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  1. raoultrifan
    Big Hi-Fi power in a small package
    Written by raoultrifan
    Published Aug 12, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Fast, neutral, powerful, versatile, perfect bass. FUN Basic has the perfect price/performance ratio.
    Cons - I'd like to see a gain switch, at least internally on the PCB. Or perhaps a 3.5mm 2nd headphones plug with a lower gain (6.3mm plug left untouched).
    I got thrilled last year when I saw BURSON announcements about lunching the PLAY DAC/headphone amplifier combo device. It was one of the best combo I've seen on market at that price, yes...the basic PLAY with NE5532/5534 sounded awesome and for that price was a steal. Now they brought on the market the FUN and BANG amplifiers, just like that...probably because they can do it. :)

    I was immediately asking myself "How will FUN sound? What's really inside FUN? Does it worth the money indeed?" And the miracle happened recently when I received a powerful Class-A transistors headphone amplifier, “FUN” from BURSON Audio, to give it a test. It took me few weeks to “warm it up” with lot of music listening, then I started to overload it with sine-waves, 2 Watts RMS power @ 30 Ohms loads for several minutes and it’s response was perfect on my scope with no overheating, no volume change...just the same clean output. Temperature seems to be a bit lower than BURSON’s combo PLAY, somewhere about 40C on top after several hours of active listening, so quite cool for a pure Class-A headphone amplifier.

    IMG_5157_.jpg IMG_5160_.jpg IMG_5178 copy.jpg

    I was closely inspecting the PCB and couldn’t find any capacitors in audio signal path, hence when using BURSON’s solid-state V6 op-amps there are practically no caps and no op-amps in the signal path, just transistors and resistors. This design with no caps in signal path and solid-state “opamps” like V5 and V6 translates into a bigger stage with lot of fun and musicality, because SS V5 and V6 op-amps are designed for music and audio listening.

    IMG_5177_.jpg

    I’ve tested the unit with both V6 Classic & Vivid SS (singles) and also with NE5534 op-amps the output DC-offset voltage is very low, so FUN could be used with 16-ohms headphones without issues. Depending on the op-amp used, measurements done after a bit of warm-up (>10 minutes) gave me between 1.5mV and 3.5mV, so a low DC-voltage. Also, I've noticed the background noise is almost non-existent with my very sensitive 16-ohms IEMs, even when volume knob passes the 12-o’clock (no input source connected!) so quite a versatile headphone amplifier able to drive headphones from 16 Ohms to 600 Ohms.

    Seems that solid-state op-amps from BURSON need a few minutes to warm-up till their parameters are meet, so I recommend a 5 to 10 minutes warm-up prior to listening to your favorite songs. This is also a good thing for the capacitors inside FUN to warm-up a little bit, so it could be a good thing to do a bit of warm-up with most solid-state op-amps prior to listening to the music (well...tube amps need 20 to 30 minutes of warm-up). :)

    FUN is powered by a 12 V/70 W brick adapter, but it can also be powered by computer’s PSU via the dedicated MOLEX plug. Internally, the 12 V gets up-converted to 2 x dual +/-17V rails via dedicated 5 Amps boost regulators. The internal symmetric-dual PSU from FUN is created by 4 x SMPS power regulators (XL6019E1 and XL4015E1), named by BURSON Max Current Power Supply (MCPS) and operating to a speed of above 170 KHz, able to deliver lot of power into the output stage instantly, so PRAT, attack and bass speed are perfect on FUN, especially if combined with Burson’s solid-state SS V5/V6.

    IMG_5176_.jpg IMG_5171_.jpg

    I find the above power regulators/boost converters a very good approach for a device that should be used outside or inside the computer's case, depending on everyone's mood of the day and their desk setup. Basically, connecting FUN inside the computer and powering ON via the MOLEX plug will make the computer very sound appealing and a very good addition to gamers and also for those willing to listen to music under decent conditions without spending thousands of bucks on this. There're also Mic-In/Out and Line-In/Out plugs on the backside and myself as a computer user and PLAY & BANG owner I do much like that.

    Inside components have been very well chosen from reputable companies and with a very good quality like: polarized polymer and aluminium caps from ELNA, none polarized caps from WIMA, Vishay SMD low-noise MELF resistors, Toshiba 2SA970/2SC2240 transistors (TO-92 case), Toshiba 2SA1930/2SC5171 output-stage transistors (TO-220 case), ALPS logarithmic potentiometer, Panasonic Japanese fast relays. Yes, 4 big transistors per each channel, the same output stage used inside BURSON CONDUCTOR few years ago. :wink: Also, FUN's PCB has a big ground plane across sensitive components and lot of polymer caps to combat ripple and noise and this makes FUN quiet and compatible with sensitive headphones like IEM's.

    IMG_5164_.jpg

    FUN under stress-tests here:

    The RMAA tests show a perfectly flat frequency response across entire audible spectrum with a good dynamic and low noise.

    FUN_RMAA_FR.png
    Frequency response (perfectly flat till 20 KHz)

    FUN_RMAA_Dynamic.png
    Dynamic

    FUN_RMAA_SNR.png
    Signal/Noise Ratio (50 Hz hum nose is lower then -102 dB)


    For 600 Ohms output resistance I got over 10V RMS output voltage for 1KHz sine-wave with 2.2V RMS input signal. That's about 170 mW of power @600 Ohms cans, almost twice my Beyerdynamic DT880 600-Ohms cans can handle.

    Screen Shot 2018-07-27 at 21.45.19 copy.png
    10.15V RMS @ 600 Ohms


    For about 30 Ohms output resistance I was able to get absolutely perfect sine-wave with no visible distortion with my scope until voltage raises to about 7.7V RMS. In the below image you can see there are no distortions on 1 KHz sine-wave for the 29.5 Ohms dummy resistor I used, which means about 2 W/channel @ 30 Ohms.

    Screen Shot 2018-07-29 at 20.46.03 copy.png
    7.6-7.7V RMS @ 30 Ohms


    Below you can see how the down-low bass "sounds" on my scope. Practically, both sines from the signal generator and the FUN are perfectly superimposing without any bass roll-off, even if we're speaking about inaudible 10 Hz bass here!

    Screen Shot 2018-07-27 at 19.59.18 copy.png
    The perfect output of a 10 Hz sine-wave! (red sine is the signal generator, blue sine is FUN's random channel)


    DC-output with 2 x NE5534 in voltage-gain was 1.6mV/1.7mV for both channels. With 2 x SS V6 Classic (singles) the DC-output voltage is few mV more, so still negligible. However, depending on the op-amps used and also after several hours of warm-up the DC-output might increase or decrease with few mV. Output DC-voltage is very low and it’s backed-up by a dedicated protection circuit (UPC1237HA) on the output jack to protect the headphones if wrong op-amps are installed/swapped or in case of defects that could possible inject DC-voltage on outputs.

    I measured FUN's internal output impedance with sine-waves of 1 KHz @ 1V RMS per Sengpielaudio-calculator (600 Ohms) and I got 0.39 Ohms per each channel. I needed a less than 4 Ohms dummy resistor to lower FUN's output voltage to 90%, so this amplifier has a very good dumping factor for a headphone amplifier.

    This powerful 2W /channel @30 Ohms headamp is promising a lot for its price, even if choosing the default/basic version with NE5534 op-amps. Also, opamps like AD797, OPA134 or similar single op-amps will do the job very well, for people not willing to purchase, for the moment, the SS opamps from BURSON.

    I was able to calculate FUN’s THD for 600 Ohms load by using this online calculator: http://www.sengpielaudio.com/calculator-thd.htm, hence the THD of 0.016% I got from the RMAA tests I’ve ran, translates into about -96 dB of distortion, a very good figure indeed and on pair with the SNR measured. So for 600 Ohms the results are very good, better than the ones published by manufacturer. Usually BURSON is publishing their results based on the worst case scenario, kinda different than what most other manufacturers are doing (probably to impress potential customers).

    Now enough with the measurements and technicalities, how does FUN actually sounds?

    In the past month I got plenty of time to listen to FUN with several headphones, including:
    • FOSTEX T50RP-mk3
    • Hifiman HE-560
    • AKG K701
    • AKG K550
    • Beyerdynamic DT880 (600 Ohms)
    • Beats Solo2
    • Grado SR60i
    • SUPERLUX HD381F

    I was mainly listening to FLAC 16/24 bits @ 44 to 384 KHz and DSD 5.6 to 11.2 MHz file formats from BURSON PLAY DAC used as source and I got perfect compatibility across all headphones from above. I very much liked the analogue volume control from FUN that makes the device totally compatible with sensitive IEMs, a very good thing for such a powerful amplifier lacking a gain switch.

    Speaking about IEMs, even if FUN is so powerful, I found it a very good match for my 16 Ohms sensitive IEMs because I was able to change the volume from PLAY (digital volume) and from FUN (analogue volume) at the same time, giving me a better protection against sudden volume changes. With PLAY combo the volume was somewhere between 10-15%, but with BANG the knob volume was around 11 o’clock.

    I was able to get a fluid and melodious sound with a big soundstage on the Jazz and Classical genres and, despite its neutrality, with SS V6 op-amps I got the perfect bass and trebles for Pop and Disco music on all headphones used. Seems that the powerful Class A amplifier combined with its low internal-resistance makes FUN a versatile amplifier for about all compatible headphones (well, Hifiman HE-6/SE cans may not be driven to their max. potential, but you should try BANG for that).

    Manufacturer link to the product: https://www.bursonaudio.com/products/fun/.
      Povell42, Mij-Van, snellemin and 3 others like this.
    1. Povell42
      Would love a comparison between the FUN ($400 version) to the Sololist SL MK2 ($500).
      Povell42, Aug 28, 2018
      raoultrifan likes this.
    2. raoultrifan
      raoultrifan, Aug 29, 2018
      Povell42 likes this.
  2. earfonia
    One of the best amplifier for Op-Amp rolling!
    Written by earfonia
    Published Sep 8, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Well designed amplifier for op-amp rolling. Good balance between high output power and low output noise. Very Low output impedance (based on my measurement).
    Cons - Location of the on-off switch at the back panel of the amplifier. No gain switch to switch to lower gain for IEMs. My unit came with a poor 12V power supply.
    Big thanks to Burson for providing me with the review sample of Burson FUN!
    Class A headphone amp with symmetrical circuitry is not rare, but Burson advertised that they implemented four sets of Max Current Power Supply (MCPS) that is claimed to be superior to traditional transformers for delivering instant, clean, and maximum electric current to the Fun. I expect the combination to produce class A low THD with fast and realistic dynamic. Besides that op-amp rolling is a welcome feature to bring the sonic signature closer to our personal preference.

