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  1. upsguys88
    Burson FUN for Everyone!
    Written by upsguys88
    Published Feb 9, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Simple set-up and ease of use
    Powerful
    Versatile (Heaphones + Speakers)
    Affordable
    Sleak form factor
    Cons - Upgraded Op-Amps are extra $
    This amp is so simple and so fun! I am a person who really enjoys equipment (amps and dacs) that are easy to use, simple to set up and just work! In my humble opinion, there are too many amps on the market that offer an immense amount of inputs and outputs, that for people like me who only use them to listen to great headphones, and great music, done honestly need. I really like the simplicity of this amp because it is easy to use, easy to set up and comes with a ton of power for any headphone or desktop speaker!

    Burson is a company located in Melbourne, Australia, the city my brother's wife is from. Its full of beauty, very much like this little amp. I appreciate that the amp is compact, powerful and looks great. I'm going to review this amp from the perspective of a person who likes to get home, plug in my headphones, USB into my MacBook and listen to music straight away [Aussie phrase :)]. The Burson Fun allows me to do with no issues.

    The Power:
    I will let you read the specs on their website, but for power, it has enough power for any and every headphone imaginable. I used this amp in conjunction with my LH Labs Geek Pulse X Infinity by bypassing its built-in amp so it could just be sent the clean dac sound to be amplified by the Fun. The power is perfect for an at-home set-up for headphones, and speakers alike!

    The Sound:
    Its sound is clean, clean clean. There seems to be no extra warmth added to the sound from this amp, just powerful, dynamic sound to my Audioquest Nighthawks, Sennheiser 6XX and Audeze iSine20. The Fun amp is the type of amp I was looking to pair with my Geek Pulse X Infinity's DAC which is a sublime combination! If you are looking for an amp that won't add color to the sound, just clean, clear amplification, this is a wonderful buy for the base price of $299!

    Conclusion:
    This is a perfect addition to any system that needs more power, better amplification, and a sound that is accurate to the way your favorite music should be! I am excited to tinker with the addition of the various other op-amps Burson offers to see how the sound is enhanced with these better quality components.
  2. Peddler
    Excellent headphone amp - looks good too
    Written by Peddler
    Published Jan 26, 2019
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Very strong output. Looks Great. Nice smooth volume control. Wonderful sound quality. Can be used as a pre-amp. Fits inside PC case if required. Very low noise floor.
    Cons - Expensive. No remote control (nitpicking).
    I have been an avid headphone user for many years now. I think it’s fair to say that I’ve got to the point where I would always prefer to listen to music through headphones than loudspeakers. In all fairness, perhaps one of the main reasons for this is because I don’t live alone and my family really don’t share my taste in music. Also, I do like to listen to my music fairly loud - far louder than I would through speakers.

    Throughout the years I have had an incredible number of headphones and playback devices including various portable Minidisc, portable CD players and MP3 players galore but the key thing is that they were portable. Although I did have a full sized and rather excellent analogue based hifi system, it's been many years since that was my primary listening system.

    20190119_092929.jpg

    I feel it's only fair to point out that I don't talky consider myself as a headphone snob - I have found myself enjoying some really inexpensive bluetooth headphones costing less than 20 quid. One final piece of information about me is that I now listen to music mostly using my LG V20 phone and a combination of different headphones - many of which are bluetooth.

    20190119_092948.jpg


    I know, I know. The Flat-Earth brigade are wringing their hands right about now at the mention of using bluetooth headphones but to be honest I feel that they are now good enough for more than simple casual portable listening. Don't get me wrong though. I still do very much appreciate excellent sound quality. Whilst I can honestly say that I will probably never spend thousands of pounds on high end gear (perhaps more because of financial circumstances rather than a complete lack of desire). When I’m sat down at home, listening to music intently, portability and wireless features will always take a back seat to sound quality.

    20190119_092724.jpg

    Burson very kindly sent me their Fun headphone amplifier to review. Although I have used headphone amplifiers and external DAC’s before, they have always been portable units - with the limitations that all portable units have. The Fun is the first desktop-based amplifier I have used and wow - what a difference.


    I won’t go into too much detail about the externals of the unit. Basically this amplifier can act as both a headphone amplifier and pre-amp thanks to its outputs on the back of the unit. This makes it an ideal match for active loudspeakers or systems with power amps. The unit is powered by a fairly small external power supply but is also designed to be inserted into a desktop computer system and can be powered from the PC itself. The Fun supports pass through for microphone input so gamers shouldn’t have any problems.


    Needless to say the unit is pretty solid and very well made. When powered up, the only real giveaway that the unit is powered on is a small blue LED on the front - you certainly wouldn’t tell the unit was on by just listening through your headphones as there’s no noise floor on the Fun it’s completely and utterly silent - when when using fairly sensitive IEM’s.

    20190119_092850.jpg

    To test the unit I tried a number of different headphones including:-

    Sennheiser HD598SR
    Ultimate Ears Triple Fi 10 IEM’s
    Sony WH1000Xm2’s in active wired mode
    1More Triple Driver IEM’s

    Needless to say the Fun powered all of them to extremely high levels without running out of steam or even a hint of distortion. Even when listening at low volume levels, the sense of power and scale definitely still comes across - far more so than directly from the LG V20 phone (which has a far more powerful headphone out than what you would find on most mobile phones). Whilst this degree of power is pretty much overkill when using IEM’s, it’s still more than welcome and gives the music a real sense of powerful dynamics and impact. The lack of electronic noise floor really helps when using IEM’s with the amp.

    Many purists feel that all an amplifier should be is a ‘wire with gain’. They should neither add nor subtract quality from the original signal - simply make it louder. In all fairness, the Fun does offer a degree of colouration to the sound in my opinion - but we are talking about such subtleties that it could simply be a side effect of having all that additional power at your disposal - in no way does it spoil the character of the music. The amp is called Fun for a reason - it’s not pretentious, it hasn’t been made by magic pixies nor has it been breathed on by God. It’s simply a very well designed and made headphone amp/pre-amp which looks good and sounds great.

    In conclusion I personally feel that the Fun is an excellent headphone amplifier and has definitely brought all my wired headphones to a whole new level of musicality.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. wje
      Thanks for the review. You indicated that the volume knob was "smooth". Does this mean that Burson has moved away from the stepped attenuator on this model? I wasn't a fan of their volume knobs on previous products - though, that's just personal impression and others may not agree.
      wje, Jan 30, 2019
    3. raoultrifan
      It's an analogue ALPS Blue inside, totally low noise headamp for IEMs actually, you could give it a try.
      raoultrifan, Jan 30, 2019
      wje likes this.
    4. raoultrifan
      wje, Burson had stepped attenuator inside older headamp, but inside their latest DACs (PLAY, PLAYMATE, SWING) the volume is controlled from inside the DAC chip, like most of 2018-2019 DACs actually (32-bit volume control).
      raoultrifan, Jan 30, 2019
      wje likes this.
  3. cripple1
    Burson Audio - A Bundle of FUN!
    Written by cripple1
    Published Jan 22, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Small footprint, lots of power, price
    Cons - No gain switch (more a preference than a con)
    1F5B2F8D-4E0F-4369-989C-415F5922BC74.jpeg 01178B38-C037-49AF-A301-80E0FA8C4727.jpeg

    So... Burson Audio sent me one of their headphone amps (The FUN) for review a little while ago. It's taken me a bit to get around to writing this (I apologize), so let's jump in.


    Burson Audio is an Australian based audio company that caters towards the mid to high end headphone amplifier range, providing buyers with pretty great bang for your buck with the different types of sound signatures you can get from opamp rolling, which they encourage. I've been a bit of a fan myself for a while, so keep in mind that I am human, this review is my opinion, and as such, it may differ from your own. This is okay because it's that's variety of differences in this hobby that makes this so interesting and... FUN.. right? Haha.



    About me


    I haven't been in this hobby very long. Since about 2012 to 13-ish, actually. In that time I've been lucky enough to listen to quite a few different headphones from different companies, all with widely varying sound signatures, while I searched for my preferred sound. My preference normally leans towards dark, full bodied, and warm as I am highly sensitive to harsh treble as I perceive it. My music taste runs along the lines of Hip-hop (yeah, yeah), Classic Rock, R&B, Smooth Jazz, and Blues/Soul. While I do love a bit of bass emphasis in my music most of the time, I also like a more neutral sound for smooth, relaxing listening sessions. Now that you have a bit of an idea about me, let's move on.



    Packaging


    The amplifier came in a simple box, well packaged and protected. Not much else to say here except that I appreciate simple. While others may go with flash and pomp and make their products damn near people proof, I was able to tear this amp out of the box immediately upon arrival and get to the glorious piece of gear tucked neatly away inside.



    Contents


    On opening the package I was greeted with everything needed to get started. Inside were the power cord, a couple of RCA cables, and a 1/8th to 1/4th headphone jack, along with the beautifully simplistic, all black aluminum chassis’d amp itself.



