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Burson Audio Conductor V2+

Rating:
5/5,
  • Specs:
    Input impedance: 35 KOhms
    Frequency response: ± 1 dB 0 – 56Khz
    THD: <0.003%
    Input impedance: >8K Ohm
    Output impedance (Headphone Amp): 3 Ohm
    Output impedance (Line Level): 25 Ohm
    Inputs: 2 x RCA line level input
    Outputs: 1 x RCA Pre Amp, 1 x Headphone Jack
    Impedance (Headphone Jack) Power
    16 Ohm 8.2W
    32 Ohm 4W
    100 Ohm 1.46W
    150 Ohm 1W
    300 Ohm 0.5W
    DAC Spec
    Channel Separation: 142 dB @ 1KHz, 135 dB @ 20KHz
    THD+N: 0.0005% @ 1KHz, 0dBFS
    COAX & Toslink / SPDIF : 24 bits / 44.1K, 48K, 88.2K, 96K, 176.4K, 192KHz
    Weight: app. 7 kg
    Dimensions: 265mm x 255mm x 80mm
    Signal to Noise Ratio Separation
    92db 99%
    95db 99%
    94db 99%
    94db 99%
    95db 99.5%
    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

Recent Reviews

  1. raoultrifan
    Burson Audio Conductor V2+
    Written by raoultrifan
    Published Oct 30, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Powerful, very detailed, clear and neutral sound with am impressive power reserve.
    - Matches al the headphones with ease, no matter their impedance on sensitivity. Even it’s such a powerful headphone amplifier, I can comfortable listen to sensitive IEMs (16 Ohms, 103dB) with a volume level between 15-25%, because of the way digital volume operates, more like a logarithmic volume potentiometer, but without the channel imbalance on low-volume and without the scratchy noises that might occur during the time on the analogue potentiometers. Switching to HE-560 planar cans will make me increase the volume rotary knob somewhere between 40-60%, depending on the music and my mood.
    - For a 8.2W/channel pure Class-A amplifier I was expecting lot of heat, but I was wrong. Seems that the huge 6mm thick aluminium case, acting like a heatsink, has something to say here.
    Cons - No EMI/RFI filter and no surge protection included on the board. Not sure there's space left for that on the mainboard, also while doing critical listening I've heard no mains hum and no hiss with none of my headphones. However, if someone will ever hear some hum or hiss, then probably an external EMI/RFI filter will help (unless it's a ground loop doing that).
    - The beautiful and shiny aluminium case could get scratched, so some additional care is needed, especially if placing heavy headphones with metallic parts on top.
    - Even if I can perfectly listen to IEMs, it's not recommended, given it's high power and non-adjustable high gain.
    Hello fellow Head-Fi-ers,

    This review will only cover the Virtuoso 2 headphones amplifier and not the Virtuoso 2+ DAC/headamp combo. If I'll be able to get the transport and DAC cards and test them, then I'll update this review later.

    I purchased an "used-like new" V2 recently, about 5 months old, from a local seller. It was intact, barely used by the seller and only with his Fazor planars. I gave it a listen, of course...I liked the sound, so I paid the guy and picked up the V2. :)


    PACKAGING:

    Device was carefully packed into a double-case package, both cases having additional protective foam. It looks quite indestructible to me, nor my Yamaha & Pioneer speakers amplifier, nor my SVS active subwoofer and nor my 20-kilo-each CANTON floor-standing speakers were not packaged into two separately foam-isolated cases, so a big thumb-up for BURSON on how is dealing with packaging for a headphone amplifier!

    image012.jpg image003.jpg
    The small and shiny aluminium remote control was packed in a separate case, along with the power cord and well made RCA-RCA stereo cable.

    Virtuoso 2 has four rubber feet on the bottom that minimize vibrations and makes the sturdy case non-slippery, even if kept on a glass table.


    LOOK & FEEL:

    image_004.jpg
    Impressive appearance with shiny and massive body and weight.

    It weights about 7 KG, more than my 2 x 60W Pioneer speakers amplifier, quite stunning! The volume in the middle combined with so many kilos of aluminium gives me the impression of a powerful speakers power amplifier instead of a headphones amp. :)



    image_006.jpg
    On the front plate two buttons is all I needed: the small round input button for input source select and the volume rotary knob that can be used as MUTE if presses gently, so no additional buttons for the inputs or for the gain (there's no adjustable gain anyway), I really like this simplistic attitude.