    01 P1380177.jpg


    Product Webpage:
    https://www.bursonaudio.com/products/fun/

    Product Manual:
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1BkYzliXQfuzxnYRiL-uJ7YdaVgku8T5-/view

    Showcase:
    https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/burson-audio-fun.23238/

    Discussion Thread:
    https://www.head-fi.org/threads/burson-audio-fun-2w-pc-class-a-headphone-amp.881515/

    Op-Amp Rolling:
    https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/opamp-rolling-with-the-burson-fun.23632/

    02 P1410513.jpg


    Pros:
    • Well designed amplifier for op-amp rolling with gain fixed at 5. The circuit was stable with 'cranky' op-amp such as LM6171 with very low DC offset on the headphone output. Op-Amp supply voltage is 30 VDC or +/- 15 VDC.
    • Good balance between high output power and low output noise. Powerful enough to drive my Hifiman HE-6 and low noise enough to be used with my sensitive IEMs. Suitable for a wide range of headphones and IEMs.
    • Low output impedance (based on my measurement).
    • Unique 5.25" form factor to fit desktop pc 5.25" drive bay.


    Cons:
    • Location of the on-off switch at the back panel of the amplifier. A front panel power switch is preferable.
    • No gain switch to switch to lower gain for IEMs.
    • My unit came with a poor 12V power supply, but it could be just my case. Rated at 6A but couldn't supply more than 650 mA of stable power (read more on 'Power Supply' section below).


    Suggestions for Improvement:
    • Front panel power switch.
    • Selectable low (0 dB) and high gain (5 dB).
    • 3.5 mm headphone output socket for convenient.
    • Screw-less top panel for easy access to the op-amps.
    • Better quality 12V power adapter to improve startup with certain op-amps.
    • Sound quality is ok with the stock NE5534 op-amp, but not great as a US$ 299 amp. Recommended for Burson to use 'better' op-amp than NJR NE5534 as the default op-amp.
    • Better pricing and more bundle options for the package price with Burson Op-amps.

    03 P1410494.jpg 04 P1410499.jpg


    Recommendations:
    • Recommended for those who are looking for a good amplifier system/platform for op-amp rolling. At US$ 299 Burson FUN with the default NJR 5534 op-amp is not the best value or best sounding headphone amplifier for the money. But when paired with better op-amp the sound quality and value may go up significantly. Op-amp rolling is highly recommended for Burson FUN.
    • Generally more suitable to drive headphones. With almost 2-watt power output at 32ohms and no option to lower the gain setting (gain fix at 5), those specs are generally more suitable for headphones. Although Burson FUN is relatively low noise and I didn't have high noise issue with most IEMs that I tried with it, but considering the features of this amp it is generally more suitable to drive headphones than earphones.

    05 P1410504.jpg



    Design and Build Quality
    Burson FUN is designed to operate either as a stand-alone headphone amp or internal setup in desktop PC 5.25" drive bay. FUN has unique form factor to fit desktop PC 5.25" drive bay and it has a microphone input extension to extend the mic input from the motherboard to the front panel of the Burson FUN. According to Burson, it is designed for both music and gaming, I think that's where the 'FUN' name come from.

    06 20190706_013913.jpg 07 20190706_091807.jpg 08 20190706_091535.jpg

    The amplification stage is dual mono Class-A circuitry. From what I observe Burson FUN seems to use op-amps for voltage amplification (gain fix at 5) with discrete transistors for output current buffer. Burson said that the FUN amplification circuit is similar to its bigger brother Burson Conductor V2.

    09a P1380197.jpg 09b P1380198.jpg

    I was excited when I plugged in LM6171 (know as 'cranky' op-amp with bipolar input transistors), and measured the DC offset on the headphone output, and it was only 1.61 mV on the left channel, and 1.04 mV on the right channel. That value is low and safe enough for even a very sensitive IEM. After checking that the headphone output is safe, I tried my super sensitive IEM, the 1964 V3 IEM with the LM6171, and it was ok. A bit noisier than other op-amps that I tested, but the transient was very fast. Very detailed with fast and impactful dynamic. An op-amp that I would recommend to try with the Burson FUN when you want to hear more detail and dynamic on your headphones.

    09c 20190816_231614.jpg

    Overall, from what I experienced with it, the amp circuit is very well designed, stable and suitable for all op-amps that I've tried with it. It has excellent power supply circuit and output discrete transistors buffer to bring out the most from an audio op-amp.



    Power Supply
    Burson FUN comes with a powerful power adapter, 12VDC 6Amp. The connector is the common 5.5mm x 2.5mm DC connector. Using a common DC connector is a very welcome feature for easy replacement with other 12V power supply.

    10 P1380184.jpg

    I suspect my unit came with 'half defective' power supply. It works but not as specified. I notice this on the first time when I use Burson V5i op-amp. The amp occasionally fails to power up. When I switch it ON, sometimes the relay inside the amp keeps toggling between ON and OFF state for quite a long time. Sometimes it then manages to reach the ON state, but sometimes it fails to turn ON and the power relay keeps toggling ON and OFF. When that condition happens I saw the red LED on the power adapter also blinking ON and OFF following the relay.

    Then I measured the maximum current output of the stock power adapter using an adjustable constant current load, it is starting to become unstable, toggling ON and OFF, when the current is over 650 mA. And it just switched OFF when the load current close to 700 mA or higher. That is way too low than the specified 6A output. This what makes me think that my unit power adapter doesn't work as specified.

    11 2019-08-25_230030.png 12 2019-08-25_230308.png

    When I use another 12V power adapter, I tried 12V-5A and 12V-2A power adapter, I didn't have that problem with the 5A, but similar symptom observed when using the 2A adapter. The 2A adapter fails to turn ON the Burson FUN. I tried 2 units of 12V-2A power adapters, both were not suitable for Burson FUN. I also tried 2 different brands of 12V-5A and both have no problem with Burson FUN. So as specified on the backside of the amplifier, we better stick with a 12V-5A power adapter for Burson FUN.

    I measured the power supply current draw of Burson FUN. On my multimeter (Brymen BM829s), a short high current spike around was 8A detected when switching ON the amp, but after that, it is stable at only around 0.6 Amp, regardless of the load on the headphone output. Even when driving my Hifiman HE6 at a very loud level the average current consumption doesn't exceed 615 mA. I measured the switching ON current spike using the Crest capture mode feature on my Brymen BM829s (1ms Min-Max detection). It requires high current for a very short period when switching ON the amp, that's the reason why the 2A power supply didn't work even though the running current consumption is only around 0.6A.

    13 20190804_230103.jpg 14 20190804_231046.jpg



    Measurement
    I need to make a disclaimer that the measurement in this review should not be considered as absolute measurement but only a relative measurement. That means the measurement results are not absolute values and should not be compared with the official specifications or other measurement using a different setup.

    The objectives of measurement in this review are:
    1. Quick Pass/Fail test, to observe abnormal characteristic if any.
    2. Estimated specification of the headphone output.
    3. Comparing some audio signal parameters like SNR, THD, and other parameters when using different Op-Amps, measured in the same setup using the same measurement equipment.

    It is impossible to judge the exact sound quality of audio equipment just by looking at the number and graphs. The following video is a very good example that same value of THD+N from different measurement might come from a totally different type of distortion, and the value of the THD+N alone doesn't help to understand the sound quality of audio equipment.



    Therefore we should consider measurement result only as a set of minimum criteria to check that the device specification is within the acceptable range.

    I use QuantAsylum QA401 Audio Analyzer as measurement equipment:
    https://quantasylum.com/products/qa401-audio-analyzer

    15a P1410528.jpg

    For the RMAA test, I borrowed RME ADI-2 Pro as the audio interface (ADC) from a friend.

    15b P1410544a.jpg



    Measured Headphone Output Specification:

    Maximum Output Voltage without load: 9.78 Vrms. Measured with 2 Vrms 1kHz sine wave on the input.

    Maximum volume position without load before clipping / increased distortion, with 2 Vrms 1kHz tone: 4 pm.
    With 2 Vrms input, the output is slightly distorted when the volume knob is at Maximum position.

    Maximum Output Voltage with 32 ohms load at less than 1% THD: 7.95 Vrms
    Measured maximum output power at 32 ohm: 1.98 Watt

    16 2019-09-08_MAX-Out_32ohms.png


    Maximum Output Voltage with 16 ohms load at less than 1% THD: 5.20 Vrms
    Measured maximum output power at 16 ohm: 1.69 Watt

    17 2019-09-08_MAX-Out_16ohms.png

    P1410613.jpg

    Output Impedance: 0.21 ohms (highest measured)
    Burson official spec is 6 ohms for the headphone output impedance, but several measurements on my unit using different load, 16 and 32 ohm, always showing less than 0.5 ohms of output impedance. Highest measured is 0.21 ohms which is excellent for a desktop amp with 2W output.

    18 Output Impedance_32ohms.png 19 Output Impedance_16ohms_05.png


    Output Gain measured at 600-ohm load: 5

    Volume Control Channel Balance
    Channel balance between left and right channel is very good across the volume range from minimum to maximum, with only 0.6 dB highest level imbalance observed:

    2019-09-09_030814.png


    RCA Pre-Out
    Active and amplified, not only passive output from the volume control.
    Gain: 5.15 / 1.00 = 5.15
    Measurement using 10k ohm load on the RCA output.
    Potentially this could be a very high output for the audio equipment connected to the RCA output.
    Unity gain at around 1 pm volume position. So if the audio source connected to the RCA input has a regular line-level output (-10 dBV line level) setting the volume knob more than 1 pm might overload the audio equipment connected to the RCA output. So be mindful to set the volume knob when using the RCA line output.
    Pre-Out disconnected when headphone socket is connected.