    The amplifier


    The Burson Audio FUN headphone amp is beautiful and well built with a full aluminum chassis and the usual outs you would expect, the FUN also boasts a mic input and output (both 3.5mm) for those who want to integrate this amp into their gaming setup on their PC. The footprint of the FUN at just over 5 inches makes it ideal for this kind of integration, or for just using as a standalone headphone amp in an area with very little space. It's also very well priced at $299 USD, in my opinion. Especially for the performance you get from this little bundle of FUN. At 2.1 wpc into 32Ohms, you get allllllll the power you'll ever need for just about every headphone you own. You can opt for their V6 (classic/vivid) opamps if you want a bit of a different sound, which will drive the price up a bit, but I can honestly say that as much as I would like to do so, I am REALLY enjoying the FUN in its stock configuration.


    Now.. On to the sound!



    The sound


    Noise Floor - What noise floor? I used the FUN with my Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7, Audeze LCD-XC, and my Flare Audio Flares Gold IEMs, as well as an LB Acoustics MySphere 3.2 and my ears heard no audible noise floor through any of these headphones. It was an utter joy not to listen to or worry about any distracting hum taking me out of my musical bliss. This is due to Burson magic - and by magic I mean their “Max Current Power Supply”, developed in house by Burson to be superior to traditional power supplies and to deliver as clean a maximum current as you can get, instantly taking you into sonic bliss!


    Highs - I'm always a little leery when testing new equipment. With how sensitive my ears are to hot/harsh/sibilant treble, sometimes new gear isn't the joy I was hoping for. Thankfully, this wasn't the case with the FUN. Highs were well extended, but had a smoothness to them that was pleasing to the ear. There was something about the way the highs were presented that just made the image of the music seem much more defined, to my ears.


    Midrange - The midrange of the FUN felt slightly pushed back to my ears, but not as much as you'd expect from a headphone amp that calls itself the FUN. The vocals of both females and males voices have a certain heft... A weight behind them.. that makes them feel right at home between the slightly colored highs and lows.


    Bass - This is always my favorite part of the review with me being a bit of a basshead, but since entering this hobby a couple years ago, I've come come to appreciate a more... appropriate.. amount of bass, so to speak. That being said, the FUN definitely has a bass emphasis, and although that emphasis is slight, it definitely contributes towards the enjoyment of the amp. Bass slam is nice and low notes are full and weighted, never overpowering or taking over the entirety of the spectrum with its fullness.



    Conclusion


    The Burson Audio FUN is well worth the price tag its been slapped with, and it more than lives up to its name, being one of the most fun amps I've ever used. It's power and versatility as far as sound signature makes it a great amp that outperforms all others in its price range, in my opinion. With loads upon loads of power to spare, the only thing you'll have to worry about is what DAC you want to pair it with and what headphone you are going to enter into musical bliss with.

    (I will be doing a follow up review testing the V6 Classic opamps in the future, so if you liked this, look forward to that!)
      raoultrifan likes this.
  4. Slim1970
    A Very Fun Listen
    Written by Slim1970
    Published Jan 16, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Powerful, dynamic sound, good clarity, outstanding bass response, great driver control, ability to roll op amps for a different sound, small footprint, great build quality, quiet background
    Cons - Lack of input selections
    DISCLAIMER

    Burson sent me the Fun for an honest review

    SETUP

    iPad Pro, Burson Conductor Air, Schiit Loki, Burson Fun, Gilmore Lite Mk2, various headphones, Pandora and Tidal

    PACKAGING

    The Burson Fun came very packaged. There were 3 compartments with the Fun in the middle, the power supply on the left side and the accessories to the right. The Fun is well protected. It takes a little effort to get the Fun out of the foam surrounding. So be careful removing it as you don’t want to damage the foam for future usage.

    IMG_0962.jpg

    IMG_0963.jpg

    IMG_0964.jpg


    BUILD

    The Fun feels solid in hand. The all-aluminum chassis looks and feel premium. The internals are well laid and uses some quality parts like Vishay resistors and a ALPS volume pot that is very smooth to operate. The volume knob seems to offer nice incremental steps when making volume adjustments.

    The Fun is a Class-A dual mono design headphone amp and pre-amp. The Fun doesn’t rely on traditional transformers for its power supply but instead uses their own in-house design called the Burson Max Current Power Supply (MCPS). The MCPS is designed to deliver current instantaneously to ensure those dynamic swings are meet on demand. The MCPS is also low noise and efficient.

    IMG_0965.jpg

    SPECS

    The spec looks good. You get a lot of power at this price point. 1.2 watts into 8 Ohms, 1.9 watts into 16 Ohms, 2.1 watts into 32 Ohms, 1 watt into 100 Ohms, 0.66 watts into 150 Ohms, and 0.33 watts into 300 Ohms. The input impedance is 38 KOhms and the output impedance is 6 Ohms. So I would recommend headphones or IEMS above 16 ohms just to avoid issues with hissing even though the headphone amp itself puts out 1.2 watts at 8 Ohms

    SOUND

    Now on to the good stuff. How does the Fun sound, it one word amazing. I am a big fan of the Burson house sound. It’s big, dynamic, full bodied, has a warm tilt, and is very detailed. The Fun I received has the stock op amps installed and they do a fantastic job at delivering music. I can hear all the details in the songs. Each note has weight to them. I love the sense of power the Fun delivers. I now want to get a listen to the Fun with both the classic and vivid op amps to see if they sound better than the stock ones.

    Audio-Technica ATH-2000Z

    This was the first headphone I tested with the Burson Fun. This is a very underrated closed headphone that doesn’t get talked about. The 2000z’s are incredibly detailed and airy. Using the Burson Conductor Air and my DAC going through the Loki and out through the Burson Fun the 2000z’s sound like they were made specifically for this setup. Before the Fun arrived, I thought the bass on 2000z’s I felt could use a bump. That’s not the case when listening to them through the Fun. The bass came alive with the Fun. It was impactful and well defined.

    Audio-Technica is known for their mid-centric and treble sound. The Burson Fun takes the mids on the 2000z’s and make them more tuneful and lush. Male and female voices sound intimate and forward. The treble detail on the 2000z’s is already very good. Driven by the Burson Fun they are crystal clear. The sound is very balanced and the warmth of the Burson Fun makes this a great combo.

    Hifiman HE-500

    These are one of my favorite headphones even today. They seem to do everything right and are one of the most balanced headphones I know about. I have the Focus PadA’s on my HE-500’s. Listening to these through the Burson Fun is a relaxing experience. I simply kicked back and enjoyed the music. The HE-500 needed a little more volume. I had the Fun volume knob set between 10 – 11 o’clock to get the best sound out of the HE-500’s. The bass is quick and deep with excellent decay. The mids of the HE-500 are a perfect match for the Burson Fun. They are creamy and romantic. The treble is well extended with very good clarity. I can’t believe how good the pairing sounds.

    Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro

    This the last headphone I tested the Burson Fun with. I wanted to see how the Fun handled higher impedance headphones. I must say I was not disappointed. The DT1990’s are one of the most detailed headphones I own next to the Focal Utopia’s. The DT1990’s is one of the few headphones that I know of that can compete with the HE-500’s in terms of technical prowess. Once again the Burson Fun seems to be a great pairing for the bright highs of the DT1990’s. I for one love the treble on the DT1990’s, I don’t find them sibilant at all. Matched with the Burson Fun the clarity and details of the DT1990’s shine through. The mids come through as very natural sounding. I can hear every detail in the song but with better tone. So the Burson Fun is interjecting a bit of it flavor into the DT1990’s, which is telling me that it’s not a neutral amp. But none-the-less very pleasing.

    AMP COMPARISONS

    IMG_0966.jpg

    IMG_0967.jpg

    The only amp I compared the Burson Fun to is the Headamp Gilmore Lite Mk2. The GL Mk2 is more transparent than the Fun. It’s gets out of the way and doesn’t add anything to the music. It really just amplifies the signal with tons of technical ability. There’s a crispness to every note. Every note is delivered with speed and transient snap. Bass hits hard and quickly decays. This is really apparent when listening to my Utopia’s.

    This brings me to the first difference I hear between the two amps. Were as the GL Mk2 is the more technical amp, the Burson Fun is the more musical amp. The Burson Fun is warmer sounding and is more forgiving even though these are both Class A amps. On bad recordings the Burson Fun is much easier to listen too. The GL Mk2 does nothing to make bad recordings more enjoyable to listen to. It delivers music as is. This could be both good and bad depending on your musical preference.

    The second difference is sense of power. The Burson Fun is the more powerful amp. Going back and forth between the two the Fun adds more weight and body to the music. The Fun is fuller sounding. Switching back to the GL Mk2 it sounds cleaner and adds more depth to the music. The bass is more defined but just as deep. The treble has a touch more clarity and the mids are smoother. Both amps have good extension at both ends. The difference is the GL Mk2 is more 3D and spacious.

