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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. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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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  6. 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
  7. Slim1970
    A Very Fun Listen
    Written by Slim1970
    Published Jan 16, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Powerful, dynamic sound, good clarity, outstanding bass response, great driver control, ability to roll op amps for a different sound, small footprint, great build quality, quiet background
    Cons - Lack of input selections
    DISCLAIMER

    Burson sent me the Fun for an honest review

    SETUP

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

    PACKAGING

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

    IMG_0962.jpg

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    BUILD

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

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

    IMG_0965.jpg

    SPECS

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

    SOUND

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

    Audio-Technica ATH-2000Z

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

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

    Hifiman HE-500

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

    Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro

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

    AMP COMPARISONS

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

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

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

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

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

    Last thoughts, if your preference in music is all about transparency, clarity and speed then the GL Mk2 is your amp. But if you’re a fan of music I find the Burson Fun hard to beat at this price point. They are very close in performance to each other. The Burson Fun is $100 - $200 dollar cheaper depending on if you wan the standard op-amp version or if you chose the V6 Vivid or Classic op-amp version. Is the Headamp Gilmore worth the extra cash? That is entirely up to you and your ears. What ever amp you decide to bring home you will enjoy hours upon hours of entertainment regardless of headphone you have plugged in. Happy listening!
      ACDOAN and volly like this.
    1. ACDOAN
      I have several Burson Audio products including the Fun. I am going to get the Swing so I have a Burson stack. Nice product for the money.
      ACDOAN, Jan 19, 2019
    2. Slim1970
      I have the Conductor Air and had the Conductor V2+. I made a big mistake in selling the V2+. I want it back and will purchase it again soon. The Fun reminds me of the V2+ in a lot of ways minus a slight loose in dynamic punch. I need to try the V6 Vivid op-amps as I have a feeling this will bring the up another level in performance.
      Slim1970, Jan 30, 2019
  8. Mij-Van
    Ain’t We Got FUN
    Written by Mij-Van
    Published Aug 26, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Warm, full bodied, natural sounding.
    No hiss, no sibilance, silent background.
    Cons - Having a gain switch would be great
    This is a review of Burson FUN, latest headphone amp and a preamp from the house of Melbourne's Burson Audio.

    I am a double bass, triple bass and sub-bass aficionado listening mainly to classical and jazz. As I have previously stated in my review of the Burson PLAY Dac/Headphone amp/preamp combo (https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/burson-play.22702/reviews#review-20430), I am looking and listening for well articulated double bass, bowed and plucked upright bass reproduction. There are plenty of high praised units featuring sparkling treble, euphonic mids and punchy bass, which still fail in bringing well articulated and easy to follow acoustic bass line.

    It is inevitable to make first a comparison with aforementioned Burson's own PLAY.
    The FUN shares almost the same physical appearance as the PLAY plus one aux input on the front. FUN’s volume control is analog, as compared to PLAY’s digital volume control, so no display and digits to show. The PLAY has a decent DAC inside feat. ES9018K2M chip, the FUN is a pure headphone amp which needs an external DAC or other audio source. The PLAY is a stereo amp, the PLAY is dual mono, having slightly more power.

    Some maths:

    Both the PLAY and the FUN cost $299 in the basic version. It leaves some price gap between the units because youu have to add a budget for a dac to feed the FUN.
    If you go for an upgrade with Burson’s house op-amps the price bracket changes siginificantly. The PLAY now goes up to $549 and the FUN only to $399, because it needs less op-amps. The price difference of $150 in favor of the FUN leaves you with some space for additional DAC. While getting a DAC for $150 which will compete with one in the PLAY would be more difficult to find, if you stretch for some $100 more, I have a feeling that for $250 you can get a more versatile DAC with different filter settings for PCM and DSD.

    1.jpg

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    FUN as a preamp:

    As a preamp, the PLAY wins having a remote control and dac inside. It will take less space on your desktop and will be easier to run. The FUN on the contrary gives you more old skool feeling. Turning the volume knob on the FUN gives a pleasant analog touch sensation.

    How does it sound:

    I’ve listened plenty of busy symphonic recordings plus many of the jazz giants. The FUN’s sound signature is dark chocolate, creamy, smokey, and very clearly articulated. It is not warm or smoothed, there is a plenty of attack, plucking strings transients are extraordinary. The power reserve gives you relaxed listening, with no strain or signs of distortion even in the busy, loud passages of Mahler and Bruckner symphonies. There was no listening fatigue even after prolonged listening sessions. I have only Sennheisers, so I can speak only about them. Well, the FUN pairs great with Senns, perfect match.

    There is again a clear winner from the Burson. While for the preamp use, I will give a slight advantage to the PLAY (dac included, digital display and remote control), for pure headphone audiophile listening I would certainly go for FUN. Great device indeed.
      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. DjBobby
    FUNky FUNtastic
    Written by DjBobby
    Published Aug 19, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Powerful, stable, neutral, clean and transparent.
    Cons - The case is a dust collector.
    This is a review of the headphone amp FUN, by Burson Audio Company from Melbourne, Australia. I would first like to express my gratitude to the Burson Audio for sending me the Fun for test and fun.

