World Class USB DAC / Headphone Amp / Preamp with Remote Control. The Conductor Air lets you...

Burson Audio Conductor Air

Rating:
4.75/5,
  • World Class USB DAC / Headphone Amp / Preamp with Remote Control. The Conductor Air lets you enjoy the best listening experience anywhere. Using the best DAC chip and USB chip in the world it supports any audio formats. With its unique voltage raising technology, it can drive any headphone with ease.

    The specs:
    Input impedance: 20 KOhms
    Frequency response: ± 1 dB 0 – 60Khz
    THD: <0.003%
    Input impedance: >8K Ohm
    Output impedance (Headphone Amp): 3 Ohm
    Output impedance (Line Level): 25 Ohm
    Inputs: Micro USB
    Outputs: 1 x 3.5mm Pre Amp, 1 x Headphone Jack
    Impedance (Headphone Jack) Power
    16 Ohm 400mW
    32 Ohm 500mW
    100 Ohm 150mW
    DAC Spec
    Channel Separation: 142 dB @ 1KHz, 135 dB @ 20KHz
    THD+N: 0.0007% @ 1KHz, 0dBFS
    Weight: app. 180 g
    Dimensions: 265mm x 255mm x 80mm
    Signal to Noise Ratio Separation
    96db 99%
    97db 99%
    98db 99%
    USB Spec
    Desktop OS: Windows XP, 7, 8, 10 Mac OSX
    Desktop OS: iOS* , Android (require OTG support)
    PCM Support: PCM ? 384kHz @ 16, 24 or 32bits
    Native DSD: Native DSD 64 / 128 / 256
    DSD over PCM: DoP64 / DoP128 / DoP256
    Asynchronous Isochronous
    *Requires Camera Connectio Kit
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Recent Reviews

  1. Voxata
    Incredible sound from such a small package
    Written by Voxata
    Published Aug 2, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Small size, incredible detail, pre-amp out, remote, bang for the buck, build quality
    Cons - Only USB input
     I've been given a chance to review the soon to be released Burson Conductor Air, which I'm quite thrilled to do given the form factor and specs of this unit. I'll be comparing it to a few other DAC/Amp combos I own and have heard extensively. This includes a Burson V5 OpAmp equipped Asus Essence STX, the legendary Galaxy S Voodoo Mod + FiiO E11 Combo and
    Schiit's Bifrost 4490+Asgard 2. The headphones I'll be using will be the Hifiman HE-400i, Beyerdynamics DT770, and Ultrasone Pro 900's.
     
           I like keep my thoughts fairly brief and highlight the key strengths and weaknesses I believe are characteristic of each configuration. I will focus highly on the Air however given that it is the heart of my review. As a reference I spend a couple hours on each song swapping gear, volume matched as best I can noting down my impressions. Be aware that the differences between these setups are very apparent to me.
     

     
     
          For reference the music I'm listening to includes: Radiohead - Sail to the Moon, Skrillex - Kill Everybody, Metallica's S&M - No Leaf Clover, Led Zeppelin - Moby Dick, Atmosphere - Southsiders, Perfect Circle - By and Down and Korn - Make Believe
     
        Asus Essence STX/V5 - Really great depth here, the V5 upgrade lowers the noise floor of the STX considerably and adds a LOT of weight and realism. This soundcard would not be a contender without it. This plays well with all of my headphones, however instrument separation isn't the best and some of those sounds and symbols that come in on the sides of the soundstage are not as clear as they could be. I do not have the cap mod however, which I've been told will clear some of this up. Regardless, I've got a smile on my face from this setup with each set of headphones.
     
