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  1. yage
    A good amp with some QC issues
    Written by yage
    Published Feb 25, 2019
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Tight bass
    Quiet
    Cons - Had two review units fail
    Not the best at detail retrieval
    Introduction
    The Burson name is no stranger to folks at Head-Fi. Having said that, I've got to admit that I've never personally really listened to a Burson component at any great length - save for a local audio show where a Soloist variant (or so I hazily recall) was on demo.

    On deck here is the Fun - a moderately priced headphone amp that can also double as a single source preamp for a nicely compact system. Burson produces a matching amplifier, the Play, to push the electrons through speakers.

    The design is supremely functional - a decently thick steel case houses the guts while a beefy font panel sports a 1/8" jack for input, 1/4" headphone output, and a sculpted volume knob. A single blue LED tells you when the unit is powered up.

    The back panel sports two pairs of RCA jacks - one for input, the other for preamp output. There's also a 4 pin Molex inlet as well as standard barrel connector for DC power. The Molex inlet and two pairs of screw holes on either side of the chassis speaks to an interesting feature of the Fun - it can be mounted in a 5 1/4" drive bay in a tower computer. A red rocker switch turns the amp on and off.

    Operation
    Using the Fun is straightforward. Hook up the interconnects (make sure you pay attention to the symbols above the jacks to figure out which is input and output), connect the appropriate power connector, and switch the amp on. The volume knob can feel a bit stiff, but it also cuts down on times where you accidentally crank it up.

    I do have to mention that not one, but two review units malfunctioned during the course of this review. The first review unit pumped out tunes for an entire day and was switched off but left plugged in. About a week later, turning the amp on and expecting music, my ears were instead met with a squealing noise in the left channel and nothing from the right.

    The second review unit suffered from different maladies. The first was a low level buzzing noise when the amp was first powered on. This noise went away after about 25 seconds. Again, after working perfectly fine for a day,
    it was shut off and left untouched for about a week. When turned back on, no sound came from the headphone output, no matter how much I turned the volume knob. A new PCB was shipped out to replace the faulty one and the amp performed flawlessly thereafter (though I did leave the unit unplugged when not in use as a precaution).

    Burson has been extremely gracious throughout this process and my experience with their representatives leads me to believe that they will take care of their customers with any issues that may arise.

    Sound
    To put the Fun through the proverbial wringer, I started off with some modern rock and pop. The most noticeable trait here was the vise-like control of the bass octaves. It's a very taut, impactful presentation that
    lent a propulsive rhythmic drive to tracks from Florence + the Machine and The National. One little nit to pick was that cymbals seemed to trail off into a gaussian haze rather than retain their shimmer.

    The same sort of situation played out on jazz and classical music. Paul Chambers' bass lines on "I'm Old Fashioned" off of Coltrane's classic album Blue Train sounded tight, with no hint of boominess. Yet the Fun had
    a tendency to gloss over the inner detail I'm used to hearing on the brass instruments, leaving Coltrane's and Fuller's solos a little flat sounding. The finale to Schumann's Piano Concerto showcased the amp's macrodynamic chops, with the orchestra and piano sounding big and bold but the Fun couldn't quite resolve that last bit of air which lends a sense of space to the recording.

    Comparing the Fun to my current solid-state reference, the HeadAmp GS-1, the Fun had a decidedly tighter presentation to the bottom octaves, The flip side of that coin was that the bass frequencies on the GS-1 tended to sound weightier, more corporeal. The GS-1 also possessed a sense of refinement that the Fun simply couldn't match - easily retrieving the air around notes, the inner details and ambience that the Fun was struggling to resolve.