    20 20190705_185914.jpg


    SNR and THD measurement
    Headphone Ouput SNR on 33 ohms load (lowest measurement selected) @ 1kHz - 1Vrms input:
    At 2 Vrms (6 dBV) : 97.2 dBA
    At 1 Vrms (0 dBV) : 96.8 dBA
    At 0.5 Vrms (-6 dBV) : 94.8 dBA
    At 100 mVrms (-20 dBV) : 85.6 dBA
    At 50 mVrms (-26 dBV) : 79.8 dBA

    21 0 dBV Baseline - Burson FUN dBA.png 22 Burson Fun HO 50mV at 33ohms SNR dBA.png

    At a higher level, the measurement is pretty close with Burson FUN official specification. Please note that I measure SNR in dBA, and the FUN specification is in dB. Usually dBA is around 3 dB higher than measurement in dB.

    For headphone amplifier, SNR means the expected level of audible hissing noise. My rule of thumb based on my own experience is:
    SNR greater than 85 dBA: perceived as totally quiet.
    Between 80 to 85 dBA: mild hissing noise might be audible.
    Less than 80 dB: mild to moderate audible hissing noise.

    Regular headphone playback level is usually around 100 mV to 500 mV, so we can expect no audible hissing noise with headphones. Sensitive IEMs playback level is around 50 mV, and less sensitive IEM can be around 100 mV or more. So we could expect some mild hissing noise with sensitive IEM, but more or less quiet on less sensitive IEMs.

    Using my most sensitive IEM, the 1964 Ears V3, I could hear some mild hissing noise from FUN headphone output, but to my ears, at the level that is ignore-able. Considering the gain and high power output, I would say the SNR performance is pretty good and will be pretty quiet for most applications.

    SNR and THD are also dependent on the Op-Amp being used. I measured SNR and THD of the headphone output using different op-amps on the following condition:
    Input: 1 Vrms (0 dBV)
    Output: 0.5 Vrms (-6 dBV) as this level is probably the most common listening level for most headphones.

    The following measurement showing that practically all op-amps perform pretty close in term of SNR at 1 kHz, at 0.5V output. Burson V5i is the only exception where the SNR is lower and THD is higher than other op-amps in the test. This is also another measurement that doesn't tell much about sound quality differences between the op-amps and functions only as a pass/fail kind of test to see if there is any significant deviation between the op-amps. I will send both Burson V5i to Burson for checking if there is an issue with the op-amp and why it is showing relatively high SNR. So don't take this measurement result as absolute as the Burson V5i might be somehow defective.

    2019-09-09_030717.png



    RMAA Measurement
    In this test, the baseline is Geek Pulse XFi RCA outputs connected directly to the RME ADI-2 Pro Line inputs. Then I inserted Burson FUN in between the Geek Pulse XFi RCA output and RME ADI-2 Pro input and set the volume level to output the same level as the input. In other words, the amp volume is set at 0 dB amplification. This test is another relative measurement to compare the setup without and with Burson FUN inserted in the Out-In loop.

    23 P1410557.jpg 24 P1410551a.jpg 25 2019-07-05_185552.png

    Note: Please note that I forgot to change the DA-AD digital filter to Sharp during the test that supposedly will give a flatter frequency response. The DA and AD filter was set to SD Slow, therefore we can see the early roll-off of the high frequency. When the digital filter set to Sharp the frequency response is flatter up to the Nyquist frequency.


    RightMark Audio Analyzer test:

    Testing chain: External loopback (line-out - line-in)
    Sampling mode: 24-bit, 96 kHz

    Burson FUN RMAA Measurement at 0 dB.
    Audio Interface: RME ADI-2 Pro AE
    USB DAC: LH Geek Pulse XFi

    2019-09-09_030210.jpg fr.png

    We can observe the added noise and THD by inserting an amp in the loop between Out to In. The additional 8-10 dB of noise seems huge but overall output noise is still very low at around -113 dB, level of noise that won't be noticeable to human hearing. I would say from the RMAA test I don't see any issue with the result.



    Sound Quality and Op-Amp Rolling

    NJR 5534D is the default Op-amp that comes with Burson Fun. This is a well known generic op-amp that has good value and spec, and showing good result on measurement. Very low cost too. With the default op-amp, Burson FUN sounds relatively clean, low noise, with a good level of detail and clarity. Overall it sounds ok, but not great for the $299 price tag. Dynamic, impact, and tonal density just average, not as good as other op-amps in this review. Especially the bass slam and punch is rather weak in comparison. Also not as smooth sounding as other op-amps, and may sound a bit grainy with some tracks. Besides that, the perceived holographic spaciousness and imaging is not as spacious as other op-amps in this test and may sound a bit lacking in depth. Op-amp upgrade is highly recommended for Burson FUN to bring it to the next level.

    Please take note that op-amp supply voltage is 30 volt, so make sure the replacement op-amp is specified for that supply voltage.

    26 20190501_235857.jpg


    Sonic differences between op-amps are quite subtle. I'm not confident to say that I would be able to pass blind test differentiating the op-amps below. Practically all op-amps in this review are good sounding op-amps and the sonic differences between them are small. Therefore please take my subjective impressions below with a grain of salt.

    27 20190816_232158.jpg 28 20190816_232414.jpg

    I will divide the op-amps into 3 groups:
    1. Fast, detailed, lean towards slightly analytical signature: Burson V5i, LM6171, OPA637, and AD797.
    2. Relatively neutral signature: 5534D (stock), OPA627, and Sparkos SS3601.
    3. Smooth, fatter bass, good tonal density, towards slightly warmer signature: OPA228 and OPA827.

    TLDR, my favorites from the above op-amps in no particular order:
    Sparkos SS3601, OPA827, and AD797



    Burson V5i
    Fast and transparent sounding op-amp. Lean a bit to the analytical side with good instrument separation. May sounds a bit dry and thin with analytical headphones / IEMs. Bass is clean and tight but may sound a bit lean. A bit noisier than other op-amps, and I feel it is a bit too noisy for the 1964 V3 IEM, but generally ok for headphones. So not recommended for sensitive IEMs. As mentioned earlier, I suspect there is something wrong with my V5i, therefore, I prefer not to give a lengthy impression about it. I did review it in the past, so please check my review for a more detail impression of V5i.

    29 P1410541.jpg

    LM6171
    Has some similarity to Burson V5i in speed, clarity, and transparency, but I feel a bit less dry on the LM6171, therefore I do prefer the LM6171 over V5i by a small margin. LM6171 is a very detailed and revealing op-amp. This is an excellent op-amp when detail and transient are the sonic traits that you're looking for. But also a bit too noisy for very sensitive IEMs such as the 1964 V3. So take note on the application especially when dealing with ultra-sensitive IEMs. Headphones are preferable for LM6171.

    AD797
    One of my all-time favorite when looking for a transparent sounding op-amp. Slightly more transparent and open sounding than V5i. The noise level also pretty low, therefore recommended for sensitive IEMs. I don't generally prefer an analytical sound signature, but AD797 transparency does sound amazing. Detailed and transparent and always sounds musical.

    OPA637 (OPA637 is optimized for closed-loop gains of 5 or greater)
    I consider V5i, AD797, LM6171, and OPA637 op-amps as fast and highly revealing op-amps. Between the 4 it is pretty hard to judge which one sounds best. Each must be tested in the system to observe the synergy with the whole system. In general, OPA637 and AD797 are my favorites among the 4. OPA637 is fast and transparent but slightly less analytical than V5i and LM6171, and a bit more musical to my ears. Also less noisy on sensitive IEMs.

    OPA627
    Very neutral sounding, but to be honest I'm never been a great fan of OPA627. A bit too flat and boring for my taste. OPA627 tonality is very neutral, but the dynamic is rather less lively, at least to me. I prefer something with a more lively dynamic. But I know there are many loves the OPA627 sound. So YMMV.

    OPA827
    OPA827 is one of my favorites when looking for smooth sounding op-amp with good bass and tonal density. OPA827 is like OPA627 with fatter and fuller bass and midrange. The thick tonal density is just addictive on vocal. But it is not overly warm or thick sounding. Overall OPA827 sounds very musical to my ears. When a system sounds thin and too analytical it is probably a good idea to try OPA827 in the chain. It is also pretty low noise, so a good op-amp for sensitive IEMs.

    OPA228 (OPA228 is optimized for closed-loop gains of 5 or greater)
    Pretty close to the OPA827 sound signature, with the lowest measured SNR by a slight margin. Recommended for sensitive IEMs. Good bass while still maintaining pretty good clarity and transparency. OPA228 sounds smoother and more fluid than NE5534 with a slightly better bass slam and impact as well. Therefore OPA228 perceived as more musical sounding than NE5534. OPA228 is a great all-rounder audio op-amp and considering the specification and the price that is only a few dollars more than NE5534, I think it is better to use OPA228 as the stock op-amp for Burson FUN instead of NE5534.

    30 P1410571.jpg

    Sparkos SS3601
    IMHO the most musically satisfying op-amp in this test. Although the noise a tad higher compared to the other chip op-amps in this test, it has lower noise than the Burson V5i, so still friendly for sensitive IEMs. It sounds very transparent and airy, at the same time smooth with very good dynamic. Bass slam and punch are excellent and very satisfying. Vocal has good clarity and tonal density. Sparkos SS3601 is not cheap but it is worth it. Probably the best op-amp for Burson FUN and now it stays in the amp.

    31 P1410578.jpg



    Comparisons With Other Desktop Amps

    32 P1410596.jpg

    My old Yulong Sabre A28 amp has rather different sound signature than Burson FUN + Sparkos SS3601. I would say the Yulong Sabre A28 is more colored towards smooth warm sound signature. The Sabre A28 is very nice for analytical headphones such as my Sennheiser HD800 and Beyerdynamic T1. But I would say Burson FUN + Sparkos SS3601 is more neutral and less colored.