    Volume in the middle of the front plate gives to V2 the aspect of a power amplifier made out for speakers and not for headphones. Besides the volume control, this also controls the mute-output if pressed during the playback. The power ON/OFF switch is positioned on the backside, along with the 120/230V selector.



    image_005.jpg
    There is a 6.3 mm stereo jack plug on front-left, so a dedicated 3.5 mm to 6.3 mm jack adapter plug will be needed to be able to drive all single-ended cans.

    The original small display is showing the output volume level; given the high power output of this amplifier this level indicator is a must have indeed. I've seen that with my planars the max. output level needed was around 40-50%, depending on the music used as playback. Instead, for sensitive cans, dynamic or IEM, output level was somewhere between 15-30%.



    image005.jpg
    Remote control is made out of the same shiny polished aluminum and it has 5 buttons for volume, input source selection and mute.

    Inside there's a Lithium battery that might be replaced after 5-6 years of service, perhaps faster if used daily.



    image007.jpg
    Entire body is made out of polished aluminium, with case thickness of no less than 6 mm!

    Six mm means a lot, I've seen speakers power amplifiers using such thickness for the output stage transistors, so really massive and lot of weight added. More weight means less vibrations, so this is a good thing, not mentioning the very fast heat dissipation from inside to outside.

    Robust and built as a tank is all I can say, but being aluminium some care might be needed, otherwise scratches could appear, especially if metallic parts are placed on top, like headphones, house or car keys etc.


    image001.jpg
    The "beast" has a power supply similar with speakers amplifiers, with big shielded transformers and 8200uF ELNA capacitors.



    image015.jpg
    Back plate with the input source gold-plated RCA plugs and pre-amplifier DAC/PRE outputs. The 5-years warranty needs manual registration to manufacturer's website.

    Input sources are selectable via the front button; there are two analogue inputs that can be chosen from, but for the Conductor V2+ it can also be selected the Coax/Tos/USB inputs as well. There are also DAC-Out and PRE-Out outputs on the back along with the inputs. Outputs are very useful for the V2+ when paing it with external amplifiers or with audio monitors.

    After several hours of continuous listening to Conductor V2 paired with Hifiman HE-560, with moderate-to-high volume, V2 is barely warm on top (top case is 29.8 C inside a 22.4 C room), so now I understand how so many kilos of "aluminium heatsink" can lower amplifier's temperature. :)


    INTERNAL PARTS, BUILD QUALITY

    POWER SUPPLY:

    Conductor V2 has linear-type power supplies created by two fully shielded 70 Watts high density toroidal transformers and linear regulators, one dedicated for the digital part and another one dedicated for the analog part.
    image014.jpg

    Both transformers being fully shielded means that no electro-magnetical interferences (EMI field) will diffuse onto the electronics board and no mains hum will get to the headphones.

    The transformer dedicated to the amplifier parts is delivering 2 x 24V AC, so quite a beefy output voltage for a headphones amplifier (not the perfect comparison, but my 2 x 60 Watts Pioneer speakers amplifier has a 2x32V AC transformer inside).

    Separating digital and analogue power supplies will lower the background noise, increase the dynamics and minimize interferences from the digital parts, like volume control or relays coils.


    image_014.jpg
    Each transformer rail has dedicated powerful rectifiers, so a total of twenty diodes! Yes, 20 diodes, because Conductor V2 is regulating full-wave of the AC voltage, not only half-wave.


    image_008.jpg
    For the analogue parts, the amplifier itself, voltage is regulated by the two powerful MOSFET transistors IRF610, after ripple is much reduces by the 4 x 8200uF ELNA polaryzed capacitors.


    image013.jpg
    There are also two yellow LED lights on the internal board that show if the power in ON and if no defects occur.


    TRANSPORT AND DAC SECTION:

    The transport is done via an well-known XMOS chip that takes care of the USB path. I've tested this transport on Windows 10, OS Sierra, OS High Sierra ans OS Mojave and everything worked like a charm. Several FLAC and DSD files were played without encountering any sound skips, not even while playing remotely via Wi-Fi network from my home Win10 NAS.

    DAC card is using the "legendary" ESS 9018 PRO chip and a custom 1ppm TCXO and no opamps are used, everything is built with discrete high quality components. Also, there are no capacitors in signal path! Several power regulators are used to achieve a very low noise and also to minimize any possible ripple coming from nearby mains transformers.

    image_021.jpg image_003.jpg image_002.jpg


    AMPLIFIER SECTION:

    BURSON Audio is well-known for their Class-A audio equipments and Conductor V2 is as well a pure Class-A and also a fully discrete headphones amplifier.