    The difference in sound signatures is apparent. They are both very good amps. The Burson Fun may not be the technical tactician the GL Mk2 is but it isn’t lacking in giving you details either. It’s a very detailed amp but it does color the sound. I can’t say that I hear the v-shape sound signature that some of the other reviewers hear in the Fun. That’s probably because I use the Loki to correct what I think is missing from the sound.

    The Burson Fun is quickly becoming one of my favorite amps. I like its power, it musical delivery, it’s detailed with good treble clarity. The mids might be slightly recessed but it works well with the rest of the frequency response of the Burson Fun.

    Last thoughts, if your preference in music is all about transparency, clarity and speed then the GL Mk2 is your amp. But if you’re a fan of music I find the Burson Fun hard to beat at this price point. They are very close in performance to each other. The Burson Fun is $100 - $200 dollar cheaper depending on if you wan the standard op-amp version or if you chose the V6 Vivid or Classic op-amp version. Is the Headamp Gilmore worth the extra cash? That is entirely up to you and your ears. What ever amp you decide to bring home you will enjoy hours upon hours of entertainment regardless of headphone you have plugged in. Happy listening!
      ACDOAN and volly like this.
    1. ACDOAN
      I have several Burson Audio products including the Fun. I am going to get the Swing so I have a Burson stack. Nice product for the money.
      ACDOAN, Jan 19, 2019
    2. Slim1970
      I have the Conductor Air and had the Conductor V2+. I made a big mistake in selling the V2+. I want it back and will purchase it again soon. The Fun reminds me of the V2+ in a lot of ways minus a slight loose in dynamic punch. I need to try the V6 Vivid op-amps as I have a feeling this will bring the up another level in performance.
      Slim1970, Jan 30, 2019
  5. h2rulz
    Burson's got game.. er Fun
    Written by h2rulz
    Published Dec 13, 2018
    4.5/5,
    DISCLAIMER
    Burson sent me the Fun for review weeks ago (I apologize for the late review). That said, as always, I'll try my best to provide an honest feedback.


    ABOUT ME

    I’ve been in this hobby for about 3 years and still feel like I’ve just started with so much to learn and explore. No, I'm not the type that can pick out every little detail, nor am I able to discern between 320kbs, 256kbs, etc. However, I am pretty sensitive to EQ and have developed a preferred sound signature over the years. I tend to gravitate toward audio gear that provides clean sub bass extension (little to no mid bass bump), relatively forward mids, and highs that are on the smoother side. I also appreciate a large soundstage with great imaging capabilities. I do prefer depth (out of your head) over width when it comes to soundstage.

    IMG_5311.JPG
    IMG_5312.JPG

    SETUP
    iMac (Tidal HIFI) > USB > Schiit Eitr > digital coax w. BNC adapter > Neutrik impedance converter > AES/EBU2 > SFD1 > coax > Burson Fun > various headphones

    *Mainly used the HD800 (SDR) to get a better idea of the relative differences between amps
    *The focus of my review is how the FUN sounds relative to other amps as I find that most useful.
    *FYI, the FUN worked well with most of my headphones (HD800 SDR, LCD3, HD650), and powered them all with ease.

    IMG_5313.JPG IMG_5314.JPG

    HOW DOES IT SOUND?
    IMO the Fun is Burson's jab/comeback at the increasing number of quality sub $500 gear. With Schiit gaining significant grounds and Massdrop churning out one great collaboration after another, it has never been better for budget headphone lovers to get a good taste at what hifi really sounds like. Add the Fun to the bunch with a bit of added flavor ("Fun") and you basically got the gist of what this amp is all about.

    /Stock Opamp (Single x2)/
    At first, coming from the Master 9, EC BW2 and ZDS as my main amps, I was expecting noticeable grain and a lack of transparency/detail. Well, it was noticeable, but to a much lesser degree than expected. I was also immediately struck with the weight behind the notes. The name of the Fun had me expecting some V shape sound signature with hollowed out mids. Yes, the bass and treble emphasis was there but the mids and vocals also have good heft behind them. The slight emphasis in the mid bass does give the FUN a warmish sound. The soundstage isn't particularly wide nor deep. But it does present a believable sound stage, nothing too closed in or walled. No problems here. The FUN does present a more intimate soundstage, giving you the feeling of being closer to the source of the sound. As for power, there's plenty to spare. I had no problem with any of my headphones nor should you!

    Occasionally the Fun did get hot in the treble on certain tracks and the bass at times did ever so slightly bloom relative to my preference. But, if Burson was after a Fun sounding quality affordable amp, they certainly succeeded.

    /V6 Vivid/
    With the stock opamp, it wasn't too hard to point out the relative deficiencies of the FUN compared to the higher priced/tier amps. That does change a bit with the Vivid opamps. The Vivid adds extra air and clarity to the FUN. With improvements in those areas the FUN's imaging does improve. You do have to pay an extra $70-100 for the Vivids, but personally I find it makes the FUN that much more convincing among the array of quality low to mid range budget amps despite the additional cost. I'd highly recommend going for the Vivid or perhaps the Classics if you're set on getting the FUN.

    /Amp Comparisons/
    Vs LCX
    Both are technically capable in terms of detail and transparency (happy times for sub $500 gear!). The LCX does have that tubish sense of sound in terms of soundstage depth despite being a SS amp. Also, the LXC is the more neutral between the two. Both are similarly priced (the SDAC of the LCX makes up for the extra $79). If you want a more FUN sounding amp that doesn't lack in relative transparency and detail the FUN is for you. If you want an all in one hassle free option and want to get a hint of the Cavalli sound the LCX is for you.
    *With the Vivid, the difference in soundstage lessens in terms of size. Both still have their own way of presenting music but sheer size becomes nearly identical.

    Vs ZDT Jr.
    The ZDT excels in transparency, but lacks heft in the lower end. However, I do prefer the relative bloom free bass of the ZDT. The FUN does sound more engaging for tracks calling for more bass. However, the ZDT is overall more netural while being ever so slightly tubish sounding (there's more treble emphasis with the FUN). Between the two, its really comes down to personal preferences. Both are capable (details, mids) amps that are fairly similarly priced ($300 vs $400). Also, both do have the potential extra cost of tube or opamp rolling.
    Perhaps the biggest downside of the ZDT is it's accessibility and issue with hum on many of the units (supposedly Massdrop is in the works for a fix).
    *Even with the Vivid, the soundstage is still larger and convincing (sounding real) with the ZDT. FYI, the FUN is no slouch.

    Vs Master 9
    Ok, from here the price difference becomes quite big. That said I'll compare the two to give a relative idea on how the FUN sounds/spars against amps in this tier. Both are unabashedly powerful and is also where the similarity ends. The Master 9 has a noticeably wider soundstage. The sound is more laid back and neutral with the Master 9. Also the Master 9 is more organic sounding. I hate to use that term, but "organic,” “effortless” and "warm" are terms I would associate with the Master 9 relative to the FUN. The FUN is clearly the more exciting in your face type of amp. As for detail and transparency, you do have to struggle a bit to find the Master 9 eventually stumble out on top even with the Vivid.

    Vs BW2
    The BW2 is also a somewhat colored amp. Both quite have some meat behind the mids and to a lesser degree the bass. However, the clear difference is in the highs. The highs are shy of neutral with the BW2 leaning towards smoother treble. In contrast the FUN does better with hi-hats, cymbals etc. There's a better sense of "clash" and a natural decay with the FUN. However, overall I side with the BW2 (less so with the Vivid) for its somewhat holographic soundstage (surprising deep for a SS amp) and detail. Despite the overall warmness and relatively shelved highs the BW2 just edges out in detail as well. With the Vivid opamp in the FUN the gap does narrow. The price difference now makes the FUN a lot more attractive.
    *Like the ZDT the BW2 is far less accessible than the FUN.

    Vs ZDS
    Yes, this isn't a fair match up. The ZDS excels in detail, imaging, soundstage size. But is it worth x8 the Fun? That'll depend on your priorities and willingness to spend the extra money to achieve "better" sound. If on a budget, you wouldn't miss out too much with the FUN. Perhaps you do miss out on a few scuffs in the background, coughs in the audience, better sense of space/air, and noticeably better imaging capabilities. Ok, maybe that's more than just a few, but I hope you get the idea.


    SUMMARY
    With so many great low to mid range budget options out there, the introduction of the FUN certainly doesn't make it any easier to choose one. But if you don't mind a bit of flavor/FUN, while still being technically capable, the Burson Fun should be up there in your list of must try amps.