    Comparing Burson FUN + Sparkos SS3601 with Violectric HPA V200 (stock op-amps NE5532)
    To my ears, both amps perform pretty close and it was not easy to choose for which one is the better amp. But after listening back and forth between both amps, I prefer the Burson FUN with Sparkos SS3601 over the much more expensive HPA V200. Burson FUN with Sparkos SS3601 reveals more detail with better holographic imaging. Treble perceived as slightly more airy and transparent. Busy tracks presented with better separations and imaging. Bass slam and impact are also slightly more realistic on the Burson with SS3601. The Sparkos SS3601 leaps Burson FUN sound quality a few levels above its price tag. Kudos to Burson!



    33 P1380166.jpg 34 P1380179.jpg 35 P1380189.jpg
    Spare of the tiny 5A fuse.



    Equipment used in this review:

    Headphones:
    Hifiman HE-6
    Audio-Technica ATH-R70x

    In-Ear Monitors:
    1964 Ears V3 Universal
    DUNU DK-3001
    Creative Aurvana Trio
    ATH-IM50

    DAC and Amplifiers:
    LH Geek Pulse XFi
    QueStyle CMA600i
    Violectric HPA V200
    Yulong Sabre A28

    Measurement Equipment:
    QuantAsylum QA401 - 24-bit Audio Analyzer
    RME ADI-2 Pro Anniversary Edition



    Some recordings used in this review:
    16 Albums - A 1000px.jpg
      DarKu, Baten, gr8soundz and 2 others like this.
  3. 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
  4. WilliamLeonhart
    The Elegant, Least Expensive Burson
    Written by WilliamLeonhart
    Published Aug 7, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - - Powerful. - Refined sound with an opt to roll op-amps. - Least expensive Burson amp. - Sturdy build.
    Cons - - Doesn't have the Burson trademark volume light indicator.
    When Burson announced the Fun amp, part of me was surprised, part of me was not. Burson have already got themselves a very good entry-level DAC/amp in the form of the Play, released just a few months before the Fun.

    But I do believe that, if you look closely on Burson, they’ve always been more about amp than DAC. They built their name on amps, and in some cases I believe Burson will release an amp first, then a DAC-integrated version of it.

    For the Play, that circle got somewhat reversed. They release the Play, got rave reviews, then remove the DAC section and improve the amp. The result: Burson Fun, at the same starting price of $300.

    IMG_4538.jpeg

    Does that justify the purchase, especially when the Play starts at the same price? Let’s find out.

    Not Quite Elegant-Looking

    Having spent months with the Burson Play, I really don’t have a lot to say about the Fun's design. All 3 of the Burson “PC” product line shares the same chassis, which is the same size as the DVDRW drives of old. As it doesn’t have the volume indicator lights that the Play does, the Fun looks a bit more boring to be honest. It’s more of a black ordinary box than the Play.

    With that said, there is nothing to complain about the Play build quality. Everything feels sturdy and well assembled. The matte finish "feels" great, though I guess it'll just stay on my desk for the month to come. The volume knob seems to turn slower than the Play and it does add to the premium feeling of using the amp.

    IMG_4535.jpeg

    Plug and Play

    As with the Play, Burson does include a screwdriver so you can easily open the chassis to roll op-amp. The number of accessories got greatly reduced from the Play's (the Fun doesn't come with any DAC), but I’m sure everyone will still be happy with what Burson included with the Fun: a 6.5-3.5 adapter and a pair of RCA cables. Both seem to be well made, totally in line with what I perceive to be Burson’s design philosophy: their products won’t turn heads, they won’t look stunning, but they will not make your desk feel any less high-end.

    Using the Fun is pretty simple. We've got a set of RCA inputs at the back, connect that and you can either listen with your headphones or output the Fun to a power amp (Burson's own "Bang", for example).

    IMG_4536.jpeg

    What's interesting is that there's a pair of mic input/output, but those are just pass-through (per the Fun thread). At first glance I thought the mic-in should have been on the back, but then I realized it's made this way to connect with the Play's mic out more easily. Because the Play already include amplification for mic-input, the Fun doesn't.

    Into the Music
    I've got some source equipment for this review: an Audioquest Dragonfly, a Schitt Fulla 2 and a AK Junior DAP. My personal preference is the Dragonfly (at line level) - Fulla was a tiny bit "darker" and less detailed (which was the same experience I had with the Modi) and the AK Junior was too smooth. They do shine better on certain headphones/songs but overall I still prefer the Dragonfly and will use it for the review.

    Grado RS2e – REM, Losing My Religion

    For such a “soft” Alt Rock track, Losing My Religion remains one of the most intense listening experiences that I’ve ever had. The frustration of falling in love or having a crush on someone... My heart races each times Michael went “that’s me in the corner”.

    It’s not always easy to convey these feelings on a Grado. The Dragonfly for example will ruins certain moments because of its harshness. Turn it into a DAC to feed the Fun and you’ve got a perfect rendition of Losing My Religion. Drum beats feel full and pleasant, string instruments open up the atmosphere, guitars notes tear up your heart.

    Vocals lines feel extremely to the point on this one for me. Grados are famous for coloring the midrange, but this here is not quite the case. On the Fun + RS2e it feels as if Michael is sitting in front of me, telling me about his frustration of love, letting out a lonely sigh then and there. No sibilant, no smoothed edge, just Michael Stipe losing his religion and me losing mine.

    The experience can be described as adding Burson elegance to Grado. The bites are still there for those who needs it (perhaps more so on other track), but the Burson + Grado sound result in a smoother, more eloquent "flow" of emotions on this specific song for me.

    Sennheiser HD58X – Susan Boyle, Will the Circle be Unbroken

    IMG_4539.jpeg

    Elizabeth (voiced by Courtnee Draper) sang only 2 lines from this song in Bioshock: Infinite and my heart was already taken. I like Courtnee Draper’s rendition the best, but this one from Susan Boyle is also a shiner. Hint: great songs can have dozens of great renditions.

    First offf, the Vocals. I’ve always had the feeling that Burson use Sennheisers to tune their amp, which was the exact reason why I hold the Play in such high regards when I used it to drive the HD6xx. The Fun driving my new HD58x isn’t an entirely different story: it’s the familiar “colored natural” signature sound from the HD58/HD6 series.

    Yet I did find a lot of faults with my HD58x, mainly because I was driving it from my laptop and my iPhone 6s. Thankfully, now I have the Burson Fun to root out all the problems: no more splintered highs and no more bloated bass. When the drums kick in at the middle of Will the Circle be Unbroken, I could feel my HD58x slightly moving on my ears. The bass impact added a new aspect to this Folk-like song that I’d never knew of (from Courtnee Draper’s rendition): a feeling of heavenly epicness. The guitar in the background no longer get broken down into a million tiny pieces.

    I didn’t expect it to, but Vocals presentation also changed. It seems that when properly powered, the mid-range has more air, a tad more details and thus more realism to it. Soundstage opened wide but not so much depth, which I think maybe Sennheiser's design (though they had that perfect 3d sound on the HD800). Another improvement is in pacing: the song changes pace 2 times and each time the Fun + HD58x handle it with ease.

    Sennheiser HD58X – Pink Floyd, Time

    I’ll stand by my opinion that the HD58x has a “colored natural” sound, that is, while it doesn’t stray too much from neutral, it definitely isn’t neutral. Its brother HD650 (and HD6xx?) used to be called “veiled”, and the HD58x does not stray that far from the HD6 heritage.

    Which makes Time interesting track to test. The alarm bells at the start of the track is the single most difficult passage for my headphones to render “properly”: it’s the same alarm that we listen every morning, but the way Alan Parsons and Pink Floyd mixes them together gives it an uncanny, weired-out feeling. The “tick tock” sound that follows is what I normally test my headphones for bass “resolution”.

    The HD58x handles these 2 tests extremely well, but only with the Fun’s help. Driven un-properly from my laptop, Roger Waters’ bass would be come a quick line of “pffff” and the clock would sound as if it came from an iPhone, shouty and . The Fun, what can I say, corrected all these problems. The clock sound has just the right amount of bite and was so satisfying (can’t believe I’m saying this about a clock alarm) and the bass notes felt textured in "high resolution".

    What came next was somewhat of a surprise to me. After that crazy opening, Time on Fun + HD6xx is a more “streamlined” experience than on, say, the AKG Kxx or HD800. The HD6xx has more energetic trebles than its siblings in the HD6 lines, but once again nothing about it stands out – no huge soundstage, no bass rumbles either. Once that opening has passed, I started to realize how close Time was to a country-rock song. That wonderful guitar solo and the background vocals would immediately drag me back into the Floydscape, but it was still refreshing to experience Time in this totally new aspect.

    Master & Dynamic MH40 – Adele, Water under the Bridge
    IMG_4537.jpeg
    I would wholeheartedly agree with the opinion that the MH40 is a closed-back version of the HD600, but the problem is that too often the closed-back part is too much. There are moments when the bass would overpower everything, as if the bass player is right next to you. No, as if the bass player is playing through power speakers placed right next to you while every one else is situated properly in the room, playing their instrument through nothing.

    At 32 ohm, the MH40 wouldn’t require a powerful amp like the Play – an iPhone should do more than enough. But the real benefit here comes in the form of lean bass, provided by the Fun + V6 Classic. My laptop and iPhone, just like every laptop and phone out there, will bloat the bass a bit, which is definitely the last thing I’d want on my MH40. Fed from a clean and neutral DAC, the MH40’s low ranges will get a bit cleaner and less intrusive. The bass player thankfully is no longer playing through an amped speaker next to me.

    Anyway, this makes Adele on MH40 a more tolerable experiences. In a track that is uncharacteristic upbeat like Water under the Bridge, I’m glad that I can hear her “angelic raspy” voice in all of its beauty without having everything buried under the bass. Without all those sudden “boom”, soundstage also opens up nicely, vocals feel fuller – overall, the HD600 part has more room to shine. More refined. More elegant.

    That being said, physics rules still apply, and the Fun cannot do magic for the MH40. The bass player is still sitting on my lap and the bass is still very prominent. I should look into changing the pads or something.