    Conclusion
    Overall, the Burson Fun is a competent amp on all the sorts of music that I threw at it. It's not the most natural, organic sounding piece of kit nor does it portray that last iota of fine resolution (spatial or otherwise), but it gets the job done. It drives high impedance and low impedance cans to satisfying volume levels - at least for my taste - and is quiet enough for the IEMs that I have on hand, the Etymotic ER4SR. And though I never tested it as a preamp, it's a nice bonus feature that gives it some flexibility in a small setup. The only hesitation I have at this point regard the quality control issues, though Burson's excellent customer service do much to assuage that concern.
  2. ngoshawk
    Burson Fun-Act One
    Written by ngoshawk
    Published Mar 24, 2019
    4.0/5,
    Pros - POWER!
    Ability to fit in your PC.
    Gamers take note...this is good.
    Easily stackable.
    Cons - Plain black box?
    "Too affordable for some."
    none really.
    Burson Fun-Act One: Basic-$299usd. 5-year warranty. 4.25 stars, if I could. 4.5 with the Vivid.


    *Burson had previously sent me the Play on tour. They contacted me to see if I was interested in the Fun, followed by the Bang. I said, “well of COURSE!!” I will provide an open honest review, to the best of my abilities, without reservation. Both parties involved would have it no other way. Period.


    *Parts labeled with an asterisk (*) below are additions added using the V6 single Vivid OpAmp. I graciously thank Burson for sending the units for comparative purposes. As a side note, those are the OpAmps of choice for me in the Burson Play as well.


    Burson website: https://www.bursonaudio.com/products/fun/



    *Burson OpAmp link: https://www.bursonaudio.com/products/supreme-sound-opamp-v6/



    Specs:



    Measurement

    Input impedance: 38 KOhms
    Frequency response: ± 1 dB 0 – 35Khz
    THD: <0.03%
    Output impedance (Head Amp): 6 Ohm
    Output impedance (PreOut): 25 Ohm


    Package Content

    Burson Fun Unit
    2.5mm hex key
    RCA Cable
    6.5mm to 3.5mm Socket Adaptor
    Power Supply: 100-240V AC (12V 6A)



    General

    Inputs: RCA (2V RMS line level), Mic Input
    Weight: app. 2Kg
    Outputs: RCA Pre-Amp / Headphone Jack / Mic out
    Dimensions: 210mm x 145mm x 45mm



    Impedance (Headphone Jack)/Power/Signal to Noise Ratio/Separation:

    8Ohm/1.2W/91db/99%
    16 Ohm/1.9W/92db/99%
    32 Ohm/2.1W/95db/99% 100 Ohm/1W/94db/99% 150 Ohm/0.66W/96db/99% 300 Ohm/0.33W/94db/99.5%



    Gear used/compared:

    Mr. Speakers Ether-C Flow
    Campfire Audio Cascade
    Clear Tune Monitors DaVinci X
    Campfire Audio Atlas
    Hidizs MS4

    *Additions:

    Sendy Aiva
    HiFiMan Ananda



    Thebit Opus #2
    Shanling M5
    Shanling M3s
    Aune M1s
    MacBook Pro-Tidal Premium & Pine Player

    Songs used:

    Coldplay-All I Can think About Is You
    Coldplay-A Message
    Coldplay-White Shadows
    Dona Onete-Sonos de Adolescente
    Los Lonely Boys- Heaven (en Espanol)
    twenty one pilots-Trees
    twenty one pilots-Car Radio
    twenty one pilots-Heathens
    Damian Marley-Everybody Wants To Be Somebody
    Damian Marley-So A Child May Follow
    Damian Marley-The Struggle Discontinues
    Ziggy Marley-Lighthouse
    Ziggy Marely-See Dem Fake Leaders
    Mark Knopfler-Laughs And Jokes And Drinks And Smokes
    Santana w/ Mana- Corazon Espinado

    twenty one pilots-Trench
    *Tedeschi Trucks Band…oh my goodness…


    Unboxing:

    Coming in the same sized matte black box as the Play (I certainly do not mind utilizing the same packaging to save costs and space…), you are met with an outline of the Fun (via sticker), complete with front, back image and which option you have. A few specs are listed as well. Since none of the boxes regarding version were highlighted in red, I assume this is the basic, which retails for $299. None the matter, as I can OpAmp roll using those from the Play.