        Burson Conductor Air - Excellent air, pun intended I suppose..  Coming off of both the V5 and Schiit setups this was one of the first things I noticed. Instrument separation is good with sounds coming from where they need to be and the power is definitely there. Vocals have great depth and presence with a strong center stage, which is really quite involving.
         I did however feel at first that the sound could be a tad more weighted on the HE-400i's in my testing. This symptom disappeared upon the unit 'warming up'. After a short while the Air runs warm to the touch, however I would definitely not consider it hot.
         Now for the big news.. I can also honestly say you can rest assured all of the micro details are there and then some. Specifically on Led Zeppelin's Moby Dick the Burson Air was able to pull considerably more detail and harmonic resonance during the intro than even the 4490+A2 combo. Also an important take-away is that the Air performed better with my dynamic cans than the Schiit/A2 setup even over SPDIF, besting the stack on both the DT770 and Pro 900 headphones especially in the detail department. The HE-400i shows the strengths and weakness of each setup, so I'm going to call that set of cans a tie to be broken by musical preference/mood.
     
        Galaxy S Voodoo Mod + FiiO E11 Combo - This combo combined with the Pro 900's is synergy heaven. The Pro 900's specifically performed better on this setup harmonically than any other. However this setup could not complete on a detail level with the Air or 4490/A2. The STX retrieved the details slightly better than the Voodoo+Fiio, however, they were also slightly blurred due to my card not being cap modded. The HE-400i's were not enjoyable on this setup at all. The DT770's were decent though. The Pro 900 synergy is where the magic is here, however the Air+DT770 sounded better.
     
        Schiit Bifrost 4490/Asgard 2 - Not much to say here, a fantastic experience that many ears have shared. I've found that dynamic cans sound pretty thin on it though. The Pro 900's do not work well on this setup. DT770's do great, however that thin nature remains. The HE-400i's however are quite at home and have more depth and fullness to the sound than any other setup, albeit at a loss of detail.
     
     

     
     
        There is more on the table than just the sound with the Burson Air though, and that needs to be addressed. Don't get me wrong the Conductor Air sounds great however this unit serves more than one purpose. I like that it has
    the jack-of-all trades thing going for it while mostly avoiding the master of none pitfall. This is what makes the Air as appealing as it is.
     
        First let’s talk about portability, this unit does not have an internal battery - which given the power output I don't exactly believe it would last too long even if it did given the size. You won't be tossing this in your pocket with a DAP and battery bank then going for a jog, and this unit isn't designed for it either. However I've tested it with my bank and it works great as a travel/backpack or work setup.
         The casing is very rugged, as is the remote casing which is a big plus. As a comparison my E11 with its cheap casing is starting to look like a pop can that has been crushed and reformed. The Air may lightly scratch over time, but it won't dent. The casing on the remote is set to match, and both units feature a nice magnetic system making the product seamless without screws.
       
          I do see many people wanting to compare the Air to the Mojo, and I'd say they have different purposes.. If you're 100% mobile, I'd be inclined to recommend Mojo due to the internal battery. However, if you plan to use this as a dual purpose portable or leave it plugged to your PC as a preamp or on all the time I'd be suggesting the Air. I've enjoyed a friend’s Mojo for a week and it gets incredibly HOT. It’s got a lithium ion battery, there is no safe way to run a battery that hot all the time or unattended. I don't care what a manufacturer tries to claim it just isn't happening for me.
           The Mojo is great in its own right, however in my eyes it is a purely mobile unit. I won't comment on sound quality between the two as I did not A/B them, however I can say I've never heard the amount of detail from Zepp's Moby Dick that I have heard when listening to the Air this week.
     

     
     
        Now we're on to multi-use, this unit has a LOT going for it. It sounds better than the STX V5 on my home theatre setup thanks in part to the detail retrieval and it has a remote for ease of use. It can also be set upright on my case so that I can see the volume clearly, especially in low light. With the Air users can also retire their soundcard and go ITX form factor... can't tell I've been wanting to do this for a while can you? I was also able to easily pull it and use the Air for bedside duty with my Nexus 5X using an OTG adapter. On another front I do play competitive CSGO on my gaming PC and I'm happy to report that the positioning was stellar. Another bonus is not requiring an additional power connection, so it is LAN/travel ready. Check check check and check. Side note, the unit itself has volume up, down and a mute button as does the remote. Preamp and headphone out, a USB power connector is needed when in use with OTG. Connecting via a PC USB only requires the one connection.
     
