.jpg

    Some criticisms remain the same as with the Fun: I much prefer devices with integrated power supplies that accept regular power cords with C13 connectors. The power switch in the back feels good, but this type of switch is usually illuminated when turned on - not so here, which I find irritating. The provided allen wrench is tiny, and you have to remove two screws in the front and two in the back before you can remove the top to replace the opamp. Maybe thumb screws would have been more inviting and durable.


    Likes

    The Bang sounds quite good for its size, even with the stock opamp. It's nice to be able to improve or customize the sound by swapping the opamp. The chassis is relatively compact and stacks well with the Fun or the Play, which makes for a neat bedroom setup.


    Test Setup

    Music
    • Amber Rubarth - Novocaine (FLAC 24/192)
    • Alexis Cole - Whippoorwill (FLAC 24/192)
    • Black String - Seven Beats (FLAC 24/96)
    • Cécile McLorin Salvant - If A Girl Isn’t Pretty (FLAC 24/96)
    • Sarah Jarosz - Green Lights (FLAC 24/96)
    • Marian Hill - Talk To Me (FLAC 24/96)
    • Nils Lofgren - Keith Don't Go (FLAC 16/44)
    • Beck - The Golden Age (FLAC 24/192)
    • Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys - Smooth & Groovy (FLAC 16/44)
    • Sia - Breathe Me (MP3 from Amazon.com)
    • Deftones - Prince (FLAC 24/96)
    • Muddy Waters - My Home Is In The Delta (FLAC 24/192)
    Digital audio
    • Microsoft Surface Pro 4 > Foobar 2000 > WASAPI (event) > USB > Sabrent HB-UMP3 USB-Hub > iFi iDefender > AmazonBasics USB 2.0 cable, 6 ft > Schiit Yggdrasil
    Analog audio
    • (Amplifier - see Configurations below) > Mediabridge SPC-BP2-12 Banana Plugs > Speaker cable, 12 AWG, ~15 ft > ELAC BS 403
    Isolation
    • Isoacoustics GAIA III > Dynaudio Stand 20 filled with ~10 lbs of sand > Isoacoustics Aperta > ELAC BS 403
    Power
    • Audioquest NRG Edison (15 amps) > Pangea AC 9SE MKII (1 m) > Audioquest Niagara 1000
    • Audioquest Niagara 1000, bank 1 > Volex 17605 Shielded Power Cord, 14 AWG, 3 m > Schiit Yggdrasil
    • Audioquest Niagara 1000, bank 2 > Tripp-Lite PS240810 > iFi AC iPurifier + iFi iPower > iFi iDefender
    Configurations

    1) Yamaha RX-V377 (AV receiver)

    Set to 8 ohms, fronts set to large, other channels disabled, calibrated with YPAO microphone, EQ disabled, "straight mode" enabled.
    • Niagara 1000 High Current Outlet > Tripp-Lite Extension Cord, 14 AWG, 6 ft > Yamaha RX-V377
    • Schiit Yggdrasil > Kabeldirekt Stereo RCA, 6 ft > Yamaha RX-V377 Audio input
    2) Schiit Saga (preamp) with LISST "tube", Burson Bang (power amp) with NJR NJM5532D opamp

    Schiit Saga in active mode.
    • Niagara 1000 High Current Outlet > Tripp-Lite Extension Cord, 14 AWG, 6 ft > Burson Bang
    • Niagara 1000 bank 2 > Volex 17605 Shielded Power Cord, 14 AWG, 3 m > Schiit Saga
    • Schiit Yggdrasil > Kabeldirekt Stereo RCA, 3 ft > Schiit Saga > Kabeldirekt Stereo RCA, 3 ft > Burson Bang
    3) Schiit Saga (preamp) with LISST "tube", Schiit Vidar (power amp)

    Schiit Saga in active mode.
    • Niagara 1000 High Current Outlet > Tripp-Lite Power Cord, 14 AWG, 10 ft or 10 ft > Schiit Vidar
    • Niagara 1000 bank 2 > Volex 17605 Shielded Power Cord, 14 AWG, 3 m > Schiit Saga
    • Schiit Yggdrasil > Kabeldirekt Stereo RCA, 3 ft > Schiit Saga > Kabeldirekt Stereo RCA, 3 ft > Schiit Vidar
    4) Schiit Saga (preamp) with LISST "tube", Burson Bang with Sparkos SS3602 opamp

    Like 2), but with the Sparkos SS3602 opamp instead of the stock NJR NJM5532D in the Bang.

    NJR NJM5532D.jpg

    No opamp.jpg

    Burson SS3602.jpg


    Test Results

    Word of caution: I normally hear these speakers with the Rythmik Audio F12G subwoofer to fill in the low end, but for this comparison I did not want to add the hassle and uncertainty of tuning the subwoofer to match each amp's gain and phase. The ELAC BS 403 are rated at 41 Hz according to IEC 268-5, which appears to be more lenient than the usual +/- 3 dB deviation allowed. I definitely recommend a subwoofer with these speakers, but they are usable without one. Still, being used to hearing them with a subwoofer means the setups will all sound lacking to some degree, compared to what I'm used to.


    Setup 1: Yamaha RX-V377 ($300)

    This is actually the first time that I have used my ELAC BS 403s with this amp. When I first got the Schiit Vidar, it performed so much better with even my cheap satellite speakers that I never bothered to go back to the RX-V377 when auditioning speakers. I also didn't have the power conditioner, speaker stands, etc. at the time, nor the mighty Yggdrasil DAC, so I was curious to find out what all this extra tinkering might do to the sound.

    The RX-V377 pushes 2x 70 W into 8 ohms, and has an 8 ohms and a 6 ohms setting. As far as I know, the latter merely limits the amp in order to protect itself from overheating, which is unlikely to have a positive effect on the sound as long as you don't crank up the volume all the way, so I eventually set it to 8 ohms even when I was using it with satellite speakers rated at 6 ohms. The ELAC BS 403s however are rated at a nominal 4 ohms, down to 3.2 ohms at 260 Hz - not the easiest load to drive. So I was definitely worried that the RX-V377 would struggle with getting the BS 403s to a proper loudness level. Luckily, it only got pretty warm, but not exactly hot, and never shut off during testing.

    Note: I did not want to bother disconnecting and later reconnecting all the various other sources connected to it, which resulted in a noticeable ground loop in this arrangement. It might be possible to get better results from this amp.

    I was positively surprised to hear decent imaging and a well defined sound stage from a $300 5.1 AV Receiver. I have definitely heard better, though, especially apparent with Nils Lofgren's Keith Don't Go. Overall, I did not hear anything terribly offensive. On the other hand, the experience also wasn't engaging - no involuntary foot tapping, head bobbing or grinning occurred. There was some harshness or glare to the treble, some graininess to the upper mids, and a sluggishness to the bass that I did not appreciate. Yggy's ability to make instruments sound natural and real did not come to light with this amp. Clapping didn't sound right, pianos were unpleasant to listen to, female vocals were not as silky and visceral as I'm used to. I can't help but wonder whether the RX-V377's DSP is ever truly bypassed. I found myself eager to move on to the next amp after a while - this setup is a bit fatiguing.


    Setup 2: Schiit Saga with LISST ($389) + Burson Bang with NJR NJM5532D ($499)

    Burson describes this little power amp as a "40W PC Stereo Power Amp". PC might mean "personal computer", because if you really wanted to mount this power amp into your computer's case, and power it from your computer's power supply, you could. Or it could mean "per channel". Either way, the stated 2x 40 W refer to a 4 ohm load where other manufacturers usually use an 8 ohm load as the standard for an amp's power rating. Into 8 ohms, the Bang is rated at 2x 29 W. Luckily my speakers are rated at 4 ohms, and the Bang's 2x 40 W are right on the low end of what ELAC recommends for them.