    IMG_6138 copy.jpg
    Silmic II capacitors are reducing the ripple across the powerful output stage complementary transistors


    WP_20181028_16_29_45_Pro.jpg
    Volume control is fully digital and is controlled by the stereo audio volume chip PGA2130 made by Texas Instruments.

    This chip is having a dynamic range of 120 dB (from -95.5 dB to +31.5 dB) and noise free level transitions, so no additional noise will get added. Having such a big dynamic and a smooth +/-0.5 dB level between two adjacent transitions means that no additional gain controls are needed, like most headphones amplifiers do usually have. That means less control buttons to adjust and combined with the visual volume level LED display our ears will get more protection against high volume levels. I don't even remember for how many times I forgot the gain switch from the backside to HIGH-position and swapped the planars for IEMs on my Matrix HPA-3B headamp, so...really ears blowing!


    WP_20181028_16_23_08_Pro.jpg
    The RCA plugs are very well soldered ontot the dedicated smaller PCB. There are two analogue inputs and for the Virtuoso 2+ there are additional three digital inputs too: USB, TOSLINK and COAXIAL. DAC-Out, PRE-Out along with the analogue and digital inputs and the volume control chip are actually creating an internal pre-amplifier able to control audio inputs and output level,


    image_010.jpg image_012.jpg
    Bad news for op-amp rollers: best op-amp is no op-amp! Conductor V2/V2+ has no op-amps to swap inside and gain stage amplification, as well as Class-A biasing are both fully discrete, done with complementary bi-polar transistors 2SA970/2SC2240.


    WP_20181028_16_24_54_Pro (2).jpg
    Output stage is created around the powerful 2SA1930/2SC5171 complementary bi-polar transistors, two pairs for each channel, thermally connected to the bottom aluminium case.

    These powerful transistors are having an absolute maximum operating power of 20 Watts each for heatsink temperature lower than 25C! Not saying that these transistors will drive my floor-stand speakers, but are definitely driving all of the dynamic and planar headphones I have, with it's max. 11.5 V RMS / 8.2 W per channel. Actually, I was driving my Pioneer 8-Ohms speakers for few minutes at about 9W/channel, without overheating, but seriously: don't you ever do that!

    All the output transistors are connected to the bottom aluminium base via normal screws and thermal paste, so heat dissipation from the output stage is done on the bottom.

    Audiophile quality Vishay metallized resistors and SILMIC II ELNA capacitors can be seen across the board, to further minimize the output noise on signal path, but also to further lower power AC ripple.


    image_013.jpg
    Headphones, but also the output stage transistors are protected by an output relay that gets activated only when headphones are connected. I can actually hear the relay working when I insert the cans into the 6.3 mm jack. Of course, if something gets defective inside, the relay will not let any DC-volage passing onto the headphones.


    RMAA & ARTA tests (DAC section only):

    ARTA_Freq_response_.png
    Frequency response: +/-0.05dB linearity

    CV2+_1KHz.png
    THD: 0.0016%, lower than expected

    CV2-THD_vs_Frequency.png
    THD vs. Frequency

    ARTA_ImpulseResponse.png
    Sharp roll-off digital filter

    ARTA_jitter_Stereophile.png
    No visible "skirts" on jitter test

    The DAC section measures very well, with very well controlled harmonics at -100dB, no mains hum and perfect linearity. The XMOS transport works flawless without the need of drivers in Win10 and Mac OS, but installing the original BURSON drivers will help in taking advantage of ASIO.

    DAC is completely neutral and transparent, and could be paired with any external amplifiers, per your wish. Connecting the RCA DAC-Out to an external amplifier can be done via a regular cable with RCA plugs on its ends (any headphones and speakers amp will work just fine). The volume control of the DAC is adjusted via the internal ES9018S DAC chip and not from the PGA2310 chip (this is only used for the preamp section).

    RMAA & ARTA tests (amplifier only):

    RMAA_main_menu_5V.RMS.png


    For 5V RMS per channel I got very good numbers:

    Frequency response (20-200000 Hz): +0.21, -0.09 dB
    THD: 0.008%
    Noise (A-weighted): -102.5 dB
    Dynamic range: 102.6 dB
    IMD + noise (A-weighted): 0.006%
    Crosstalk (left/right): -67.8/-68.3 dB

    RMAA_freq_response_20-20000Hz.png
    RMAA - Frequency response (-0.5dB @40KHz is impressive)

    Dynamic_Range.png RMAA - dynamic range


    ARTA_Freq_response.png
    ARTA -frequency response

    HOW DOES IT SOUNDS?