     
       Downsides? Well, there is one downside to this unit. I prefer the SPDIF input option on any external PC usable device. While many have different views on this topic I believe it did not detract from the positive experience. It isn't a buzz kill for my purposes, but the future inclusion would be nice. All in all, I definitely give this unit a thumbs up especially at the early bird price point it's a steal. The sound is there, the versatility is right there with it. Burson has been on a roll lately with their products, and I'm happy to report this continues with the Conductor Air. I hope you've enjoyed the read and a big thank you to Burson for giving me a chance to try and review the Conductor Air for all of those interested.
  2. peter123
    The baby brother with the big sound!
    Written by peter123
    Published Aug 1, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Sound quality, build quality, value for money, remote control
    Cons - No analogue input
    The Burson Audio Conductor Air was sent to me by Burson Audio for the purpose of me writing an unbiased review of it.  I’d like to send a big THANK YOU to Dennis and Alex at Burson Audio for letting me check out the Burson Audio Conductor Air and answering all of my questions about the Air and the way it works.
     
    The Conductor Air is available for pre-order at Indiegogo right now: 
     
    https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/air-pocket-sized-usb-soundcard-head-amp-preamp#/
     
    As far as I understand it will also be available from the Burson Audio website in a not too distant future:
     
    https://www.bursonaudio.com/products/conductor-air/
     
    I’m not in any way affiliated with Burson Audio.
     
    IMG_3790.jpg
     
    IMG_3821.jpg
     
    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 43 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 tend to value function over form within reasonable limits.
     
    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.
     
     
    Built, accessories and functionality:
    Disclaimer: Please note than my unit is one of only (AFAIK) two working prototypes and is not identical to the final release unit which will be ready for shipping by the end of August 2016. One thing that I’ve been told will change is that the laser drilled holes on the front plate will be slightly bigger so that the volume indicator will be more visible from a wider angle and even under sun light. According to Burson Audio and Xmos the production units will also sport better Android support due to more up to date Xmos software inside. My unit arrived without any retail package whatsoever so hence the lack of unboxing pictures. Burson Audio assures that what’s the most important, the sound and connection options, will be identical on the units soon to be released.
     
     
    I won’t be spending too much time describing the technical capabilities and specs of the Conductor Air but rather focus on built, usability and sound impression. I’ll of course add the specs here but not spend too much time talking about them. Anyone interested in more details regarding the pure technical aspect should find plenty of information by following the links posted in the beginning of this review.
     
    The Burson Audio Conductor Air is a solid state headphone amplifier, DAC and pre-amplifier three in one unit.  
     
    The Conductor Air is available in two different flavors: the traditional Burson Audio silver color or black. Current pre-order price starts from $419 while MSRP is said to be $499.
     
    Output power is 500mW @ 32Ohms and output impedance is rated to 3Ohms.
     
    The DAC chip used is the well regarded and popular ESS9018 which is paired up with Buirson Audio’s brand new V5i op amp. Amplifier chip is the TA6120A implemented in Burson Audio’s own way and it uses an Xmos USB receiver for best possible connectivity.
     
    The Conductor Air is very solidly built. It uses a brushed and anodized aluminum chassis and the few physical controls that available on it feels very reliable and not loose in any way. The volume indicator is very easily visible on the front plate, even from a larger distant, when keeping the Air in an upright position. In general the Air gives an impression of a very well built and thought through piece of equipment.
     
    The Air offers one micro USB digital audio input and one separate micro USB power input. For the output there are two 3.5mm outputs, one for headphones and one pre-amp out to hook it up to your stereo system or active speakers. Personally I’d like to have an analogue input as well to be able to combine it with other, non-digital sources.
     