    In this setup, there was no ground loop to be heard. That may or may not be the biggest reason for the Bang's ability to reveal a lot more detail in the ambience of Amber Rubarth's Novocaine - we're off to a good start. With the stock NJM5532D opamp, the Burson Bang costs $499 - 2/3 more than the RX-V377, while also requiring a separate preamp to control the volume. AV receivers are very versatile, but Burson had the entire budget available for the comparatively simple task of amplifying a stereo pair of RCA inputs into two sets of speaker taps - nothing else.

    And it shows - the Bang is in a different league compared to the underfunded AV receiver tested prior. It sounds much cleaner, fuller, more pleasant. The glare is gone, the low end is on point, Yggy's realism is preserved, the imaging is more concise, cymbals shimmer appropriately and head bobbing ensues. This is nice! Not spectacular, but quite pleasant indeed. It's plenty loud with the Saga at 1pm, the Bang barely warm. Plenty of headroom left!

    Well done! Small as it is, this sounds like a grown-up amp. Right now, I'm not convinced I could tell it apart from the Schiit Vidar, but I also haven't heard it in two weeks while I was comparing other gear. Let's check...


    Setup 3: Schiit Saga with LISST ($389) + Schiit Vidar ($699)

    Bang vs Vidar is a case of David vs Goliath. The Vidar has over 5x the physical volume of the Bang (not taking into account the Bang's external power brick), weighs 4x as much and delivers 2x 100 W vs. the Bang's 2x 29 W - into 8 ohms. Into 4 ohms, the power rating doubles to 2x 200 W vs. the Bang's 2x 40 W. Both are single ended stereo power amps with a class A/B design, though with its additional single balanced input the Vidar can also be used as a monoblock to put even more power into just one channel. And its power supply is integrated. 4x the weight, 5x the size, 5x the power (into 4 ohms) - but at only 1.4x the cost (not taking into account tax and shipping).

    Is it worth it? In short: yes. Everything the Bang does well, the Vidar does noticeably better. Sharper transients, silkier voices, more focused imaging, a sound stage with depth, a livelier sound and more bass slam - all while sounding positively effortless. The Bang sounds pretty, the Vidar beautiful - definitely similar, but significantly more refined, more mature.

    The Vidar gets quite a bit warmer. And surprisingly, I need to push the Saga's volume a bit further to reach the same volume level as with the Bang.

    I still can't believe how good it sounds since I have had the Vidar for over a year now, and got the speakers not long after. But the power conditioner, speakers stands, isolation devices, the DAC in this location, the preamp - all of these are quite recent additions. And they had a profound impact that I am still getting used to.

    So I feel reminded of my Burson Fun review. After hearing it with just its stock opamps, I would have recommended going with the Schiit Jotunheim instead, for just a little more. Similarly, I'd go with the Schiit Vidar over the Burson Bang with the stock opamp, assuming you have the room. But after I heard the Fun with Sparkos SS3601s opamps, everything changed. Now, while I did not like the Fun with stock opamps, I do like the Bang with its stock opamp. But who knows - will a Sparkos SS3602 tilt the balance in favor of Burson's baby yet again? Well, I have two of them in my Gustard H20. So let's do a little surgery and find out.


    Setup 4: Schiit Saga with LISST ($389) + Burson Bang ($499) with Sparkos SS3602 ($80)

    Well! I have mixed feelings about this one. The SS3602 is a drastic improvement over the stock opamp, especially in terms of imaging. It also casts an impressively wide and tall sound stage, and seemes to provide a bit tighter bass. On the other hand the sound stage still lacks depth compared to the Vidar, and transients are still not as crisp as I would like.

    Here's my dilemma: with the stock opamp, the Burson Bang offers a decent, balanced presentation. With the Sparkos SS3602 it excels in some areas, while remaining a bit mediocre in other areas. Like a slightly burnt pizza with super fresh ingredients, there's some disappointment because it's obvious how good it could have been, as opposed to what the average next door pizza place provides: just solid pizza, neither bad nor amazing.

    Mind you, this is based on listening to the Bang right after enjoying the Schiit Vidar, so the memory of what could have been is still fresh. I could imagine that over time, in regular use, the experience settles to one that is simply somewhere in between the Bang with stock opamp and the Vidar. But then we're already so close to the Vidar in terms of price that I would still recommend to just go with that one if you can.


    Conclusion

    The Bang is a capable amplifier that I'll happily pair with a Burson Fun in my bedroom setup. If you happen to have a good dual opamp lying around that is currently unemployed, and you catch the Bang on sale (like the 20% off Burson had during Black Friday, or the 33% off at Partsconnexion), it might be wise to go get one. Or if you're short on space. Or if you care a lot about looks and want a speaker amp to go with your existing Burson Fun, or Play, or Playmate, or Swing (can I have a Fun with a remote? Shall we call it Joy?).

    Outside of these constraints, however, the Bang's regular base price of $499 is already so close to the Schiit Vidar at $699 that I would heartily recommend spending a bit extra by getting the Vidar instead. Even compared to a Bang with the Sparkos SS3602 opamp, the Vidar is a significant upgrade well worth the cost. That's a US-centric perspective not taking into account shipping and sales tax, so definitely do the math yourself.

    Either way, I raise an eyebrow at this bold claim on Burson's website: "Bang is like a cage fighter that loves poetry and bonsai. You will never get bored of Bang and it will knock out any challenger under $2000."
  3. perryleros
    Burson Bang! An amplifier you can't overlook.
    Written by perryleros
    Published Oct 7, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - + Loud! Can play really loud without becoming shrill or harsh.
    + Clean midrange with lots of detail.
    + Nice channel separation.
    + Suprisingly open soundstage.
    + Really small size.
    Cons - - Bass not as clean as higher end amplifiers (changing opamps could help)
    - Highs are a bit veilled. (Could definately improve by changing opamps)
    - Gets hot.
    - Needs separate pre-amp to control volume.
    Packaging
    The Burson Bang came in a black box containing the amplifier, the power supply unit, power cord, a set of RCA cables, a replacement fuse and an allen wrench to dismantle the unit if needed.
    DSC01647.JPG DSC01648.JPG

    I was immediately surprised by how small the amplifier is.

    Build & looks
    The unit has an aluminium case, looks really sleek without unnecessary buttons or ports. Front is completely clean with a subtle LED light when it's powered on. All the connections are in the back. Has rca input and speaker cable outputs along with the power switch and a molex connector for the power supply.
    DSC01649.JPG
    DSC01650.JPG

    Interior
    Opening the unit was fairly easy, all you need to do is unscrew the 4 screws (2 on each side) using the included allen wrench.
    DSC01651.JPG
    Inside we can see the unit came with the stock NE5532 OPAMP. Also there is a gain switch inside that I didn't fiddle with but left it at the default "high" setting.

    Test Setup
    My sound system is set up on my desk and consists of the following components:
    Speakers: KEF LS50 on isolation pads
    Amplifiers: Rega Elex-R, Burson Bang (stock opamp), SMSL Q5 Pro, Emotiva basX a-100, Rega Brio
    DAC: Schiit Gungnir Multibit (Gumby)
    Cables: SVS Soundpath
    Pre-Amp: Schiit Sys
    Audio source: Spotify Premium and local FLAC files.
    DSC01652.JPG DSC01653.JPG DSC01654.JPG DSC01655.JPG

    Performance
    My mainly driver is the Rega Elex-R amplifier so my feelings of the new Bang will be mainly compared to that.
    First thing I noticed when I switched to the bang is the volume. WOW, this thing is weirdly loud even though it's rated significantly less watts per channel compared to the Elex-R.