    Opening from the front, you are met with two long rectangular boxes bordering the outside, which open as the lid, from the front. Directly in the middle, beneath ¼” soft foam and cradled in a ¾”-1” rigid foam frame lies the Fun. Just the same as the other Burson models of this line. Underneath is the same soft foam, so the Fun is completely protected. In one long box is the power unit. In the other is the power cord as well as connecting 2 single RCA cables as well as Allen key, warranty card 3.5mm-6.3mm adaptor. That’s it. Basic indeed, but I do not mind. It is the listening, which counts.

    [​IMG]

    Fit-n-Finish:

    Again, following the same format as the other critters in the foray, you get a black rectangular box. Four Allen screws on the front, the same volume knob (in the same place), a 3.5mm input jack to the left. Left of that is the microphone jack, while left of that you have a dedicated 6.3mm jack. A small blue LED is at the most port position, denoting that the unit is on. Unlike the Play, there is not analog readout for volume, only the turn of the knob, with a smaller yet white dot denoting position.

    The back has L/R RCA in and out (pre-amp out) connections as well as the power connection, on/off toggle, microphone jack (for mic pass through when mounted in a PC) and computer cable hook up. Yet again you can use this in your desktop tower, providing a killer amp upgrade. At 2 watts Class A, I would hope so…

    Simple straightforward and to the point. This isn’t meant to be a boutique piece no; the merits are in the sound. With discreet circuitry (a Fun read in and of itself, haha) there is no crossover distortion or feedback. Not noticeable on the outside, much like the look; but it is what’s inside that counts.

    OpAmp rolling is quick and easy with the included Allen Key. I listened to the included Basic OpAmp’s as well as the Vivid’s from my Burson Play. I prefer the warmer signature of the Vivid to the Classic, but the Basic (NE5543 X 2) sounded near-neutral and just fine. YMMV. As a desktop amp, the ease of changing the OpAmps cannot be underestimated. Throw in the Bang, and you can essentially get a good set of combinations with which to play.

    *Dedicated OpAmp sound:


    To add to what is listed below, after Burson sent me the V6 (single) Vivid pair for installation, I dedicated several hours using the same songs listed above (and same sources/gear) with the addition of a couple newcomers to my corral; the Sendy Aiva and the tour HiFiMan Ananda. My initial usage of the Vivid OpAmps in the Burson Play allowed me a direct comparison between the Classic (more neutral) and the Vivid (warmer signature). In the Fun though, Burson included the Basic, to give me an impression of their “bottom-line” component. Using the V6 Vivid (again, single not double) added $140 to the cost, on par with Basic Playmate and Play with V5 OpAmp options. A fair comparison in my opinion. Following this, Burson will send me the Bang to use in conjunction with the Fun for a complete comparison of the line-up as well as giving a good representation of the whole line.


    Installation is as easy as messaging @Wiljen to ensure all went well…it did…after sending a couple of DOH! Messages, he graciously did not make “fun” of my doltishness…it is straightforward and easy to change OpAmps in under five minutes. A huge option when used as a stand-alone.


    So…what happened? Using Tidal Premium through my MBP and first the Ananda, I was met with visions of a small venue concert I attended with my Brother-in-law listening to the Tedeschi Trucks Band. I distinctly remember ordering Guinness a pint at a time, rotating with the local Boulevard Pale Ale in glasses. By concerts start time, we were the only ones allowed to use glasses, as the others were relegated to the ubiquitous Red Solo cups. Our waitress took very good care of us that night adding to the enjoyment of top-class music and passion deserving of Susan Tedeschi. A magical night topped by a hug to the waitress and a tip she wholly deserved. I mention this, for playing Tedeschi Trucks through the Fun/Vivid brought back those good memories. Small venue, excellent company, excellent beer, and incredible music. And if that is what our music can do for us, then it has served its purpose. And served it well.