    WP_20181025_21_23_00_Pro.jpg

    Soundstage is very good with a great separation of instruments and voices. Women voices are not strident, but are very present and clear. Men voices are having a "larger" presentation, probably given V2's larger soundstage and this is helping a lot when listening to Classical music.

    Nice and probably a little bit warmish sounding amplifier, so totally non fatiguing, not even after more than 4 hours of continuous listening. This is a headamp that combined with comfortable headphones will make you forget you're listening to headphones, instead you're only enjoying the sound. However, spending several hours, especially with loud music might affect our hearing on long term, so listen with care and do take some breaks after 1-2h of listening.

    Not running hot Class-A amplifier which sounds so great will probably make it of a kind, hence totally recommended as an audiophile powerful headphone amplifier.

    Subjective tests above were done with a Burson PLAY DAC connected to V2's analogue input source.
    Headphones used were: Superlux HD381F, Beats Solo 2, Grado SR60i, AKG K550, AKG K701, Beyerdynamic DT880 600-Ohms, Fostex T-50RP mk3, Hifiman HE-560.
    All these cans were sounding perfectly with Conductor V2, just the volume rotary controller was adjusted per can's sensitivity.
    I've listened to Classics, Jazz (instrumental and vocal as well), Rock, Pop, Disco & Dance. I couldn't find a glitch, everything was sounding perfectly.


    SCOPE tests:

    Virtuoso 2 "passed" sine-waves and square-waves test as expected. Red is generator's input, blue is V2's output for about 2V RMS.

    Sine_20Hz.png Sine_1KHz.png
    20Hz sinewave vs. 1KHz sinewave


    Sine_20KHz.png Square_20Hz.png
    20KHz sinewave vs. 20Hz squarewave


    Not even a tiny difference between the 2 square-waves, indeed is DC-coupled without any capacitors in signal path!

    Square_1KHz.png Square_20KHz.png
    1KHz square-wave vs. 20KHz square-wave


    Power_600_Ohms.png
    11.9V RMS just before starting to clip (about 0.24 Watts for 600 Ohms cans)

    Power_8Ohms.png
    8.458V RMS @7.9Ohms (about 9.055W/ch., before starting to clip)
    From my perspective, this amplifier measures virtually perfect, without any noticeable phase-shifts, time-delays nor attenuation of low or high frequencies!

    PRO:
    - Huge output power, I was able to drive 8-Ohms speakers up to 9W/channel (please don't try this at home!).
    - Perfectly flat between 10 Hz and 30 KHz.
    - Virtually perfect output representation of common sine-waves and square-waves (20 Hz, 1 KHz, 20 KHz).
    - Very low THD + noise with great dynamic of > 102dB (a CompactDisc has 96dB of dynamic).
    - For a pure Class-A operation I was expecting it to be way much hotter (it's about 30C on top).
    - DC-coupled with dedicated protection.
    - No opamps & no caps in signal path.
    - Separate shielded AC/AC transformers, for digital and analogue parts.
    - Huge 8200uF/35V ELNA caps to lower AC ripple & noise.
    - Five power rails, each one being regulated by a full-wave 4-diodes bridge rectifier (a total of 20 fast powerful diodes).


    NEUTRAL:
    - 3 Ohms output impedance might seem a bit higher for some purists, although it doesn't affects any of my cans, not even my 16-Ohms IEM's.
    - Given its high power output might not be recommended for sensitive IEMs.


    CON:
    - No EMI/RFI filter inside (never happened to me, but some people might hear electrical buzz/noise); however, an external EMI/RFI and/or isolation transformer could get added later.

    Bottom of line, this is a very well built & high quality headphone amplifier that might represent an "end-game" for many audiophiles and musicians.
      atmfrank, Chris Kaoss and volly like this.
  2. peter123
    A complete, possible end game solution, from Burson Audio
    Written by peter123
    Published Mar 8, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Sound, build, design, remote control, 5 year warranty
    Cons - DAC sound signature may not suit everybody
    The Burson Audio Conductor V2+ was sent to me by Burson Audio as a part of a short review tour.  I’d like to send a big THANK YOU to Burson Audio (especially Dennis and Alex) for letting me check out the Burson Conductor V2+ and answering my questions.
     
