Burson Audio Cable+ - Reviews
Pros: If it fixes a miss-match between components you will get a livelier, more vibrant and more energetic sound with more details and more natural tonality
Cons: Needs another USB cable for power
Needs a linear USB power supply to really shine
If you are into this hobby for a few years now, I am sure that you have heard about equipment matching on lots of occasions. Between dacs and amps, between amps and speakers, etc.

And indeed, I have noticed a lot of situations when for example a pair of speakers sounded great with an amplifier and dull with another amplifier. In this situation it's mostly related to the needs of the speakers. One reason can be that some speakers might have impedance peaks/dips that need more current on some parts of the frequencies. Some people would now say that you need a stronger amplifier or an amplifier that can handler bigger current loads. Indeed, but more powerful doesn't necessarily mean better in all cases. It might solve your immediate problem related to dynamics, energy and even tonality, but maybe it won't be as transparent or clean as your less powerful amplifier that sounded wonderful with your previous speakers.

Besides the situation from above you can also get a mismatch between your DAC and your amplifier/pre. Now let's say that it could also be a miss-match in tonality, both being on the bright side for example, or both being on the warm side. I think this is still possible, but it seems that some of these situations are also generated by the impedance miss-match between your dac and your amplifier. Looking at the specs in general, you will see that there is no standard in dac impedance output or amp impedance input. Most companies have different philosophies / approaches to this matter.

This is where Burson comes in with the Cable Plus Pro which is actually an audio buffer that eliminates the impedance miss-match between your components. This is not a normal cable as it becomes an active component in your system.



Presentation and Specs
There are a few version of these cables that can be used in your system depending on your input/output needs.



This is what Burson claims the cable with do in your system if you have a missmatch:

Once the Cable+ is in place, sonic details once lost, will be fully reproduced to create a complete experience. Play familiar – very familiar – material, and you will hear the finest details fully resolved, while the fundamentals take on a new level of life and solidity. That “harsh digital sound” replaced by a wider and more three-dimensional soundstage.

Specs

Measurement Package Content
Input impedance: 250 KOhms 1 x Cable+ / PRO AUX to RCA / AUX to AUX /RCA to RCA
Frequency response: ± 1 dB 0 – 55Khz 1 x USB Power Cable
THD: <0.005% 1 x USB Power Supply
Output impedance 3 Ohm General
Signal to Noise Ratio >118dB at 6dB gain Weight: app. 200 (net)
Power Dissipation 5W (1VA USB Power) Cable Length: Appx 120cm / 47.2in

Tests & Listening Impressions

I have tested this cable in two sound systems:

  • MSB Analog Dac9 (53 Ohms on RCA Output, 106 on XLR) , Audio GD Master 10 (47K @RCA, 94K @ XLR) , Martin Logan Impressions ESL-11A Speakers
  • Chord Mojo(75 Ohms Output) , Indiana Line Puro 800 Amplifier (47 K ohms input), Piega Coax 30.2 Speakers
This cable is active and needs an usb connection for power. What I observed here is that the sound improved if I used a linear usb power supply, in this case Ifi Audio Micro USB 3.0.

In the first system I have noticed differences, but in it's case, all components are quite strong and even the interconnects I have are not bad at all. I am talking about a pair of Audioquest Sky which I manage to get at 25% of the original asking price. While overall, the Cable Pro infused a little more energy into the system, the clarity, extension & details were better on the sky. However, considering the price difference, I can tell you for sure that the differences were not that big and it didn't justify the price of the Sky compared to Cable Plus.

Now, in the second system, where the amplifier is not the best option for Piega Coax 30.2 and it shows it it's struggling, putting the cable plus between Chord Mojo and Indiana Line Puro 800 was more obvious, improving the dynamics & energy in the sound.

One thing to note in both cases is that with cable plus, the sound was louder at the same volume, so I had to lower the volume to match the db for tests. In the first seconds you might have the feeling that the energy & dynamics are much much better, however this might be because you didn't match the db in your tests.

Now, even after I matched the volumes, I still felt improvement in dynamics, energy & details. The description from below is for the second system.

Bass

The punch became stronger and and more engaging. Didn't notice any big changes in the depth department.

Midrange

The midrange seem to have more vibrant & detailed textures, being a little more forward and lively.

Treble

I have noticed a little more air in the scenes and this is also because of a more focused and detailed treble.

Soundstage

The soundstage expanded, showing more air and bigger width.

Details

With Cable Plus, the details were more apparent & vibrant. The guitar plucks and strings in general are more lively and seem to displace more air around them.

Energy, Dynamics & Prat

This is maybe the area that is the most obvious in terms of improvement. The sound overall had better prat, energy and macro dynamics.

Transients

What I noticed here is that the attack was stronger, but I haven't noticed big differences in the decay section.



Conclusion
While it didn't solve the problem of the amplifier in my second system, it sure improved the sound to a degree where I am not so anxious to change it. Is this cable worth it? Personally I was impressed by it.

If you test a lot of equipment, if you think that there is something wrong in your sound after a current amp/dac upgrade, or if you just think your sound might need some improvement in terms of tonality/energy, I definitely think the Cable Plus Pro deserves a chance and comes in handy to have in your house. It might not fix your problem if there is a mismatch between your amp and your speakers/headphones, but it definitely has a chance to fix the problem between your dac and your amp/pre-amp.

Pros

  • Punchier and more energetic bass
  • More vibrant and livelier midrange
  • Better focused treble with more air
  • Expanded and more airy soundstage
  • More apparent details
  • Better energy and macro dynamics
  • More powerful transients
Cons

  • It needs another usb cable for power
  • You will get better sound with a linear usb power supply to power up the cable plus (fortunately I already had one with one free output)
Pros: Better sound
Cons: Requires to be plugged into USB outlet.
*Disclaimer: I received this as a free review sample and did not pay for it

I have been testing the Burson Cable+ PRO A2R 3.5mm to RCA cable.

I used it between my iphone and my imac (both standard 3.5mm outputs on these devices) and my schiit magni 2 amp. First I listened using a standard 3.5mm to RCA cable, then I listened using the Burson Cable+ PRO A2R. I used Oppo PM3 headphones.

These are my thoughts.

I listened to a variety of different types of music, streaming lossless files from TIDAL. I tried to listen to as many genres of music as possible to get a feel for the improvement that the cable delivered, if any.

I listened to the following:

Eagles-Hotel California (rock)
ZZ-Top-Legs (rock/pop)
Paul Simon-Baby in the bubble (80s folk pop)
Motley Crue- Girls, girls, girls (80s hair rock)
The Weeknd- Can't feel my face (hip hop)
All that she wants- Ace of Base (90's pop/dance)
Ice Ice Baby (re-recorded)-Vanilla Ice (90's dance/hip hop)
Vivaldi-Four Seasons (entire album) (classical)
Jogging- YELLE (francophone pop)

These are my thoughts. Overall, the Burson cable seemed to somehow deliver what I perceived as a more punchy and powerful sound. I was actually surprised that this sound was coming from my iPhone 6, and my mac. The sound quality from which I have never been impressed by in the past. There seemed to be more clarity and detail, and overall the sound was more precise and warm. It almost sounded like I was using a decent DAC, rather than an iPhone.

The following are my thoughts on the individual songs I listened to, and my feelings about the burson cable+ versus a standard cable for each:

Eagles-Hotel California (rock)
Immediately when the drums kick in at the beginning of the song I noticed a greater sense of power and presence. The entire song was clearer sounding, and it sounded like I was using a higher quality source than I was. Vocals were more rounded, and the overall sound was more analog than with the standard cable, by which I mean that it didn't sound paper thin the way most digital files normally do.

ZZ-Top-Legs (rock/pop)
The looping guitar riff in this song sounded so much more detailed with the burson cable than it did with the standard cable. I have normally found the vocals in this song to sound rather muddy if not using a high quality source, but in this case they seemed more defined. So far, I was impressed with the Cable+.

Paul Simon-Baby in the bubble (80s folk pop)
I was impressed by the increased punch of the organ and powerful drums at the beginning of this song. The rest of the song for some reason I was not able to discern a major difference between the cables I tested. The Burson cable did sound a bit better but the difference was minor and I'm unable to quantify it in words. The intro section definitely sounded better on the cable+ though.

Motley Crue- Girls, girls, girls (80s hair rock)
This is one of my favorite songs. It sounded "louder" to me with the cable+ which is not a good description, I know, but it definitely sounded punchier and "bigger" somehow with the burson. Sort of like listening on an 80s over the shoulder boom box versus listening on a decent entry level HIFI system. The overall sound with the burson cable was larger and more impressive.

The Weeknd- Can't feel my face (hip hop)
Unfortunately I could not discern any sort of difference with this particular track. Perhaps that is due to the fact that it is "loud" as heck to begin with in the way it is recorded. Certainly, the burson didn't sound any worse, but overall I found both cables too similar sounding to tell a difference. Not to my ears, anyways.

All that she wants- Ace of Base (90's pop/dance)
The vocals in this track, which usually sound flaky and recessed with a cheaper source, actually sounded very good. More "forward" than usual. This is an effect I have found with this song when using a good DAC but I was able to accomplish the same difference using the burson cable+ which certainly impressed me. The rest of the track sounded very similar. There was slightly more depth and a bit more of an analog (not too thin sounding) sound with the cable+.

Ice Ice Baby (re-recorded)-Vanilla Ice (90's dance/hip hop)
The re-recorded version of this song has a digital "hi hat" that hits extremely hard. Almost ear-splitting hard, actually. There was definitely a difference with the burson cable in that it sounded less ear splitting. It was certainly still there and certainly just as loud, but it was somehow less harsh, wider, and better rounded sounding than with the cheap cable. A definite improvement and another point for the cable+

Vivaldi-Four Seasons (entire album) (classical)
Being a classical piece, and an analog (old) recording transferred to digital, there really isn't a lot of dynamics or loudness to this album in the way that there is with a lot of modern music, and certainly there was no difference in this department. I did however notice an improved level of detail and I was perceiving sounds in the background with the cable+ that I did not detect with the normal cable.

Jogging- YELLE (francophone pop)
This is an extremely loud song. The recording engineer had everything at 11, for sure. I did not notice a difference with this song, perhaps because it is so loud to begin with and it's just attacking the ears all the way through.

Conclusions:

Overall I feel that, with the sources I used (iphone 6, imac 2017) and the amp I used (Schiit Magni 2) and the headphones (Oppo PM3) there is definite improvement to be had using the cable+ from Burson. I did not pay out of pocket to test this cable so I can't express whether I would have any sort of buyers remorse or not given the relatively high cost of this cable (at least to a broke audiophile like myself) but it definitely improves the sound quality when using mis-matched devices. I kind of wish I had asked for the RCA>RCA version so I could test it with the schiit Magni and modi stack. However as I understand it, this product (cable+) is intended to be used with mis-matched HIFI devices that are from different mfgs and from different product ranges, and it somehow normalizes the signal between the two devices that are interconnected with it.