    4.5 stars with stock opamps and 5 stars with the V6 Vivids
  6. DarKu
    Fun begins with Burson (aka the Burson Fun review)
    Written by DarKu
    Published Oct 20, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Great kick, speed and impact
    High level of transparency and airiness
    Natural sound with a great flow
    Powerful & potent headphone amp
    Spread soundstage and quite deep as well
    Sturdy and quality construction
    Good price for great performance
    Cons - Slight sound coloration (V-shape frequency response)
    When I was testing out the Burson Play it really opened my mind that good sounding gear should not cost a fortune. I loved everything about the Play… well except the fact that it didn’t have RCA analog inputs, so it could not be used as a stand alone headphone amp to properly evaluate it with a higher quality DAC.

    Burson completely solved my concerns with the introduction of the Fun: a simple and elegant desktop headphone amp and pre-amp.

    On the plus side it has a higher driving power than Play, it has analog inputs (Duh!) but on the down side the DAC part was completely removed.

    As a single solution Play probably is a better choice but for someone that already owns a higher quality DAC, the Burson Fun makes a lot more sense.

    Fun along with the Play in my opinion has a very dynamic and mood lifting sound signature that I rarely hear at this price points. That’s due to dual mono Class A headphone and preamp inside. Its symmetrical circuit is powered by four sets of Max Current Power Supplies (MCPS). This power supply is more advanced and far superior to traditional transformers delivering instant, clean, and maximum electric current to the Fun

    Is important to know that Fun is using the fully discrete amplification stage found in the 1500 USD Burson Conductor V2! It is basically the same circuitry Burson Audio is refining since 2008 and famed for its incredible micro details and musicality.

    I am enjoying the Burson Fun for about one month already and I feel I’m ready to leave my full impressions.

    [​IMG]

    Under the hood


    Do not be fooled by its small footprint, Fun as its siblings Play and Bang were designed around the 5.25” PC drive bays, so Burson Fun can be integrated in any tower gaming PC or in regular small, mid tower or full tower cases that have at least one 5.25” drive bay. In this case it can be powered by a single Molex 4 pin cable that goes directly from your PC power supply and you really should not worry about the quality of your power supply because Burson already thought about that in advance and integrated a voltage regulator inside so that your PC’s power supply will have a minimal impact on sound quality.

    Fun can also be used as an external device as I was planning to do, being powered by a simple SMPS external power supply.

    Besides the usual headphone out, RCA analog input and the RCA preamp output, there is also a 3.5mm (1/8”) Mic input and 3.5 mm (1/8”) Mic output, so gamers and streamers out there can really put those sockets to good use.

    Of course the stars of the show are the Burson developed ICs always working in the magical class A circuitry powering the headphone amplifier that are fed by four sets of revolutionary Max Current Power Supplies (MCPS) developed by Burson, the Fun is really one of the most powerful headphone amplifiers in the world.

    And I can attest that, if it can easily power a set of Audeze LCD-4 and Sennheiser HD820 with ease, then it can power any headphones in the world.

    Compared to Play, Fun has only 2 op-amps in the signal path and both are Single op-amps. Play is using 5 op-amps in the signal path from which 3 are dual op-amps and 2 are single op-amps. If you plan to upgrade the basic version to higher quality op-amps, Fun will cost you much less to upgrade, keep that in mind.

    Besides that, lesser op-amps in the signal path will always yield a more transparent and breathing sound, so in advance I already hope that Fun will sound even better than the Play.

    The Fun is being sold in 3 variants: the basic one that uses NE5543 op-amps, other two variants are using much more advanced discrete op-amps such as V6 Classic or V6 Vivid.

    I have the Basic version, but please don’t worry as in its stock form it already impressed me enough.

    [​IMG]Audio

    Performance


    1. Driving power

    When I was testing the Play I was impressed by the output power it was capable of, delivering power even for most power hungry headphones such as Audeze LCD-4. Funny thing is that this little guy (Fun) is even more powerful. Using four sets of MCSPs instead of three sets on Play really made a difference. Especially for higher impedance headphones such as Sennheiser HD820 I was testing it with.

    For HD820 Fun will deliver three times the output power compared to the Play.

    Connected to a standard 2.2 Volt output DAC I can’t go higher than 50% volume on Fun powering a set of HD820, more than that and I feel that my eardrums will blow!

    With lower impedance headphone the difference is not that big, with FiiO FH5 hybrid IEMs power wise both devices are almost identical, however due to lower impedance headphone output on the Fun, I hear a better control over the drivers on Fun compared to Play.

    [​IMG]

    2. Controlling the power


    Second thing that struck me is the control and speed Fun is capable of. For example Play in its own right had a remarkable control over the headphone drivers, small or big, headphone transducers always hit hard and fast. With Fun take that up a notch.

    Every sound hits harder and faster with clearly a better control over the headphone drivers. As a headphone amp Fun will appease even vast majority of headphone enthusiasts, please take a listen to one if an opportunity will occur.

    [​IMG]

    3. Transparency & Resolution


    Third thing that was clearly different compared to Play is the overall clarity and resolution. It is on a higher level on Fun compared to Play, it even rivals my own Headamp Gilmore Lite MK2 in terms of transparency, airiness and resolution and we already know that Headamp is making ones of the most transparent head amps out there.

    There is not a big difference in terms of overall clarity and transparency compared to Play but is a very noticeable one. It was very apparent on HD820 and on tiny FH5 hybrids.

    4. Noise Floor

    I personally don’t use IEMs at home connected to desktop audio gear, I use them exclusively on the go, but to those that use IEMs with desktop gear as well should know that Fun works much better than Play – it has a lower noise floor and hiss is practically non-existent with sensible earphones. There is only a faint hum only on higher volume when music is not playing. Apart from that, to me Fun can be used with BAs or hybrid IEMs no problemo, on the other hand Play was doing just an Ok job with those.

    Before going forward just a quick summary: Up until now Fun has more power, better control over the drivers, sounds clearer and more transparent, has a lower noise floor and hiss with sensitive earphones compared to Play! Impressive isn’t it?

    [​IMG]

    5. Transient response


    More power and a better transparency will always lead to a better impact and to a faster transient response.

    Listening to some local alternative/hardcore metal: Implant Pentru Refuz (IPR for short) it was clear to me that I am dealing with a really fast and agile performance.

    Double drums and hi-hats had the right amount of spark and zing. I really liked that the treble was not as bright as it was on older Burson Designs (160D and Conductor V1 I am looking at you!) and in return it sounded as having a better shape/outlines. The hi-hats & cymbals never had an annoying delay but just right amount of presence and decay.

    To me treble response is where I see the most improvement over the older Burson designs and a slight improvement even to Play where sometimes it had a little more bite than needed.

    6. Frequency Response

    The bass and mid frequency response is almost identical to that of Burson Play and other Burson designs. The sound overall has a lot of meat to the bone, sounds full and pleasant to the ear. It’s not warm or dark by any means; I’m calling it class A sound, if you get what I mean.

    Trebles are crisp, maybe too sparkly sometimes; with few headphones I really like this effect. It is not overdone even with Sennheiser HD820 but it may be too much with something like a HD800 or Beyers.

    I also like that sounds are not lingering too much so overall the sound is going towards great speed and impact and not towards a romantic experience.

    If you are enjoying a slightly slower speed & impact and a more rounder & romantic experience I do recommend looking at other amps as Fun will not deliver that.

    When I am thinking about Burson Fun I am thinking about big V8 American muscle cars, about spicy food and… roller coasters.

    [​IMG]

    Select Comparisons


    Fun vs Play

    It is pretty difficult comparing the two since Play doesn’t have a true line-out, using the Pre-out will cause the double amping effect which will raise even more the Total Harmonic Distortion. I used the Matrix X-Sabre Pro to listen to the Fun, it uses a Sabre chipset as the Play does. Later on I also connected the Fun to the Play to see if my impressions will change.

    As I was expecting Burson Fun sounds a bit clearer, has a faster transient response and a better control over the headphone drivers.

    Power output is also higher, especially for higher impedance headphones. I really enjoyed my time with Fun powering the Senn HD820. HD820 sounded good on Play but great on Fun.

    Fun is also a bit more transparent and offers a bit more air between the notes, it seems that less op-amps in the signal path made a big difference.

    I also liked more how IEMs performed on the Fun as it had almost no hum or noise with sensitive earphones, Play has a higher noise floor and a higher impedance headphone output that may plague your listening experience with sensitive IEMs.

    Fun vs Headamp Gilmore Lite MK2

    Both headphone amps are working in Class A circuitry for the best possible sound quality and both have the same footprint and weight. Gilmore Lite MK2 goes for 500 USD and Burson Fun basic goes for 300 USD.

    Let me start by saying that the Fun has clearly more power and a better control over the drivers. It can drive a pair of Audeze LCD-4 with headroom to spare, but that can’t be done with the Gilmore Lite.

    Gilmore Lite sounds a bit more linear and flat, like disappearing completely from the acoustic chain, it has no coloration and can work with a wider range of headphones. It also has a lower noise floor with sensitive IEMs at a higher volume, at normal volume levels both have the same very low noise floor.