    The Conductor V2+ is available for pre-order at Indiegogo right now: 
    https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/conductor-v2-usb-soundcard-8watt-head-amp-preamp#/
     
    As far as I understand it will also be available from the Burson Audio website in a not too distant future:
    http://www.bursonaudio.com/products/conductor-v2-plus/
     
    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 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 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.
     
    Unboxing (pictures only):
     
    IMG_3532.jpg IMG_3533.jpg
     
    IMG_3538.jpg IMG_3537.jpg
     
    IMG_3546.jpg IMG_3545.jpg
     
     
    Built, accessories and functionality:
    Due to the limited time available for this review I won’t be spending too much time describing the technical capabilities and specs of the Conductor V2 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 V2+ is a solid state headphone amplifier, DAC and pre-amplifier.  
     
    The Conductor V2(+) is available in two different configurations: as a pure amp/pre-amp (V2) or a DAC/amp/pre-amp combo (V2+) which is the one that I’ll be talking about in this review. Current pre-order price is $850/$1275 while MSRP is said to be $999/$1499, even at full MSRP it’s over 25% cheaper than the previous offerings in the Conductor series. It sports a massive 8,2W output power into a 16Ohms load and 500mW into 300Ohms. Needless to say this is a powerhouse that should be able to power pretty much every full size headphone out there.
     
    The Conductor V2+ is literally built as a tank. It’s built in a 6mm aluminum chassis that not only gives an amazing feel and weight too it but also act as a cooling system for the massive power produced by the V2. This does mean that the unit gets a bit hot, nothing alarming but I’d make sure to have some air around it if it’s placed in a rack. Although it’s a luxurious feeling (and looking) 3 in 1 solution the Conductor still would have no problem sitting on a desktop.
     
    The Conductor V2+ offers two sets of RCA inputs where you can connect your analog sources and three digital inputs (coaxial, optical and USB). For the output there are two RCA outputs (one fixed one straight from the DAC and one variable one for pre-amp function).  
     
    I’ve used all three different digital inputs and I’ve not been able to hear any difference between them. To my great pleasure I also realized that the USB input works with Android devices such as phones and tablets (I’ve used it with the Xperia Z3Compact and LG G3 phones as well as the Chuwi Vi8 tablet) when connected with an OTG cable and using USB Audio Player Pro (UAPP) as music player. To me this was great news since I find it very convenient occasionally to just hook up a touch screen device and start playing music.
     
    The V2+ support all popular file formats for audio up to DSD256 files over USB while coaxial and optical connections are limited to 24 bits/192KHz.
     
    On the front side you’ll find an input selector, a 6.3 mm jack to connect the headphones to and the volume knob. The volume knob feels very solid and has a perfect amount of resistance when being moved to raise or lower the volume. The volume control chip is the highly regarded PGA2310. I’ve got experience from this chip from my stereo system a few years back and I was very happy with its performance there and the same goes for its implementation in the V2+.  The volume has 99 positions so although it’s fully digital there’s no problem finding the exact volume that you like.
     
    To top things it (of course) comes with a remote control in brushed aluminum as well. It gives you the possibility to change inputs, adjust the volume and mute the unit without having to get out of the couch.
     
    The accessories included are:
    1 remote control
    1 set of RCA cables
    1 power cord
    1 USB cord
    1 warranty card for a stunning 5 years warranty
     
    IMG_3554.jpg IMG_3553.jpg
    Accessories and the stunning 5 year warranty card.                 
     
    IMG_3558.jpg IMG_3540.jpg
    Front and rear view. 
    IMG_3562.jpg IMG_3550.jpg
    Teaming up with the Philips Fidelio X2's and the luxurious feeling remote control.                             
    IMG_3608.jpg IMG_3607.jpg
    All good under the hood. Check out the clean and well organized internals. 
    IMG_3604.jpg IMG_3599.jpg
     
     
     
    The specs:
    Input impedance:
    35 KOhms
    Frequency response:
    ± 1 dB 0 – 56Khz
    THD:
    <0.003%
    Input impedance:
    >8K Ohm
    Output impedance (Headphone Amp):
    3 Ohm
    Output impedance (Line Level):
    25 Ohm
    Inputs:
    2 x RCA line level input
    Outputs:
    1 x RCA Pre Amp, 1 x Headphone Jack
    Impedance (Headphone Jack)
    Power
    16 Ohm
    8.2W
    32 Ohm
    4W
    100 Ohm
    1.46W
    150 Ohm
    1W
    300 Ohm
    0.5W
    DAC Spec
     