    Richer, fuller and mellower would be apt descriptors for what the Vivid brings to the table. And I do so love that sound. Detail remains excellent in this iteration. Sound stage is good. Slightly on the intimate side, but oh so nice. Susan’s voice rings like from the concert. Sitting at our bar table, right in front, with Tedeschi giving us props throughout the show. And we returned the favors with glass raised.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    The Vivid provides not more power, no; but that richness, almost velvet-like sound, which can make an analytical song ooze with sensuousness. This can make a sterile song come to life, and dance across the page, not unlike the verbiage espoused here. I must openly admit that the Fun by itself is good, but with the Vivid, the sound comes more in line with my tastes. I openly admit to liking the Sendy Aiva (even after hearing more expensive units, which mellowed my view a bit) and here the combination brings the sound I very much appreciate from the Aiva. Just a really good combination.


    Switching to the Cascade, the bass is superb. Almost toning down the overwhelming-ness, the package brings to light how good the Cascade can sound with a good amp. Yes, Tidal Premium and the MBP are not the best; but I still enjoy them both. Again, rich bass and sound emanate from the Cascade, moving me back yet again to the concert. A more mid-centric sound than the Aiva, the Cascade gives you a better feel for the sound package, as you most definitely feel centered about 10 people (the venue was small, and save for our raised table area was standing) back from stage, moving perfectly in time with the music and crowd. You glance around and all look, feel, envelope Tedeschi’s sensuous voice and guitar licks. They catch you looking and raise their Red Solo cup of adult beverage and you share the moment. Any How, epitomizes this sound wonderfully. I fully recommend a Tedeschi Trucks concert. You will not be disappointed with their musical variety and genre-crossing sound. A hip blues sound, with Grateful Dead thrown in along with the musicianship of Dave Matthews and Lyle Lovett. Yes, they have their own sound, but melding the above give you the idea.


    And the Fun/Vivid represent that sound oh so well. I finish with Laugh About It, a spiritual song about not forgoing your chance. A fitting way to end the second part of this review. For you see, Burson took a chance with an amp line-up, which can span the spectrum of making your gaming set-up top notch, while pulling double duty as a very good affordable desktop amp. One, which will stay in my rotation for comparative purposes for a good long time. This is good stuff.



    [​IMG]

    A word about sources:

    As @Wiljen mentioned in his review, you are more dependent upon the DAC you use for the sound as the Fun itself. Therefore (to me) if you scale up too much, you really are not adding anything (and could detract in fact) from the sound signature presented. In other words, it simply is not worth it for me to hook up my Questyle QP2R to the Fun, other than to add power. And I would be losing some quality in the making.

    This certainly is not a snub or shot at Burson, no. It is simply that hooking a $300 headphone amp to a $1300 DAP can be done, but do not expect anything above the sound of the DAP except volume. The Fun is quite adequate at providing that power as well. While the original source signature can show itself through the Fun, you realize what the limits are.

    Through the Aune M1s, the additional power is welcomed, and can show the warmth of the M1s quite nicely. I would say that this is a good match, as it can provide the added power, with a bit more oomph down low. Especially when I ran the Atlas through it. Or the Cascade for that matter. Quite nice.

    Tidal Premium through my MacBook Pro and the Fun (using headphone jack into split RCA cables), the sound in the Ether-C Flow is definitive and additive. The Fun does indeed provide the necessary power to drive the Flow to voluminous levels of hurt. Want more warmth? Throw in the Vivid OpAmps, sit back and enjoy. I do love the Ether-C Flow, but always welcome a bit more sub-bass. Coldplay’s Up & Up shows well in this set up. Coldplay has a tendency to be a shouty-kind of sound on many songs and this is one of them. But I sift through that to the added power. Giving that extra rumble down low (yes Tidal Premium does that) the Fun drives the Flow well.

    Switching to the Cascade through the same set up, that bass is back in full force. The Cascade is known as the bass-cannon of headphones in some circles, and it does not disappoint here. Sounding better than straight out of the MBP (one would hope so anyway), that “better” comes straight from the extra amplification of the Fun. So, one could argue that the source sound is the same, but only amplified. That would be correct, but it still sounds a bit better. Not more definitive like the Flow, which is a harder to drive critter, but just more of it. So, I cannot say definitively if the sound is “better,” but only more of it. A harder to drive headphone such as the Ether will benefit more than the Cascade, which is straightforward to drive since it is marketed as a portable.