Did it make a difference? Yes. Was the difference desirable and positive? Yes. Would I recommend it? Yes. The only knock I have for this product is that the "business" section (a bulge in the middle with the electronics inside) requires power via USB (Usb cable and wall wart come in the box) and I feel like, maybe that's one cable too many? But I'm not complaining.

10/10.
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Pros: Increase volume
Improved bass
slight improvement of sound-stage
improves certain amp/volume pot's channel imbalance or hiss at certain volume.
Cons: Requires power
Fixed Length
lacking mobility.
Disclaimer: This sample was provided by Bhav from Burson Audio. I'm not affiliated to Burson Audio in anyway. Burson shipped me the RCA to RCA configuration. However I do not have any source with RCA output on hand so I had to purchase RCA to aux adapters in order to use this cable. This review is done by using these rca to aux adapters. It may or may not reflect the true performance of the cable.



I'm not a technical person, so please refer to the official link for all the technical details and pricing. https://www.bursonaudio.com/products/cable-plus-a2r/



I was skeptical at the beginning as I always try to keep the audio gears chain minimum, fearing the added components will increase interference but I have not detect any noise switching from a regular mini to mini to the Cable+.



On the cable itself...



The cable is very well built over all. It has a fix length with the module part being closer to the output end of the cable. The cable+ is directional. It cannot be reversed. This is printed on the back of the audio module. I'm little bit too paranoid to leave the power connect to the cable when im not listening. This has yet to cause me problems because I'm mainly using this cable with a pseudo portable setup right now but I'm sure it would be pretty troublesome to reach to the back of a desktop/fullsize amp(because the power is located closer to the output side of the cable) and disconnect the power from the cable.





Set up:



Onkyo Dp-X1 → Cable+ → RSA SR71B → Final Audio Piano Forte IX



When I was invited to review the cable+, this set up is the first thing that comes into my mind. The RSA SR71B was a 7~8 years old amp with older volume pots. Although those volume pots had great quality, however, it still causes hiss when the pot is past 1 o'clock and that is the volume I listen to.

Hiss doesn't sit well with me, there were many occasions I returned or stopped using certain amps/daps because of the hiss. I really dig the sr71b → piano forte IX combo for that it pushes the vocal even more forward while making the piano forte's flat but wide soundstage more 3D'ish. but the hiss was getting unbearable.

With cable+ acting as a pre-amp, I was able to listen at the same volume with the pot sitting at 12 o'clock. This time, without the hiss! The slow jazz that were ruined by the hiss are getting more playtime these days.

Although the cable+ solved the hiss problem of this combo, but due to the lack of mobility this set up has been relegated to a bedroom setup. Even though I can no longer carry this setup around my house(not that the piano forte sits tight in my ears while on the move). It is still my current favorite setup.

Thanks the the extreme colored piano forte, the change of performance by the Cable+ is not that apparent. There is a slight position shift of instruments around the lows in the overall sound-stage. The drums has little more impact although it is much harder to tell with the piano forte.


Conclusion:

This is by no mean the end of my review. I will be updating this with my full size set up very soon. I feel like the sound improvement will be much more apparently with my full size headphones (Fostex TH-X00 PH, Beyerdynamic T1) and the WA7 firefly amp.

here the sneak peek:


if you have amps with channel balancing issue or hissing at higher volume. This cable+/pro would be one of the easiest solution out there that doesn't break your bank.



P.S

I had to go on a business trip for a month and did not bring the cable+ with me because it is pretty clumsy. Thanks to that i didn't spend much time on the cable after burning it for 60 hours. In hindsight, the packing box it came with could've made carrying the cable much easier.
Pros: Sound improvements, impedance matching
Cons: Need to be powered to run (depend on version),
Disclaimer: If you are absolutely sure that cables make no change to the system and no matter how much it evolves, it won’t change this fact on measurement and in this case, you can just go head and ignore my review; However, if you still believe in the possibility of what it can do to audio chain, you might be in right place to consider the product below.

Personal experience:

Cables improving and altering the sound in the audio system has always been a subjective topic with countless of arguments and debates in audio world. From my personal experiences, having owned several expensive cables from different manufacturers, I have come to realize that cables, in fact, do alter and even improve the sound of the system to certain degrees. When talking about cables, I don’t usually buy into expensive cables that’s advertised being made purely of gold with splashy looks etc. Some even say that gold or silver cables could provide better sound quality against copper ones. What people actually ignore here in my opinion is that it’s all about the techniques and the methods being used in combined with carefully selected material behind making those cables. Comparing 2 similar-looking silver cables from different price tags and manufacturers will tell you that they won’t sound the same. Nevertheless, I have seen people arguing on lab measurement proving that cable understand this someone else’s perspective when they have limit chances to get to try the better cables out there and only being surrounded by “snake oil” products around, but not because of that we should be generalizing all the products and based everything on theory and measurement only without any actual experiences. Yes, they do make sense on papers but I just enjoy being an audio enthusiast using my actual sense to experience them first for now, it’s more rewarding and interesting, just my two cents.


Moving onto the product, Cable + is a new product line which Burson advertised with “no snake oil” but a cable with “proper engineering”. There are few different types Cable + being sold with mine being the RCA version, one of the others can also be used with portable devices terminated with 3.5mm. There is an explanation behind the technology being used on their webpage and in fact, I don’t usually trust those without actual experiences; however, I was being proven wrong and that’s for later parts. In few lines below I will do my best to summarize.

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According to Burson, every single piece of audio equipment unless were being manufactured in the same facility from the same company in case all of the devices were designed to match with each other in output and input, they would all possess what’s known as “mismatched impedance”. This problem could be found in any audio chain with amplifiers, sources and speakers alike where each of them might not match each other in connection and this could lead to different sound impressions when switching to different source, amplifier or speaker. Understanding this, Burson began creating this Cable+ with the little regulator module attached to solve the problem in case making it more of an impedance regulator than just a conventional cable.

FullSizeRender.jpg

Accessories:


The cable comes in with a clear plastic square case, the case is durable enough to hold it without fails, not a premium looking package but compact enough and more importantly it just does the job well. A generic wall charger as well as micro usb cable are included in the package as required to power the cable.

Build Quality:

Nothing too fancy here but a normal looking cable. It’s covered with a common black rubber-plastic mixed sleeve that you can normally find on any stock AC power cable. It’s thick enough to give a good durability and also has a good flexibility without being too stiff. On the other hands, RCA connectors are covered with glossy metal barrels which actually give the cable a more premium touch easily distinguished from any generic RCA cables. The thing that stands out most and quite special about this cable is actually the metal box where this impedance regulator resides; it seems to be well-protected inside with thick metal casing.

FullSizeRender (1).jpg

Operation:

This cable requires directional input and output meaning you have to connect the input and output in a certain direction between the source and the amplifier as there is no reverse. To make it easy to navigate, there are markings on the main regulator device where both side of cable exit. Simply put, the correct way to connect is: Input > source, output > amplifier or powered speaker. In order for the cable to function, it needs to be powered properly with micro usb. Without supply, the cable can’t simply be used at all even passively. Luckily, this cable doesn’t require the hefty voltage to power it, just simply connect it to any USB hub or computer will make it work normally.

IMG_4560.JPG

Testing and Sound Impression:

I let the cable run for about 100 hours before writing this impression. It was tested on Schiit Valhalla amp, Auralic Taurus mk2 amp and Schiit Gumby all connected with the Cable + on Single-ended (SE).

I was completely startled for a minute or two switching from the stock generic RCA cable to Cable +. There were a noticeable improvement in overall in frequency responses and more importantly, the noise is significantly reduced leaving only the much clearer sound. While the jump is not considered huge or massive (your few hundred system won’t be the thousand one) but it was still large enough to give the wow effect to any listeners for the first time.

From top to bottom, everything just become clearer and more natural. There was an added openness to the stage forming a broader sense of space with more layers. Instrument separation was highly improved and also finest sense were added to the details making them easily pop out.

Bass region gained more definitions, more articulated and even tighter while the vocal became clearer with a more natural and pleasant tone. The upper mid seems to be a bit brighter but even so it’s still not harsh at all thus even feel more organic and extended. In the treble region, the similar story happened when this region became clearer, cleaner and more natural sounding. With the treble improved, I could easily hear more nuances in recording compared to before and it’s done so in effortless manner.

One thing I have to mention during this test is that not only the cable managed to improve the overall sound but it actually transformed the output of the system with identical performance to that of the balance output as there were no audible differences between them and only when switching back to the stock RCA the balance mode truly just left the SE behind in volume and sound quality. This finding might be the instant buy factor to someone who doesn’t go balance on their audio chain and would prefer to stick with the SE because the cable + just does an outstanding job of matching performance even on SE mode, unexpectedly.
IMG_4523.JPG

Final words:

Cable + is one of most outstanding cable products I have ever come across. Whereas conventional cables rely on high-quality conductors, better solder, better shielding and carefully selected materials to give better improvement to the sound, Cable + uses a totally different approach where technology and proper engineering are integrated to solve mismatch problem in audio chain, the result was simply spectacular. I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for proper solution in connecting their equipment. So far, the price is well reasonable enough and the performance I have heard worth many times than it should be. There is a more expensive version of this cable also being sold which seems be a better version and for how much I can’t confirm now until getting my hands on but there Is one thing for sure I can’t go back choosing conventional options from now, seriously.
Pros: Fuller Bass and Mids
Bigger Soundstage with 3 dimensional sound
More Microdetails and Separation
Cons: Has to be powered
Burson Cable+ RCA to RCA

I am not going to go into details about the product because many reviews have done a much greater and more through job than I ever could. Burson also has a nicely detailed website explaining the product and science behind the Cable+.

https://www.bursonaudio.com/products/cable-plus-a2r/

I am only going to express what I heard testing some of my DAPS going into my Sansui 881. I was very curious to see if I could improve the musicality going into the vintage receiver.

As stated I used the well regarded Sansui 881

IMG_20170630_1552591.jpg

I used the Cable+ in this configuration using an Aukey Power Bank for isolated power. Since my Cable+ is the RCA to RCA version, I used a quality RCA to 3.5 adapter made with Canare cable and high quality connectors inorder to hook up to the respective Daps.


IMG_20170725_150638.jpg

The draw must not be too great since I never had to recharge the power bank during the week I used it heavily. I also did not hear any extra noise using it in this manner. I did not try it through a wall power outlet to check for noise.

I used my 300 ohm Sennheiser HD540 Reference II which is my favorite of the HD line since it is the most natural and uncolored of the HD line. I also used my VE Zen 2.0 Black which a highend earbud which is 320 ohms so it is a better fit than most iems or earbuds with very high output impedance vintage receiver's headphone outs produce.

IMG_20170725_182836.jpg
I'll admit it was very hard to do comparisons at first since auditory memory is not very long lasting atleast not mine. I finally devised a way to have a very quick back and forth between the Cable+ and a normal cable. I ended up using a splitter on my Daps and connected the Cable+ to the Tape 1 input and the normal cable onto the Tape 2 input. The way the Sansui works is when the Tape input 2 is pushed it takes priority over Tape input 1. Thus I could have Input 1 playing with the Cable+ and then turn on and off Tape input 2 with my old normal cable. I could go back and forth quickly thus being able to focus on specific parts of the music like soundstage, bass quality, instrument separation etc etc.