    Symphonio Xcited 2 - Collapse under the Empire, Lost

    4324.jpg


    Also marketed under the name "Notes Audio AT10", the Symphonio Xcited 2 was a big surprise with its full-bodied mids on top of the (somewhat) mild trebles and punchy bass. It doesn't have a lot of details in comparison with my bigger headphones, but what it does have is real good dynamics and an overall engaging "feel" to it. More upbeat, well-produced Post-Rock tracks such as those from Collapse under the Empire and God Is an Astronaut are such perfect match for the Xcited 2.

    Becaues it's an IEM with very low impedance we're talking of, I don't think the Xcited 2 hugely benefits from the Fun. That which actually improve the Xcited 2 here is the DAC, and the Fun passes through my Dragonfly's clean, neutral sound to the Xcited 2 with a perfectly dark background, no hissing noise whatsoever. Most of the time the Fun also takes away some jagged edge from the Dragonfly (as driven from its amp), which I perceive to be a synergy problem that the Fun never had.

    Grado RS2e – Lake of Tears, So Fell Autumn Rain

    Grados are regarded as the go-to choices for Metal by my fellow Vietnamese Metalheads. The reason I think is because the Brooklyn house knows how to “mix” bass and mid-ranges to create a layered, thick guitar sound.

    Which is exactly what I found on this song, as presented by the Fun with V6 Vivids op-amp installed. On this one, I’ve found the stock NE opamps (that comes with the starting version) a bit muffle when it comes to riffs. On the other hand, the V6 Classic feels a tiny bit too shouty. The difference could be marginal and perhaps inaudible to many, but not to me.

    Anyway, the doom-ish riffs “flow” like torrents of rain on this combo. Perhaps of the way this track is mixed, the Vocals take 1 step back to let the instruments shine, but the level of raspy-ness (and sadness) is just right. The way my RS2e renditions all those keyboard riffs and cymbal crash is also perfect – there’s enough energy to keep the song from being boring, but not as much as to ruined what “Doom Metal” should be.

    It’s also worth mentioning the overall presentation. The crazy thing about Metal tracks is that, they’re often not perfectly mixed and engineered, but give them a lesser DAC/amp and everything will get messed up: background instruments disappear, riffs become thin, cymbal crashes become grainy as hell. None of that happen with the Fun + RS2e with its refined, coherent representation of So Fell Autumn Rain (and the Forever Autumn album as a whole).

    Why have Fun, though?

    unnamed.jpg

    I should have addressed the elephant in the room first, but I guess it can be saved until we’ve discussed the sound. I can say that, with my limited experiences at the moment, the Dragonfly + Fun combo would be almost identical to the Play – at least when driving my RS2e. The Play + HD6xx is also very close to the Dragonfly + Fun + HD58x. This is me speaking from my memories as I’m away from home and don’t have the Play to compare directly with.

    So, why get the Fun while the Play starts at the same price? Basically, why get a powerful amp while you can pay the same amount and get a DAC/amp that is still powerful enough to drive the HD600 to its fullest?

    The answer would lie in the DAC. I really liked the Play, but after all it starts at $300, meaning its DAC unit should cost $50 or maybe less. It was just a basic Sabre that’s way too common. On the other hand, the Play was the only sub-$300 device that was powerful enough to make me feel happy with my HD6xx. Having the Play’s amp unit fed by a better DAC like my S16 at home will be a mid-fi dream, as the Aune’s amp just plainly suck.

    The Play is an integrated DAC/amp – so there’s no flexibility. But thankfully, Burson has “detached” the amp unit, add even more power and reduce the number of op-amps.

    IMG_4540.jpeg

    Unfortunately it will be another month before I can tell you how great the Fun + S16 combo is, but even now the Dragon + Fun combo would make more sense in my situation. I can enjoy the Dragonfly at work and at 5:00PM bring it home to the Fun – bringing the Play to work and back will be too cumbersome. The Dragonfly’s amp unit holds no candle to the Fun, so that’s acceptable sound quality at work and perfect listening at home for me.

    The same would apply to some of the favorite (and more expensive) DACs, such as the iDAC2 – I don’t quite like its amp unit, but it can be used as a DAC/amp and it is better than my crappy laptop’s Realtek soundcard.

    So much Fun

    I love the Play, but if I only had $300 to spend and had to choose between the 2 Bursons, I’d go with the Fun. This is still the Burson sound at very attractive pricing, and it gives you room to upgrade in a field that is honestly not Burson’s strongest suit – DAC. Though without digital input, the Fun is built like a tank, has plenty of power, and it gives you the Sennheiser sound of your dream. And it almost totally erased my longing for the expensive HA160 that I had a chance to try with my friend's HD650 years ago.
    And that is more than enough to justify owning this $300 amp.
    1. Povell42
      Would love a comparison between the FUN ($400 version) to the Sololist SL MK2 ($500).
      Povell42, Aug 28, 2018
  5. ls13coco
    It is a FUN listen
    Written by ls13coco
    Published Jun 18, 2019
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Power, Neutrality, Clarity, Soundstage
    Cons - Controls
    About me: I am not a professional reviewer by any means, I am just a part-time audiophile slowly accumulating gear and sharing some thoughts.

    Gear Used: Burson FUN, connected to Creative X7 Amp/Dac combo which is using 2x Dual Sparkos op-amps and 2x Single Sparkos Op-amps.

    Headphones used: Ether Flow 1.1, LCD-2C Classic, Hifiman Sundara, AKG K 712 Pro, Sennheiser HD 6XX

    Packaging, Build Quality and extras
    The unit showed up at my door in perfect condition. The packaging job wasn't to warrant a single complaint, you could tell it wasn't moving around in there. The box is minimalistic but gets the point across of what lies within.
    The unit itself is of a solid build, emits minimal heat and my only niggles would be my preference to a switch on the front of the device isn't met here (hard to access the rearward switch, so many cables) and the volume knob is a little hard to get a good hold on.

    Capability:
    [​IMG]


    The FUN headphone amplifier puts out enough power to drive all of my headphones, a little easier than the Creative X7. The Hifiman Sundara seem to be my hardest to power headphones and I had no issue powering these with the FUN, though my volume crept towards 12:30 on the dial.
    Sound:
    This is a pure Class-A headphone amp, the first that I've used. I can't comment on the difference in sound that alone makes, but it has enough juice to make for an impactful sound no matter the headphones I've tried.
    I'm not going to go into decay, mids or any of that too much but I will say that in comparison to the Creative X7 which has upgraded op-amps, the FUN keeps up close in terms of detail. I'd say the FUN leans a little more neutral, laid back, less bright. Solid low-end, sounds no less impactful than any other amp I've used. Highs are clear without piercing my ears, mid-range is smooth without sounding recessed.
    [​IMG]
    I haven't detected a noticable difference in soundstage, or imaging. I do tend to use the FUN instead of the X7 while gaming now, which could be in-part to sounding less bright.
    Listening to older tracks from 90s, back to 70s seems to present less harshness of the recording with the FUN than it does with the X7's amp section.


    So far, can't say anything bad about the FUN. It's at a good price, and with the options of op-amp rolling it can really be your "do it all" amp if you don't want to accumulate multiple amps, instead switching the characteristics of one instead.

    V6 Classics Installed
    V6 Classic op-amps arrived from Burson and I ran the FUN with its stock configuration with many songs before unboxing the Classics.


    Within the first moments of using the V6 Classics, I could clearly hear a difference.

    Words that came to my mind instantly were "body" and "musical". These op-amps opened up a new realm of sound from an already solid amp, bringing with it an increase of detail, warmth, punch and musicality without question.

    I'd even say that the bass and mids seemed to become more present, which aligns right to my tastes in sound signature.
    IMG_20190815_145112[356].jpg

    V6 Vivids installed
    After using the V6 Classics for awhile I cannot hear as much of a change as I did going from the stock op-amps, to the Classics.
    That being said, the changes are there and I really do not have a clear favorite.
    The V6 Vivid op-amps seem to mellow out the mid-range a little, less forward than with the Classics. I wouldn't say it brings up the low-end or treble per say, but it does seem to strike a more balanced sound signature which can pair well with certain headphones, amps, music or moods.
    I can't help but feel that there is more body to the low-end with the Classics, while some extra sparkle, clarity and dynamics with the Vivids while the Classics provide a closer sound to a tube amp in all the right ways.
    I do not believe you can go wrong with either, as both the types of V6 op-amps are audio bliss and a clear upgrade from what comes stock.
    I believe this would be the same for something like the Burson Swing DAC and I could only imagine if this type of sound upgrading/personalizing will be possibly on the new monster Conductor that it would absolutely be worth it.
    I love swapping the op-amps so much now as they both have benefits, that I wish for a toggle switch between the op-amps :)
    IMG_20190815_145416[355].jpg


    THX AAA 789 comparison
    Prior to the V6 Classic op-amps coming in, I've spent a few weeks with the highly sought-after THX AAA 789 amplifier. The 789 immediately brought forward a different sound compared to the other amplifiers in my stable, one which I can only describe as clear, neutral and accurate.

    This seems to be a highly reference amplifier for its price range, one which I'm glad to have in my collection.

    Though, it is not my favorite amplifier. It is accurate, clear, detailed and dare I say sterile.

    It does give a different dimension to music, which at times is the sound I want - so it definitely does get its use.


    If I could only have one amplifier from my collection it wouldn't be the 789, it would be the FUN with the V6 Classics. I haven't heard the V6 Vivids and I haven't heard either amp with a dac different than my op-amps rolled Creative X7, but at this point in time the musicality that the FUN w/Classics brings is right up there with my tube-rolled DarkVoice/HD6xx pairing, but with all of my headphones.


    I will update this review with any new findings once my Airist Audio R2R dac comes in and yes, I would recommend Burson Fun w/V6 to a friend.