    At first, I found it hard to tell any difference between what I m used to and what the bang sounded like which was really impressive. I kept listening and my thoughts were:
    This thing sounds really clean and there is a lot of detail! I didn't feel I was missing anything by switching from the elex-r to the bang. After I kept listening for a while I realized the channel separation felt more aparent and I could swear there was more detail in the mid range compared to my Elex.

    There was one way to verify all my initial thoughts, I had to switch back to the Elex-R to spot the differences.
    After switching back, I immediately realized that the bass and high frequencies were significantly cleaner on the Elex-R which makes sense given the price difference between the 2 amplifiers. The midrange though was pretty close, and call me crazy but the channel separation felt more aparent on the Bang.
    Also, playing at really high volumes the bang was less harsh and easier to listen to.

    I almost felt I could immediately replace my beloved Elex-R at first and save some money but now I appreciate it's value even more.
    The Bang really impressed me considering the price, and believe me if I didn't already have the Elex-R I would have used the bang as my main driver and thought it's the best amplifier I ve heard.
    The areas where the Bang falls a bit short can definately be improved by changing the stock OPAMP to other options.
    I don't currently possess any replacement opamps to include in this review but might obtain one of Burson's higher end options to try out as this little system seems extremely promising.

    Comparison to other amplifiers I tried recently
    SMSL Q5 Pro:
    The Burson Bang sounds more musical, better bass, a lot tighter, a lot cleaner midrange. Generally more detail everywhere.

    Emotiva BasX a-100 : Emotiva is a really musical amp in my opinion. I really liked how everything sounds, balanced, natural nothing exaggerated.
    Although the bang clearly deals with separation a lot better. On the emotiva everything is blended together. In comparison, switching to the Bang you can immediately distinguish instruments or sounds you couldnt not tell apart before. Also emotiva was lacking in the bass department compared to the bang.

    Rega Brio: This is an interesting comparison. The Brio is a highly praised little amplifier. And lives up to the expectations for most people. It did not for me. In an audio system it's not just the individual components you need to compare, but it takes the right pairing. E.g. awesome speakers #1 sound bad with awesome amp #1 but sound incredible with a lower end amp #2 for example. It's a game of trial and error until you find the right match.
    For my KEF LS50 the Brio did not cut it, it felt really muddy in the mid range and bass was a bit loose.
    The bang in this case, despite being a cheaper amplifier matched my LS50 better!
    I did not get a chance to try the brio with the Klipsch RP280 so I can't comment on that.

    Rega Elex-R:
    The Elex-R is my every day driver. The amplifier I decided to stick with after trying all the options above.
    Incredibly clear, wide soundstage, controlled bass, rythmic, has nice energy and perfect timing. I did not expect the Bang to sound anywhere close to what I am used to.
    Initially when I switched to the bang I felt that the mid range was not that much different. Voices were really clear and soundstage remained similarly wide.
    Also, with the Bang I noticed that I could more easily tell some sounds apart compared to the ElexR but thought it was all in my head. (had to switch back and forth a few times to verify that indeed the separation might be a bit better on the Bang)
    Other than the mid range where the Bang really shines, the high frequency reproduction of the elex-r is no match for the bang.
    Also the bass is significantly more detailed on the elex-r and more controlled, but the Bang's bass is louder. It's worth mentioning that the bass on the bang might not be as detailed but it remains tight and generally pleasing which is impressive. After all we are comparing a $1600 amp to a $499 amp, I say it fares pretty well!!!!
      Pokemonn and Light - Man like this.
  4. Wiljen
    Big Bang! for the buck.
    Written by Wiljen
    Published Sep 30, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Power to drive even large speakers reasonably well.
    Cons - Requires pre-amp for volume control.
    [​IMG]

    The Bang is for those like me who use desktop speakers instead of powered monitors with their computer audio setups. Paired with the Play’s or Fun’s pre-amp outs, the Bang provides 40 watts RMS of clean two channel output again with customizable sound using Bursons V6 family of Op-amps.



    Packaging:

    Burson ships all three of these siblings in a black pressboard box with the details of what is inside on the top. Inside the box the main unit is protected by closed cell foam in the center of the box with a small accessory box on either side containing connectors, power supplies, and an allen wrench for opening the case should you want to change op-amps. While not the heartiest box on the market, it does a good job of protecting the device for shipment and should last well unless used repeatedly for shows etc. (I’d advise purchase of a pelican style case for such purposes).

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Accessories:

    The Bang ships with very few extras, but it really doesn’t need many. In the box you will find the power supply, main unit, a set of RCA interconnects, and the allen wrench for removing the unit cover.

    [​IMG]

    Build:

    All three siblings share very similar black anodized aluminum cases which fit in a 5 ¼ drive bay in a PC if desired. All have a Molex connector for powering from a PC power supply in addition to a connector for an external power supply (provided with the unit).

    Each sibling has different face-plates depending on the controls and jacks present. The Fun lacks the digital display of the Play while the BANG lacks any front panel controls at all. On the rear(from left to right) are the Output binding posts over the external power jack and molex connector for PC power, the Power Switch, and RCA inputs at the far right. Worth noting is the binding posts are for banana clips only and do not unscrew.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The upper half of the case can be removed by removing the two upper screws on both the front and rear faceplates. I found that loosening the lower screws about ½ turn aided in lifting the top without scratching the inside of the face plates in the process.

    The inside of the lid has a diagram that details the components and positions of each. This is particularly useful when changing op-amps. This is certainly a nice touch as manuals are often nowhere to be found when one sets out to change op-amps etc….

    [​IMG]

    Internals:

    Burson has designed what it calls the MCPS (MAX Current Power Supply) that per their spec does the AC to DC conversion at 170kHz instead of the 30-50kHz of more common switch mode power supplies. Burson’s claim is that this new supply design eliminates all noise in the audible range while still retaining the efficiency of switch mode power supplies.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The Bang uses 4 distinct MCPS circuits to feed the Class AB dual mono circuitry. Burson touts the Bang as the smallest footprint true class AB available and its size is comperable to a lot of other vendors Class D offerings.

    [​IMG]

    The Bang also offers the buffer of the Cable+ system to allow for adjustment of input impedance to match your source. This is especially critical since the Bang relies on the pre-amp for volume control. Mismatched impedance is a real possibility with devices ranging from <25 Ohm to over 300 Ohm depending on type and manufacturer.

    The Bang uses a (1) Dual Op-amp that is shared by both channels. This makes perfect sense as it prevent mismatched or imbalances between channels that would be more probably if using single op amps in a one per channel arrangement. This does give the option of using one of Burson’s discrete op-amps and Burson offers the Bang with either the V6C, V6V, or Ne5532 op-amp. A host of others are pin compatible and Burson is one of a very few companies that encourages op-amp rolling and doesn’t void the warrantee for doing so.

    [​IMG]

    I found when stacking the Fun and Bang a Seasonic SSR-600TL 600 Watt fanless PC power supply did a good job of running both without any stress to the supply’s voltage rails.