IMG_20170725_150033.jpg

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First up was the old reliable Ipod 5.5 with Rockbox with a combination of high quality Alac files ripped from cdsIMG_20170725_150938.jpg

I am going to group my Ipod and Clip Zip together since they both had similiar improvements once the Cable+ was used. Both are have low output impedance. The ipod is 5ohm and the Zip is between 1 and 2 ohms.

As stated earlier I had the Cable+ on Tape input 1 and when I pushed on Tape input 2 the input with the normal cable would play and Cable+ input 1 would stop. The first thing that was obvious was the Cable+ was louder. This is entirely expected since the Cable+ increases signal strength with higher voltage.

It was very easy to hear that the Cable+ made the bass more apparent and full. I think generally differences in bass are much easier to hear than differences in mids, highs and soundstage. This is where being able to switch back and forth quickly helped me hear and remember the improvements. With the quick switching back and forth I could hear more prominent vocals with them being moved alittle bit forward when using the Cable+. Being a vocal lover, I really enjoyed this aspect.

When it cames to the highs and soundstage I got alittle bit of a WOW moment. I really didnt know what I was missing until I was able to do the quick switching back and forth. I was listening on input 1 with the Cable+ and it was on some Madonna song from the Immaculate Collection. It was an ALAC file on the ipod. I pushed input 2 to switch to the regular cable and I could hear the soundstage very apparently lose width on both sides. But what really got me was the soundstage also sunk on the top and depth went away. In the song there were very prominent strings being played in the right and left corners behind the vocals. They all but disappeared with the regular cable no matter how much louder I made the volume. This proved to me that the Cable+ was adding microdetails, dynamics, soundstage size, separation and most importunately to me 3d Imagery.

IMG_20170630_154556.jpg


Just as a quick mention, I also did the same quick switch test with the recent Walnut V2 Dap using only WAV files ripped from CDs. It is pretty popular here on Head-fi. One odd thing about it is the the output has a strange measurement of 100ohms. When connected with the normal cable to the Sansui 881 the bass was very bloated and mushy. Switching to the Cable+ actually reduced the bass alittle and tightened it up considerably. The rest of the positives mentioned on the Ipod and Zip improvements were also similar. I just separated them because the way the bass was initially and the type of bass improvements made were different.

In the future, I want to try the Cable+ in more different configurations such as between my Dacs and Amps. When I do I'll add to my review. For now in this Daps to Amp setup, the Burson Cable+ certainly hits the target for it's intended improvements.
Pros: More dynamic Sounding,
Prominent Vocals and instruments,
Great build and connector options,
Burson Name
Cons: Bit of extra noise,
Was a bit finicky to set up properly,
Only fits the equipment of some users,
A bit overcompensated at times and could be too warm for some
Not sure if voltage matching really did the job
The Burson Cable+ is a device that acts as an intermediate between your Source DAC output and final amplifier. It is marketed to match the voltages between them so that the two are matched more evenly through using Burson’s custom V5i audio module as a buffer.

I wish to thank Burson for offering this to me as a review unit.

You can choose to outfit the Cable+ with multiple combinations of input and output termination standards; RCA or 3.5mm are the choices available. This means that three total options are available depending on your needs. All units come with a micro USB cable and USB wall plug to provide 5V power.

Build:

The main body of the Cable+ is a beautiful block of machined aluminum. It is sturdy without any abnormal signs of free play where the cables exit from the unit. The bottom case section also looks to be a near exact fit to the top unit. These are aspects that impressed me due to the precision required to produce.

Usability:

The Cable+ looks deceptively simple. It’s two simple AUX connectors with a USB connector right? Despite its simple I/O, using it is restricted to those with separate DAC and Amplification units that also sport the proper connectors. Users with All-in-One setups or without the right prerequisites for using it are going to be left out. It’s a simple idea but I was surprised by how many devices I had to rule out from my collection. I was left with about 2-3 combinations I could use with the Cable+ out of tens of devices.

Another use aspect that may not stand out at first is power requirements and cable noise from it. While using and moving devices around, I noticed that some of the USB cables I was using as Data/Power were introducing more noise. This happened with some units but not on others with the same cable.

I also tested switching from using a powered USB3.0 hub to a dedicated USB wall plug to eliminate noise. My findings from this are that using a high quality genuine USB wall plug and a shielded USB cable are key. I was surprised at how many USB cables I owned that didn’t have these simple features. The included white Burson wall plug was good enough but I had slightly better results with a brand name Aukey wall plug.

As the Cable+ will be near other units(Amp/DAC), I had problems with noise from my plethora of ‘cheap’ USB cables at my computer desktop. I had to keep my devices separate and without overlapping cables to reduce some stray noise I was getting. The noise may not have been completely from the Cable+ but possibly from my other devices, but either way I had to move stuff around.

Testing:

The setup I used for testing were a SABRE ES9018S as the DAC from a FiiO X7 fed from its Line-Out into the Cable+ (by 3.5mm). The Cable+ was then connected to a Project-H Amplifier (by RCA). The sound can thus be compared by connecting the DAC to the Amp directly by 3.5mm -> RCA or by using the Cable+ as the in between.

Sound:

The sound from the Cable+ is undeniably ‘fuller’ with what seems to be more dynamic range while using it than without. The most notable improvements to be were in the mid-range with both the vocals and instruments. Listening to artists like OneRepublic, Imagine Dragons, and Eminem which all feature prominent and strong male vocals brought out the differences that the Cable+ made. The vocals are more in front and prominent. It sounds rich and brings truth to Burson’s claims of more dynamic sounding music. It’s more natural sounding than an EQ but at the same time, may not be for those that want a colder sound. Its empowering of the mid vocal ranges could leave some dissatisfied and could be taken as over-coloration in some cases.

What I am unsure of now is if this is due to an additional audio module (the V5i) in the Cable+ functioning as a pre-amp or the voltage matching which is the premiere functionality of the device. Either way, it improved my enjoyment of music and that is all that matters to some users.

I liked the way my music sounded with the Cable+ and would highly recommend it to users that have split units for the DAC and Amplifier with I/O that fits the Cable+. However, it was a bit finicky to get ‘right’ for me and doesn’t fit everyone. Only a few of my units supported it properly. I also noticed slight increased amounts of noise at higher volumes while using the Cable+ than without it.

If you’ve got the right equipment for it and want some fuller sounding music at an affordable price. I would recommend the Cable+ in those cases. Just be warned, it’s a bit finicky and could take about 30 minutes to setup, test, and repeat until you get the optimal placement and routing without extra noise.

Attachments

Pros: Sounds great with poor sources
Introduction
Burson has always been known in the audio world for their revolutionary op-amps and robust solid-state amps. My first experience with Burson dates back to the time when I was just started out in the audiophile world. I had a modest soundcard back then and after some op-amp rolling, I settled on their V5 series. In my opinion, they are some of the best performing op-amps in the world. When they announced the Cable+, it piqued my interest and now finally I am able to review one.
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The Burson Cable+ is an active wire which serves as a pre-amp utilizing one of their esteemed V5i op-amp. I have had a very good experience with this particular op-amp in the past. The Cable+ is meant to be used with low quality sources to make them better.

Equipment
For critical reviewing, an iBasso DX200 was used as the DAC, Cavalli Liquid Carbon was used as the amp and a pair of LCD 3 headphones were used.

PC->well shielded USB 3.1 cable->iBasso DX200->Burson Cable+/Moon Audio Silver Dragon->Cavalli Liquid Carbon->Moon Audio Silver Dragon->Audeze LCD 3F

For additional testing, my PC and a HTC One M9 cell phone were used as sources.

PC/HTC One M9->Burson Cable+/ Moon Audio Silver Dragon ->Cavalli Liquid Carbon->Moon Audio Silver Dragon->Audeze LCD 3F

Volume Matching between Cable+ and Moon Audio Silver Dragon was done using a cellphone microphone.
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A Note about Noise
I noticed quite a bit of noise induced when I first tried the Cable+ powered out of a USB port using the stock micro USB cable. However, after switching to a clean wall source using a much better micro USB cable, the background was completely black.
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Sound Impressions
Without much further ado, let’s talk about what the Burson Cable+ does.

The sub-bass quantity rumbling is increased by a small amount. The mid-bass is better controlled and the impact is tightened. What this does is change the bass texture a bit. This allows the listener to better separate the sub-bass from the mid-bass. In a way, you can say that the bass separation is made better. However, in higher end sources, this takes away the evenness of the bass. In lower end sources, since there wasn’t much texture to begin with, this allows the listener to have a much better experience with the bass texture.

The mids are by far the most affected by the Cable+. The note placement of the mids are changed entirely. The mids are now placed much closer than before. The mids are now what is commonly referred to as “In your face”. Vocals are now just thrown at you. What this creates is better retrieval of details and micro-details. Since the mids are closer to you than any time before, you can now make out subtle nuances with any source. With higher end sources, it was already possible to distinguish the subtle nuances in sound so you just get the feeling of everything being closer to you. However, with lower end sources, you will almost universally hear details and micro-details better even at lower volumes.

Next up is the soundstage. The cable+, to compensate for bringing the notes closer to you decreases the soundstage by a small amount. What it also does is create a wall at the end of the soundstage. Lingering notes no longer decay but stop abruptly. With higher end equipment, this is a clear disadvantage. However, with lower end sources you get a more well-defined soundstage and the loss in soundstage is not that noticeable.

Tonally, the Cable+ makes the sound quite a bit warmer.
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Conclusion
The Cable+ is great tool for making lower end sources bearable for the general audiophile. While travelling, you might not always have the means to bring along heavy high end desktop sources with you. In this scenario, the Cable+ is a great tool that can help you make music out of your phone or laptop bearable.

The Facilitator delivers. It might make a few compromises along the way but it always delivers.
Pros: potential improvement for devices with limited or compromised output capabilities
Cons: for the most part does not offer improvement over sources with good output stages
I have a more comprehensive review posted here:
http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=150423

But in summary, the Cable+ is an active buffer held back by needing a good power source (better than the one supplied). Without one, you're not doing the sound any favours. With one, it's a bit of a tossup whether you'll find improvement or not, and at that point the setup is complex enough you might as well consider adding an active preamp to your chain.

The build quality itself is nice. Cable length is sufficient for most uses, although the supplied power cord needs to be longer.

In the world of audiophile cables, the pricing is not ridiculous and you do get the active element which has potential benefit with sources which have weak output stages. For the general schmuck though, I'd give this pass and spend funds on upgrading the rest of my equipment first.
Pros: Strengthens source signal.
Improves overall sound quality.
Cons: A bit pricey.
Some additional noise at higher volumes.
Requires USB power.
Burson Audio Cable+ Active Interconnection Cable With V5i Audio Module

Note: I am not affiliated with Burson Audio and received the Cable+ directly from them in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Cable+ is $149 and comes in three versions including the RCA to RCA version here and two others with either a 3.5mm connector on the input side or dual 3.5mm jacks on both the input and output ends. I opted for the dual RCA version to match my main setup and used an RCA to 3.5mm adapter when connecting the Cable+ to non-RCA sources.