    The Air does work with Android when connected with an OTG cable and using USB Audio Player Pro (UAPP) as music player. Android and sound does not have a great reputation and that’s for a reason. I’m able to use the Air with some devices (when using UAPP) but not all. With some devices it works without an external power source but for other it seems to need external power to get recognized. Battery drain on the hosting device is about 20% per hour in my test when using a device in “airplane mode” (so not much else draining the battery). For further information about the complex relationship between Android and DAC’s I highly recommend visiting this excellent thread:
     
    http://www.head-fi.org/t/595071/android-phones-and-usb-dacs
     
    The Air is also supposed to work with Apple devices using the Camera Connection Kit (CCK) but unfortunately I don’t own the CCK so I haven’t been able to confirm this myself.
     
    Some will say (and already have) that Burson Audio should have included a battery as well for the Air to be more versatile. After spending time with both the Chord Mojo and the Air lately I’m no 100% sure that I think so myself. There’s no doubt to me that the Air is designed primarily to be used by a laptop or computer. In this configuration the constant charging of the battery would not be a welcome addition to me. The heat that the Mojo generates when being permanently hooked up to my laptop makes me think that Burson Audio made the right decision leaving the battery out. In addition to this there’s also the aspect of the inevitable degradation of any battery over time.
     
    The Air support all popular file formats for audio up to DSD256/DXD and 32bit/384kHz  files.
     
    On the top of the unit you’ll find physical buttons for changing the volume up/down as well as completely muting the sound.  
     
    The Air, like its bigger brother the V2+, also comes with a remote control in brushed aluminum that will let you change the volume and mute the sound without having to touch the Air itself.
     
    The accessories included are:
    1 remote control
    1 USB cord
    1 warranty card for a 2 years warranty
     
    IMG_3772.jpg IMG_3773.jpg
     
    IMG_3776.jpg IMG_3777.jpg
     
    IMG_3785.jpg IMG_3789.jpg
     
    IMG_3845.jpg IMG_3850.jpg
     
     
    The specs:
     
     
     
     
    Input impedance:
    20 KOhms
    Frequency response:
    ± 1 dB 0 – 60Khz
    THD:
    <0.003%
    Input impedance:
    >8K Ohm
    Output impedance (Headphone Amp):
    3 Ohm
    Output impedance (Line Level):
    25 Ohm
    Inputs:
    Micro USB
    Outputs:
    1 x 3.5mm Pre Amp, 1 x Headphone Jack
    Impedance (Headphone Jack)
    Power
    16 Ohm
    400mW
    32 Ohm
    500mW
    100 Ohm
    150mW
    DAC Spec
     
    Channel Separation:
    142 dB @ 1KHz, 135 dB @ 20KHz
    THD+N:
    0.0007% @ 1KHz, 0dBFS
    Weight:
    app. 185 g
    Dimensions:
    265mm x 255mm x 80mm
    Signal to Noise Ratio
    Separation
    96db
    99%
    97db
    99%
    98db
    99%
    USB Spec
     
    Desktop OS:
    Windows XP, 7, 8, 10 Mac OSX
    Desktop OS:
    iOS* , Android (require OTG support)
    PCM Support:
    PCM ? 384kHz @ 16, 24 or 32bits
    Native DSD:
    Native DSD 64 / 128 / 256
    DSD over PCM:
    DoP64 / DoP128 / DoP256
    Asynchronous Isochronous
     
    *Requires Camera Connectio Kit
     
     

     
     
    I’ve used the Conductor Air for the last week and a half and my unit arrived already burned in.  
     
    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
    Björk - Moon
    Lupe Fiasco - Deliver
    Morrissey – Earth Is the Loneliest Planet
     
    Pre-amplifier function:
    Since I’ve got rid of my dedicated stereo system and seriously downsized my television surround sound system to be more family friendly when I got into headphones I’ve not been able to put the pre-amplifier section of the Air through any tests of its performance worth mentioning. I’ve simply just hooked it up to my humble M-Audio AV40 powered desktop speakers to check that the analog output works properly and I can confirm that it does. It may be worth noting that the pre-amp out seem to have quite a bit lower gain (volume) compared to the headphone out at the same volume setting. According to Burson Audio the pre-amp out in practical use can be considered a variable line out.
     