    Fun adds a bit of its own flavor into the mix, it surely has a character of its own. For rock and fast electronica Fun will sound as having more energy and joy. Fun by comparison has a slight V shape frequency response boosting the low end and the treble response, not by much but it is sizable.

    Fun also has a shorter decay of notes and a bigger impact to the eardrums, in this sense Gilmore Lite is a bit leaner, but that can be a result of a lower power output.

    Stage size is bigger on Fun but it is deeper on Gilmore Lite, different strokes for different folks as they say.

    On technicalities alone Gilmore Lite Mk2 wins, but on sheer power and enjoyment level Fun is clearly ahead.

    [​IMG]

    Conclusions


    When Fun was just introduced I remember seeing the price and specs and was a bit confused to why Fun as just as a headphone amp has the same price as Play (that besides being a headphone amp is a DAC as well). But now I understand why they both share the same price point. Yep, Play has a DAC as a bonus, but Fun is a higher performance headphone amp, there is no doubt about that.

    To me Burson Fun is among the best compact sized single ended headphone amps out there regardless of output power or price and that says a lot.

    Headbangers and electronica dancers will enjoy it a lot, it has a lot of energy under the hood and power to spare even for the most demanding headphones.

    PROS:
    • Great kick, speed and impact
    • High level of transparency and airiness
    • Natural sound with a great flow
    • Powerful & potent headphone amp
    • Spread soundstage and quite deep as well
    • Sturdy and quality construction
    • Good price for great performance
    CONS:
    • Slight sound coloration (V-shape frequency response)
    Associated Equipment:
    • Headphones: Audeze LCD-4, Sennheiser HD820, 660S, Momentum 2, FiiO FH5
    • DAC: Matrix X-Sabre Pro with X-SPDIF 2, Burson Play
    • Headphone Amplifiers: Burson Fun, Burson Play, HeadAmp Gilmore Lite Mk2
    • Speakers: KEF LS50 Wireless
    [​IMG]
    1. Koolpep
      I can only mirror your experience. The Burson Fun is amazing value for money. I have bought the V5 and both V6 opamps and must say that the standard are my second favorite after the V6 classic. So really the “stock” is damn good indeed. Same as the Bursn Conductor, even though it has a few watt less (2 vs 4) the Fun always had full control over the drivers. No wonder since the amp is lifted out of the Conductor (and refined)....

      Great review!!
      Koolpep, Oct 26, 2018
      DarKu likes this.
    2. DarKu
      Thanks mate,
      I will try the V6 Classics and Vivids soon, don't know what to expect, should be fun testing those.
      My older Conductor V1 didn't have such drive and impact as Fun, really loving it so far.
      DarKu, Oct 27, 2018
    3. Koolpep
      Interesting. I used my V1 as Dac so that I could use the fun and the conductor parallel a d just switch the headphones do and forth. I found the conductor to stand on pretty equal footing. When on the correct gain and volume setting. Am looking forward to your V6 comparison.

      Cheers.
      Koolpep, Oct 27, 2018
  7. Asahi Templar
    Burson Fun v Arcam Rhead
    Written by Asahi Templar
    Published Oct 18, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Amazing sound, Great bass control, Large amount of power, Rollable OP AMPs, Microphone Passthrough
    Cons - Annoying hum for first 2 mins or so of use, No balanced input or output
    Here is my (too) long review of the Burson Fun with comparisons to the Arcam Rhead amp.


    First off the build quality is excellent, it uses the same black aluminum case as the Burson Play which looks really nice and helps disappate the heat generated by the amp. The alps pot has a nice amount of resistance to it which makes it easy to get the volume you want and feels like it will last for a long time.

    I dont notice any huge channel imbalance except at very low volumes, to me it sounds pretty much balanced by 5 o clock on the dial, which is great because this thing has a huge amount of power on tap and will get loud real fast. Even the included RCA cables are very high quality, much nicer than the monoprice esque cables you usually get when you buy an amp.


    It feels like a product that will last a very long time and if there are any issues it comes with a 5 year warranty as long as you register it on their website.


    So on to features, the first obvious one is the enormous amount of power this thing has. It is able to do 2.1 watts into 32 ohms which is a bit insane. I dont know if there is any headphone on the market that would need more power than this other than electrostats and the ridiculous Hifiman cans. It is very much designed with Planar Magnetic headphones in mind and is going to more than capable of driving all but the most insensitive of them. It has some kind of attenuation function which drops the power a bit when something lower than 32 ohms is connected but it would still explode the drivers of IEMs and the like, so I would use a LOT of caution using them with the Fun. It operates in Class A all the time with this level of voltage too.


    With my Sennheiser HD 6xx I had to use the Topping D50 to drop the output by -10DB to get a reasonable volume at the 9 o clock point of the dial (which I do just to ensure there is no imbalance) and it was still loud. With my Fostex T60RP, I cut the attenuation down to -6DB to get to roughly the same volume.


    One of the most unique features of the Fun is that it has a microphone passthrough which lets you plug in your mod mic directly into your amp, then run another mic cable to your PC or sound card. This is a really nice feature and something I wish more amps would do. It really helps cut down the wires running around you.


    Okay so now onto sound, I got the Vivid V6 version of the Fun so all my impressions are based on that. I compared it to the Arcam Rhead I was using before (also a terrific amp) using my HD 6xx(650). I volume matched them with my sound level meter using a 500hz tone, and then switched back and forth by plugging and unplugging them.


    I found the Arcam R head made the 650 sound quite bassy and warm, decay on the bass was a bit slow which made it sound pretty bloomy. The deep bass popped more than usually though which was very nice as the 650 is usually lacking there. The upper mids and treble were there but sounded a bit dull but I think this is just the 650 with worn in pads really. The sound staging was pretty narrow and didnt have a great deal of depth to it. Everything sounded pretty close to your ear, it could go out decently wide with a song that had a wide image built into it but rarely did so. It gave the 650 a very romantic intimate kind of sound which I think is what most people who get the 650 want. I would say the Arcam Rhead is a great match for it, it emphasized its strengths well.


    Switching over to the Fun, I found that the bass decay became noticeably quicker and it sounded a lot less bloomy which made everything sound a little clearer. The upper mid and highs were more present and energetic, but still not harsh in anyway. Female vocals in particular improved, getting some more energy than before. The depth of the sound stage improved quite a bit with things seeming a lot more spread out and going out wider more frequently. The 650 became a more open ,energetic headphone. It was an interesting contrast to the Rhead, as while the Rhead emphasized its strengths, the Fun improved upon its weaknesses.


    I liked both these amps for the 650 for different reasons and I would have a hard time choosing between them if that were my main headphones and I wanted to focus on them. I think the Fun matches my preferences for exciting dynamics better, so I decided to keep it and sell the Rhead.


    The other exciting feature of the Burson Fun is the ability to roll op amps. It has 2 single channel slots which can accept just about any op amps on the market. I would have liked to test this more, but I dont have any other single op amps at the moment, so I am not sure how much difference the Vivid op amps actually make to the overall sound.


    While I am not sure how much impact the Vivid V6 has on the Fun, I also tested the Burson Play which had 5 Vivid OP amps as opposed to the 2 in the Fun. I also had the basic version of the Plays OP AMPs so I could compare those to the Vivid ones.


    With the Play I found that the Vivid OP amps had an effect somewhat akin to the Creative Labs Crystalizer DSP effect that they include in all their soundcards. It basically applies a smiley face EQ to try to make lower DR music sound more exciting. I was not a huge fan of the Crystalizer, but the Vivid op amps seem like a much better version of that idea. They seem to make music sound more dynamic especially low DR music (Dr 8 or lower) is where I noticed the most difference. With the vivid OP amps installed the low DR songs no longer sounded like a wall of sound and I could easily pick out each element. Its quite a subntle effect compared to the Creative version which is a very good thing IMO.


    Unfortunately in some cases if you were using 5 of the Vivid Op amps in the Play I also found they could make music sound unnatural. The separation of different elements became so strong that it all sounded kind of disconnected and I didnt really like the effect.


    Thankfully the Burson Fun does not have that unnatural quality, likely owning to it only using 2 Single Channel OP amps. It just seems a nice subtle enhancement, but not sure if that is just the Fun itself being a better amp or the fewer op amps doing it.

    i do have one serious complaint with the fun and that is some noise at start up. When I first power up the fun after its been cold for awhile there is a loud low humming sound after it unmutes. This hum stays there for a min or two after powering it on and then goes away after its warmed up. It never comes back after going away, untill I power it off for awhile again.

    While this is not a deal breaker it is very annoying. I asked Burson about it and they told me that its power supply raises the voltage frequency from 50hz to over 190Khz. Since we can hear up to 20Khz, you could hear some power source noises during that time. This is the characteristic of our Max Current PS.

    Rather you actually hear it or not probably depends on your power setup and grounding situation I would assume.