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Similar to their opamps, Burson ships the Cable+ in a hard plastic shell with snap enclosure. The protective case has a thick foam interior with the metal portion of the Cable+ securely separately from the RCA connectors (capped in rubber for shipping) plus the included USB cable and power adapter.

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The Cable+ is a total of 51 inches long, with 38 inches of wiring on the input side and 10 inches on the output end. Its center housing is all brushed aluminum and the included USB power cord is 36 inches (3ft) in length. The USB power plug is rated for 5V 2A but I was easily able to power the Cable+ from any USB 2.0 or 3.0 ports on my computers without issue.

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The Cable+ is directional (as labeled on the bottom and side) and needs to be connected it in the right direction between the input source and output.

Removing the single bottom screw, the Cable+ interior reveals a lone V5i-D opamp atop a small red PCB to which the strongly secured input and output wires are connected. Burson also makes a Cable+ Pro for another $50 ($199) with what appears to be heavier gauge wiring, higher quality connectors, and a discrete internal design mimicking their V5 technology. I haven’t tried their Pro cable but I know Burson’s V5i opamps well and the V5 is universally regarded as better sounding so I can’t imagine the Cable+ Pro not following that trend.

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The Cable+ is fully active and requires power via its micro-USB port to work. Think of it as an inline preamp with a fixed output. There is a tiny, unobtrusive blue LED light on top letting you know it’s receiving power. When the light is off no sound will be output since the Cable+ does not work passively. It does not get warm but, after being on for a few hours, feels much closer to room temperature.

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After over 100 hours of burn-in, I connected the Cable+ to my main desktop setup including a Soekris dac1101 (at -1dB line output), a Schiit Vali amp, and Beyerdynamic T1 2nd Generation and Oppo PM-3 headphones. I started by listening to several of my favorite tracks including 16/44 wavs up to 24/88 hi-res flac albums with no EQ, no filtering, and bitperfect output via Foobar 2000. I then switched off the amp, leaving volume at the same level, and swapped out my 6-inch directional Canare RCA cables for the R2R (RCA to RCA version) Cable+. Immediately after restarting playback, I had to lower the volume dial from about 10:30 to 9:30 to get the same level as before. I noticed an increase in soundstage width although with a bit less depth. The sound possessed more clarity and had more low-end impact. Overall, everything sounded more dynamic with the Cable+ in place.

There is some added background noise when using the Cable+ but it’s only noticeable at very high volumes; well beyond safe levels. I also tried it with multiple sources ranging from +10dB to -12dB output. That included lowering the output from my Roland Mobile UA DAC to -6dB and -12dB since I initially thought the 0dB output was too high. Using wall power instead of a PC USB port and after attenuating the output, I noticed no change in background hiss. However, when connecting the Cable+ to the noisier headphone output directly from my Asus Windows 10 laptop (with its volume at 100%), hiss was much more noticeable even at medium volumes. So, as long as your source outputs a clean signal, audible noise shouldn’t be an issue on all but the most sensitive headphones.

I didn’t try the Cable+ with my desktop speakers since the source sound card I use there already has three V5i opamps mounted to it and I felt as though adding a 4th would be redundant.

Overall, the Cable+ is ideal for better matching of quiet, high quality sources with amplifiers and/or for setups where opamp swaps are desired but not possible. As expected with an active cable, it boosts source output by a good margin. However, the Cable+ doesn’t sacrifice detail in doing so. What I didn’t expect were the added soundstage, bass impact, and extra clarity. I’ve heard similar improvements when swapping sound card opamps but, admittedly, hearing those effects via an inline cable is still a bit surprising.

While not cheap, the value of the Cable+ is definitely worth it for the right setups, especially those with components using soldered opamps. The Cable+ may be the only way to inject Burson’s V5i audio quality into such systems while strengthening the signal and increasing audio quality at the same time.
Pros: great cable for cellphones and low power mp3 players. premium connectors,
Cons: requires external power for it to work, Hissing sound when connected to AC power, no significant improvement on higher end devices
I was offered an opportunity to do a review on the Burson Cable+. They asked that I do an unbiased review of the cable. I will attempt to do that to the best of my ability.

Opening the box you’re greeted by the Cable+ and a micro USB power cable. The Cable+ seem to have a midrange to premium feel. It has a USB powered low noise power supply which should improve sound quality and help with listening fatigue. The ideas for the cable are brilliant and it works fairly well.

 

Pros: Premium connectors, less harsh sounding. This cable coupled with the WA8 provided one of the warmest sound signature I have ever herd.

Con: The low noise power supply require external power, Hissing/buzzing sound when connected to home power outlet. Not good for a on the go setup due to the power requirements.

 

Songs

Norah Jones – don’t know why – Iphone 7 plus (256k) > Cable+ > Woo Audio WA8 > JH Layla, SE846, and HD800

Norah Jones – don’t know why – ak240 (24/192)> Cable+ > Woo Audio WA8 > JH Layla, SE846 and HD800

Adel – fire to the rain – ak240 (24/192)> Cable+ > Woo Audio WA8 > JH Layla, SE846, HD800

 

Yo-Yo Ma – The mission – Gabriel’s Oboe > Cable+ > Woo Audio WA8 > JH Layla, SE846, HD800

Bob Marley & the Wailers – Is this love > Cable+ > Woo Audio WA8 > JH Layla, SE846, HD800

 

 

 

I find that the Cable+ paired with the WA8 provide a warmer sound by reducing some of the detail, bass and sound stage. This becomes very apparent when using the HD800. Very clean sound when connecting to my car stereo.

 

In conclusion, the cable is an amazing investment if you are not planning on moving you gear around a lot. This would be perfect if it had some kind of built in battery option.This would help cut down on the interference

 

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Cinder
Cinder
Interesting review. I find that the Cable+ works most of its magic on devices with large impedance differences. For example, my Sherwood AD230B has a really high impedance (the exact number has been lost in time. No one remembers anymore since it is from the 80's), but my Nexus 6P has a low impedance. As such, the Cable+ is able to perfectly match the Nexus 6P, yeilding noticable improvements over a standard 3.5mm to RCA adapter.
Pros: Amps up weak outputs, no audible distortion, excellent build quality
Cons: MicroUSB cable broke after a single use, a tad expensive
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Burson Cable + Review: Not Just Snake-Oil, and That’s Coming From a Skeptic[/color]

[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Burson is a company that, on the surface, seems to be peddling snake oil. As a skeptic in general, I am weary of many of the claims made by hardware makers in the audio industry. I firmly believe that many of the things that companies like Schiit brag about, while existent in reality, make no real perceivable changes in the audio you hear. This product is different.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]You can find the Cable+ for sale here for $150.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Disclaimer: This unit was provided to me free of charge for review purposes. I am not affiliated with Burson beyond this review. These words reflect my true, unaltered, opinion about the product.[/color]

[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Functionality[/color]

[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]So, what is the Cable+? According to Burson, it’s a powered device that essentially converts an input signal to the appropriate type of output depending on the devices you are using.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]“In a world of audio mismatch”, says Burson of their website. To me, this raises flags. It sounds like a classic example of a company finding a problem where one didn’t necessarily exist in the first place. To establish a baseline for my testing (which is not scientifically sound, mind you), I grabbed all my sources and IEMs and sat down at my desk, trying to match them in the most convoluted ways.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]I plugged my HiFiMAN MegaMini into a 3.5mm to RCA adapter and plugged that into my ancient Sherwood AD230B. The Sherwood has a very high output impedance and doesn’t play well with under-powered sources. This showed, even with the MegaMini’s completely respectable output levels. The Sherwood demanded more. So I swapped the MegaMini out for the SuperMini. The results were similar. Poor general performance. I could barely get anything below 500Hz out of my speakers. For the hell of it, I swapped the SuperMini out for my Hidizs AP100, then subsequently for my Nexus 6P. The results were worse, with lower overall clarity and a rapidly collapsing dynamic range.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]That’s about when I removed the standard 3.5mm to RCA adapter and plugged in the Cable+. I was definitely skeptical at first, and had some real doubts about any changes. After all, I’ve been around the block with upgrade cables. However, once I plugged it in and began testing I was shocked: there was an immediately audible difference. No longer did I miss out on the entire lower-end of my music. To be honest, it was the first time I’d actually heard the full potential of my speakers, as until now, I’d been using one of the configurations listed above.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Every source sounded properly amped: whether it was my Nexus 6P (who’s DAC is abysmal) or my AP100, I couldn’t find a single source that didn’t sound better when being played through the Cable+.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]I also noticed that the actual volume knob on my Sherwood AD230B was much more sensitive, indicating that the Cable+ is actually acting as a type of pre-amp. The impressive part of this is not that Burson has integrated a pre-amp-type device into a cable. The impressive part is that it adapts itself to (almost) perfectly match your source with your other hardware. Color me surprised.[/color]

[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Packaging[/color]

[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]The Cable+ comes in a reasonable package. It’s not too much, but also not too little. No real complains here.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]IMG_2190.jpgIMG_2191.jpgIMG_2192.jpg[/color]
 

[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Build Quality[/color]

[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]There is nothing about the Cable+ that feels cheap. The cable itself is a thick rubber-coated wire with polished-metal terminations. My Cable+ is of the 3.5mm to RCA type, though there is a 3.5mm to 3.5mm Cable+ available.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]
1N72tKJbCGMdeiwCr5tfwaA.jpg
[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]The electronics of the Cable+ are housed within a very solid-feeling brushed metal oval with the Burson logo set of the the front. There is status LED that turns blue when the Cable+ is powered and working correctly.[/color]
IMG_2194.jpg
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Speaking of power, the Cable+ accepts power via microUSB. It works off of the included AC adapter or off your standard USB port.[/color]

[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Accessories[/color]

[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Inside the box you will find:[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]
193EhlwJ8ink6qCOs9T2-Ag.jpg
[/color]
  1. 1x AC adapter
  2. 1x microUSB cable
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Should a cable really have accessories? Not under normal circumstances, but given that this particular one needs power it seems obvious that these things be included. My only qualm is that the cable that came with mine stopped working shortly after I had begun using it. I was able to use a different cable with it, so it’s not a huge deal to me. When I contacted Burson they told me that this is not something that is common, as that microUSB cable is normally quite reliable. Oh well, luck of the draw.[/color]

[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Summary[/color]

[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]So in the end, what is the Cable+? Well, it is an integrated and adaptable pre-amp type device that correctly matches the output signal of your source to your other hardware. Is it worth buying? Well, in my case I would say it absolutely is. However, there aren’t many people who have hardware from such different eras (the mid 80’s v.s modern day). So if you are one of the audiophiles out there wondering why your music sounds fishy coming out of your old amp, check out the Cable+. It might be exactly what you are looking for.[/color]
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Pros: no matter the technicalities of the source, it gets the optimum sound quality to the amp, it works
Cons: needs external power, price

Review of the Cable+ from Burson

 

Disclaimer:

I own a Burson Conductor with an upgraded USB section. Burson has provided me with this cable free of charge for me to review it. They have not requested a positive review and I don't feel obliged to give one for things I don't deem worth it.
 