    Sound impression:
    I’ve got to be honest and admit that I find it pretty difficult to describe the sound from an amplifier. To me the sound of headphones/IEM’s is more easy to describe than that of amplifiers and DAC’s but I’ll do my best and hopefully the comparison section will also be of help.
     
    The first thing that I noticed when I started to listen to the Air was how similar to the Conductor V2+ ($1,499) it sounds. It shares the same smooth but yet detailed, airy presentation with excellent bass quality and depth.  
     
    Bass extension and quality is very good and I feel as if the bass reaches as deep as it possible can do. Mid- and upper-bass is well in line with the sub-bass and gives a great drive and liquid feeling to the whole presentation.
     
    The midrange goes perfectly in line with the bass and is also full and entertaining. I wouldn’t say that the Air is neither warm nor bright sounding and compared to the Chord Mojo it has a less airy presentation but the Mojo is also brighter to my ears (more of the differences between these two in the comparison section). 
     
    The treble is very well extended while still remaining full and smooth. It adds further to the liquid non-fatiguing and natural overall sound. I’ve been reading several reviews of other ESS9018 product where the reviewer mentions a hot or at least to some degree problematic higher frequencies presentation but there’s certainly nothing of that here that I’m able to detect.
     
    The overall presentation has great soundstage in all directions and layering is very good as is the amount of air between the instruments. The background does also feel very close to perfectly black. Transparency and dynamics is also easily noticed. The treble presentation is very delicate carrying large amounts of details but still having a very smooth character.  The timbre on instruments and vocals is also very good.  All together I’d describe the sound of the Air as natural and engaging.
     
    Comparison:
    Please note that the comments in the comparison section are not in absolute terms but in comparison between subject A and B. This means (as an example) that if subject A is found to be brighter than subject B it does not necessarily mean that subject A is bright sounding in absolute terms. I hope this makes sense.
     
    In these comparisons I’ve been listening through my AKG Q701’s.
     
    I used a simple Android app to volume match the amplifiers so although maybe not perfectly scientifically the result should still be pretty correct.
     
    Since the only input on the Air is a micro USB I’ve been comparing it to the USB input only on the other units as well. Both units has been hooked up to two different laptops both running Windows 7 with the same settings and I use MediaMonkey as my player of choice.
     
    Burson Audio Conductor V2+ vs Burson Audio Conductor Air:
    Or David vs Goliath if you so prefer.
     
    While this may seem as a strange comparison due to the huge difference in size, number of connections etc. as well as price. I’d still like to make it but based on sound quality only. The reason for this is that I love the sound that my V2+ put out and I know that a lot of other V2+ owners feel the same so if I/we could get a sound that’s close to the V2+ in a portable package I (and hopefully others as well) would be super happy.
     
    Compared to the Air the V2+ has a touch more airiness in its presentation, even more black background and the sub-bass impact is slightly better while they both reach equally low. Apart from these minor differences these two sound very similar. They share the same liquid, dynamic and engaging sound characteristics and although I don’t like talking about sound differences in numbers I’ll make an exception in this case only because their signatures are so similar. To my ears the Air reaches at least 90% of the sound from the V2+, which I think is very impressive given the difference in size and price.
     
    The V2+ of course has a lot of other advantages such as significantly higher power output (4W @32Ohms compared to the 500mW on the Air at the same load), more inputs (both coaxial and optical as well as two analog inputs in addition the USB input) and outputs (both have pre-amp out but the V2+ does also have a DAC direct output). 
     