    Overall I think the Fun is a wonderful AMP and for me endgame for the foreseeable future. I will probably play around with op amps a bit (very interested in the Muses 03!) but I see myself keeping this for a long time. Only thing out there that tempts me are the THX amps, dont think much else will beat this. Now if onlyBurson would make a matching DAC to go with it......
  8. davidimdpt
    Burson Audio Fun Review
    Written by davidimdpt
    Published Oct 9, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - This is a powerful detailed pre/amp that was able to easily drive my power hungry Mr Speakers Ether C flows and Sennheiser 6xx. It is a solidly built unit. There was no play or looseness in any component. Although it is only a $100 more than the ifi nano black label it is a much better built and powerful unit that goes beyond what you would expect for the price difference. It is very detailed in the highs and has a lot of power to drive the lower frequencies.
    Cons - I noticed a higher noise floor when compared to the ifi nano black label, Schiit Lyr 3 and Schiit Ragnarok. It was most noticeable when listening with the Audeze isine20. The bass although substantial, can sound boomy. The highs although detailed can sound artificially enhanced, especially when compared to the smooth sound of the schiit amps. As a result I found it to be easily fatiguing. Like another reviewer noted there was an annoying buzzing sound the first time I turned it on.
    Full Disclosure: I was recently contacted by another member here with an opportunity to review the Burson Audio Fun. Initially it was an opportunity to keep a review unit after giving it a review. I wasn't looking for another desktop amp in this price range but for the price of free and an honest review I figured why not? In the end there was a miscommunication with Burson that did not allow both reviewers to keep the unit. As a result I decided to do the review anyway and ship the unit back to the original member as long as shipping was paid. So in the end this review is an honest unpaid for review.
    20181004_110623.jpg 20181009_185751.jpg 20181009_190401.jpg 20181009_190808.jpg

    Pros:
    This is a powerful detailed pre/amp that was able to easily drive my power hungry Mr Speakers Ether C flows and Sennheiser 6xx. It is a solidly built unit. There was no play or looseness in any component. Although it is only a $100 more than the ifi nano black label it is a much better built and powerful unit that goes beyond what you would expect for the price difference. It is very detailed in the highs and has a lot of power to drive the lower frequencies.

    Cons:
    I noticed a higher noise floor when compared to the ifi nano black label, Schiit Lyr 3 and Schiit Ragnarok. It was most noticeable when listening with the Audeze isine20. The bass although substantial, can sound boomy. The highs although detailed can sound artificially enhanced, especially when compared to the smooth sound of the schiit amps. As a result I found it to be easily fatiguing. Like another reviewer noted there was an annoying buzzing sound the first time I turned it on.

    Equipment Used:
    Headphones: Isine20 with LCDi4 premium braided cable, Audeze LCD4z with wood cups with LCD4 premium braided cable, Mr Speakers Ether C Flows with Moon Audio blue dragon cable, Sennheiser HD6xxx mass drop edition with Venus Audio cable.

    Ampifiers: Ifi nano black label, Schiit Lyr3, Schiit Ragnarok

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

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

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

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

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

    and other songs from my playlists.

    Conclusion:
    This is a well made, powerful preamp/amp combo that gives you a lot for the price. I would not hesitate to buy this if I was looking for a unit in this price range. Burson has done a great job with this unit.
      Alcophone likes this.
    1. raoultrifan
      With what cans have you noticed the background noise, please? On my FUN, when listening toIEMs (sensitivity >100dB, impedance 16-Ohms) with volume to around 9 o'clock, there's absolutely no background noise. When maximizing the volume knob out, some noise appears indeed, but that's inevitable for a 2W/ch. amplifier.
      raoultrifan, Oct 10, 2018
  9. Alcophone
    Burson Fun: What's all the buzz about?
    Written by Alcophone
    Published Oct 3, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Very engaging and resolving when using the Sparkos SS3601 opamps

    Improved imaging in my speaker system when used as a preamp

    Volume knob has a good size and is very smooth

    Power switch is easy to locate by touch and satisfying to operate

    The protective muting relay disengages quickly after turning the unit on
    Cons - Somewhat harsh and boomy with the stock opamps

    External power brick with a relatively short cable

    Volume knob indicator is often covered by the knob itself

    Design somewhat compromised in order to fit into a computer case

    Occasional buzzing sound with no apparent reason or reliable fix
    Burson Fun Review


    Disclaimer

    Burson Audio reached out to me about their Fun & Bang review tour. There were some misunderstandings about the conditions, and I may get to keep the Burson Fun, or not. Either way, that did not influence my review - other than inspiring me to buy a pair of opamps to try with the Burson Fun.


    Summary

    The Burson Fun in its stock configuration for $299 is a tolerable headphone amplifier and a surprisingly good sounding preamp. But swapping its two single opamps for two Sparkos SS3601 ($40 each) transforms it into possibly the best headphone amplifier I have heard so far, making it wonderfully engaging and very resolving at the same time. My unit was plagued by an occasional buzzing sound with no apparent cause or reliable fix. It also seems to be more sensitive to dirty power than other headphone amplifiers that I have tried.


    Externals

    The Burson Fun is a headphone amplifier with a 6.35 TRS headphone jack in the front and a preamp with a pair of RCA connectors to connect to a power amp or power speakers in the back. Its main input is a single pair of RCA connectors in the back, but it also has a 3.5 mm TRS jack in the front. When plugging in a source into this front jack, a number of relay clicks can be heard as the unit switches to this input. Inserting or removing a cable into the front plug is the only way to select one of the two inputs. There is also a 3.5 mm TS (mono) input jack in the front that appears to be simply passed through to a 3.5 mm TS (mono) output jack in the back. This only makes sense when taking into account the unit's form factor - it can be mounted in a computer's 5.25 in drive bay and powered by a 4-pin Molex connector - if your power supply still has one, or an adapter for it. I only used the Fun powered with the supplied external power brick. Its cable has a non-polarized 2-prong plug and is therefore not grounded. This might be helpful in avoiding ground loops. The power switch is located in the back, and a blue LED on the front indicates whether the unit is powered on. A volume knob in the front is used to adjust the volume.

    01. Box.jpg


    Internals

    The Burson Fun has a class A power supply, ready to provide full power at any moment, and so its power consumption does not vary with use. When turned on, it consumed 8.8 to 10 W and drew 0.12 to 0.14 A according to my P4460 Kill A Watt. The power brick itself consumed 0.4 W and drew less than 0.01 A. The amp delivers a generous 2.1 W into 32 ohms, but has a fairly high output impedance of 6 ohms. Despite its power and the relatively thin case, it barely gets warm when in use. It contains two single opamps in DIP8 sockets, ready to be swapped out for something better. The underside of the lid features a sticker outlining the circuit board's layout, which helps with locating the opamps and their correct orientation. A beefy ALPS potentiometer can be found behind the volume knob.

    03. Open case.jpg 04. Sticker.jpg

    05. ALPS pot.jpg


    Accessories

    The package includes a pair of 2 ft long mono RCA cables, a 6.35 mm to 3.5 mm adapter (described as 6.5 mm to 3.5 mm on the website), a replacement fuse and, uniquely, an allen wrench. That is because Burson encourages you to replace the opamps in order to change the sound to your liking - the solid state equivalent to tube rolling.

    02. Accessories.jpg


    Dislikes

    I much prefer devices with integrated power supplies that accept regular power cords with C13 connectors. Instead, you get a thin fixed length power cord with a chunky power brick attached to it, requiring you to put it somewhere close-ish. Without an integrated power supply, the unit itself feels a bit too light in comparison to, say, the densly packed Schiit Jotunheim.
    The power switch in the back feels good, but this type of switch is usually illuminated when turned on - not so here, which I find irritating. From the back, I have to look more closely to determine whether it is turned on. Luckily, that's less common in regular use than in a review situation.
    The volume knob's indicator is often not visible because of where it is located on the tapered volume knob, especially when placing the unit to your left.
    The provided allen wrench is tiny, and you have to remove two screws in the front and two in the back (and ideally loosen two more on one side) before you can remove the top to replace the opamps. The screws are anodized, resulting in a black oxide layer, which is at risk of being scraped off by the allen wrench. Maybe thumb screws, at least in the front, would have been more inviting and durable.
    The aux connector in the front didn't work the first time I used it, but reconnecting the plug fixed that. I probably confused the detection circuitry while enjoying the relay-based soundtrack. There is no indication of which input is selected, which is fine as long as the detection works reliably. Nevertheless, I would prefer a switch over the relay-powered magic.
    Basically, I would prefer a redesign of the unit that is not compromised by trying to make it mountable in a PC case. Remove the mic pass through and the mounting holes on each side, replace the aux connector in the front with a second RCA input in the back, add an input selector in the front, integrate power supply into the case and make it more wide than deep.

    The included 6.35 mm to 3.5 mm adapter did not provide a secure connection to a Kabeldirekt aux cable I used. One of my regular adapters (either a Sennheiser 549346 or something that looks very similar) instead worked flawlessly. I did not play with the RCA cable much, but it seems to work.