    After I already favorably reviewed the Burson's Play where it became my favourite daily companion, I was still wondering how much of its sound signature is a property of the dac and how much of the amp section alone. All dacs are supposed to sound equal, neutral and transparent, but some dacs are more equal than others :)
    Generally I divide all my audio gears in two groups - for daytime and nighttime listening. While the engaging, agitating and upfront sound signature of the Sabre dacs might be prefered for the daytime listening, late at night, sitting relaxed in the comfy armchair with the glass of wine, Sabre’s upfront sound signature might not be for everybody’s taste. Actually it could sometimes even get on my nerves. At night I prefer somewhat more relaxed and smoother sound signature, which some other dac chips might offer. The Play incorporates the mobile version of the Sabre’s ES9018 dac chip, which is already succeded by newer ES9028 and ES9038. Probably at the time I am writing this, there are already ES9048 and ES9058 on the way. Also many of the modern dacs offer a choice of digital filters to tailor the sound to your liking, which the Play doesn’t have.

    Therefore I was much looking forward to the Fun, which is a headphone amp alone, allowing you to connect the source of your choice, different dacs allowing you to play with different digital filters, or connect some other sources like your DAP or even a TV.

    Burson FUN 1.jpg

    The Fun is a powerful dual mono Class-A headphone amp, built as a tank, which pumps a respectable 2.1W on 32 Ohms, and 330mW on 300 Ohms.
    It costs $299 in the basic version featuring NE5543 X 2 op-amps and $399 in the upgraded version with the V6 Single x 2 op-amps. Interestingly, if you order the basic version for $299 and separately order the V6 Single x 2 for $70, it will cost you a little bit less. I haven’t tried the V6 Vivids, but tested the Fun both in the basic setup and with the V6 Classics.
    From the connections, there are mic-in and mic-out, which I understand is a mic-through, RCA-in (2V) and RCA preamp out, and last but not least on the front plate one AUX stereo 3.5mm input. Now this is the most confusing part, because on the Burson Website there isn’t a word about it. At the moment of my writing it lists the inputs as follows:
    Inputs: RCA (2V RMS line level), Mic Input
    However you can find mentioning the AUX input in the FUN’s manual, which can be downloaded on their website.
    This front AUX input is very handy which allows you connecting many mobile devices like phones and daps, while still having some desktop dac connected to the back of the FUN through the RCA line in.

    Burson FUN 3.jpg

    Differences Play - Fun:

    Both the Play and the Fun use custom made high speed, low noise powers supplies. When you turn on the Play there is a whining sound which goes away after a while. I was explained by the kind Burson’s techs that „the new power supply design is based on high speed switching power supply. When the machine first power up, the switching frequency is still low and you can hear some of it. But once after said 10 seconds the power supply warm up and fully charged the working frequency will go up to 170K which you should not be able to hear them.“ Well, while the Fun uses the same switching power supply, there is absolutely no noise at the power-up! It is dead silent right from the beginning even if you turn on the volume to the max.

    The Play uses digital volume control with 99 steps. It has a nice feel, and it shows the digits on the display. The Fun has an analogue volume control with completely different feel to it. It has a nice resistence with much better micro-adjusting and completely different volume development.
    The Fun has, I guess, a lower gain, because you have to turn the volume knob much further to get the same loudness as with the Play. With the Play using high sensitive headphones you might already hit the limit at the 20 volume setting.
    The Fun gets warm, but much less so than the Play which gets really hot. This is probably because the Play uses more op-amps than the Fun.

    Now, to the most important thing, the sound.

    Burson FUN 4.jpg

    How does it sound:

    It was definitely more difficult to review the sound of the Fun than the Play. It took me much longer to get my opinion. After throwing many familiar hi-rez tracks into it, listening for days through different headphones, it was a strange feeling. Does the Fun add more bass? No. Does it add some sparkling treble? Nope. Does it give you the wow effect after the first few listening? Also no. Hmmm....It took me some time to figure out what is going on here. The Fun is tremendeously neutral and transparent amp. It adds no coloration, it doesn’t manipulate the sound in any way, it doesn’t sound euphonic, nor bright, neither analytic nor warm. It is like looking through the cleanest window. When I firstly connected the Play to the Fun, I couldn’t detect any difference. AB-ing through the tracks, level carefully matched, I couldn’ be quite sure which one was I listening at the moment.

    Than I connected the FiiO’s X5II dap which uses PCM1792A chip and the sound was completely different. It sounded like amplified X5II. Nothing added, nothing substracted. After connecting a range of sources there was always the same feeling, the neutrality. At the end I have connected the Chord Mojo to the Fun, and there it was. Familiar Mojo’s transparency and smoothness which I generally prefer over the Sabre glare. Comparing now the Play and Fun it was obvious how much the sound differed. While Fun with the Play as a source sounded almost the same, the Fun with the Mojo sounded like an amplified Mojo.

    Burson FUN2.jpg

    What would I like to see:
    Maybe a mixture of the Play and the Fun would be a deal breaker. It could be called PLUN or FLAY. Basically the Play with additional analog line-in added, with one simple switch on the front to change between the internal dac (like in the PLAY) and external analogue source (like in the FUN).

    End thoughts:
    While I highly valuate and appreciate the Play, my preference goes to the Fun. The Play is still remarkable bang for the buck, it makes perfect sense if you want a quick plug & play solution. If I have a short break during the day which I want to spend with the music, I just connect the Play and start listening right away. If I want a more audiophile listening experience with some higher-end dacs or sources like sacd player, then I will certainly use the Fun.

    The Fun is a stellar performer deserving clear 5 stars. Already in the basic version it is a bang for buck. Adding Burson’s V6 Vivid or Classic opamps transforms it to even higher league. Mine will continue singing with the V6 Classics.
      Povell42 and Mij-Van like this.
  10. 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

    IMG_0926.JPG IMG_0929.JPG
    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.
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