    Chord Mojo vs Burson Audio Conductor Air:
    .First of all I’d like to thank fellow Head-Fier @kvad for sending me the Mojo to use in this comparison, tusen hjertelig takk. The Mojo was probably the most talked about release of any amp/DAC combo in 2015 (and maybe even yet) so let’s find out how it compares to the air.
     
    Compared to the Air the Mojo ($599) has a more airy and relaxed presentation. The Mojo is also relatively brighter contributing to the greater sense of airiness. As a matter of fact I find the Mojo to have almost too relaxed sound when paired to some IEM’s and Headphones making the sound a bit diffuse while the Air is more distinct in its presentation, this is most easily noticed in the bass department where the Air has a better mid-bass drive in comparison. In short the Air is fuller and more distinct sounding while the Mojo is more relaxed and have a greater sense of soundstage width and airiness.
     
    Feature wise the Mojo offers both coaxial and optical inputs as well as dual headphone outputs. It also has an internal battery making it more versatile when used with phones and tablets on the go but less so when paired to a computer due to the fact that it runs quite hot in such applications. The footprint of the Mojo is also smaller but it’s almost 50% thicker than the Air. The Air has the additional remote control which comes in really handy for home or office use. Build quality feels very solid on both units.
     
    Both these are excellent offerings and personal preference combined with intended use and pairing will be the deciding factor between these two in my opinion. As an example I prefer the Mojo paired with my Philips Fidelio X2’s and Super Audio 6 (a six BA Chinese IEM) while I prefer the Air paired with my Q701’s and Auriosonics ASG-1PLUS. The Mojo is also almost 50% more expensive (compared to lowest price on the ongoing Indiegogo campaign for the Air) and 25% more expensive than the Air’s expected MSRP. 
     
    Geek Out720 vs Burson Audio Conductor Air:
    The GO720 ($169) has been in my possession for about two years now and I’ve used it a lot both as a pure DAC and as a DAC/amp combo.
     
    These two a quite similar in the way that they’re both obviously designed to work best when connected to a computer or laptop. Although they both work with Android units none of them would be my number one suggestion if that’s the only way you plan to use them. That being said the Air is definitely better in this aspect than the Geek Out.
     
    Compared to the Air the GO720 feels more congested and lacking air in the presentation. The Air has better soundstage, separation and layering. The biggest difference however is in the bass where the GO720 feels more sluggish while the Air has much better control and still offering similar sub bass. Vocals are also more forward on some tracks with the Air. I find the Air to be a lot more refined in its overall presentation and the better performer between these two.
     
    General build quality is very good on both of these. The Air has physical volume controls which I like a lot while this feature was removed from the Geek Out in a firmware update and don’t forget that the Air also sports a remote control :wink:
     
    For even further comparisons feel free to visit this thread for breakdown between more $250+ amp/DAC units (this is a work in progress and several other units will follow in the near future).
     
    http://www.head-fi.org/t/816410/peter123s-250-amp-dac-combo-comparison-thread
     
     
    Matching:
    The output impedance of the headphone out on the Conductor Air is rated to 3Ohms. This means that it may not be the ideal pairing with very easy to drive headphones and IEM’s. In theory it should be paired with headphones that has an impedance of 24Ohms or greater to perform its best
     
    In this section I’ve tested how some of my favorite headphones but also one earbud and one pair of IEM’s pairs up with the Air.  
     
    AKG Q701:
    The combination of the Conductor Air and the Q’s are very good. The neutral sound could’ve easily been a bit too much combined with the Q’s but the smooth top end and the fantastic bass response and dynamics on the Air really makes them sing. The bass on the Q’s is really deep and well layered when combined with the Air and it has no problem whatsoever to power them to louder listening levels while still maintaining control and sound excellent.
     
    Philips Fidelio X2:
    The X2’s is also a great match with the Air. The full sound of the X2’s pairs very well with the clean, clear and smooth presentation on the Air. Although the Fidelio’s pretty easy to drive they really scale with a good source and amp and the Air brings it to a very high level.  This combination is really fun to listen to and has a great drive to the music that really makes me forget all about analyzing the sound and rather just enjoy the music.
     