    My biggest gripe is hopefully a defect instead of a design flaw. On several occasions, an annoying buzzing sound can be heard in the headphones after turning the unit on. The buzz's volume is independent of the volume knob's position. It seems to occur most when the unit has been powered off for a while. I'm not sure what the best way is to get rid of it, but power cycling the unit a few times seems to do to the trick. You might be able to hear the buzz in one of these recordings:
    1. Burson Fun > Ether Flow > Blue Yeti
    2. Burson Fun > Focusrite 6i6 > amplified in Audacity to roughly match volume with headphones

    Likes

    The volume knob has a good size given the unit's general dimensions, rotates very smoothly, feels solid and is free of obstacles around it. Many other headphone amplifiers put the headphone jack so close to the volume knob that the headphone cable gets in the way. The volume indicator, when visible at all, has good contrast. I also like that there's no sound at all when the volume is turned all the way down, which is not always the case (looking at you, Audio-GD HE-9). As usual with potentiometers there is some channel imbalance at very low volumes, but this was never a problem at volume levels that I would actually use. It might become a problem with very sensitive earphones/headphones.
    While the power switch is in the back, it's easy to locate by touch and satisfying to operate. The power status LED is blue and hidden behind a tiny hole, making it not too bright. A muting relay protects your headphones while the unit is powering on, and disengages after a few seconds - fast enough to not make me impatient, in contrast to the Schiit Jotunheim's muting relay.


    Test Setup

    Songs: Mostly FLAC files from HDTracks.com and CD rips, mostly acoustic music like Folk and Jazz.
    Sources: Microsoft Surface Pro 4 or Apple MacBook Pro
    Digital interconnect: 6 ft AmazonBasics USB 2.0 A to B cable
    DAC: Topping DX7s in filter mode 4, using its single ended RCA outputs
    Analog interconnects: A pair of Audioquest RCA splitters into two 3 ft KabelDirekt RCA stereo cables (unless otherwise noted)
    Headphones: MrSpeakers Ether Flow 1.0 with the stock 6 ft 6.35mm DUM cable


    Comparisons while using the stock opamps

    The stock opamps appear to be NJR NJM5534D, based on the label on the opamp itself. It says JRC, but if you visit njr.com, it says "New Japan Radio Co, Ltd." with "JRC" in the logo (presumably for Japan Radio Co). The Burson website describes the stock option as NE5543, i.e. 3 and 4 are swapped.


    Creative Sound Blaster E5 ($200)

    The Sound Blaster E5 is a feature-packed portable DAC/amp unit. It has a 3.5 mm TRS line-in and can therefore be used as a headphone amplifier. It also has a 3.5 mm TRS line-out, making it a preamp as well, which I did not test - the volume knob has no absolute position, which is too risky for when using it as a preamp. The E5's output impedance is 2.2 ohms vs. the Fun's 6 ohms. On Massdrop it is specified as delivering just 105 mW into 32 ohms.
    For power I used an Anker PowerPort 4 USB power supply with a 6 ft Anker PowerLine+ micro USB cable. I used a 6 ft KabelDirekt stereo RCA to 3.5 mm TRS cable to connect it to the DAC and a Grado Mini Adapter Cable to connect the headphones. I turned off all sound processing in the E5 and set it to high gain. In this comparison, the Burson Fun was already warmed up from prior testing.

    Impressions: Generally, the Sound Blaster E5 seemed to be a bit more resolving and smoother than the Fun, but lacks power in the low end. In my notes, I often described the Fun's bass as boomy and its highs as harsh, but it has a fuller low end than the E5. Basically, there's no clear winner here to me.


    Yamaha RX-V377 ($300)

    The RX-V377 is a 5.1 surround receiver that happens to have a headphone out. Since the Fun is a dedicated headphone amplifier at the same price point, I expected the RX-V377 to be the weakest competitor to the Fun. I turned off all audio processing in the RX-V377.

    Impressions: The RX-V377 is not as bad a headphone amplifier as I expected, producing fairly clear sound when using the planar magnetic Ether Flow, with some volume to spare. It does have a disturbing "digital" quality to it, though. There is a noticeable delay compared to the Burson Fun, leading me to believe that the DSP is active at all times, even when it isn't actually manipulating the audio intentionally. The result is a weird rounding of the sound, a lack of definition and musicality. The Burson Fun is clearly the better option here.


    Schiit Jotunheim ($400)

    The Schiit Jotunheim is a versatile package with a unique and appealing design (to me). Like the Burson Fun it can function as both a headphone amplifier and a preamp, but with adjustable gain levels, balanced input and output, a built-in linear power supply, and an optional DAC module or phono preamp (at extra cost). It is fully balanced, yet its topology allows for single-ended output without any summers in the signal path. With a balanced output power of 5 W into 32 ohms, it is even more powerful than the Burson Fun's 2.1 W, but when using single ended headphones, the Fun beat the Jotunheim's 1.5 W. However, at 16 ohms, the Fun's 1.9 W still lose against the Jotunheim's 2.5 W even when using single ended headphones. Also, the Fun's 6 ohms output impedance is no match for the Jotunheim's exemplary < 0.1 ohms. However, in my particular case, with the very flat 23 ohms of the Ether Flow, neither power nor output impedance should be deciding factors between the two.

    Impressions: The Jotunheim sounds noticeably cleaner and is more resolving. Overall, it simply sounds more refined to me. Its only downside is the sound stage, which is generally less wide and flatter than the Fun's sound stage. If you're not interested in rolling opamps and assuming you're not specifically looking for a headphone amp that fits into a computer case, the Jotunheim would get my clear recommendation despite costing a little more. Its flexibility in terms of providing balanced inputs and outputs and variable gain make it the clear winner to me. But if you are interested in rolling opamps, you should read on.


    iFi micro iDSD ($600)

    The iFi micro iDSD is a portable DAC/amp combo that is quite a bit bulkier and heavier than the Sound Blaster E5. But as a result, it also has oodles of power, especially in its Turbo mode, where it is rated at 4 W into 16 ohms vs. the Fun's 1.9 W. It can be used as a headphone amplifier courtesy of a 3.5 mm TRS line-in, and in contrast to the E5 has a 6.35 mm headphone jack, thus not requiring an adapter for my tests.
    I used the Anker PowerPort 4 as a USB power supply and the micro iDSD's standard USB extension cable to plug into (or around?) its unusual male USB connector (that happens to be very useful with OTG cables). Admittedly when I previously used it as a DAC in Turbo mode, it drained its battery more quickly than it was able to charge it, and so isn't completely useful as a desktop headphone amp in this mode. The iFi micro iDSD can also be used as a preamp courtesy of its RCA input jacks. I did not test this because the preamp functionality can be turned off for use as a DAC, and the switch to do so is too easily triggered by accident to be safe. I turned off the iDSD's bass and 3D features, and set the IEMatch selector to high sensitivity to have a bit more range in the volume knob before it gets dangerous.

    Impressions: The micro iDSD sounds cleaner, fuller and is more resolving. I find imaging and sound stage to be comparable. In some songs, the iDSD sounded more natural to me.


    Gustard H20 ($930 / $800 on Massdrop) with 2x Sparkos SS3602 dual opamps ($80 each)

    Like the Fun, the H20 is a headphone amp and preamp, and is also fully class A. However, it is fully balanced, providing one single ended and two balanced inputs, a high and low impedance 6.35mm headphone jack, a 4-pin XLR headphone jack and a stereo pair of two 3-pin XLR headphone jacks. However, for preamp use it only has XLR out, no RCA. While it has three gain settings, they are not all that different, providing limited use.
    At 12 W into 32 ohms, you needn't worry about power. Thanks to the relay-stepped attenuator, there's also no channel imbalance, even at low volumes, although there's a pretty big gap between its lowest volume setting (no sound) and second lowest (louder than expected). Due to a translation error, you may find it specified as having an output impedance of 200 ohms, but it's actually ~0.1 ohms for the balanced headphone outs and ~0.05 ohms for the high impedance single ended headphone out (and, interestingly, 50 ohms for the low impedance out).

    Impressions: I love the H20, at least with the Sparkos opamps. It is resolving, musical, engaging, clean, natural sounding with an expansive sound stage. There is more texture to its sound, it images better and its bass hits harder - and all that while constrained by using the single ended input and output, despite being balanced. Sound wise it's a clear winner against the Burson Fun with stock opamps - as it should be, given the considerable price difference.


    Usage as a preamp

    I didn't test its preamp functionality very thoroughly, playing only two songs per configuration. I compared it to using the DX7s in its DAC/HP mode, in which it basically functions as a digital preamp (particularly useful with a remote). I also used the passive Schiit SYS ($50) and the Schiit Jotunheim ($400) as a preamp.