    Sound:

    Burson rates the Bang at 40 Watts RMS into 4 Ohm. Since most home speakers are rated at 8 Ohm, the average output power will be closer to 30 Watts than 40, but understand this is RMS, not peak, and is a true rating rather than the inflated ratings so many consumer brands use today.

    I tried the Bang with KEF Q350s, Klipsch Heresy II, and even a power hungry Magnepan 3.6/R. The KEFs were driven extremely well by the Bang. The Heresy II was, if anything, a little over driven as I didn’t have nearly as much usable volume control with those as with the KEF or MG. The MG 3.6/R paired with Levinson 20.5s has been my mainstay for quite a number of years and while I love the sound, I will readily admit that at 86dB and 2.8V/m, the MGs are not easy to drive well. I fully expected the Bang to be unable to drive the MGs as they are well beyond what should be expected of it. While I would not recommend torturing this or any amp with a load so far beyond what it is designed to handle, I will concede that Burson’s claim that this amp can keep up with many amps rated at three times its specs appears to be true as I was able to get reasonable listening levels out of the MGs without any obvious distress from the Bang.

    I did ask Burson if the Bang was 2 Ohm stable but have not received a reply, I’ll add it when I do.

    I tried all three op-amps that are offered with the Bang and found less difference here than either the Play or Fun as I think the sound is more highly dependant on the DAC and speakers than the op-amp in the amplifier. I have previously written up the Burson V6 products here, so wont re-write all those details again.

    Burson now has a complete line of desktop components in the Play (DAC/AMP), Fun (AMP/pre-AMP), and Bang (Power-AMP) that are extremely price competitive and rank at the top of their class in technology and design. So now you have options, Play around, have some Fun, or Bang it out on your speakers, either way Burson has you covered.
  5. Mij-Van
    BANG without Olufsen
    Written by Mij-Van
    Published Sep 10, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Pocket sized nuke audio power plant.
    Cons - Gain switch on the back of the unit would be more practical.
    This is a review of Burson's mini desktop amplifier called the BANG, aka Honey, I Shrunk the Amp.

    After reviewing two other Burson's products, the PLAY and the FUN, I got yet another chance of reviewing the last piece of the stack. The BANG makes a complete statement on your desktop, combined either with the PLAY or the FUN as preamps, or any other preamp of your choice.

    BANG's power ratings and other specs can be found on Burson's informative website:
    https://www.bursonaudio.com/products/bang/

    Looking at the size of the case, you would expect this to be a class D amp, but it isn't. It is an old school class AB amp, combined with some witchcraft to shrink it's size. Power supply is outsourced, using big switching power supply which saves quite a lot of space, but it is still impressive how Bursonians succeeded shrinking this power amp so much.

    There is a line out and two different line-ins, as well as micro-in and micro-out. The basic version comes with the oldie NE5532. My test unit came with preinstalled V6 Classic, which makes it worth $599. You can further do some op-amp rolling, something which to my knowledge is more common with the tubes. There are plenty of op-amps on the market, some quite pricy, so I guess this is an interesting and costly sport.

    The BANG features a gain switch inside the box. With standard level 2V inputs I would recommend going for the low gain and for mobile devices, which go lower than 1.5V, sometimes as low as 1V, I would go for a high gain. Default was high gain and it proved to be incredibly high, not allowing me to go above 20% of the volume control of the PLAY. The gain switch is a handy feature, but it would have been much better to have it outside the box, like on the back panel. Otherwise if you intend to use different sources, you have to reopen BANG's case every time you want to change the gain.

    1.jpg 2.jpg

    I've tried the BANG with the PLAY and the FUN as preamps. The PLAY is a dac/preamp, the FUN only a preamp. Both stacks look pretty nice, but sonically for some reason the FUN/BANG combo was much better match. The PLAY/BANG was plagued by some digital background noise, while the FUN/BANG was dead silent. Turning the volume control of the FUN to the max, there was impressive black background.

    Now to the sound impressions.
    As with the PLAY and the FUN, I went through many different music styles, but was mainly focused on the reproduction of the symphonic and jazz upright bass.
    What struck me first was the power, huge power. Where does it come from? I couldn't turn the volume more than 20-25%. The soundstage is big, wide and realistic, instruments imaging very clear. It is transparent and clean power, making it ideal for near field listening or even for a small home studio. Treble was slightly grainy but what I understand, Burson's op-amps need some 100 hours of burn-in, so I expect this might improve with a time. Mids were very detailed and informative, very neutral and clean, with fast attack on the notes.

    Now coming to the section which took more time to get an opinion. The bass is strong, powerful and boomy. It goes very deep. The BANG gives much flesh and juice to the sound of either plucked or stringed bass, which is good, but also has somewhat unusually long reverberation, which can make the sound colored. With brighter recordings and edgier bass lines, the BANG helped a lot adding some warmth to the mid-bass, but with complex symphonic passages, it could loose the control and articulation.
    But here we are talking about splitting hairs from a double bass aficionado. For most of the time, the BANG was very enjoyable listening experience, which always made me forget how small this thing is. And that's exactly the point. Putting such a small powerful nuke power audio plant on your desktop, combined with either the PLAY or the FUN, will give you a complete space saving, desktop decluttering solution.

    PLAY + BANG gives you all you need on your desktop, having dac/preamp/amp.
    FUN + BANG need an additional dac, but sounds better.

    In any case hats off to Burson.

    3.jpg 4.jpg
      DjBobby and raoultrifan like this.
    1. DarKu
      HAha :)))
      Great title!
      DarKu, Sep 12, 2018
      Mij-Van, Eiffel and raoultrifan like this.
    2. Mij-Van
      Thank you :)
      Mij-Van, Sep 12, 2018
  6. DarKu
    Burson Audio goes with a Bang
    Written by DarKu
    Published Sep 4, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Great sense of scale, wide spread soundstage
    - Sounds much bigger and powerful compared to its size
    - Pretty linear FR with just a slight midrange emphasis
    - Natural tone with a great sound flow
    - Quality and minimalist construction
    - Very good price/performance ratio
    - Works great with Burson Play an Fun
    Cons - A slight grain on treble
    - Sensible to hum/hiss (it had just a tiny bit with Play, but none with X-Sabre Pro)
    IMG_7977.jpg

    When I’ve tested the Burson Play around one month ago I was kind of impressed by it’s small footprint yet with a really big and bold sound signature.

    I’m really glad that Burson started thinking out of the box this last year and sincerely I dig every new product they released so far such as Play, Fun and Bang.

    Small footprint and lower desk space doesn’t mean you’ll get a lower quality sound with boring dynamics.
    When I heard the Play it was everything you’d want but not boring at all and I do hope the same can be said about Bang and Fun.
    Burson Audio was kind enough to send us the Bang and Fun to test the hell out of them and we did exactly that so at this time my review is concentrated around the Bang power amp that I am enjoying for a week or so.

    Bang is quite small, it has the same size as the Play and Fun but when I connected it to my Davis Acoustics Eva speakers I was a bit shocked by how much gain and power it has compared to my upper class Cambridge Audio Azur 851A.

    I will test the Bang connected directly to Play and to my digital preamp inside Matrix Audio X-Sabre Pro and later will compare it a bit with the Cambridge Audio Azur 851A.

    IMG_7941.jpg

    Under the hood

    As the manufacturer suggests: “Bang is the smallest dual mono Class AB power amp in the world. Bang’s size is deceiving as Bang packs a jaw – dropping punch!”

    I agree and I can attest that, using my Davis Acoustics Eva speakers together with Play and Bang I can’t go higher than 20 volume out of 99! Take into consideration that with my Cambridge Azur 851A I was using 50 out of 100 volume for the same SPL in the same room but with a different source.