    VE Zen 2.0:
    The Zen 2.0 is a 300Ohm earbud that I like a lot and tend to use instead of closed headphones.
     
    The soft and smooth signature from the Zen 2.0 work really well with the dynamic, yet clean and detailed, presentation of the Air. The Zen 2.0 sounds wide and airy when driven from the Air. The great bass extension and layering on the Air is also welcome when paired with the Zen’s and the dynamics in this combination is extremely good.
     
    Aurisonics ASG-1PLUS:
    The ASG-1PLUS is an 11Ohm hybrid IEM (1 DD + 1 BA) and I can turn the volume all the way up on the Air without any hiss being audible at all, very impressive. Sound wise it’s a very nice combination with the relaxed and soft combination of the 1PLUS and the dynamic and detailed character of the Air. I’d even go as far as to say that the Air is my new favorite pairing with the 1PLUS.   
     
    To sum up the matching section the Air sounds great with every pairing I’ve tried with it and that combined with the low amount of hiss as well as enough power for all my full sized headphones does make it very versatile in practical use.
     
    Summary:
    Having used the Burson Audio Condutor V2+ as my main source for the last five months I was very excited to find out if Burson Audio could manage to release a “Mini Me” version of it without making too big compromises in the sound department. After spending the last twelve days with the Air I’m very happy to conclude that both the sound signature and the sound quality is very similar to that of its bigger brother.
     
    The fact that the Air mange to come very close to the sound of the Conductor V2+ at a third of its price (MSRP on both products) and still keep a form factor that to me is still highly portable is very impressive. What it may lack in connections it more than makes up for in sound. To me to be able to bring along a sound very close to that of the V2+ on the train, plane, hotel room or the office is indeed excellent news.
     
    The Air has proven to me that it’s a great value keeping up in sound quality not only to its sibling the V2+ but also to the highly regarded Chord Mojo, albeit with a different signature, at a lower (or even much lower in the case of the V2+) price.
     
    It’s also highly versatile working well with sensitive IEM’s as well as having enough power for all but the most power hungry headphones out there. The fact that it includes a remote control and a pre-amp output also makes it a great alternative for pairing with a pair of active monitors or even a full size speaker system. Only thing I’m really missing is a 3.5mm input for it to be compatible to analogue sources as well, as a matter of fact when I think about it a combined analogue/optical input would be even better. Format support is also what one would expect from a unit of this caliber topping out at DSD256/DXD and 32bit/384kHz as well as supporting all popular formats up to that.
     
    The great build quality with the brushed aluminum chassis (and matching remote) as well as solid feeling volume and mute buttons does also contribute to the feeling of the Air being a very well made and luxurious offering.
     
    Once again I’ve been thoroughly impressed by an offering from Burson Audio and once again I will reward one of their products with a solid 5 star ranking. My breakdown of the rating for the Burson Audi Conductor Air would look like this:
    Audio Quality: 5
    Design: 5
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Features: 4
     
    As a final note I’d also like to add that I really appreciate that Burson Audio now seem to start offering their products in black as well as their traditional silver color.
     
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    1. newdoughboy
      Amazing review. I am so looking forward to getting the Air. Also, how much would you recommend the Zen 2.0 , I am really interested, and just haven't justified the cost, since k702 and 400i sound great, and I don't need the portability aspect of the Zens, thou at such a high impedance, they are not the most portable so to speak
      newdoughboy, Aug 1, 2016
    2. peter123
      @newdoughboy  Thanks! Good question, for me personally I prefer the Zen 2.0 over any closed headphones that I've heard. The possibility to have the sound comparable to that of a quite good open headphone in my pocket are great imo. I wouldn't say that the keep up with the Q701's or Fidelio X2's but they're not far behind and does also offer a alternative soundsignature to both of them. They're also more easy to drive than the number suggest in my eperience.
      peter123, Aug 5, 2016

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