Cables:
Am I a cable believer? Yes and no. I believe in the technical ability of a cable to alter the sound slightly thanks to different resistance etc. I have quite a few nice after market cables. I did not purchase them as "equalizers" for my headphones but rather for comfort, looks, going "balanced" or to replace really bad stock cables. In general, I am  rather skeptical about the effect of cables, at best their effects are audible but hardly night and day.
 

Appearance & Packaging:

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Lovely packaging - I like how the "brain" of the show is being displayed in the cutout. The box contains the cable itself, a USB cable and a power supply.
Note the generous 5 year warranty being displayed prominently on the box!!
 
The cable itself is very well made. Very soft to the touch and not stiff. It feels high quality to the touch. The connectors are very sturdy and look like they would have no problem lasting the 5 year warranty period. The "box" with the electronics inside is made from machined aluminum and feels equally solid. Connecting the box to the USB power lights up a small blue LED.
 

Using the cable:

It's important to note that the cable is directional and no, not snake oil directional. In my case I opted for the R2R cable, RCA input and RCA output. Simply connect the input side to the DAC and the output side to the Amp. Then you "switch it on" with connecting it to power. Done. 
 
There are 3 versions of the cable available:
 
A2A - Aux to Aux (both sides 3.5mm)
A2R - Aux to RCA (input 3.5mm to line out from DAP, etc., output to RCA)
R2R - RCA to RCA (input RCA, output RCA)
 
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How it works:

While others have provided more technical and scientific explanations, I am want to try something else:
The cable provides the best possible signal to the receiving end (amplifier etc.). It creates the ideal conditions to make your music sound as good as possible. It does not meddle with the music as such. It just boosts the signal to the optimal level for the amp to work right in the sweet spot.
 
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Burson doesn't glue it's "box" and claims silly things. A simple screwdriver and you can take a look inside. And that's exactly what I did. Well made inside as well.
 

How does it sound?

Well the cable itself doesn't color the sound as far as I could hear. However, what I found it to do when I tested it with a EL DAC, Sony 1140 and Stax headphones was that the noise level was reduced, the dynamic sensation increased and I was able to hear some details better. My DAC has a nice 2.00 VRMS output and I usually connect it to the amp with a short 1 foot RCA cable from KabelDirekt. My output from the DAC is already quite good. So if you are going for this cable and you connect less good signals with a weaker signal, like a DAP line out, you might be in for even bigger improvements.
 

Is it worth it? Conclusion:

Yes. I think so. A "cable that improves the sound" - yeah sure - we have all been there and heard this. This active cable does improve the sound. It does not indulge in any snake oily stuff. It does so with honest work. It "boosts" the output to the correct values - and with that let all components "after" the cable do their work as good as they can. It let's your music shine. And for me - that is what counts. It does it with technology - not with oil. I recommend this cable. I think connecting it to "weak" connections from DAPs and other 3.5mm connections would yield even better results.
 
5 stars!
 
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Pros: Low cost, portable
Cons: Decreased fidelity in high end systems
I'm going to be transparent, and say Burson gave me this for free. The product being Burson Cable+ ($150).
 
 
I'm going to give it 4/5 for it's intended purpose. This is strictly for low power devices (cell phone, tablet, PC 3.5mm out, etc..).
In that specific sense, it is a good product.  Be aware, if you don't want it to sound like crap, you have to use a battery pack to power it (this conditions the power).
Using the provided wall wart makes things muddy.
 
Even with battery pack, it does overall decrease fidelity, in high end systems.
For that specific category, I'll give this product 2/5, as it could maybe serve as a cheap active preamp to some...
 
 
4/5 for the intended purpose is high rating in my book.
 
 
Also works as an inline headphone amp if you use some converters :D
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It actually sounded pretty good powering the HD800. This surprised me.
Pros: good bang for the buck
Cons: needs power source

I received the Burson Cable+ for my DAW (Digital Work Station) which also is my HTPC. All my video and audio equipment is connected to a single isolation transformer for power. This helps to minimize AC noise, common mode noise and ground loops noise from affecting the equipment.  Using  Audio-GD NFB-29H DAC/AMP 2016 version which is connected to the ASUS Z97-C motherboard in a custom soundproofed case.  I am using a USB3 optical network made by Adnaco for the connection among the computer, amp and monitor.  The monitors or speakers that I using are the PreSonus Sceptre S6 near fields designed to bring out details in a DAW mix and in music. The PreSonus Sceptre S6 is a CoActual design with an elaborate crossover design that uses the  Fulcrum Acoustics Temporal Equalization algorithms. More information can be found here;  http://www.fulcrum-acoustic.com/technologies/temporal-eq.html
The Burson Cable+ is connected from the Audio-GD NFB-29H DAC/AMP which is set to utility gain to the PreSonus Sceptre S6. The PreSonus Sceptre S6 is set for minimum trim.  That way I avoid double amping.
Many amps uses opamps to drive the line outs while the headphone outputs are usually directly coupled in the amps that I have. On my Little Dot 1+ I did experiment on different audio opamps and they do sound a bit different even though the specifications for the opamps say that it should not make much of a difference in the audio band.
With the Burson Cable+ I noticed a gain increase but with a larger voltage swing that made the difference between soft and loud sounds greater.  There is a small bass boost at the lower mid-bass. There is more body to voices and female voices tend to sound fuller with less tendency toward stridency. There is more sense of forward to rear sound depth.  There is no increase in noise level that I can detect coming from the Burson Cable+.  By far the Burson Cable+ gives a more balanced sound with the Sabre ES9018 on the Audio-GD NFB-29H DAC/AMP . More of a difference than using any fancy USB power supplies or cables that I have tried. I am planning on getting a second Burson Cable+  for my secondary audio setup. 
Pros: Small enough, and great addition to portable devices
Cons: Price
I was given this Cable+ by Charles @ Burson for my opinion and review.

First thing I did when I received the Cable plus, was opening it up and see what's up. I'm pretty impressed with the enclosure. Real metal and decent cables were used. So I can see where the money went into. But $150 is a bit steep for this gadget and that is just my personal opinion. I don't know what Burson put into R&D to get this on the market and still making a profit over time.

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Burson recommended burn in time, so I let it burn in for a few days straight. It never got warm and an improvement was heard after only a few hours.

So the Burson V5i is the secret to this little "upgrade". I was iffy on whether or not it actually worked. I felt it was low budget preamp of sort when I first heard about it. So why not just get yourself an preamp I thought. The Cable+ is mostly to connect between the low power devices like your phone, tablets, laptops and whatever you use for amplification. In this scenario it performs very well. I used a little 7" HP table, HP laptops and PC's and in return I got bigger headroom. It was hard for me to point on what the Cable+ sounds like with these portable devices. I can hear an improvement in detail retrieval, but not much. I then used it between an Iphone 4s and Nokia 1520. Huge improvement on the Nokia using Foobar. The Iphone 4s sounds good by itself using various players, so only a small improvement in micro details to my ears.

Next up was hooking up the Cable+ in my desktop rig at work. I connected the Cable+ between the Ibasso D7 Dac and Aphex 124A. The Aphex is a Balanced to RCA and Visa versa converter that is used for the DBX Gorack.
In this setup the Cable+ works out best. The D7 is pretty good for an at work DAC. With the Cable+ inline the my work soundstation sounds like my at home Headphone station, which consist of a Parasound ZDac. My mind just blew. I didn't have to "suffer" anymore. To think I was going to solder in a new opamp inside the D7 to get better results. The Cable+ avoided me doing all that work. I got all the sweetness to my headphone heaven in two setups now. The Cable+ added a Reference tone to the Ibasso D7, completing my mission. I can now use the same EQ settings at home and at work with my headphones.

Cable+ in between the D7 and PB2 Ibasso's.
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Cable+ Permanent home on top of the Zamp V3, which has the Burson V4 in there. The Zpre preamp also has the Burson V4 installed. I might sound like a fan boy, but the Burson V4 is great for subbass reproduction on top of detail retrieval. It's a step above the Muses02 in my rigs.

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Messed around with the Cable+ some more.
The Aphex 124A boost up the gain just like the Cable+. The Aphex is cheaper on the used market and adjustable on the fly. What goes in, is what comes out. With the Cable+, what goes in, isn't what comes out. It's "cleaner/leaner" depending on your portable source. Ofcourse there are limitations. If your source is crap, well crap gets amplified and you will be really disappointed in what you hear. The Cable+ I haven't really seen on the used market, so I don't what the market value of it will be over time. It not being on the used market yet, means people really like the Cable+ once they have it and tend to keep it in place.

So far the best overall improvement comes from the Ibasso D7. I used a Fiio E7 and E17 line-out, with so so results.
I wonder if I could upgrade the opamps to V5i in the Aphex to get the same results in a simpler audio setup.......


Update 11/29/17
So my Cable + got effected by the Texas flood and the connectors where just soaked in muck. I got rid of the stock cables and upgraded to the same cables I use on my IEM's, Headphones and interconnects. I've should of upgraded the stock cables way before. The stock setup sounded very clean and robust. Now it's on a different level and enjoying it all over again. It's worth the cheap upgrade for those willing to solder.

Attachments

Pros: design, build quality, sonic improvements
Cons: none I can think of
Burson Audio's developers definitely hate to be idle, so they always come out with some unexpected ideas. The most interesting thing about those ideas it's their relative simplicity and high usefulness. As a beautiful example, I can mention their hybrid OpAmp V5i I've recently reviewed. Now, their new idea — interconnect cable with an active amplifier.
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First of all, I'd like to thank Burson Audio for providing me with a sample for review in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.

Generally speaking, the idea behind that cable is pretty obvious. We're living in the smartphone era, so a vast majority of people have their music library stored on the phone. And some of them from time to time wants to attach the smartphone to the amplifier in their "big" setup. But many good amplifiers require more power at the input then typical smartphone can provide. And that's what Cable+ does — it amplifies weak signal from "regular" sources.

So, it's a simple device: long input cable with 3.5 mm connector, aluminum block with amplification and shorter part of cable with output connectors, it can be 2xRCA or 3.5 mm too, depending on your amplifier's input.

However, there is one more modification of Cable+, with 2xRCA on both ends. According to developers, this version is designed to use as an active adapter, allowing to avoid impedance mismatch between your DAC (or another source) and amplifier. I didn't have an opportunity to test this version (though would like), but other reviews told that this version also does its job well, improving sound too.

If you'd like to get more details about Cable+, you can visit its official site, [containing helpful explanation with pictures].

Each version of Cable+ costs 150 dollars. It includes worldwide shipping and two years of warranty,
3InBox.jpg4Overview.jpg

Package and design
Cable arrived in the plastic box, reminding container of V5i, but a much bigger. In the box you'll get cable itself, simple micro USB cable to attach power to the amplifier and simple USB charger to use as PSU. Cable connectors are covered with silicon caps.

Middle block is made of aluminum. It looks beautiful and sturdy. Amplifier inside uses SupremeSound V5i hybrid opamp. Wires are made of high-quality cable in soft black silicon isolation, and connectors are both stylish looking and reliable.