    With Motherboard pouring through from Daft Punk (one of my favorite test tracks) on the same set up, the Cascade reminds me of what I love about it. There is just that presence there, which comes through loud and clear. The Fun is not the detail monster of other amps, and it isn’t meant to be. That job is up to the Bang or the Play. No, the Fun provides the engine with which to drive your music. And in that regard, it does a very good job.

    Follow that up with Song For America from a favorite of mine, Kansas, and you have a pretty good idea of what the Fun can bring to the table. Power, and what I will call “girth” give it very good presence. Details while slightly above average come through with good placement. You do not mistake what sound is where. As such Sound stage is decently wide and tall. A good boxy set up pervades the feeling of a larger hall. Nicely done.


    OpAmp:

    As stated above, I preferred the Vivid OpAmp for its warmth, but kept the Basic in most of the time to show what the most economical unit could do. Providing what I would say is on par with other amps at this price range, the Fun has a bit more power than many at this price, providing up to 2 full watts for most easily driven headphones and IEM’s. More than adequate in my book, and good for gaming situations as well, like the Play. What it does not provide is a better DAC. Whatever you have in your source is it. But my thought here is those that would use this in either a desktop headphone amp set up or inside a PC tower for gaming will most likely have a better DAC (either from a DAP) or a better soundcard for gaming purposes.

    The Fun makes no pretense in providing better sound, only in providing MORE sound. Burson leaves that up to the source, whether it is the Bang or as other reviews here have provided their own DAC’s. And in the end, who doesn’t want more power?

    [​IMG]



    Finale:

    This may be a shorter than average review of late, but that is by design. For once I have the Bang inhouse, I will be able to pair the two and get a better sense of their place. I have the Schitt Modi2 Uber and Magni2 for cheaper comparative purposes, and my iFi stack moving up, so that will be a good mix.

    Don’t take this as a slight of the Fun. No, indeed not. For the Fun is a powerful desktop amp, which fits nicely into my set up. Not the most versatile of options, but easy to hook up with pretty much whatever you would like. Easily hooking a DAP to the front slot, or your laptop/PC/DAP from the RCS cables in back; it simply works. And sometimes that is the best compliment you can earn. This is the true benefit of the Fun. It is affordable, "optionable," PC-able, and small of size with excellent power.

    [​IMG]

    *Vivid V6 OpAmp finale: So…after too long of a time, I can add to what is stated above. The Burson Fun is indeed a quality amp and for its intended purposes, does very, very well. Then when you add in the ability to roll OpAmps, you have added to its versatility. When I changed to the Vivid OpAmp, I felt this better represented what Burson was trying to achieve with this line of their amps. Good to excellent for computers, raised to excellent to very, VERY good with the Vivid.


    In fact when comparing to my iFi Pro iDSD or the tour HiFiMan Jade II system I have on hand, to me using the Vivid had more of an impact on my MacBook Pro (the closest I could come to the mostly intended desktop tower PC for which this was designed) sound than the others. While the iFi and HiFiMan systems sounded grand, it was most definitely overkill. A MacBook Pro was not the intended target of those higher priced amps. And here is where the true beauty of the Burson lies. Want clearer, cleaner sound? Roll with the Classic. Want a richer, fuller sound? Roll with the Vivid. Want a very good basic upgrade to your PC’s set up for gaming? The Classic will work just fine.


    [​IMG]


    The desire to tune and fine tune items has been around as long as humans (and animals). We have this innate desire to tinker. Make things better, improve upon, come up with new inventions. One need look no further than the vaunted Shelby Cobra for the true definition of that human desire. And here is where I think Burson has carved out a niche for itself. That ability to allow the user to change as their taste fits. That ability to change the sound quickly, and with minimal effort. And for that, I have a newfound appreciation and respect for what Burson is doing.