    IMG_20190706_173318.jpg

    Great Fun and Bang for the buck! :)

    IMG_20190708_155435.jpg


    [​IMG]
    Other gear used for reference: DarkVoice 336SE with 5998 and GTB tubes, LD1+ with Mullard 8100 Tubes and Burson V5i op-amp, Hifiman HE-400i, Fidelio X2, Fostex TH-x00, Beyer-Dynamic DT 1990, Sennheiser HD 598
  6. 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.
      earfonia, 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
    2. Alcophone
      Hey @bunkbail, I forgot you asked me this! I did get a chance to compare them side by side, and the H20/SS3602 is still a bit better - cleaner sounding with more authority - than the Fun/SS3601. Of course it's also much more expensive, and bigger.
      The H20 with stock opamps is much more enjoyable than the Fun with stock opamps, though.
      Alcophone, Mar 16, 2019
  7. Koolpep
    We live in FUN times...
    Written by Koolpep
    Published Sep 16, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Performance, Dynamism, Power, Transparency, Low Noise Floor, Price, Versatility
    Cons - no gain selector, looks
    REVIEW Burson Fun (Standard setup)

    TL;DR: Amazing performer for its price. Highly recommended.


    IMG_2702.jpeg


    IMG_2703.jpeg





    Pros:
    Performance, Dynamism, Power, Transparency, Low Noise Floor, Price, Versatility


    Cons:

    Looks, no gain selector


    IMG_2705.jpeg



    About me:
    As you can see in my profile - I am completely NUTS if it comes to audio gear. I have way too much. For me experimenting and trying new audio devices and headphones is FUN. I love to tinker and explore my music all over again. Because first of all I am a music lover. I cannot get enough of my favorite tunes. Though my music taste is sometimes eclectic and often standard, I tend to like music nobody else has ever heard of to some degree.


    IMG_2706.jpeg


    I love full sound, borderline bass-head. I like treble too but am surely not a treble head. For me, musicality, or however you want to describe the thing that MOVES you when you listen to music, is what counts. If a piece of equipment makes me want to dance, tap my toes, and rock it out, then it’s GOOD! No matter what.


    IMG_2709.jpeg

    IMG_2710.jpeg


    Premise:

    I love my Burson Conductor with the ESS 9018 DAC chip. I consider my Cavalli Audio Liquid Carbon and JDS Labs EL DAC (AKM4490EQ) a superb combo. On the go, I like my ifi xDSD. That should set the tone and give you a baseline.


    My current favorite headphones are: LCD2, TH900, HE560, HD650, Oppo PM-3 current fav IEMS: UE11Pro, Roxanne2, IMR-R1, JVC-FW1, KZ-AS10 (yep).

    IMG_2716.jpeg

    Let the FUN begin:


    Burson & the outside:

    Others have already explained the looks of the Burson Fun and the company history, please check out their website and the photos. In short, it’s a rather functional case, that can also be mounted in a desktop / tower PC (wow, I haven’t had one of these in ages). And it’s black. I like it but it’s rather bland.


    The power switch is on the back, the front has the single ended 6.35mm headphone out and the volume pot. The volume pot is well weighted and feels just right!. No fancy stepped attenuator like the Conductor, but a perfectly fine volume pot. I also found that the channel imbalance (or rather balance) is amazingly well controlled. I couldn’t hear any, even with very sensitive in ears.


    Which brings me to…


    …Specs:


    That thing has power - lots of power, it really has a good grip on demanding headphone drivers, squeezing every bit of control and detail out. Never heard that in this price range to be honest.


    2.1 W at 32 Ohm

    330mW at 300 Ohm

    Headphone output impedance 6 Ohm


    I found that the output impedance can make some very low impedance headphones sound funny, so better to stick with anything at≥ least 16 Ohm and higher, ideally 32 Ohm and higher. Also - the lack of a gain switch can cause some issues with sensitive IEMs - there is not much play on the volume pot....



    IMG_2731.jpeg



    The SOUND:


    That’s why we are all here. So - this Fun is the base model, I have ordered OPAMPs from Burson to do some rolling as I like to tinker and see what they can do. Hard to believe this Amp can be improved though.


    General sound signature:

    Full bodied, yet detailed, very believable soundstage, not too large, not too small, pretty bang right where it should be.


    Ideally a good amplifier should get out of the way and let the music just move you. I don’t know how Burson does it but my personal track record is really good. And I had a couple of amps in my life :)

    Is it completely neutral - not entirely - but I have the feeling that the headphones I tried with this amp were driven so well - I haven’t heard such a well performing amps with such lovely black background at this price range. I have not felt fatigued while listening to it and to be perfectly honest - I really enjoyed every minute with the amp. I must admit - its been a while since something in this price range has brought me so much FUN - pun intended.

    The FUN with there standard OPAMPs was never harsh, but it, full bodied and rich but not overboard smooth or dark. it has a velvety quality to it. For $299 it’s really lovely quality sound. As transparent as possible - driving the headphones - amplifying the sound, not adding or coloring it.

    I can’t wait to try the OPAMPs to alter the sound a bit and see how I like it. I shall edit the review once I got the tinker tools.

    All the different headphones I tried with the amp - sounded distinct and special - since the Fun didn’t add any of it’s own colouration to the sound - the specific sound signature of the headphone was allowed to fully shine through. A very nice treat indeed.

    How Burson managed to get all the benefits of their full priced amps or DAC/amps in such a small and affordable package - is beyond me. The shoehorned the full amp section of the Conductor V2 into the chassis - an improved version of it.

    But let me finish with this: We are living in amazing times for personal audio, the quality we can get today for a few hundreds would cost thousands just a few years ago.

    Burson - you have a real hit on your hands. In standard form already, plus offering the opportunity to roll OPAMPs = brilliant. A really well made amp based on a highly regarded platform that got improved for the last 10 years.


    Disclaimer: The Burson Fun was provided to me in exchange for my opinion. I do have Burson gear (purchased from my own hard earned money) like the Burson Conductor. I paid full price for the OPAMPs as well.

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  8. Cinder
    Burson Fun Review: Dynamite Performance
    Written by Cinder
    Published Aug 22, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Outstanding performance, low noise floor, compact footprint, great build quality, premium materials
    [​IMG]
    Burson Fun Review: Dynamite Performance

    Burson builds audiophile-grade DACs and amps. Based in Australia, they use their technical expertise to build high-grade amplification and source devices nearly entirely out of discrete components, a trait that Burson says improves the performance of their products. They’ve recently released the Fun, a premium headphone amp, and the Bang, a 40W class A/B speaker amp. So now its actually possible to have a complete Burson source stack, from the DAC to the pre-amp, to the speaker amp. Let's see how well all this tech works!

    The Fun can be found here for $299-$399, depending on the configuration options you choose. You can also purchase bundles and save some cash!

    About My Preferences: Heads up, I’m a person! As such, these words are my opinion, and they are tinged by my personal preferences. While I try to mitigate this as much as possible during my review process, I’d be lying if I said my biases are completely erased. So for you, my readers, keep this in mind:

    • My ideal sound signature would be an extended sub-bass with a leveled, but textured, mid-bass.
    • I have a mild treble sensitivity.
    Audio Stack
    • Motherboard -> USB -> Burson Play -> Burson Bang-> JBL 990X
    • Motherboard -> USB -> Burson Play -> Burson Fun -> Headphones
    • Motherboard -> USB -> Burson Play -> Burson Fun -> Burson Bang -> Headphones
    All testing was done using the Classic opamps.

    Tech Specs
    • Input impedance: 38 KOhms
    • Frequency response: ± 1 dB 0–35Khz
    • THD: <0.03%
    • Power Supply: 100–240V AC (12V 6A)
    • Output impedance (Head Amp): 6 Ohm
    • Output impedance (Pre Out): 25 Ohm
    • Inputs: RCA (2V RMS line level), Mic Input
    • Outputs: RCA Pre-Amp / Headphone Jack / Mic out
    [​IMG]
    Sound Signature
    Performance and Pairing
    The Fun is an absolute pleasure to use. It handles both higher-sensitivity headphones like the Meze 99 Classics and more power-hungry headphones like the Advanced Sound Alpha with grace. It exhibits top-notch dynamics and an intensely transparent sound signature that leaves you with nothing more than what the producer’s intentions. The Fun has a low noise floor too, so don’t worry about any background hiss on most of your headphones. Of course, very sensitive ones and IEMs may produce some background noise, but I found it to not be particularly distracting either way. I’d expect no less from a Class A amplifier. Like its siblings, the Fun has swappable opamps, and as such, is incredibly versatile. Tune it to your exact preferences!

    Packaging / Unboxing

    [​IMG]
    The Bang and Fun both come in minimalist cardboard boxes. The interior is padded with foam that does a good job of protecting the product from damage while stored inside the packaging.

    Build
    Construction Quality

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    The Fun has nearly identical construction to the Bang and Play. On the front panel, you can find a finely machined metal. It’s affixed to a premium-feeling potentiometer that rotates with just the right amount of heft. The front panel has a 1/4in output, a 3.5mm input, and a mic input. The rear panel has two RCA inputs, a power input, a mic output, and two RCA pre-outs. Each connector is very firm and has no wiggle what so ever.

    I did not ever run out of power with the Fun and rarely ever used even half of its capabilities. Based on the info from Burson’s website regarding the Fun’s amplification abilities, you should be fine no matter what headphone you plan to use with it.

    Accessories
    Inside the box you’ll find:
    • 2x male RCA to male RCA
    • 2.5mm hex key
    • 1x power supply
    • 1x 6.5mm to 3.5mm Socket Adaptor
    Summary
    The Fun is an outstanding product. It performs very well against its peers and has a no-nonsense approach to its design. The small form factor is a huge plus for people who don’t have a lot of desk space, and the pre-applied rubber feet on the bottom of both devices is a nice touch. With a couple QOL modifications here and there the Fun can become even better. So Burson, definitely keep it up! We’re expecting great things from you!
      selvakumar, Povell42 and raoultrifan like this.
    1. Povell42
      Would love a comparison between the FUN ($400 version) to the Sololist SL MK2 ($500).
      Povell42, Aug 28, 2018
  9. Barra
    Way more than $299 Worth of Headphone Amp Fun
    Written by Barra
    Published Jun 3, 2019
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Very high price to performance, nice quality case, compact design
    Cons - At this price, none
    Fun Marketing.png
    Having just reviewed the Burson Play, I knew I was in for a treat with the FUN and was not disappointed. The sound quality is superb and I personally don’t know how to match it at this price. It is very true to its source as a very transparent amp offering girth and size to the note that makes the music “FUN”. If the detail is there, the FUN scales it to allow listeners to hear more into the music. This is true audiophile listening for those that have champagne taste and a beer budget. Now, this begs the question, if Burson can do this for the Fun and the Play at these incredibly low prices, what do Burson’s pricier options sound like?