    Impressions: Compared to these three options, the Burson Fun stood out with significantly better imaging, without exhibiting the somewhat harsh highs and boomy lows I experienced when using it as a headphone amplifier. The SYS and the Jotunheim have the advantage of having additional inputs, while the DX7s has the advantage of supporting a remote - a crucial feature in a living room setup.


    Dirty power?

    The improvements I heard when using the Fun as a preamp surprised me. Maybe the opamps were responsible for the objectionable sound I heard with headphones, and are not in use for the preamp part of the Fun? This would definitely make sense to me.
    But there was also another possibility: The Fun was no longer plugged into the same power strip that was also powering a desktop computer and a monitor, two laptops, a USB charger and a desk lamp's power supply that I can hear singing up close. Instead, it was now in a different power strip that also contained three iFi AC iPurifier power conditioners.
    So I added another power strip to the noisy one used prior, and moved the Fun to the outlet furthest away from the power cord. Then I experimented with adding the three AC iPurifiers into the power strip one by one - and this seemed to indeed reduce the harshness I heard with headphones. Adding one AC iPurifier made the biggest difference, but adding more seemed to improve the result further a little bit. It didn't fundamentally change the sound of the Fun, but it seems to have cleaned it up a bit.

    As a result, all of the above comparisons as a headphone amplifier may not have shown the Fun at its best. On the other hand, most people looking for $299 headphone amplifiers will not use any power conditioners at all, and are likely using it close to other gear as well, or plug it directly into a computer's non-audiophile power supply.


    Using the Sparkos SS3601 opamps

    Due to Burson's encouragement to roll opamps, I was really curious about how much of an impact the opamps have. I am already using two Sparkos SS3602 (dual opamps) in the Gustard H20, but didn't feel like they changed the sound that much compared to the stock opamps, though I didn't wait very long before making the swap. Still, I really like the H20 with the SS3602s, so I happily bought two SS3601s (single opamps) for the Burson Fun.

    Impressions: Well! This completely transformed the Burson Fun. With the Sparkos opamps it sounded very clean, spacious, extremely detailed and resolving - and oh so engaging. The last time I found a headphone amplifier this gripping was when I heard the Lyr 3 with new production tubes at the California Audio Show in 2018 - no matter the song, it made me move to the music. In comparison, the Jotunheim still sounded good, but less engaging, while at the same time being more resolving - so that seemed to be the trade off. But the Burson Fun changes changes the equation when powered by the Sparkos opamps. I find it to be as engaging as I remember the Lyr 3 to be while actually surpassing the Jotunheim's resolution. Before the heart surgery, I had no desire to switch back to it when comparing it with the most of the other headphone amps, and was looking forward to just being done with this review. With the SS3601s it was the complete opposite, I could not stop listening. I heard things in songs I never heard before. Regardless of what genre I threw at the amp, it simply excelled, delivering razor sharp transients, smooth, punchy bass with lots of texture and the best sound stage I have heard with my Ether Flows.
    Sadly, my Gustard H20 was back at the office at this point and I had to send the Fun on to my review partner, so a direct comparison wasn't possible anymore. I really hope that I will still get to do this, and also hear it with the Schiit Yggdrasil instead of the Topping DX7s.

    06. NE5534s installed.jpg 07. SS3601s installed.jpg

    08. SS3601s vs. NE5534s.jpg


    Conclusion

    For now, it seems that the Burson Fun with the Sparkos SS3601s is the best sounding headphone amplifier that I have heard so far. And trust me, I find that hard to believe myself - because of its price, because of its size and because it is single ended. There is enough that I don't like about the Burson Fun that I kind of don't want it to be true, and with the stock opamps I find it rather forgettable. Nevertheless, this experience reminded me of what made me obsessed with audio - reaching a new peak in sound quality, making me wonder once more how good it could possibly get. For that, I am very grateful.
      bunkbail and raoultrifan like this.
    1. bunkbail
      Hi, thanks for the review! I know that you didn't pit the Fun /w SS3601 against H20 side by side, but which one do you think sounds the best (from memory)?
      bunkbail, Nov 10, 2018
  10. Wiljen
    More Fun! from Burson
    Written by Wiljen
    Published Sep 30, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Great build quality, plenty of power for big cans with a low noise floor for iems, microphone pass-through for gamers.
    Cons - USB input or 3.5mm aux input only – no Coaxial or optical inputs.
    [​IMG]

    Sometime back now, I reviewed the Burson Play and found it to be a solid value and a very versatile DAC/AMP. At $399 for the base model, it still represents great value for those looking at desktop DAC/AMP combinations. The only real complaints on the Play, were the lack of upgradability of the DAC and the limits of the DAC to DSD256. In today’s market, DSD512 playback is becoming more common and some will skip over the play for that reason. This is a shame as the Amp section of the play is very good and offers a lot of customization options at a reasonable price. I had mentioned that in my initial notes so when Burson came out with the Fun, they sent me a note asking if I would like to review it. I jumped at the chance.

    A few weeks later, both the Fun and the Bang arrived at my doorstep.

    The Fun is basically exactly what I had requested, all of the goodies out of the play except the DAC so I can pair with my own DAC.

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

    In this review, I will cover the Fun, for the Bang, please see this review.

    Packaging:

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

    [​IMG][​IMG] [​IMG]



    Accessories:

    The Fun ships with very few extras, but it really doesn’t need many. In the box you will find the power supply, main unit, a set of RCA interconnects, a 6.35mm to 3.5mm adapter, and the allen wrench for removing the unit cover.

    [​IMG]

    Build:

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

    Each sibling has different face-plates depending on the controls and jacks present. The Fun lacks the digital display of the Play while the BANG lacks any front panel controls at all. On the front of the Fun (from left to right) is the power led, a 6.35mm headphone Jack, a 3.5mm microphone input, a 3.5mm Aux input, and a large volume knob. The rear face from left to right has RCA inputs, the external power jack, molex connector for PC power, Power Switch, microphone output, and Pre-amp output RCAs at the far right.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

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

    [​IMG]

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



    Internals:

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

    The Fun uses 4 distinct MCPS circuits to feed the Class A dual mono circuitry. Those familiar with the Conductor V2 will recognize the Amplication Circuitry of the Fun as it retains the same design.

    [​IMG]

    The fun uses two single op-amps (One per channel) that are shared by both the headphone output and the pre-amp outs so you cannot alter the signature of either the headphone out or pre-amp output individually. This is the same as the Play as the duals in the Play are used for the DAC/LP stage and singles for the headphone/Pre-out.

    [​IMG]



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

    I also got interested in the microphone pass through as few desktop products account for the microphone used by gamers today. The Fun goes part way there. It does not use a TRRS plug to pass the mic through the same port as the headphone audio data, but does provide a 3.5mm input and output jack on the front and rear respectively. Following the wiring internally, the microphone is simply passed through the case with no processing of any kind done to the signal by the Fun. My immediate thought was that running the mic cable next to the power supply circuitry might create some audible noise but I was unable to create any audible effect even by moving the cable directly over the middle of the capacitors so this does not appear to be an issue. For those non-gamers, this will probably be the least used function of the play, for those more inclined to computer gaming, both the Fun and Play offer the mic pass through which is a nice touch.



    Sound:

    Burson rates the Fun at 1900mW into 16 Ohm, 660mW into 150 Ohm, or 330mW into 300 Ohm so it has plenty of power to drive just about anything you can throw at it. I used a 600 Ohm Beyer 880 and had no trouble getting to ear-splitting volume levels.

    The sound is for the most part a function of which DAC or soundcard is used to feed the Amp and the op-amps you choose. The Fun can be ordered with the NE5543 IC, Burson’s V6 Vivids, V6 Classics. Other op-amps are pin compatible and I’m sure about every possible combination has been tried on Burson products at this point as they have long supported and encouraged Op-amp rolling.

    I have previously written up the Burson V6 products here, so wont re-write all those details again. I did roll all three combinations that Burson offers as factory options and found that I prefered the vivid to the other two offerings although not by a huge margin. With the V6 vivid installed, the Fun imparts just a little warmth that gives the amp a good synergy with a dac that is a bit on the cool side. I found the Fun to pair better with the Bifrost than the Apogee Groove for example. The Apogee faired better when the 5543 Op-amps were used as they didn’t introduce additional warmth.

    As shipped with the NE 5543s, the Fun provides a near neutral signature with good extension on both ends and a very slightly forward treble. I found it to be a good pairing the the Campfire Cascades and the Mr Speakers Mad Dogs.

    It should be noted that like the Play, the output impedance is listed as 6 Ohms for the headphone output but measurements I did never found anything over about ¾ ohm.

    So now you have options, Play around, have some Fun, or Bang it out on your speakers, either way Burson has it covered.
      raoultrifan likes this.
    1. raoultrifan
      Same very low impedance I got myself when I measured output impedance @1KHz sinewave, for both PLAY and FUN. :)
      raoultrifan, Oct 10, 2018