    [​IMG]

    I thank Burson for this opportunity, and when the Bang gets to my humble hamlet of a town, there will be an act two. So, we will simply call this act one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    and other songs from my playlists.

    Conclusion:
    This is a well made, powerful preamp/amp combo that gives you a lot for the price. I would not hesitate to buy this if I was looking for a unit in this price range. Burson has done a great job with this unit.
      Alcophone likes this.
    1. raoultrifan
      With what cans have you noticed the background noise, please? On my FUN, when listening toIEMs (sensitivity >100dB, impedance 16-Ohms) with volume to around 9 o'clock, there's absolutely no background noise. When maximizing the volume knob out, some noise appears indeed, but that's inevitable for a 2W/ch. amplifier.
      raoultrifan, Oct 10, 2018
  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. ostewart
    Pure Fun! (Bang + Fun review)
    Written by ostewart
    Published May 19, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Fun sound, plenty of power
    Firstly, I would like to thank Burson for sending me these samples for review, they have both been used for at least 100hrs before this review was written.

    *disclaimer: This sample was provided for the purpose of writing a review, no incentive was given to write a favourable review. All opinions expressed are my own subjective findings.

    Gear Used: Topping D50 / JDS Labs OL DAC / JDS Labs EL DAC > Fun > Play > HE-500 / German Maestro GMP 400 / Mission Bookshelf speakers / HD820 / Clear

    [​IMG]

    Tech Specs:
    https://www.bursonaudio.com/products/fun/

    https://www.bursonaudio.com/products/bang/

    Packaging, Build Quality and Accessories:
    The Bang and Fun both come in a simple black box with the product name and picture on the outside, it is very simplistic but for these products you really don’t need anything fancy. When you open up the boxes you will find the products held tightly in place by foam cut outs, all the accessories are in a separate compartment. All of it is very secure for shipping and protects the products well, along with being sleek and understated.

    Both units have the same build quality, a full aluminium outer casing that is sturdy and flawlessly finished. All the inputs and outputs are sturdy and everything stacks very neatly if you want it to. The volume control on the Fun is super smooth, both units have the power switch on the back but that is only a minor inconvenience for some, and I have never found rear mounted power switches to be an issue. What I can say here really is that Burson know how to make a solid product that is built to last.

    Accessory wise with the Fun you get a set of RCA cables, a jack adaptor, the power supply and a 2.5mm hex key to open it up for op-amp rolling. With the Bang you only get the power supply and 2.5mm hex key, but then again I can’t think of anything else that would be needed to get it up and running. Overall a good set of accessories with each unit, and everything you need to get set up.

    Features:
    So the Fun is a headphone amp / pre-amp and it also has a mic jack pass through for those gamers out there. This is a pure analogue amp that has some very impressive output power for its size and price, it’ll drive most headphones out there with ease, and the gain is fairly high so it is still more suited for full-size headphones, but it does work fine with IEM’s too. It has one set of RCA inputs, and one set of outputs that are controlled by the volume control on the front. There is a 6.3mm headphone output on the front, and a 3.5mm mic input that passes through to a 3.5mm output on the back. The mic jacks are a pass through and not affected by the amp’s internals. On the back you have the power input from either the external power supply or a 4-pin molex from a PC power supply in case you want to mount the Fun in a PC case.

    The Bang is a small desktop power amplifier for passive speakers; it outputs 40w @4Ohms, 29w @8Ohms and 15.2w @16Ohms. It is also very quiet and can be used to drive hard to drive headphones with the correct banana-XLR adaptor. It is a power amp so you need a pre-amp to control the volume; there is merely a LED on the front panel to show it’s on. On the back you have the power input, a set of RCA inputs and the speaker outputs (accept bare wire, banana plugs and spades).