    Channel Separation:
    142 dB @ 1KHz, 135 dB @ 20KHz
    THD+N:
    0.0005% @ 1KHz, 0dBFS
    COAX & Toslink / SPDIF :
    24 bits / 44.1K, 48K, 88.2K, 96K, 176.4K, 192KHz
    Weight:
    app. 7 kg
    Dimensions:
    265mm x 255mm x 80mm
    Signal to Noise Ratio
    Separation
    92db                                                                      99%
     
    95db
    99%
    94db
    99%
    94db
    99%
    95db
    99.5%
    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
     
        

     
     
    I’ve used the Conductor V2+ (a lot) for the last week and my unit arrived already burned in.  Please note that due to the nature of this tour I was only able to have the Conductor V2+ for one week so my impressions is (naturally) based on the usage for that rather short time frame. 
     
    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
     
    In addition to my regular demo list I’ve also been listening to a couple of full albums with all of the different configurations in the comparison sections:
    The Slow Show – White Water
    Björk – Vulnicura
    Mastodon – The Hunter
    Michael Jackson – Off the Wall
     
    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.
     
    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 since I got into headphones I’ve not been able to put the pre-amplifier section of the V2+ trough 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 outputs works properly and I can confirm that they do.
     
    Amplifier section sound impression:
    The first thing that I noticed when I started to listen to the V2+ was the amount of air it brings into the presentation. Upon further listening the way it presents the bass also made a strong impression on me. Mid bass is very clean and tight but what really impressed me is the way it reproduces the lower bass, the extension is really good with amazing layering all the way down. This is a kind of bass that I’ve never heard from any of my amplifiers or amp/DAC combo’s before, a pure bliss.
     
    The overall presentation has great soundstage in all directions and layering is nothing short of astounding as is the amount of air between the instruments. The background feels as black and calm as it can possible be. Transparency and dynamics is also features that’s easy noticeable. 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 the best I’ve ever heard making the presentation very engaging and non-fatiguing.
     
    If I should describe the sound from the amplifier section with three words it’ll be transparent, liquid and dynamic.
     
    DAC section sound impression:
    The sound of the DAC section in the V2+is what I’d describe as “lean and clean”. The overall signature is neutral border lining to sound clinical but it doesn’t get unengaging in any way. Paired with smooth, warm and full sounding headphones this kind of presentation works very well but paired with brighter tuned headphones it may cause listening fatigue.
     
    The sound is great on the DAC with amazing details and clarity. Separation, speed and layering are also extremely good. Where I feel that it does lack a bit is in the bass department, the mid- and upper bass is very well controlled with a perfect amount of impact for my preference. The sub-bass is also very tight but I feel that it rolls off a bit early and lack some impact to satisfy me. Since the amplifier section offers an amazing depth and layering in the sub bass I’d have wished for the DAC section to take more advantage of it reaching even lower than it does. This being said the presentation is by no means bass light in its nature.
     
    If I should describe the sound from the DAC section with three words it’ll be transparency, detail and resolution.
     
    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 Philips Fidelio X2’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 I don’t have any desktop sized DAC/amp combo I’ve chosen to split the comparison section in two, one with the amplifier part and one with the DAC part. This way I’m able to put it up against the best I’ve got to see how it compares.
     
    Just for fun I’ve also rounded the comparison section off with a short comparison to the Geek Out720 that is also based on one of the Sabre 9018 siblings chip.
     
    Matrix M-Stage HPA-1 vs Burson Audio Conductor V2+ (amp section):
    I used the M-stage with the Burson SS V5 op amp installed when doing this section.
     
    Both amplifiers were connected to the analog outputs on my Advance Acoustic MDA503 DAC.
     
    The M-Stage is considerable smaller and lighter compared to the V2+. I’d say that the V2+ is about four times bigger than the HPA-1 and also weights considerably more.
     
    Compared to the V2+ the M-stage sound congested and doesn’t offer the same low end extension. The whole presentation from the V2+ has more air to it and separation is also better. Soundstage is a bit bigger on the V2+ and overall sound is cleaner.  There’s also more timbre to the notes making it sound more musical The V2+ has deeper bass and noticeable better layering in the bass while mid bass sounds clearer contributing to the more airy overall sound. The M-stage actually sounds slightly dark in comparison. The treble on the V2+ is also more detailed and delicate.
     