    Using four sets of Max Current Power Supplies (MCPS) developed by Burson, Bang delivers overwhelming power, speed and details.
    Taking into account it’s small size and weight you might think it uses a Class D amplifier stage, but you would be wrong. Bang is using a purist Class AB output stage for an organic, transparent and musical sound.

    IMG_7968.jpg

    Bang is quite versatile as well because it has an internal gain buffer stage with selectable impedance levels.
    It doesn’t matter if you are using a portable DAP, a desktop DAP or a high performance pre-amp, Bang will work with any of them giving you’re the perfect performance and volume control every time.

    Bang’s input buffer stage in basic form is controlled by a single NE5532 op-amp but you can change it to your liking with a better performing op-amp like Burson’s own V6 Vivid Dual or V6 Classic Dual op-amps to squeeze the best of it.
    I am using the basic NE5532 version, but don’t worry and in it’s stock form Bang impressed me enough.

    It wouldn’t be a Burson device if it would not use highest performance ELNA aluminum electrolytic capacitors and Vishay resistors, we literally see them in every Burson product.

    Burson states that Bang has around 40W of power into 4 Ohm load and around 29 W into 8 Ohm loads but after hearing it with my speakers I am thinking they didn’t get the numbers right as it sounds much more powerful than that.

    There are two possibilities: It has a higher power output and Burson somehow didn’t measure it right or the second one would be that Cambridge Audio inflated too much their power ratings to have a higher sales numbers on their hands. We will probably never know the truth but I am betting on the second possibility.

    I am kicking myself in the nuts of not having at the time of writing a pair of stand-floor speakers as I anticipate Bang would drive those to ear bleeding levels and have some power reserve left.
    For my Davis Acoustics Eva, Bang is too much, much more than enough, at 15% volume my desk trembles, at 20% volume my neighbors are knocking on the wall to lower my volume levels, it has gobs of power!

    I want to add that for a better impedance matching I used the Burson Cable Pro+ between the Play and Bang to better evaluate its acoustic properties.

    Lets go with a Bang shall we?

    IMG_7969.jpg

    Audio Performance

    As you probably guessed Bang drives my Davis Acoustics Eva with tons of headroom left on the volume dial.
    I did test it with Play, Fun and with my digital preamp inside the X-Sabre Pro DAC.
    Play + Bang was the easiest setup to play with as you have everything you need for a small yet powerful setup for all your headphones or speaker needs.

    I think the preamp section of Burson Play is too powerful as I never got more than 20 on the volume dial.
    First thing I noticed is that Bang is free of any noise; even at lowest volumes background is free of any noise or hum.
    Secondly after pressing play I’ve heard an easiness of sound that often is heard only in Class A or Class AB amplifiers, but wait Bang is a Class AB design so this makes sense now.

    Bang has a really good flow with any type of music, it’s like any music fast or slow, with longer or shorter decays will always sound natural and easy going.
    It is a type of sound that you don’t want to analyze but just relax and enjoy for a longer period of time.

    Actually this just happened to me, I sit down trying my best critically evaluating the Bang on all its sides, but after few tunes I brought a glass of wine, put my legs on the table, took the keyboard away and just enjoyed the music for the rest of the evening.

    IMG_7933.jpg
    The next day I put some Subcarpați – De Dor Și De Bucurie and involuntarily started tapping my feet. This simple yet complex tune has everything from the frequency response point of view.
    From lowest sub-bass to the upper treble I didn’t notice any dips or rises in the FR, so I can’t say it lacks or adds anything into the mix.
    However I felt a stronger bass response and a hint of naturalness on midrange that again is heard mainly on high quality power amps.

    There are few seconds at the start of the tune where sub-bass rumbles a bit longer than normal and I was curios if it will distort, it didn’t, way to go Burson.
    Actually sub-bass response is really good, in my opinion it has the right amount of decay and rumble.
    Same can the said about the bass response.

    Trying the latest Infected Mushroom album, listening to Groove Attack track at the 01:00 minute mark a deep and clear bass response should be heard and with the right gear it really shakes you up.
    Bang passed the bass test with flying colors.

    Midrange performance is where I think Bang shines the most as it adds just a little character of its own to make it unique sounding.

    Yes, that is right, midrange goes a bit upfront compared to the rest of the spectrum. Most of the time the attention will be caught by the musical midrange performance, can’t say I dislike that, but can’t say it’s a linear performance too.

    IMG_7943.jpg

    Depending on the taste, if you prefer a slightly musical performance Bang will be to your liking.
    My speakers do not have a lot of midrange presence so the Bang actually helped a bit.
    Voices and string instruments have just a tiny longer decays than how I would call natural decays, the notes are lingering just a little bit longer than how for example I’ve heard on Play but that is all right.

    Bang sounds quite fast, but it’s not reference material for sure in term of speed and impact. My Cambridge Azur 851A sound faster and kicks harder but it’s also 3 times more expensive so it should not be a surprise.

    Truth to be told I was immensely enjoying the Bang with everything from fast to slow music. Even if decays are a little bit longer it doesn’t mean sound will be muddy or uncontrolled. With Bang it was quite the opposite.
    Bang almost never sounds crowded or muddy.
    But possibly more importantly is that it has lots of control over speaker transducers, I never experienced sloppy dynamics or any kind of muddiness.

    In this regard Bang stays among the clearer side of power amps I’ve heard in the past.
    Treble in my opinion has the right amount of zing and energy. It is never too edgy and abrasive but always just a bit crispy and clear. I would probably want just a tiny bit more energy up top to be called a linear performance.

    I think it will work well for bright speakers and with linear ones, with midrange heavy speakers it might be too much, it should be tested in advance for a good match.

    Overall I think it matches well with majority of speakers, can't say a lot about the stand-floor speakers, don’t have a pair at this moment but with higher sensitivity ones it should be enough
    Soundstage performance is better than expected; especially looking at its size and at those power ratings.

    It never sounds tiny or crowded, the stage is medium to large in size and it fills the room quite nicely. I tried my speakers in two rooms, one that has around 13 mp and one that has around 34 mp, in both rooms but especially in the bigger one the sound really opened up and a real sense of scale was heard.

    The next day I decided to use the Bang with my reference DAC - Matrix X-Sabre Pro that also has a digital preamp section.

    Well the stage opened up even more, sound became not just wider but much more deeper.
    I started hearing voices not in front of my speakers but behind them, a weird but interesting effect.
    Speed ranked up, impact was better and the FR overall became more liniear.
    More details could be picked up and sound became even more controlled, it should not come as a surprise as X-Sabre Pro is much more expensive than the Play Basic.

    IMG_7978.jpg

    Comparison with my Cambridge Audio Azur 851A
    Burson Bang goes for 500 USD/EUR and Azur 851A for 1500 USD/EUR so it is not a fair comparison at all but an interesting one.

    Using the same source (X-Sabre Pro) I finally got a better sense of power and scale with Azur 851A. I had more volume with Azur 851A but not much more as I was expecting. Azur 851A kicked a bit more and sounded more linear.
    However Burson Bang sounded more…alive, it has a touch of warmth that could really help in some situations.

    What really impressed me is that Bang sounded as clear as the Azur 851A. Not a single micro-detail was missed, not a single note was unheard and for that I think Bang punches way above its weight and price point.