    [​IMG]

    Sound:
    The Fun is a pure Class-A headphone amp, and a powerful one at that. It comes in a small form factor but don’t let that fool you. First off, we have the stock version with the NE5543 op-amps and the Fun is a nice neutral leaning amp with plenty of detail and punch. It has so much power on tap I’ve never found myself going over 10 O’clock on the volume pot. The NE5543 is a perfectly good op-amp in the Fun, but there is still room for improvement. For starters the NE5543 may sound a little sterile to some, it lacks a little dynamism and the treble is not the most natural sounding in timbre.

    Pop in the V6 Vivid op-amps and it becomes just that, more vivid. The sound is more dynamic and punchier, with kicks hitting harder but never losing control. The midrange is not affected much apart from having better layering, separation and air. The treble gains some finesse and sounds more realistic than the NE5543. The Vivid plays well with many headphones, I personally found it to work wonders with the new Sennheiser HD820 over more reference style amps. The V6 vivid is just a lot of fun to listen to.

    The V6 Classic on the other hand is a little more reserved in its presentation, preferring to be a subtler and laid-back sounding op-amp. The sound is slightly less exciting and up-front but what is does have is a more balanced and even sound that is smooth and enjoyable without losing out on detail retrieval. The midrange on the V6 Vivid is not as intimate as it is on the Classic, the Classic is the one to go for if you want an expansive sound with an even balance.

    The V6 Vivid is energetic and fun, the V6 Classic is more reserved and balanced.

    Now on to the Bang, the sound changes between the op-amps in the Bang are less noticeable but are still there to some extent. The changes are the same as the in the Fun, with the Vivid being more fun and exciting, the V6 Classic being more even and balanced. If you are using the Fun or Play as the pre-amp you can mix and match between the units to get the right balance.

    The Bang with the NE5532 is a little on the brighter sound, and does not pair very well if you have brighter leaning speakers. Saying that it will work well with warmer speakers and still has a lot of power for its size. The good thing about the Bang is that you know the specs are not inflated, they are real life power ratings.

    Again, the Bang does not change as much with different op-amps but there are still subtle changes, the V6 vivid playing better with slightly more neutral speakers, bringing out a little bit of life out of them. The V6 Classic will give you a more faithful and truer to the source sound.

    What surprised me about the Bang is the moment you plug it in and get it playing you will notice how much more open, spacious and detailed it is compared to similar priced integrated amps. It really is the only amp you need for a nice little bookshelf / PC setup, and it will also handle a lot of bigger speakers if you are wanting a compact amp. It does not shy away from a challenge.

    The Bang is a powerful yet compact power amplifier that would be at home in both a PC based system as well as a HiFi system. If you partner it with the Play you have a remote from which you can adjust the volume, with the Fun you only have the volume pot. The Bang does not shy away from a challenge and it will do justice to many easier to driver speakers out there, it sounds a lot better than the cheaper integrated amps around the same price, the only downside is you will need a pre-amp to match the amount of inputs you need.

    [​IMG]

    Conclusion: Well I can easily recommend both products, as I can the Play. You can have them as a system or separates, but they all do what they set out to do with excellence. Have a Bang and a Play and you have an all in one DAC/HP amp/power amp that will drive most headphones and a large number of speakers with ease all in a compact stack or mounted in a PC case. The Fun comes in when you want to use a separate DAC and want a slightly better headphone amp than that of the Play. Burson have launched a superb series of desktop components that all sound great and work flawlessly, with the ability to tune the sound easily with op-amps along with mount them in a PC case. Keep up the good work Burson!

    Sound Perfection Rating:
    Fun 8.5/10 (Solid and powerful, V6 op-amps are highly recommended)

    Bang 8.5/10 (superb power amp, V6 op-amps are again highly recommended)
      raoultrifan likes this.
  6. Michaelp
    THE BURSON FUN REVIEW
    Written by Michaelp
    Published Mar 11, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Small foot print
    Great build quality
    Versatility
    Black backgroung
    Cons - Power switch on back
    DISCLAIMER: Burson sent the fun to me for a honest review. I'm by no means a expert reviewer this is just my opinion of this amp. All done with my ears and moddest gear.