    The Conductor V2+ offers significantly higher power output compared to the HPA-1.
     
    The V2+ is a solid step up to the M-Stage in every way in my opinion.
     
    Advance Acoustic MDA503 vs Burson Audio Conductor V2+ (DAC section):
    For this comparison I’ve fed the Conductor V2+ from my Advance Acoustic MDA503 equipped with Ei 12AX7 tubes on the output and compared it to the internal DAC section on the V2+. The MDA503 is a DAC that had a MSRP at about $1,000 when it was released some years ago and it’s based on the Analog Devices AD 1955A chip. I’ve had it for several years now so I’m very familiar with its sound. I also, to this date, haven’t come across any other DAC that outperforms it in my system and for my preferences.
     
    In this comparison both DAC’s where fed with optical signals from two different Google Chromecast Audio units.  
     
    The MDA503 is a monster in size being about twice as big as the V2+ and weighting almost 10 kg. It’s hardly a desk top solution but one made for the full rig.
     
    Compared to the V2+ the MDA503 has a touch fuller sound across the range. It’s also slightly smoother and has both better extension and more impact in the lowest bass notes. The V2+ on the other hand sounds more clinical with better clarity and cleaner presentation. The differences between these two is not very big in my opinion and they both have equally great layering, separation and timbre to the notes and they both holds up excellent even with complex music. To put things short I find the MDA503 to sound more analog and the V2+ more digital which is hardly any surprise given the tube output on the MDA503 and the fully digital design of the V2+. I’m actually more surprised that the difference in sound isn’t bigger.
     
    For me it’s impossible to say that one of these is better than the other. Although the difference in overall sound isn’t that big it will still be a question of preference and pairing to decide which of them one might prefer. To make an analogy with headphones the MDA503 sounds more like the Sennheiser HD650’s while the V2+ sound reminds of the Beyerdynamic DT880’s if that makes sense, different but still equally great.
     
    IMG_3560.jpg IMG_3596.jpg
    Size comparison with the Matrix M-stage HPA1 and my beloved Advance Acoustic MDA503 DAC.
     
    IMG_3593.jpg IMG_3541.jpg
    My LG G3 connected to the USB input on the V2+ through OTG cable.
     
     
    Geek Out720 vs Burson Audio Conductor V2+ (DAC section):
    Talk about David vs Goliath here. The GO720 has been in my possession for about 1,5 year now and I’ve used it a lot both as a pure DAC and as a DAC/amp combo. In short I find its overall sound to be quite good and while layering and separation is excellent I do feel that it lack some air and details. Since they both use Sabre siblings chip I thought it would be fun to compare them shortly.
     
    In this comparison both DAC’s where fed with signals from two different Android phones using UAPP as player.
     
    Compared to the V2+ the GO720 feels much more congested and lacking air in the presentation. The V2+ has better soundstage, separation and layering. The biggest difference however is in the bass where the GO720 feels really sluggish while the V2+ has much better control and still offering deeper sub bass. Vocals are also more forward on some tracks with the V2+. To be honest the V2+ is a lot more refined in its overall presentation and clearly the better performer in every possible way.
     
    Matching:
    The output impedance of the headphone out on the Conductor V2+ 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. To be honest, looking at the power output of the V2+, this is not what it’s designed to drive anyway so it shouldn’t be a problem but I will test it with some easy to drive IEM’s as well.
     
    In this section I’ve tested how some of my favorite headphones but also one earbud and one IEM pairs with the V2+. I’ve tested them all both with the internal DAC section as well as with the MDA503 as DAC.
     
    AKG Q701:
    The combination of the Conductor V2+ and the Q’s are truly amazing and I can honestly say that the Q’s never sounded this good to me. 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 V2+ really makes them sing. The bass on the Q’s is really deep and well layered when combined with the V2+ this was really a revelation to me.
     
    Actually one of my most amazing moments with the V2+ was watching James Bond – “SPECTRE” on Blu-ray with my player connected to the coaxial input on the V2+ and listening through the Q’s.
     
     I prefer the Q’s with the MDA503 as DAC.
     