The design of Cable+ is simple, and usage is evident. You plug longer end of the cable to the smartphone, shorter to the amplifier, connect power to small micro USB socket on the middle of amplifier block, and that's all. Tiny but bright led, hidden in the "plus" sign on top of the amplifier will show you that device is working.
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Sound
For device testing, I've used following equipment.
- iPhone 6 Plus and HiFiMan SuperMini as sources
- NuPrime DAC-10H as an amplifier
- Headphones: Meze 99 Classics, Audio Zenith PMx2, Noble Kaiser K10AU, Campfire Audio Jupiter, Kenerton Odin and others

Despite being an Apple fan, I never considered iPhone as a sound source. Its sound isn't "bad," I'd rather called it "normal," but it's also pretty far from "good." Sound problems are rather common for modern smartphones: flat imaginary stage, hollow bass, loose treble. Good headphones amplifier, of course, tries to compensate that, but usually not perfect. For example, NuPrime, I'm using for a long time, sounds much, much better with a better source.

Well, it's expected, but Cable+ did manage to level almost all those problems. Of course, they aren't completely gone, but improvements are here. Lows became deeper and got more weight. Of course, the bass is still a bit slower than I'd like, but at least it's not sound bodyless as before. Treble sounded more refined and got more details. The imaginary stage became noticeably wider and a bit deeper though anyway gap from players of the average and higher level is noticeable. Every single change isn't "night and day" improvement (except bass, which improves drastically). But in sum, they are indeed changing sound noticeably, giving a big step forward.

Lows improvement with iPhone test gave me an idea of another experiment. Recently I've tested HiFiMan SuperMini, which is an excellent player but sounds a bit light to my taste. So, as you can easily guess, Cable+ here also does its job of giving more weight to lows, and in this setup SuperMini sounds pretty closer to HiFiMan's higher and players. I've made some blind tests, comparing my HM-901 (old version) and SuperMini, connected to DAC-10H via Cable+. I've managed to distinguish them correctly in 8 trials of 10, but the difference is not that big.
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Summary
Of course, Cable+ usage scenario isn't most common in the audio world. But I can't call it too rare too. In my opinion, in cases, where you need to connect a smartphone or some other "weak" source to the good amplifier, Cable+ is the simplest and most convenient way of doing that with good sound.

P.S. As usual, I've made a video with initial impressions.

[VIDEO]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CBWgjCVkz0[/VIDEO]​
Pros: Adds grunt and quality to mobile devices
Cons: Another thing that needs to be plugged in, doesn't work when commuting, high end detail requires system matching
Dislcaimer: This sample of the Burson Cable+ was sent to me on loan by Burson.  The review is for the A2A version.
 
I'm writing this review as a supplement to the previous reviews, all of which have more than adequately described the basic features, functions, looks, and feel of the Cable+.  
 
As I already have a living room rig and a desktop rig that are designed around non-mobile gear, I decided to review the Cable+ A2A entirely in the context of a mobile setup consisting of the following:
 
Mobile Source:
iPad Air
Tidal Hifi Lossless Streaming
 
Mobile DAC/Amp:
Schiit Fulla 2
 
Headphones:
HiFiMan HE400i
 
Cables:
Burson Audio Cable+ A2A
Belkin generic minijack cable
 
For me this represents a mobile setup that I can take on business trips, vacations, or to-and-from the office.
 
Setup:
 
iPad Air (on battery) -> headphone jack out  -> (tested cable) -> Fulla 2 -> HE400i
 
The Fulla 2 in this scenario is only acting as an amp, not as a DAC
 
No fancy power supplies were used.  Both the Fulla 2 and Cable+ were powered using generic micro USB to AC plugs.
 
 
Sound:
 
First off, there is absolutely no doubt that the Cable+ makes an audible difference compared to the generic Belkin minijack cable.
 
With the Belkin cable, driving the Schiit Fulla 2 with the analog output of the iPad Air, dynamics were limited, bass was mushy and soft, treble and cymbals were rolled off.  Music was inoffensive, but it was also un-involving, lacking dynamics and frequency response  There was no listening fatigue, but it was almost like listening to AM radio.
 
Putting the Cable+ into the mix was like moving to FM radio, or from cassette to CD.  Dynamics were restored, bass was both extended and more impactful, treble was no longer rolled-off, but extended and detailed.
 
About that treble:
 
In my system, when combined with the Fulla 2 and the HE400i, the Cable+ definitely boosted the top octave, adding more sparkle and air.  When heard with music with a lot of low-end, like EDM, pop, or rock, the effect was a "smile curve", with the more impactful and dynamic lows balancing out the extended highs.   Pop tracks like DNCE's "Cake by the Ocean" had enhanced snap and shimmer added to the drum kit.
 
However, on natural acoustic albums that lack of heavy bottom end, such as Brad Mehldau piano jazz, the extended top end became a bit fatiguing and unnatural sounding.  I found myself wishing for an EQ to tame the top a bit, while preserving the superior dynamics, or wanting to try a different set of cans to get a better synergy.
 
Conclusion:
 
The Cable+ definitely makes a difference.  It is not a passive cable with subtle to negligible effects on the sound, but an active component that increases the dynamic impact and subjectively extends the apparent frequency range of the iPad Air's analog output.
 
However, it is also not entirely neutral, either, adding both impact to the bottom octaves and sparkle and detail to the top octaves.  Whether you find this enjoyable or a bit too much will depend upon the rest of your system, EQ settings, and music styles.
 
Worth exploring if your system is a little on the dark side, maybe be a step too far if your system tends towards the lean or bright. 
Pros: Performs as claimed
Cons: Another "wall wart"
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Disclaimer:
Bhavneet from Burson Audio offered to send me the Cable+, with no return required, asking me only to post my honest evaluation of its performance when used with the Chromecast Audio. I have no affiliation with Burson other than I purchased, at retail, their Conductor SL DAC/headphone amp with the ESS Sabre 9018 DAC back in May of 2015.
 
Also note:
I am not treating this as a full review of the Cable+ or the Chromecast Audio. Others have done a great job of covering aesthetics, build quality, electronics, and connection options of these devices. The Burson website has an excellent description of the Cable+ and Google can fill you in on the Chromecast Audio and the various streaming capabilities it offers.
 
Initial skepticism:
I first heard of the Burson Cable+ in October 2016 when I received a Burson email announcing the Cable+ and inviting me to visit their IndiGoGo page. The device was intended to better match the audio output of a smartphone or laptop to a “line level” device, like a headphone amp or home stereo amp, claiming to thereby improve the fidelity of the connection. Reading the explanation posted by Burson made me think “What a great idea. Why hasn’t someone done this before?” Every time I have used a phone or laptop as a source to drive a line level device I have been disappointed. Even when adequate volume was possible, the sound quality was always weak, flat sounding, and not at all engaging. I figured that the poor sound I heard was the product of small/cheap/low power components and that any quality in the sound was destroyed before it even got to the 3.5mm output jack. Burson claims that the quality is actually still there but is being ruined by the mismatched connection. This Cable+ could be great - if it really does what Burson says.
 
But, because it adds another device in the signal path, it seemed to me that besides making the signal stronger there was a strong chance that it would also change the overall balance and quality of the sound. That would not be good.
 
The email also contained a link to the Head-Fi discussion forum on the Cable+ started by Voxata. I began following that forum and even contributed a couple of posts. I have to admit I was skeptical of the observations some were making about the improvements the Cable+ was capable of, especially those not involving smartphone or laptop sources. Even though intrigued, I was not all that interested in getting a Cable+ as I never really need to use a smartphone or laptop as a source.
 
Chromecast Audio:
My main headphone system consists of a Squeezebox Touch streamer (with the Enhanced Digital Output mod installed) streaming mostly 44/16 and 96/24 files to a Burson Conductor SL 9018 DAC/amp, using the optical connection. To me, this setup sounds wonderful driving my Sennheiser HD 650 headphones. Being that the Squeezebox itself has been discontinued and it’s software is only partially supported, I am always wondering what I would do if it failed (maybe a Raspberry Pi?) So, when the Chromecast Audio with built-in digital optical output was offered for only $35 (and requiring no Linux tweaking) I purchased one right away. I found that streaming from the Chromecast Audio (I’ll refer to it as “CCA” from now on) to my Conductor using the digital optical connection, resulted in sound quality equal to that of the Squeezebox Touch using the same optical connection.  The CCA proved to be a possible replacement.
 
I had little interest in the CCA analog output but I did give it a try, connecting it to the line level RCA inputs on the Conductor headphone amp. It produced nowhere near as good sound as the CCA optical output, but was somewhat better than any smartphone or laptop I had tried - more volume and more fullness to the sound. Still, it was not up to what I consider hi-fi listening.
 
But, one day I tried plugging headphones directly into the CCA and found that the sound was really good. Plenty of volume and a full-bodied sound very similar to what I’m used to hearing from my main rig. Plenty listenable. Even though Google advertises the CCA for use in line level setups like home stereos, it seemed to be better matched for direct connection to headphones. This direct-to-headphone experience made me realize that the analog output of the CCA actually had the capability to produce very good sound.
 
I had also been following and contributing to the Head-Fi forum on Chromecast Audio. If you read my posts there you will see I am very enthusiastic about the CCA’s abilities as a simple inexpensive high quality streamer/headphone amp. I continue to use it often in that capacity, mostly when I’m too lazy to fire up my main system.
 
Burson Audio Cable+
I assume it is because of my posts to the Head-Fi CCA forum that Burson asked me if I would like to try the Cable+ (“C+” from now on), stating that it “pairs perfectly with the Chromecast Audio turning the CCA to a truly hi-end audio source” and that “the resulting improvement is across the entire audio spectrum and you will immediately hear the difference.” How could I pass up an offer like that?
 
I reconfigured my system, connecting the analog 3.5mm output of the CCA to the RCA inputs of the Burson Conductor SL using the Chromecast’s supplied short yellow 3.5mm male to 3.5mm male cable and a short 3.5mm female to 2-RCA male adapter1. Then the C+ could easily be inserted in place of the stock yellow cable.
 
combo.jpg
 
Initial listening:
Going into this, I was afraid that the analytical auditioning/comparing experience would be tedious, with a lot of back and forth switching between the stock cable and the C+, while trying to identify minor sonic differences. But with the CCA/C+ combo this was not the case at all. What I was hearing right from the start with the C+ in the circuit was impressive - dynamic full spectrum balanced sound - very much like what I am used to with my Touch. A huge improvement over the stock cable, and not at all hard or tedious to identify the differences. As promised, the volume was greater with the C+, requiring a setting of about 9:30 on the Conductor’s volume knob vs 12:00 or more with the stock cable. But the most important improvements were in overall sound quality. Pretty quickly, I gave up switching cables and just immersed myself in the good sounds coming out of the C+2.
 
I could at this point in the review lapse into repeating all the usual audiophile improvement cliches - soundstage depth and width, instrument placement, dynamics, clarity, bass control, blackness of background, etc, etc, etc. But there is really no need. You name it, every one of them was drastically improved with the addition of the C+.
 