    IMG_7946.jpg
    Conclusion
    For a simple and elegant desktop solution I can recommend enough the Burson Bang, it is just perfect in a small environment, hell it even worked great in my living room as I didn’t hear any soundstage or scale restrains.
    It always sounded big and bolt, it is exactly how Burson gear always sounded.
    Having bogs of power, a large soundstage and a natural tone, you really can’t go wrong with the Bang.
    Burson again goes with a Bang!

    Until next time my friends!

    PROS:
    - Great sense of scale, wide spread soundstage
    - Sounds much bigger and powerful compared to its size
    - Pretty linear FR with just a slight midrange emphasis
    - Natural tone with a great sound flow
    - Quality and minimalist construction
    - Very good price/performance ratio
    - Works great with Burson Play an Fun

    CONS:
    - A slight grain on treble
    - Sensible to hum/hiss (it had just a tiny bit with Play, but none with X-Sabre Pro)

    Equipment used for review purposes:
    Speakers: Davis Acoustics Eva, KEF LS50W
    Power amp: Burson Bang
    Integrated amp: Cambridge Audio Azur 851A
    Pre-amps: Burson Fun, Matrix X-Sabre Pro
    DACs: Matrix X-Sabre Pro, Burson Play
    Cables: Burson Cable Pro+, Kimber PR8, QED Reference
    IMG_7985.jpg
      Eiffel, DjBobby and raoultrifan like this.
    1. Eiffel
      Hi ! About the hum/hiss with Play - have you tried to "play" with the gain switch ?
      Eiffel, Sep 7, 2018
    2. DarKu
      Hi, I lowered the gain on Bang and hum disappeared :)
      It works great with Play as well
      DarKu, Sep 12, 2018
      Eiffel likes this.
  7. DjBobby
    Bursonification
    Written by DjBobby
    Published Aug 29, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Technical marvel.
    Unbelievable power packed in a small footprint.
    Clean and transparent.
    Best way to declutter your desktop.
    Cons - Damping factor too low.
    Burson Bang 1.jpg Burson Bang 2.jpg

    This is a review of the Burson Audio power amp BANG, the last unit from the Burson's trilogy, The Lord of the Desktop.

    In previous episodes we have seen the Burson PLAY and FUN and now we are completing with the power amp named the BANG. The BANG is a Hobbit of the Class AB power amps, packing respectable 29W on 8 Ohms and 40W on 4 Ohms.
    For all out there, who like myself strongly dislike the sound of the Class D amps and still want to claim their desktop space, this might be the solution we have been long waiting for. I will not go into a discussion why I have strong animosity against the Class D amps, but I will just mention that I have tried many of them, famous brands and costlier designs which simply didn't work for me. Therefore I ended with an awkward solution - I put the full size HiFi amp and components on my desktop, eating half of my desktop space, just in order to have a decent sound. That's why I was very intrigued and I have to admit extremely sceptical, to test and review the BANG which claimed full AB power in a package one might expect from the Class D amps.

    The BANG came in almost identical package like the previously reviewed the PLAY and the FUN, except for an oversized switching power supply. The power supply is indeed huge, but you can easily hide it under or behind the desktop. The unit itself is of exact size as the PLAY and the FUN and forms together a nice looking stack. Having on my desktop both full size Class AB and one emergency Class D amps, I was curious to compare the sound with the DALI, Epos und KEF speakers. The BANG is only a power amp, with RCA line inputs. You can connect any source with a volume control, analog or digital, but it is more practical to connect a preamp, like Burson's PLAY or FUN.
    The price is $499 for the basic version with the NE5532 and goes up to $599 for the V6 Vivids or Classics upgrade version. Since I was using both the PLAY and the FUN with the V6 Classics, I have decided to stay true to the line, and therefore tested the BANG with the V6 Classics.

    Burson Bang 3.jpg Burson Bang 4.jpg

    The SOUND.

    First of all this small Hobbit is powerful, incredibly powerful. This was one of the moments, when you simply don't believe your eyes and/or ears. Such a small box, punching so much power? The power and control was just unbelievable. Lot of punch, lot of headroom, highly dynamic.
    The soundstage was big and wide, the sound reverberant and rich with deep bottom end. Mids were clear and dense, the treble slightly on the bright side. But this was unmistakable the Class AB sound, transparent, vivid, alive.
    It looked so tiny compared to my both desktop powerhouses and still had more than enough muscles to compete with them. There was great transparency on the top, good stereo separation and clear imaging. The instruments have nice rich body around them, the voices lot of breath.
    Only thing which was unusual for an solid state amp was damping factor. On the Burson website, the specs for the BANG stated an output impedance of highish 1.5 ohms. This would mean an unusually weak damping factor, letting the bass cone swinging to much and too long. Using Dali Zensor 3 speakers with 6 ohm nominal impedance, this would mean a damping factor 4. The bass reproduction was somewhat wobbly, with high reverberation, which was much closer to the sound of my tube amps, than what you would expect from a solid state amp. While on some tracks the bass was a little bit out of control and unwieldy, I can imagine that small desktop speakers with modest sized bass cones might actually benefit from a small bass boost.

    The BANG with the PLAY as preamp:
    The sound was dynamic, upfront with wide soundstage and rich colors. Sometimes the sound signature was a little bit too energetic and the soundstage had more width than depth. On the other hand, this is a great desktop solution: headphone amp with DAC included, digital volume control with nice display and remote control, connected to the BANG to power your desktop speakers. This might be everything you need for the space saving, decluttering desktop solution.

    The BANG with the FUN as preamp:
    Now the soundstage got deeper, the sound was not so upfront anymore but got more direction and layers. The imaging was exemplary, much above the price bracket. The treble was also a little bit less grainy. This combo made me foot tapping and put a smile on my face.

    Burson Bang 5.jpg Burson Bang 6.jpg

    Burson Audio has produced 3 outstanding desktop products, which might be combined or stacked.
    The PLAY - DAC/HP amp/Preamp
    The FUN - HP amp/Preamp
    The BANG - Power amp

    They pack huge power in a small package, helping you save a lot of desktop space.
    While the PLAY - BANG combo might be the most economic solution, giving you in only 2 small boxes all you need on your desktop, my heart goes to the FUN - BANG combo which will need an additional dac. Even with an added dac, it still takes very little space, still producing seriously audiophile sound. While I am not a believer that one size fits all, or one brand fits all, the Burson might be an exception. I could easily imagine my desktop exclusively consisting of Burson products. Kind of Bursonification.

    Burson Bang 7.jpg Burson Bang 8.jpg
    1. DarKu
      Nice collection of gear you have there. Enjoyed every word of your review, big thumbs up!
      DarKu, Aug 30, 2018
      DjBobby likes this.
    2. DjBobby
      Mulţumesc :) Just read your review of the PLAY plus some more, with a help of Google Translate. Great website, great work!
      DjBobby, Aug 30, 2018
      raoultrifan and DarKu like this.
    3. DarKu
      Thanks to you too, means a lot to me :wink:
      Love reviewing audio gear and listening to music, that is all.
      DarKu, Sep 4, 2018
  8. raoultrifan
    BURSON BANG 29W/8Ohm, 40W/4Ohm, Class-AB power amp
    Written by raoultrifan
    Published Aug 25, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Very good linearity and neutral amplifier.
    Very good sound-stage with deep bass.
    Ability to change the sound flavor by swapping the input op-amp.
    Enough power to drive regular speakers inside a bedroom or a 25m2 living room.
    Extremely stable amplifier!
    Very good price, especially with the default NE5532 op-amps.
    Cons - Needs attention and a well ventilated case with a very good PSU when installing inside a computer case.
    I received about one month ago a 2x40W speakers power amplifier having a 5.25” internal computer bay size (CD/DVD-ROM unit like). I was really surprised when I saw its size because I’ve never seen so much power from a stereo power-amp working in A/B class inside a such a small CD/DVD-like case, so please understand my wonder. I would understand a Class-D amplifier inside small “package”, but not Class-A/B, so let’s see what is this about.