    SETUP: PC(spotify premium)>usb>Audio-gd NFB 28.38 fixed out>Fun input>HD-600 and Hifiman HE-400i

    PACKAGING: The Burson Fun comes will packaged. In the box you will find the Fun encased in tight fitting foam. You will also find two boxes on each side of the fun. One contains power brick the other a nice set of RCA's,fuse,adaptor and allen wrench.

    BUILD: I thought the Fun was well constructed with it's all aluminum chassis. The four rubber feet on each corner let's it sit nice and firm on your desk. I really liked the feel of the volume knob with it's Alp's pot. It is very smooth with precise adjustments.

    SPEC'S: The Fun is a dual mono class A amp. Powered by four sets of max current power supply developed by Burson. Rest of spec's can be found on their web site.

    SOUND: This little amp packs a punch. It has all the power you would ever need for most headphones. It sound is very clean and dead quite. I thought it was very detailed with great dynamic's. I heard no signs of distortion at higher volumes.
    The Fun I received had the stock op amps which sounded very good to my ears. Can only imagine what rolling in the Classic or Vivid op amps would bring to the table. I can see why Burson named this amp the Fun very fitting.

    LOW END: With my headphones the low end is very fast and detailed with great weight and impact.

    MID'S: The mid's to me were smooth vocals sounded very natural with good mid bass punch.


    HIGHS: The highs were very very clean and detailed. Never had any fatiguing when listening to this amp for hours.

    CONCLUSION: For the asking price of the Fun with its power and dynamic sound it's a no brainer for me. It was super easy to set up and get started listening to music. The ability to charge op amps to alter the sound and be mounted in a computer case if that's for you. Over all I thinks this is a great little amp sounds great.


    images

    1. burson box 1.jpg
    2. burson box 2.jpg
    3. burson amp 1.jpg
    4. burson amp 2.jpg
    5. burson amp 3.jpg
  7. upsguys88
    Burson FUN for Everyone!
    Written by upsguys88
    Published Feb 9, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Simple set-up and ease of use
    Powerful
    Versatile (Heaphones + Speakers)
    Affordable
    Sleak form factor
    Cons - Upgraded Op-Amps are extra $
    This amp is so simple and so fun! I am a person who really enjoys equipment (amps and dacs) that are easy to use, simple to set up and just work! In my humble opinion, there are too many amps on the market that offer an immense amount of inputs and outputs, that for people like me who only use them to listen to great headphones, and great music, done honestly need. I really like the simplicity of this amp because it is easy to use, easy to set up and comes with a ton of power for any headphone or desktop speaker!

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

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

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

    Conclusion:
    This is a perfect addition to any system that needs more power, better amplification, and a sound that is accurate to the way your favorite music should be! I am excited to tinker with the addition of the various other op-amps Burson offers to see how the sound is enhanced with these better quality components.
  8. cripple1
    Burson Audio - A Bundle of FUN!
    Written by cripple1
    Published Jan 22, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Small footprint, lots of power, price
    Cons - No gain switch (more a preference than a con)
    1F5B2F8D-4E0F-4369-989C-415F5922BC74.jpeg 01178B38-C037-49AF-A301-80E0FA8C4727.jpeg

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


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



    About me


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



    Packaging


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



    Contents


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



    The amplifier


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


    Now.. On to the sound!



    The sound


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


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


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


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



    Conclusion


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

    (I will be doing a follow up review testing the V6 Classic opamps in the future, so if you liked this, look forward to that!)
      raoultrifan likes this.
  9. 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.

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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.

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    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
  10. h2rulz
    Burson's got game.. er Fun
    Written by h2rulz
    Published Dec 13, 2018
    4.5/5,
    DISCLAIMER
    Burson sent me the Fun for review weeks ago (I apologize for the late review). That said, as always, I'll try my best to provide an honest feedback.


    ABOUT ME

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

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

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

    IMG_5313.JPG IMG_5314.JPG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

    4.5 stars with stock opamps and 5 stars with the V6 Vivids