    Configuration
    The FUN (basic) was built with PC gaming in mind to bring rich audio to the gameplay. My hope was to install it into an open DVD bay and to have easy access to good sound without having to set up my more expensive chain. The FUN offers a modular design that is meant to either sit nicely on a desk or to be slipped neatly into a computer case and powered by the PC. As you can see from the back panel image below, there is a standard PC power plug allowing it to be powered from the case.

    Fun Back.png

    As you can see from the model options below, the FUN comes in configurations ranging from my Basic $299 configuration to the upgraded Opamp options V6 Vivid or Classic at $399. This review is based on the Basic $299 configuration, so as you can imagine, I am very interested to hear what the upgrade can offer.

    Fun Config.png

    To minimize distortion, the Play is tuned to operate in pure Class-A. Outputting 2000 mWatt per channel, it is over 20 times more powerful than the next best soundcard. To top it off, the Play features a high-performance mic input and fits into any PC case elegantly.

    PER BURSON: Fun is a dual mono Class-A head amp and preamp. Its symmetrical circuitry is powered by four sets of Max Current Power Supply (MCPS) developed by Burson. The revolutionary MCPS is far superior to traditional transformers delivering instant, clean, and maximum electric current to the Fun. Like an engine with unlimited torque and zero latency, Fun delivers a rock solid performance regardless of demand. It will put most 4W and even 6W amplifiers to shame.

    MY SETUP: For this review, I have the FUN sitting on top of the PLAY set up on my audio table across from my computer using a longer USB cable to reach the PLAY which was used primarily as the source to compare it to my much more expensive Eddie Current ZDs tube amp as well as the PLAY amp. The required XMOS driver was installed from the Burson website onto my computer previously for the PLAY review. My plan is to pair my library of headphones and CIEMs with the FUN and compare the ZDs and PLAY amps.

    Comparing the Fun to the PLAY
    At first glance, the FUN and PLAY look very similar sporting the same case. The main difference between the two is that the Burson Play features the SABRE32/ESS9018 DAC chip and Xmos USB receiver chip to be used as a DAC/AMP while the FUN is a dedicated amp.

    OUTSIDE: They both have the same nice volume knob on the front of the case, but the PLAY also offers a digital volume display that sets them apart. In exchange, the FUN offers an additional line in input in the front to easily connect sources. The PLAY back panel offers a USB input in exchange for the RCA input on the back of the FUN. Everything else is the same on the outside.

    INSIDE: As seen in the screenshots below, the PLAY and the FUN offer two different stock opamp configurations. While this implies a different sound, they are very close in practice. However, I am guessing that the optional step up to the V5 or V6 would be significant based on other reviews I have read.

    Fun Opamp.png Play Opamp.png

    COMPARING FUN/PLAY AMP SOUND QUALITY: With the PLAY connected to my computer via USB and sitting under the FUN, I was able to connect the PLAY DAC directly to the FUN RCA input to offer a single source with two headphone plugs to go back and forth. So I turned the music on and tried all my headphones going back and forth between the two headphone outs. After hours of listening enjoyment, I was having trouble hearing any detectable auditable differences in sound quality between the two amps. However, I enjoyed the FUN headphone out just a little more for some reason that I cannot explain. So while there is no perceivable difference that I can explain, to declare a winner, I definitely have been listening to the FUN headphone output more than the PLAY. Sorry,….I wish I had a better explanation. Maybe it is a lower noise level or a less complex pathway given the dedicated AMP circuitry on the FUN. But this means that either is a great choice and your use case should determine your purchase.

    CONCLUSION: For me, the PLAY will go next to my bed to offer premium sound at night offering a DAC and an AMP in one convenient and compact package. My computer audio is good enough that the premium position for my FUN is as advertised – to go into my computer case for better computer sound quality and thus freeing up my desk space. I should also point out that I am a firm believer in breaking up tech into dedicated modules to get the most out of each. I am not usually a fan of DAC/AMP combos – but have made a notable exception for both the PLAY and the HUGO2 as they are really that good. In the end, having access to both the FUN and PLAY side by side, it was the FUN headphone output that I favored even if I cannot articulate the difference.

    How does the FUN Sound
    Am mentioned earlier, I cannot articulate the difference between the PLAY and the FUN sound quality but chose the FUN over the PLAY to listen as I enjoyed it more. Moreover, this sound quality review is based on using the PLAY as the source for the FUN – therefore, the review will sound much like the PLAY sound quality review.

    To put it simply, it sounds like an audiophile headphone amplifier. The key theme for the FUN sound signature is big, textured, dynamic, and black background. While there is no color, there is a welcome richness to the bottom end offered through the highly dynamic quality. The dynamics and the bottom end offer a richness to the detail with gobs of texturing. The colorless black background is almost eerie and abyss like that provides superb spacing between the instruments. The soundstage is nice, but not the widest that I have heard. It feels deeper than wide offering great layering. While the detail is the star of the show, the texturing offers a natural organic feel to the resulting sound.

    What is important about the FUN sound is that there is no sound or signature, the FUN gets out of the way to allow you to listen and enjoy your music. Often equipment offers a mix of results that sound great with some genres or songs, but not with others. Not with the FUN. It is a very neutral and flat response with full-sized instruments, much like listening to a good speaker system. While neutral and flat may sound boring, I assure you that this is not the case, the FUN offers a very dynamic, textured, and detailed window with a large sound stage.

    How does it Pair
    For the most part, I listened to the FUN using my HD800. However, I have a wide variety of CIEMs and HPs to try. Here is what I found:
    • Sennheiser HD800: To dial in my HD800, I use SonarWorks True-Fi adding what I need to be truly satisfied with the HD800 signature – more texture, dynamics, and bass/sub-bass. This is the same setting I use when I listen through my Hugo 2 or my Hugo 2 > Eddie Current ZDs setups. When just listening to the FUN without a direct comparison, there is little to notice as I don’t feel like I am missing anything. In fact, the FUN feels like it has a little more power than the Hugo 2. Either way, the HD800 feels like it is giving all it can give leaving nothing to be desired from any of the three setups. The FUN is a great pairing with the HD800 offering lots of power to drive the headphone’s higher 300-ohm impedance. Often on lesser setups, the HD800 can sound congested in busy passages or bottom out with big bass booms – but not happening on the FUN. Lesser amps can sound noisy and detract from the gobs of HD800 detail – again, not so on the FUN. Great pairing.
    • HiFiman HEX: There is nothing unexpected here as the HEX sounds good on anything including an iPhone. However, there is the occasion that a cheap source can make the HEX sound bright. This is not the case with the FUN, as it is a very nice pairing providing everything the HEX is famous for.
    • Audeze LCD2.2: The LCD2’s are known for gobs of godly bass and always delivers when paired with powerful amps such as with the FUN. However, this is my least favorite pairing as the LCD2 can be particular in the source to offer its best. While the LCD has clarity and slam with the FUN, it doesn’t have the larger soundstage that some amps such as the ZDs have to offer. Switching to the ZDs, now I am hearing what I am after. Stepping up further to the Hugo 2 > ZDs the LCD2 goes wider in soundstage, but without a direct comparison, the FUN is good enough. However, I should point out that my overall planer preference has always been for a tube amp to downplay a perceived brightness.
    • 64 Audio A18 CIEMs: Booooom….wow, this is the biggest I have heard the A18 bass. While it is almost too much stepping on the mids a little, I am enjoying it very much. Moving to songs with less bass, the dynamics get very snappy but very controlled with no slop. The snaps are crisp, the guitar is very plucky. If I have any complaint, it would be that the sound stage on the A18 is compressed a little compared to the Hugo 2 source it usually is paired with. While this is a great pairing, I like the Mason pairing better. However, I have to say that the a18 is sounding very big and full sized which is "mucho" fun. Moving to the ZDs, there is a big noticeable upgrade in a18 performance as it is liking the ZDs tube sound better.
    • Empire Ears Legend X CIEMs: The LX says “hell ya” to the FUN. It sounds wonderful. The LX is known for its dual subwoofers which are very tight and controlled with the FUN. These sit on top of the Empire Ears famous Zeus SQ to provide a complete audiophile home stereo sound. The dynamics are very punchy while the black space in between the instruments stays very dark and clean. This is a wonderful pairing. This pairing is bringing the voices front and center and offering a lot more emotion to the mix. Like the a18, my only complaint is that I have heard a wider sound stage on other gear, but I am being fussy. Moving to the ZDs, I trade some of the blackness for euphonics and richness. I also get some of the soundstage back. Both ways, the details are intense.
    • Unique Melody Mason V3 CIEMs: The Mason is my favorite CIEM for voice – male and female - and is a wonderful all-rounder that grows on you over time as does the HD800 (implemented correctly). They offer gobs of detail and texturing with black space and sound stage galore. This plays into all the strengths of the FUN as the pair very well together. In fact, this is the best I have ever heard the Mason sound.
    • Fearless Audio S10-Genie CIEMs: The S10 is a huge performer at $759 for 10 BA drivers. Being new to my lineup, I am just getting used to it, but have not heard any better setup so far than through my FUN amp. Like the Mason, this CIEM is wonderful for voice – male and female - and is a wonderful all-rounder. This CIEM offer gobs of detail and black space with not quite as much texturing or sound stage as the Mason – but not that far off. Like the Mason, this plays into all the strengths of the FUN as they pair very well together.
    • Fearless Audio ACME8 CIEMs: The ACME8 is the top of the line for Fearless Audio offer a unique 3D printed sound tube system to augment its bass response. While I am a fan of the innovative bass system, there are some scenarios that can sound a little off, or flabby when using DAPs to drive it. However, I have not found this to be the case with the FUN. The fun has the effect of tightening the bass on each of the mentioned test HPs offering blackness between the bass notes and speed to their delivery. This blackness on the ACME8 really added a boost to the perceived soundstage and is the best pairing I have heard to date with this CIEM. It also added a bit of life and thickness that was needed to the high notes offering a flatter response curve. Very nice pairing.
    How does it Compare
    Using my HD800, I wanted to see how the Fun stood up to the other amps in my arsenal. The FUN did not disappoint.
    • C&C BH2 Amp: Using the PLAY headphone out into my BH2 line in was not optimal for comparison, but it worked. Being very familiar with the performance of this little amp, I was happy with the outcome. The BH2 is a tiny $100 amp that offers 40 hours of playtime on its battery and drives the HD800 to almost full potential. It is now discontinued and rare, but has been a giant killer that has stood up against many amps that were priced in the thousands of dollars for the last five years I have owned it. This was an interesting matchup. The FUN clearly came out on top, but the BH2 was awesome like normal. The difference is that the BH2 while having clarity and a large soundscape, the FUN was even bigger, clearer, and had better texturing. The BH2 has more tube like ephonics, but in direct comparison to the FUN, it sounded a little muddy where I much preferred the FUN.
    • Hugo 2 Amp Section: This was tested still using the computer as the source, but through the HUGO DAC so it is not a direct comparison. At $2500, there is an expectation that the HUGO2 would come out on top, and it did, but by a tiny margin. A one percenter audiophile will appreciate this subtle increase in sound quality, but the majority of music lovers would be better served saving their money for better headphones. While the difference was slight, there was an audible elegance to the HUGO2’s representation to the music that increased with the quality of the source file. The only way I can describe it was as a more 3D representation. My wife could not hear the difference.
    • Eddie Current ZDs Tube Amp: When comparing the FUN to the ZDs, I am focused on the tube sound as the key difference. So it comes down to a solid state vs. tube amp conversation. While I favor tube amps of the SDs quality, I was surprised to find that with some genres, I was enjoying the FUN solid state presentation more. Remember, we are comparing a $2K tube amp to a $299 solid state amp so this is saying a lot. I didn’t roll tubes with the ZDs so there could be a combination that changes this opinion, but the tube employed is a $150 Sophia tube which is known to be one of the best for the ZDs. If I had to say what made the ZDs better, it would be that it was a little more lifelike for lack of a better description where the FUN is more solid state. Again, for most music lovers, they would be better off with the FUN using the savings to buy a better headphone.
    Pictures