    (courtesy of Burson Audio - Melbourne)

    Per design simplicity, BANG has no volume knob, so we need to use an audio source with built-in volume control or a preamplifier between your audio source and BANG! This is why I’m calling it a power amplifier or simply “power-amp”, because there’s no way to adjust the volume unless you use a volume-controlled input source, like PLAY for example or any other source volume adjustable. Also, passive or active preamplifiers will do as well if connected between the input source (DAC, CD etc.) and the BANG. Being a power-amp, without volume control, is somehow unusual for me because I was used to see only professional equipment built this way (power amps are usually big monster delivering KW of power during concerts or wedding), but I think this a good approach done by BURSON, given the small size of the amplifier and the willing to pair it with devices like PLAY that already has volume control.

    Specifications:

    Input impedance: 100 KOhms
    Frequency response: ± 1 dB 0 – 20Khz
    THD: <0.03%
    Output impedance: 1.5 Ohm @ 1 kHz
    Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 92.5dB

    Inputs: 2 X RCA (2V RMS line level)
    Outputs: 2 X Speaker Outputs

    Power/Impedance, Signal To Noise Ratio, Separation between the two channels:
    - 40W/4Ohm, 91db, 99%
    - 29W/8Ohm, 91db, 99%
    - 15.2W/16Ohm, 91db, 99%

    Power Supply 100-240V AC (12V 10A)
    Weight: app. 2.5Kg
    Dimensions: 210mm x 145mm x 45mm

    You can see from the above specs that this power-amp will perfectly fit inside a regular desktop computer, making it perfect for someone who wants to play games, watch movies and listen to music on passive stereo speakers at a more than decent audio quality. No subwoofer output available on BANG, it’s just a power stereo amplifier, so if you need to a dedicated bass speaker unit then you might need an active subwoofer to accomplish that, ideally able to get the input signal directly form the speakers plug (not all subs are able to be driven directly by a 40 W amplifier, so please read sub’s datasheet first!). This should probably make it the first Class A/B power amplifier that perfectly fits inside a regular desktop computer and also being able to get power from a dedicated power supply or from the internal computer’s PSU via the MOLEX plug.

    I am considering this design and its small size a great advantage for gamers, audiophiles, but also for regular computer users that don't want to spend lot of money on power amplifiers that occupy lot of desk/room space. Enough power in such a small-size case was a huge challenge for BURSON, because most of power amplifiers that might fit inside a desktop computer are usually Class-D and not Class-A/B, so quite a challenge indeed (just saying, not willing to start a debate between amplifiers classes here).

    Like a good perfume, BANG is small, packed inside a beautiful and thick black anodized aluminum case that acts as a big heatsink across its entire surface, very well built and able to deliver enough power to drive our speakers inside the bedrooms and living rooms with a crisp and detailed audio quality. All we need is a volume-controlled audio source like PLAY or just a regular DAC with volume knob control and a good RCA-RCA interconnect cable or the Cable+ Pro.

    BANG comes with an external power supply able to deliver 12V/12A (120W) which is more than enough for the "big" BANG. It's a low-noise SMPS (switched-mode power supply) that can be easily replaced by the power source from inside your computer by directly connecting it to the existing "molex" connector.

    Power amplification is done by two reputable integrated circuits LM3886TF that do the job very well. There's plenty of musicality, crisp and detailed sound and the 4 power regulators inside are able to deliver about 5 AMPS per each of the 4 rails, so bass speed and attack will never be a problem for this amplifier.

    The 2 x LM3886TF power chips (the 2 gain switches and the input op-amp on the right)


    Above picture with all inside components (the 2 gain switches and the input op-amp on top-right, the power regulators on the left)


    With all op-amps tested the DC-offset voltage was very low for such a powerful amplifier, few mV only, so I consider this very-low DC-output a highlight for BANG. I've seen LM3886 kits tested on several audio forums that are pushing more than 100mV per each channel, so BANG's design seems to be a very good one.

    I was also measuring the power rails of this power amplifier and I got 2 x (+/-24.5V), as BANG has 4 rails because of its 4 SMPS power regulators. This way BANG can deliver a very fast bass with lower THD, as each power regulator can sustain a 5A load with ease (4 rails means a total of 20A of max. instantaneous current, 10A per each channel!).

    Power regulators (lot of ripple reduction ELNA capacitors and noise reduction coils)


    I was able to measure a maximum temperature of about 50C on the two LM3886TF chips after pushing some loud music on the speakers, inside my room air temperature was 25-26C (device was powered ON since >4 hours and case left closed but without the screws, so it only took me only few seconds to open the case and use my IR thermometers) and about 45C on the op-amp and surrounding components. PSU's capacitors were a bit warmer, around 50C, like the LM3886 chips, same temps on the 4 power regulators. however, pushing BANG to the limit may heat things much higher, but with a good ventilation around I see no problems, after all it’s a speakers amplifier not a headphones one. :)

    The internal design is pretty straight forward, there is a dual op-amp used in the gain-stage (input buffer), to amplify the input source volume so the output stage made of 2 x LM3886 chips to be able to deliver enough voltage for the speakers even if they’re fed by low-voltage input source, as cellphones. This makes this power amplifier versatile, compatible with lot of input sources and also a very good equipment to swap op-amps, which is always a very good thing for us, head-fiers. [​IMG]

    Choosing between the default NE5532 and BURSON op-amps will change the sound flavor a bit, depends on everyone's ears and speakers. Also, the DC-output voltage on speakers-out will change. I was able to measure around 1-2mV of DC when using MUSES8920 and between 15-20mV of DC-voltage when using NE5532 or SS V6, so very low numbers, but when trying different op-amps you might get different numbers. Optionally, you could use a Digital Multi-Meter after swapping different op-amps, just to be 110% sure you’re not using a defective or a non-compatible op-amp).

    We can swap here every dual op-amp we want if it's designed for audio use, but for non-audio op-amps (e.g.: faster op-amps, dedicated for video applications etc.) we need to check op-amp’s datasheet or consult BURSON technical support for op-amp compatibility with BANG. A defective op-amp or avery fast and oscillating op-amp might have a higher than acceptable DC-offset voltage on outputs (>100mV) and this might affect the output sound on some sensitive speakers (usually very sensitive speakers having a lower-impedance: 4 ohms, >92dB/Wm sensitivity).

    The input op-amp is working with a selectable gain of about 0.75/1.5X and is powered by dedicated low-noise LM7812/7912 linear regulators, so op-amp's rails voltage is +/-12V. That means most audio op-amps should work here, but again: double check op-amp datasheet or consult BURSON for any questions about op-amps compatibility.


    Close-up with linear power regulators for the input op-amp


    The powerful LM3886TF are working at a gain of 20X, but between the gain op-amp and the output stage chips there are two gain switches, one for each channel, that help us choosing the proper gain for our speakers, based on the input signal voltage. Basically, these gain switches are lowering input gain’s output power in half, chaning the gain form 1.5X to 0.75X.

    The final output stage made out of 2 x LM3886TF is powered directly from the 4 boost-regulators: 2 x XLSEMI 6019E1 and 2 x XLSEMI 4015E1 that are creating a dual-mono power supply able to sustain the output load with ease. The 120VA SMPS power supply has enough power reserve to boost the bass instantly into our speakers.