Listening to well-recorded pop music the improvement was substantial. Besides the expected increase in volume, everything just sounded better, more musical, smoother and at the same time more dynamic. I was starting to believe Burson’s claim about turning the analog CCA into “a truly hi-end source”.
 
Next I cued up some classical. The improvement in sound quality was now nothing short of astonishing. With the stock cable, high-dynamic-range material sounded pinched, small, narrow, tinny. With the C+, the orchestral sounds opened up, strings were sweet,  the bass came back in full force, the sound of the recording space returned. Solo pianos gained an exciting fullness and had none of the jangly harshness on loud passages that always seems to be the case with lower-end sources.
 
No aspect of sound reproduction got worse. I could find nothing to complain about.
 
As you might expect, my auditions of other types of music - blues, female vocals, jazz combo, big band, folk etc - were equally impressive. I am not into heavy metal, electronic, or dance but I heard nothing that would cause me to think those genres would sound any less great.
 
So, as Burson’s email had promised, I did “immediately hear the difference” and “the resulting improvement is across the entire audio spectrum”.
But, the BIG question still needed an answer…
Does the Cable+ turn the Chromecast into “a truly hi-end audio source”?
 
Critical listening:
Fortunately the Conductor SL has multiple inputs which are easily switched by a front panel control. So I fired up the Squeezebox Touch, connected through optical, and cued up the same track on it and the CCA. Switching between the CCA/C+ (RCA input) and Squeezebox (optical input) the difference in sound quality was…
   wait for it…
   wait for it…
there was NO difference. Everything sounded exactly the same as the excellent bit-perfect Squeezebox optical connection to the Conductor's Sabre 9018 internal DAC. Could this be true?
 
I should point out that at this time I was surprised to find that the CCA/C+ combo actually played LOUDER than the optical connection on the Conductor - plenty of gain - requiring a lesser setting on the volume knob (maybe 9:30 on the dial vs 10:30). When doing A/B comparisons, level matching is very important. Rather than fiddling with the analog volume knob every time I switched sources, I decided to try using the CCA’s digital volume control to set matching levels3, knowing full well that this would stray from “bit-perfectness”, and might put the CCA/C+ at a disadvantage4.
 
Tedious:
Next, I played my favorite test tracks, all different genres, over and over, again and again, listening to various parts of the sound spectrum, the quiet parts, the loud parts, the instrument and vocal timbres, all the while syncing tracks and switching between the CCA/C+ and Squeezebox Touch sources. To my surprise, there were still no differences that I could identify. Both sources sounded equally excellent. The results were so convincing that I did not feel it necessary to repeat listening tests using the analog volume control for level-matching.
 
As a final test I spent many hours just listening to my favorite music using the CCA/C+ as the only source. In the past, when trying different component setups I have always been very intolerant of long-term listening with anything exhibiting less quality than what I am used to with the Touch/Conductor SL 9018 setup. Not this time. The music from the CCA/C+/Conductor SL was and is totally satisfying.
 
Answer:
Well, “hi-end” is different things to different people, but to this skeptical audiophile the answer is...
YES, the Cable+ does turn the Chromecast Audio into a hi-end source when inserted in my system5. The combination of the DAC/amp in the Chromecast Audio and the Cable+ offers the same level of performance as the bit-perfect optical stream fed to the well respected Sabre 9018 DAC. And it does so without damaging the "audiophile" qualities of the sound in any way.
 
The C+ has earned a permanent place in this skeptic’s main system.
 
IMG_20170116_094156.jpg
 
Cons?
The only two downsides I can think of are equipment related
   - first, I now have one more “wall wart”
   - second, I have another cable getting tangled behind my rig.
I can live with these.
 
Conclusion:
I came into this review expecting a change in sound quality similar to that experienced when swapping cables, small differences, some good, some bad. I was wrong. The Cable+ is capable of making a substantial difference - all good.
If you own (or are contemplating purchase of) a Chromecast Audio, and use the analog output connected to a line level device, I definitely recommend that you consider adding the Cable+. I can’t think of anything else that offers this level of streaming performance and audio quality at anywhere near the asking price.
And for someone wanting to put together a streaming headphone system with fine sound this Chromecast Audio/Cable+ combo would be an excellent place to start. Just add a decent headphone amp with RCA inputs and you are ready to go.
 
Footnotes:
1 I realize it is entirely possible that the native Cable+ 3.5mm to RCA would perform better than my setup with the RCA adapter.
2 Unless otherwise noted
 -All listening was done at what I consider “realistic” levels, that is, if I were at a club or concert hall, this is the SPL I would be hearing from the stage or PA system.
 -Only well recorded material was used. No over-produced over-compressed stuff. Why punish myself?
 -The Burson Conductor SL was set to High Gain - appropriate for the Sennheiser HD 650
 -The digital volume control in the Chromecast Audio was set to maximum - the analog volume knob on the Conductor was used to control listening level.
 -An Android phone running the BubbleUPnP app was used as the control point to “cast” the music stream directly from a local DLNA server to the CCA.
3 BubbleUPnP enables the use of a 50 step volume control on the CCA, making for smaller steps and allowing for more precise level matching than the typical digital volume control (some have only 20 steps). No decibels-per-step amount is specified but the setting used to match the optical connection turned out to be 43 out of 50.
4 My experience using the CCA as a headphone amp convinced me that it’s digital volume control was excellent. Used as a headphone amp, recordings generally required a setting of only ⅓ to ⅔ of the scale and the sound quality did not suffer at all. There was no disadvantage. Digital volume controls have really improved as of late.
5 Realistically, my headphone setup is rather modest as hi-end systems go. But it does produce a very good listening experience. How the Chromecast Audio/Cable+ would compare to a $$$$$ streaming system I don’t know. But also realistically, these are not SOTA devices and are not meant to compete with systems like that.
Pros: Transforms the sound of your system, micro-details, cheaper than most upgrades
Cons: Price.
Preamble
 
Whilst I have been an audio enthusiast for many years now, I must admit I have never really been all that interested in using any kind of esoteric cables with my systems. I have always felt that as long as the cable has a good solid connection and is undamaged - then that will do. In fact, to be completely honest, in the past when I have tried slightly more expensive than normal cable, I can’t say I really truly noticed any difference. You could say that I’m a kind of ‘high-end cable sceptic’.
 
One thing I do believe is that my portable MP3 players are capable of very high quality playback - assuming the file being played is of sufficient quality. I have been into high quality audio since the early 80’s and have progressed from a nasty ‘music centre’ to a really nice analogue turntable-based system - Logik DM-101, Linn Basik LVX, Nagioka MP-11 Boron, NAD 3020 and Heybrook HB1’s - those were the days.  The system sounded great because I took care to set it up as best I could with a proper turntable shelf with ceramic discs underneath the shelf resting on  inverted spikes (cost 75 quid if memory serves), decent shelving for the electronics and proper loudspeaker stands with the spikes. My point being that back in the day you really had to work at achieving (and maintaining) that good sound. Not to mention that the turntable was completely manual in operation and you had to get off your lazy arse every 25 minutes or so to flip sides or change the record.
 
Now, all you have to do is press a couple of buttons and you get high quality sound - in fact very high quality sound, with none of the fuss and bother. What’s more, you can easily get access to all of your media and have pretty much unlimited and inexpensive storage for about the same price as my turntable and loudspeaker stands had cost me back in the 80’s - and that’s not adjusting for inflation.
 
I have to admit that these days I tend to do most of my music listening through headphones - specifically the following:
 
Ultimate Ears Triple Fi-10 iem
1More 1001 Triple Driver iem
1More iBFree Bluetooth iem
V-Moda Crossfade Bluetooth Wireless
1More MK-802 Bluetooth Wireless
Audio Technica ATH M50X Full Sized Wired
 
The reason why I have mentioned my old analogue system and my currently used headphones is really to show that I know what good sound sounds like. I completely understand that people have different tastes and that different genres favour different sound shapes. This is perhaps why I use so many different headphones - each have their own character and, with the exception of the bitchingly bass-driven V-Moda’s, all sound fairly flat and reasonably neutral.
 
My current (and probably for the foreseeable future) loudspeaker based system is a Sony Micro system connected to the excellent Google Chromecast Audio and an old pair of Mission loudspeakers. As I do most of my listening now through portable players and headphones I feel that this is sufficient for my needs when I need to ‘rock out’ and annoy the neighbours. To be honest, the speakers are not ideally placed and the system tends to lack power (although more on this later). In its defence however, I feel the overall sound characteristic is reasonably neutral and flat.
 

Please excuse the poor quality pic - not really enough light this time of year. Will take more when I can.
 
 
The Burson Audio Cable is much more than just a good quality length of cable. It’s designed to increase the output from portable players to that normally found on full-sized components. This, they claim, improves resolution, clarity, bass - well pretty much everything audio. Well…...it works. It definitely works.
 
The cable features an active section which ‘amplifies’ the signal up - there’s no controls on the active box - just a Micro USB socket for power. The cable is reasonably unobtrusive and has enough length to effectively be hidden away. Everything about the cake screams high quality from the material used for the outer sleeve to the high quality plugs.
 
The improvements made to the music isn't subtle - it’s like the system has been completely upgraded. Bigger speakers, more powerful amplifier and improved signal source. There isn't just one aspect of the sound that's been changed either. Bass is deeper and more controlled, mids and vocals are clearer and the top end shimmers with detail without becoming too bright. This cable offers my loudspeaker based system the chance to produce the same resolution and detail that I normally get with my high quality headphones. Although the cable is designed to offer more volume to the sound, the truth is that even at low volume levels the improvements are still apparent.
 
Listening to familiar music is a revelation - I know of the phrase ‘hearing things I've never heard before’ is a bit of a cliche but it's totally true with this cable. Additional depth in the sound field, solidity in positions of performers and instruments (this is usually the first thing I look for when evaluating audio equipment) and micro details come through with ease. It's almost like I have found new high quality recordings of my favorite albums.
 
When I was originally asked if I would be interested in reviewing Burson cable I was not overly enthusiastic about it because I've never really been interested in cables and the like because they're kinda boring and not sexy, however I'm so glad they sent it to me. This has to represent one of the most effective single solution upgrades I have ever come across in a the years I have been interested in audio. Very highly recommended indeed.
Pros: Gives extra power and increased sound quality to low voltage sources
Cons: Non that I can think of
This is a review of the Burson Audio Cable+ RCA to RCA active cable.
 
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The Burson Audio Cable+ was sent to me by Burson Audio for me as a loaner unit to test it out, thanks to Burson Audio for letting me check out the Cable+.
 
The price at the time for this review is $99 for one 1.2 m cable and $180 for two cables. The Cable+ is available for pre-order on Indiegogo right now: 
 
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/cable-plus-the-next-generation-hi-fi-audio-cable-laptop-tablet#/
 
For more information about the Cable+ you can also check out the Burson Audio website:
 
https://www.bursonaudio.com/products/cable-plus-a2r/
 
I’m not in any way affiliated with Burson Audio.
 