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    IMG_0377.JPG IMG_0378.JPG

    Conclusion

    As the title says, the FUN offers a lot more than $299 of value competing with amps that are 10x its cost. For 99 percent of the music listeners out there, the FUN is good enough – no need to go any further. Most casual listeners will not be able to tell the difference in quality in direct comparison to my $2800 Hugo 2 or my ZDs. However, for us 1 percenter that wants to see how much further we can go…. the V6 Vivid or Classic upgrade kit is shown in the table above may prove to be irresistible. What does that extra $100 have to offer? I may have to find out so I can offer an update.
      trellus and raoultrifan like this.
  10. adydula
    Burson Audio Fun.....a Class A amp that "Rocks!"
    Written by adydula
    Published Feb 27, 2019
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Class A, Promotes Op Amp Rolling, Crisp. Clear, Wide Soundstage, PC interface for Mic and easy integration into a Desktop PC. Cost effective, Great Build Quality
    Cons - Some very slight Noise at lower impedances, well out of hearing loudness range.
    Burson Audio FUN



    Well I have received from Burson Audio a new headphone amp to me. In the past I have reviewed Burson's Audio Cable + and Pro, and have always liked the Burson products. They seem to build some really well liked and well built headphone amplifiers. For people that like to play and experiment with various op amps to see if there are any differences etc, the FUN amp I just received is the “cats meow” for this type of activity!

    [​IMG]

    Imagine a company that is enticing you to open up the device and plug and play to your hearts content and your wallet can stand!. The circuitry is designed to handle a wide variety of op amps, from inexpensive to expensive... They even supply you with an allen wrench and a spare power fuse!.

    All it takes is 4 small hex head screws to pop off the cover and see the internals! The build quality inside the unit is second to none. I have built and worked in the electronics industry and this is a top of the line amp. The circuit board is well laid out, and there is no BIG unsightly power transformer inside that will ever “hum” or have isolation issues.

    [​IMG]

    The FUN is a class A headphone amplifier that again encourages Opamp rolling. There is also an added mic input on the front. The Mic input is straight wired to a Mic output in the back for less cable clutter if used in a desktop pc system. For me I use this amp as a headphone amplifier....there is no DAC inside. But the FUN can fit into a PC drive bay and connect to your PC sound card and headphones. For gaming and great audio as well.



    Instead of the traditional AC power into a transformer then into a bridge rectifier and filtering to remove the AC component etc...Burson designed what they call Burson Max Current Power Supply or (MCPS). The transformer is removed altogether. Burson states that main power at 50-60Hz is within the frequency the human ear can easily discern. A traditional linear power supply charges and discharges 50-60 times a second. They claim this is too slow for audio amplification. Their MCPS increases the working frequency to 179Khz. Any noise at this frequency is well above the human hearing threshold of 20khz. They say this allows for a pitch black soundstage critical for micro-details to shine through. Now this is techno talk from Burson, and I am a real technical geek that always has doubted many if these claims, the end result to me is the proof in the pudding. I will tell you in this review whatever they are doing here has led to a really GOOD amp. Call it what you want, this $299 Class A gem, is very crisp and clean.....pitch black for sure.

    [​IMG]

    So there is no need for those LARGE capacitors for AC filtering and hum reduction. This amp puts out 2 watts of power into 32 ohms. A day when size natters, or bigger is better, this little amp throws all that away for sure. So its a 4x Max Current Power Supply, symmetrical dual mono design, Class A, Two DIP8 sockets for op amp rolling, ELNA audio aluminum electrolytics, and Vishay Professional MELF resistors ( with a 1% tolerance and a +/- 50ppm/K). Then volume pot is an ALPS pot with excellent tracking, All this with a 5 yr worldwide warranty.



    The unit is the same size as a CD/DVD PC Drive that fits into a 5.25” PC drive bay. Its power can come from a 12VDC 5A source from your PC via a Molex connector. If you want to use it as a standlone unit they supply a small external power supply that has a green power led. The backside has two sets of RCA plugs, input and output, this unit can be used as a preamp as well, the preamp output impedance is 25 ohms, and the head amp output impedance is 6 ohms. They supply you with a nice set of RCA cables as well and 6.5mm to 3.5mm socket adapter. Inputs require 2V RMS line level, mic input. The unit weighs approx 2kg.





    Class A amps run HOT. I have run this FUN amp for hours with 600 ohm Beyerdynamics T1 R2 and the case is slightly warm, there are 4 power transistors for each channel mounted to the bottom chassis assembly. Nothing like some other Class A amps I have built and owned. Not even close to hot to touch. Great design here.



    The front of the FUN has a nice small bue LED to indicate power on. Its subtle and does not blind you.

    The aluminum case is a matte black finish and it exudes 'professional” to me....very well done, like the SR 71 blackbird finish at the Smithsonian at Dulles Airport! There are four small plastic feet on the bottom.



    The volume knob is large and fairly easy to turn the ALPS pot...nice and firm feel when rotating it...again exudes good parts and good operation.



    The unit at the entry price of $299 comes with a pair of NE5543 X 2 op amps. My unit had JRC 5534D's which are in the $10-$15 cost retail. They are a high performance low noise op amp well beyond the old 741's. The amp with my headphones was silent with the volume turned up all the way. With 32 ohms cans I did hear some very slight noise with the volume up at 3pm, way, way beyond any listening. Most listening with 250 ohms or higher are dead silent.



    So how does it sound...I used headphones from 32 ohms to 600 ohms and all were easily driven. All sound great. I have only 7 headphone amps at present, been selling! The Burson FUN sounds as good and “better” than most of them, its that good. Beyer 1350's, T1's, Audio Technica M50x's, Grado 325i's,

    Beyer T90's, Audio Technica MSR7's....and others. All sound great, of course I have a preference....



    The first word, adjective that comes to mind is “clear”, then “transparent”, then “soundstage”, followed by “accurate”, “lifelike”...and all those lesser adjectives...then I kept thinking “how are they doing this?” Its that good / different..the old “I have to listen to all my music again stuff...” The bass extension on headphones like the Audio Technica MSR7's is really mind blowing! The bass is indeed tight and well controlled with all my headphones.



    The FUN has no internal DAC, so I am feeding it with a Schitt Bifrost Multibit DAC which I like very much as well....its a wonderful pairing that is making this amp come alive for sure, but there is magic in this little FUN Burson amp!



    I could go over many of the songs I use to audition headphones and head devices but suffice to say I and hearing new stuff from my old favorites in a very enlightening way. Its like I am there. The tonality of violin strings are lifelike and mesmerizing. The music is effortless, the amp is supplying enough power throughout the frequency range...clear crisp, dynamic, tight......etc.



    Everything from the remastered Beatles, A Hard Days Night, Eva Cassidy's , Eva by Heart, and on and on are being amplified very well. Whats there in the CD is being heard accurately and musically with my T1's....oh gosh its that nice.



    Ok the surpy stuff is over....:>) I have not used the mic input or the preamp outs. So I cant comment on them. As a headphone amp, Class A, its the cats meow IMO.



    I have been listening for three hours now and just dont want to stop listening its that nice....There are a lot of choices in this price range $299. But if your looking for a great Class A amp, that allows you to swap out and roll to your hearts content op amps, like NOS tubes...the Burson FUN should be high on your list. I look forward to rolling in some of Bursons other discrete op amps as well...Its just FUN!



    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

    *****

    Alex Dydula



    NOTE: I got up this morning, cup of coffee in hand, to see if the Burson Fun was still working as well as my first impression...Instant on and instantly the smile appeared on my face...Burson has a winner here!
      trellus and raoultrifan like this.