    Close-up with power regulators for the LM3886 chips


    Few recommendations for those that might want to put this big-baby inside their PC case:
    • We need to be 110% sure that PC's internal PSU is able to sustain an additional load of 120W taken only from ONE of the 12V rails! Yes, 12V/10A nominal power, so 120W of spare power when your computer could be gaming or benchmarking under full-load (bass power spikes could take more than 120W!).
    • We should take into consideration the amount of digital and analog "audio noise" our computer’s PSU might inject into the audio amplifier, as usually PC PSU's are not very low-noise by design (feel free to check the AC ripple & noise for your PSU, if tested already, here: http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php?name=NDReviews&op=Review_Cat&recatnum=13). If we do have a low-noise powerful PSU then we might be better if sticking to the original 12V/10A power adapter provided by BURSON which is really low-noise and designed for audio use.
    • The amount of heat generated by the BANG power amplifier could be higher than the amount of heat generated by a regular computer CPU, as BANG could dissipate more than 100W of pure heat when working in full load, so not having a very good cooling inside the PC case might not be a good thing to try BANG inside the PC case. I'm speaking about really good cooling, maybe with positive air pressure and no other 5.25" devices like DVD-ROM units on top and bottom of BANG to suppress the airflow.

    I was listening few days ago through BANG to some 2017/2018 Pop/Dance music using as input source Lenovo X230, Lenovo T440, MacBook Pro 2015, iMac 27, but also Burson PLAY and ASUS Xonar U7 that both have volume control knob. Despite ASUS Xonar U7 being able to deliver only max. 1V RMS on RCA outputs, I'm really impressed by BANG’s output power, clarity and channel separation (sound-stage). I realized that for normal listening levels for my living room (25m2, approx. 2x20W of music power) BANG's case it's actually not heating up so much, it is warm, but not more than 50C on top and when listening to a music with a greater dynamic, like Jazz or Classics, temps are even lower.

    BANG sounds powerful, with a deep punchy bass, has a good sound-stage and it's completely neutral. See the below RMAA as well:

    BANG_frequency_response_24bit.png
    BANG has a perfectly flat response up to 20 KHz


    When feeding the BANG from ASUS U7 DAC the volume was powerful enough, but not that high like when using PLAY or some laptop's jack-output, so depending on the input source used, BANG’s internal gain might need to be set to highest or lowest position (I - high, ON - low). BANG amplifier if powerful enough, even when feeding it with low-voltage input sources like 1V RMS or even lower, like my old Nokia phone, so definitely lot of gain inside BANG.

    Speakers used for this test were my good old Pioneer S-H520V-QL, 1m height floor-standing speakers, 87dB/W @1m, 2 x 14 cm woofers and 1 x 2.5 cm tweeter, 8Ohms, 130W RMS. Modest speakers, but really big sound and great soundstage when paired with BANG.

    I tested play on several laptops and desktops, but only with BANG connected externally. For BANG installed inside the computer I got a very well ventilated desktop tower to do some tests:
    • 10-core i7 6950X CPU water-cooled (140 Watts)
    • 4 x GTX 1080Ti in SLI-mode (4 x 270 = 1.080 Watts)
    • 128 GB RAM
    • SSD + HDD
    • BURSON PLAY (60 Watts)
    • BURSON BANG (120 Watts)
    • PSU Platimax 1.700 Watts
    • lot of 120 fans to provide a very good cooling, based on positive airflow





    1st test done with BURSON equipment standing on my desk:
    - room temp: 26 C
    - after 1h PLAY was >40C and BANG was 45C (peaceful and not loud music, no much power drawn)

    2nd test done with BURSON equipment inside a well ventilated tower PC:
    - room temp: 23 C
    - after 1h PLAY was >27C, because it was on top of the case, and BANG from the middle of the case was about 25C (peaceful and not loud music, no much power drawn)

    Seems that in my case BANG is cooler if used inside a very well-ventilated computer case with vents in front of the case and fans on top and front, where the 5.25" bays are located.

    Note: BURSON does not recommend BANG to get installed inside a computer case, because under most circumstances it might get overheated!


    Some tests and measurements

    I was able to “build” a 4.9 Ohms/40 W dummy resistor to test the BANG with my scope and I got about 14.5V RMS @ 4.9 Ohms for 1 KHz sine-wave just before starting to distort very little bit (see the bottom of the sine-wave. That's almost 43 Watts of RMS power for each channel, so when listening to music/program the output power could be a bit higher (music power vs. RMS power).


    13.55 V RMS @4.9 Ohms 37.5 W RMS (no visible distortions)


    14.5 V RMS @4.9 Ohms 42.9 W RMS (the bottom starts showing few distortions)


    I couldn't find or DIY/make a precise 4 Ohms dummy resistor to test the output power, but given the above result for 4.9 Ohms dummy-resistor I would approximate BANG’s max. power @ 4 Ohms speakers being a bit over 45 W RMS per channel. It’s more than manufacturer’s specs, but let’s not push the amplifier beyond its max. limits to prevent overloading and overheating. I’m only doing these tests to see if my BANG is within manufacturer’s parameters and trust me...it is beyond the specs. :)




    Lowering the input source & output volume to 14.3 V RMS or below will make the above sine-wave to look perfect, without any visible distortion on my scope, that would be about 41.7W/channel with zero visible distortions on my scope.

    After reading several articles over the Internet about Gainclone amplifiers, like LM3886 chip amps, I realized that the most unpleasant situation is when the LM3886 chips start to oscillate, consume lot of power from the power supply and then heat up a lot. This seems to be happening when circuit’s schematic or the PCB board are not designed properly and usually when high capacitve loads are on speakers outputs, like for example cheap 25 m long speakers cables. Perhaps some LM3886 amplifiers from other manufacturers might oscillate a bit when driving very high capacitive loads, but BANG is just a damned stable amplifier! I couldn’t make oscillate at all, not even after adding 0.33uF capacitors on its outputs (strongly not recommended, seriously do never do that!). As a regular speakers cable has somwhere between 10 and 200 pF / meter, then the 0.33uF capacitors I have added to my above test is somehow similar with testing BANG power-amp on a few kilometers long speakers cable. :) More about speakers cable capacitance cold be read here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speaker_wire or here: http://www.roger-russell.com/wire/wire.htm.


    BANG driving 0.33uF capacitive load (>20V RMS of 1KHz square-wave; red line is the input source, blue is BANG's output). No ringing, no phase shift, no oscillations!



    Output coils/inductors and powerful resistors installed to prevent unwanted oscillations



    The green resistors & the WIMA red capacitors make a R-C filter, parallel with the outputs (part of the Zobel network) to combat any possible oscillations)


    I was trying to calculate BANG’s output impedance and dumping factor of the amplifier as well, so I took as reference a 7 V RMS output voltage with 1 KHz sine-wave from an external generator, when no load connected on speakers outputs. After adding my test dummy resistor of 4.9 Ohms I can see a drop of 2 mV RMS (6.998 V RMS, that would be 10 W RMS power). As the voltage difference is so close to zero I can't measure properly the output impedance, this is caused by a “very close to zero” Ohms output impedance, that meaning a very good dumping factor.

    During the above tests internal chip temperatures were not alarmingly hot and no thermal protection occurred during this test, that means that BANG’s outer case can dissipate the heat properly if ventilation is not obstructed.
      DarKu and Mij-Van like this.