Short introduction to Burson Audio:
Burson Audio is an Australia based company founded in 1996.  They’ve specialized in making headphone amplifier and amp/DAC combos, stereo amplifiers and op amps using discrete circuits.
 
This is what says themselves about their philosophy:
“Our philosophy is simple; the less our components interfere with the audio signal the more complete your musical experience. This is our core design philosophy since we began in 1996. If our equipment is designed well and transparent enough — and it is — then the pace, rhythm, timing dynamics and tonality becomes a natural expression of the music. We feel this can never be achieved with standard circuit building blocks like IC chip op-amps, IC regulators, or even standard transformers. Instead we research and develop customized discrete circuits specifically to suit their applications. Only then does each and every component in the signal path perform at its peak. And only then will the end result match our expectations.”
 
About me:
I’m a 44 year old music and sound lover that changed my focus from speakers to headphones and IEM’s about five years ago. At that time I realized that it wasn’t realistic for me to have all the different setups that I wanted and still house a family of four children and a wife so my interest turned first to full sized headphones and later also IEM’s.
 
My preferences are towards full sized open headphones and I believe that also says something about what kind of sound signature I prefer (large soundstage in all directions, balanced and organic sound).
 
My music preferences are pretty much all over the place (only excluding classical music, jazz and really heavy metal). My all-time favorite band is Depeche Mode although I also listen to a lot of grunge/indie, singer/songwriter/acoustical stuff as well as the typical top 40 music.
 
I do not use EQ, ever.
 
I’m a sucker for value for money on most things in life Head-Fi related stuff is no exception.
 
Demo list:
Mark Knopfler – Sailing to Philadelphia
Røyksopp (Feat.Susanne Sundfør) – Save Me
Ane Brun – These Days
Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana
Metallica – Die Die My Darling
The Peter Malick Group – Immigrant
Eva Cassidy – Songbird
Thomas Dybdahl – A Lovestory
Norah Jones – Don’t Know Why
Celldweller – Unshakeable
Jack Johnson – Better Together
Seinabo Sey – Younger (Kygo remix)
Dire Straits- So Far Away
Bjørk - Moon
Lupe Fiasco - Deliver
Morrissey – Earth Is the Loneliest Planet
 
The concept:
First of all the retail version of the cable plus will be 1.2 meters long and the box with the active components will be situated about 20 cm from one of the ends.  It will be available in the following configurations (with courtesy to the Burson Audio site):
 
3.5mm input / stereo RCA output (perfect for connection between smartphone, tablet, laptop and the stereo amplifier)
 
CableA2R.jpg
 

Stereo RCA input / stereo RCA output (perfect for connection between sound-card, CD player, DAC and the stereo amplifier)
 
CableR2R.jpg
 

3.5mm input / 3.5mm output (perfect for car audio. connect between smartphone, tablet and the car amplifier)
 
CableA2A.jpg
 
When I was first contacted by Burson Audio and they asked me if I could be interested in testing out and posting my thoughts on the Cable+ here on Head-Fi my answer to them was a lot of questions, I simply couldn’t wrap my head around the concept but they were patient (as always) and explained to me what the intention with the product was and how it works.  

 
The cable itself is smooth and flexible while not feeling too thin. The connectors are nothing spectacular but does still feels sturdy enough that I wouldn’t expect any long term problems to occur with them.
 
I’ll try my best to give a brief description of what the Cable+ is and how it works. According to Burson Audio there are two bottle necks stopping many of today’s audio sources to sound good. The first is the low voltage output from sources such as phones, tablets and lap tops. The second is the audio cables used that where designed in a time when most audio sources had a high voltage output and therefore the cables where made to work optimal with such sources.
 
In short the Cable+ is an active audio cable. In addition to the regular pair of RCA cables that we’re used to it also has a small box attached. In this box lies the magic. It contains a 24v low noise, high voltage power supply and one of Burson Audio’s praised SS V5i op amps. This set up needs power to work and that’s supplied through a micro USB port located on the box. The idea is that the “magic” in the box shall give the receiving unit (headphone amp, stereo receiver, HT receiver etc.) a more powerful signal making the overall not only louder but also better.
 
I’ve got to admit I was skeptical (and slightly confused) myself so let’s find out how the Cable+ works in real life usage.
 
Real life usage:
I’ve test the Cable plus with several units, all connected to my Conductor V2+ and I’ve been listening with the Hifiman HE400i which are the most revealing headphones that I own.
 
Since this is the RCA version it's not really useful with most portable gear so to start with I dug out my old Asus BDS 700 blu-ray player from storage and hooked it up with some pretty nice analog Monster cables into one of the analog inputs on my Conductor V2+.
 
The BDS 700 features the CS4398 dac chips which is pretty well liked but even in the days when I was using this player in my main surround system I wasn't very impressed with its performance with CD playback.
 
First half hour I was going through some of the tracks on my usual demo list and to cut to the chase this was not a very pleasant experience. The V2+ of course has more than enough power to drive the HE400i but I had to crank the volume up to 46 on it to get enough volume to rock. Even when doing so the sound was flat, metallic sounding and pretty unengaging. In this configuration it was also an audible background noise that I've never heard before when pairing the HE400i with the V2+.
 
After that I added some y-splits to the analog output of the Asus player and hooked up the same Monster cable to one of the analog inputs on the V2+ and the Cable+ to the other. This way I could use the remote to switch instantly between the two inputs.
 
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The first thing I noticed was that the volume was higher when using the Cable+ connection. I had to lower the volume to 39 on the V2+ to get the same listening level (I used a sound meter app to check that the volume was similar on both, although not perfect scientifically it should still be fairly accurate) and listened to the input fed by the V2+ for about half an hour using the same tracks as before.The second thing that was very easily detected was that the background was now completely black and quiet. Furthermore the sound was fuller, richer and with better dynamics. In all this was a sound quality I could enjoy. When going back to the input fed by the Monster cables after this it sounded even worse to my ears than before and there's no doubt in my mind that the Cable+ makes a significant difference to the sound in this kind of setting.
 
The second unit I tried with the Cable+ was my Pioneer BDP-51FD Blu-ray player. The BDP-51FD is a pretty good CD player in my opinion and I use it connected to my Conductor V2+ with analog cables to get a different signature when I feel for it. It uses four discrete Wolfson wm8740 chips for digital to analog conversion and also has a built-in jitter reduction circuit. The presentation of the BDP-51FD is quite neutral, maybe even slightly on the cool side, and I'd describe its overall signature as "lean and clean".
 
The BDP-51FD offer both a stereo analog output as well as analog 7.1 outputs and since the front L/R outputs the same signal as the analog outs so no need for any splitters here. I just hooked up one pair of Monster cables to one of the analog inputs on the V2+ and the Cable+ to the other.
 
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I listened to CD's from Sting, Paloma Faith and Robyn for just short of two hours
The first thing I noticed was that the volume was significantly louder when using the Cable+. After using a sound meter app to match the volume I ended up with 42 respectively 48 on the volume know when having my preferred listening volume with the two cables.
 
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The second thing I noticed was that the input with the Monster cable was noticeable flatter sounding while the one with the Cable+ connected had better dynamics. I also noticed that high hats, cymbals and percussions sounded unnatural and a bit fatiguing without the Cable+ while it was sounding very natural with the Cable+ in the chain. The difference with the BDP-51FD is nowhere near as big as what I experienced with my Asus player as source but the sound is definitely more natural, dynamic and less fatiguing with the Cable+. I'd say that it takes the BDP-51FD from sounding good to sounding great.
 
Just for fun I also ripped the Robyn album to my laptop (FLAC, highest quality) and compared the two analog inputs to the USB input on the V2+. First of all the volume on the USB input is actually identical to that on the analog input without the Cable+. When comparing the internal DAC on the V2+ to the input using the Cable+ I noticed the following: the dynamics is better and the bass is deeper and more natural sounding when using the DAC on the V2+. The Cable+ input has a leaner presentation with a noticeable subdued mid bass presentation (much like the Mojo, no further similarities between the two though) making it lacking some dynamics but sounding very clean and clear on the other hand.
 
Like I said initially I sometimes use the BDP-51FD as a CD player (not only transport) connected to the V2+ and the Cable+ does make this even more interesting since it makes the BDP-51FD sounding like a very high quality source and makes it much more enjoyable than it was before. I'll definitely be using this solution more from now on.
 
The last test I did was to hook up my cable TV set-top box to my Conductor V2+ with the Cable+ today. First I used a couple of RCA splitters to connect the set-top box to both the analog inputs on the V2+, one with a short Van Den Hul cable and one with the Cable+.
 
Once again I experienced a significant rise on volume from the input with the Cable+. I had to put the volume on the input with the regular cable to volume 48 to get the same listening level as I reached with the volume 42 on the input with the Cable+ connected. Not surprisingly the RCA output on the set-top box is not very impressive and using the input with the regular cable was not a pleasant experience with thin sound and vocals sounding as if they were recorded in a metal box, very hollow. When using the input with the Cable+ the sound was fuller and the overall presentation was quite natural and easily usable.
 
I then disconnected the regular RCA cable and hooked the set-top box up with the V2+ with an optical cable as well using the internal DAC on the V2+. Listening to the internal DAC the volume was actually about the same as connected with the regular RCA cable and significantly lower than with the Cable+. Apart from that the sound from the internal DAC is quite a bit better sounding, it is more natural, has better dynamics and is less fatiguing but despite this the difference between the Cable+ and the regular RCA cable is actually bigger to my ears than the difference between the Cable+ and the internal DAC on the V2+.
 
This last set up with my cable set-top box is probably one of the most useful ways to hook up the RCA version of the Cable+. Many people will not have a DAC/amp combo available in connection to their TV and many set-top boxes may not have any more digital outputs free after being hooked up to a surround sound receiver. By using the Cable+ and connect it to a headphone amp you’ll get a more than acceptable sound quality and you can avoid using (the often poor sounding, high output impedance) headphone output on your receiver.  
 
Summary:
The Burson Audio Cable+ has impressed me more than I thought it would. Being a cable sceptic normally and don’t having any experience with similar products I didn’t really know what to expect. By now I should’ve known and trusted Burson Audio though, the Cable+ may be useful to us hard core Head-Fiers in some settings (mostly to get a higher gain in certain configurations as well as with sources lacking digital outputs or various kinds of amplifiers lacking digital inputs) but I think the really big potential lies with the consumers that doesn’t own a DAC, or maybe don’t even know what it is. The concept of just using a different cable, with the same kind of connectors that you’re already used to, instead of adding more boxes around the house, car, cabin or wherever you are located is truly revolutionary to me and hopefully many others will also come to the same conclusion. 
 
 
Looking at the other termination options with one or two 3.5mm connectors makes the potential for the Cable+ even bigger given the number of tablets, phones and laptops every household has today. To get significant better sound out of these, often poor sounding devices, in a way that’s easily understandable for most people would indeed be a blessing.
 
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HiFiChris
HiFiChris
The idea of an RCA cable with (of course active) amplification to increase the voltage output of the original source device is a darn interesting approach. 
gr8soundz
gr8soundz
So they basically put an active preamp inside a powered cable. Novel idea.
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