    Philips Fidelio X2:
    The X2’s is a perfect match with the V2+. The full sound of the X2’s pairs very well with the clean and clear presentation on the Conductor. Although the Fidelio’s pretty easy to drive they really scale with a good source and amp and the V2+ brings it to a level that I’ve not experienced with them before. The easiest way to describe what the V2+ does with the X2’s is to say that it makes it feel really really well balanced.
     
    I prefer the X2 with the internal DAC on the V2+.
     
    Fostex T50RP MKII:
    As already mentioned my modded T50RP’s are the most power hungry headphones that I own at the moment so I thought it’ll be of interest to add them as well here. 
     
    Once again the V2+ comes up big with its excellent airy sound and amazing bass layering. Even with these fairly hard to drive headphones I’m not able to go past 50% on the volume scale except with a few very low volume recordings. The power of the V2+ combined with the way it sounds really comes like a fresh breath to the T50RP’s.
     
    I prefer the T50RP with the internal DAC on the V2+.
     
    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 nature of the Zen 2.0 works really well with the clean presentation of the V2+. The Zen 2.0 sounds as wide and airy as ever when driven from the V2+. The great bass extension and layering on the V2+ is also welcome when paired with the Zen’s and the dynamics in this combination is out of this world.
     
    I prefer the Zen’s with the MDA503 as DAC.
     
    Aurisonics ASG-1PLUS:
    The ASG-1PLUS is a 11Ohm hybrid IEM (1 DD + 1 BA) and although it’s probably not what most people will connect to the V2+ I still chosen to include it here both to check the amount of background hiss but also because I’m curious on how it will sound from the V2+.
     
    Using the DAC section in the V2+ I can turn the volume all the way up without any hiss being audible at all, very impressive. When using the analog input with the MDA503 DAC there’s a faint hiss starting at around 60 on the volume scale (normal listening level with the 1PLUS for me is 30-35) that I’m 100% sure comes from tube output on the MDA503.
     
    Sound wise it’s a very nice combination and the fact that even this IEM pairs very well with the V2+ is the final proof to me that this is truly a very versatile all in one solution.
     
    I really like the 1PLUS with both the MDA503 and the internal DAC in the V2+. Although different sounding I wouldn’t call one better than the other here, it’s really down to the music I listen to and what mood I’m in.
     
    To sum up the matching section the V2+ shows itself not only as an all in one solution when it comes to features but also when it comes to pairing. It sounds absolutely fabulous with all that I’ve listened to through it and I’d go as far as say that it takes all my headphones, earbuds and IEM’s to a new level.
     
    Summary:
    It’s safe to say that this has been the most time consuming and intensive review I’ve done so far but it’s also been the most fun and interesting one. Although I’ve tried to keep things short and relevant it has still ended up like a short novel due to all the features of the V2+. Every time I thought I was finished I got a new idea: how does X sounds with it or how does Y compare and so on. So, let’s finally wrap things up:
     
    The Burson Audio Conductor V2+ is indeed an amazing all in one unit that may very well be the last amplifier, DAC, and preamp combo you’ll need in a very long time.
     
    Not only does it look and feel like a million bucks but it also performs like a champ. Its best sound features to me are the overall airy and clean presentation combined with its amazing bass extension and layering in the sub bass region as well as the fantastic dynamics. That being said I’m still left with feeling that I’m more impressed with the performance of the amplifier section than the DAC section. This is not because the DAC section is subpar in any way but rather the unreal performance from the amplifier section.
     
    Did I mention that it also comes with a remote control in brushed aluminum……..
     
    If I were to make a breakdown of my rating of the Conductor V2+ it would look like this:
    Amplifier section: 5
    DAC section: 4,5
    Build quality: 5
    Features: 5
    Value: 5 (especially at the current Indiegogo pricing)                
     
    The combination of amazing sound, great flexibility and the stunning build quality of the V2+ makes a unit that is very easy to recommend for people looking for an amp/DAC combo within the price range of the Burson Audio Conductor V2+.
     
    Burson Audio, from this moment on you got my full attention and RESPECT!
    1. View previous replies...
    2. peter123
      @beyerdude Thanks! I'm looking forward to read what you think about it.
      peter123, Apr 4, 2016
    3. beyerdude
      I'm very impressed with the V2+ @peter123 it took some time to burn in but I have no complaints at all. It's a great package. 
      beyerdude, Apr 26, 2016
    4. foreverzer0
      I wonder how this compares to the LH Labs Pulse X Infinity or a compariable Schiit stack.
      foreverzer0, May 3, 2016

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