Headphoneus Supremus
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


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.


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.


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


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


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


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


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 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, 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


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.
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)?
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.


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Great build quality, plenty of power for big cans with a low noise floor for iems, microphone pass-through for gamers.
Cons: USB input or 3.5mm aux input only – no Coaxial or optical inputs.
Sometime back now, I reviewed the Burson Play and found it to be a solid value and a very versatile DAC/AMP. At $399 for the base model, it still represents great value for those looking at desktop DAC/AMP combinations. The only real complaints on the Play, were the lack of upgradability of the DAC and the limits of the DAC to DSD256. In today’s market, DSD512 playback is becoming more common and some will skip over the play for that reason. This is a shame as the Amp section of the play is very good and offers a lot of customization options at a reasonable price. I had mentioned that in my initial notes so when Burson came out with the Fun, they sent me a note asking if I would like to review it. I jumped at the chance.

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

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

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

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


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



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



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

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


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


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


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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Headphoneus Supremus
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.



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


Looks, no gain selector


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.


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.




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).


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…


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....



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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New Head-Fier
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 (, 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.




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.
Would love a comparison between the FUN ($400 version) to the Sololist SL MK2 ($500).


Formerly known as Res-Reviews
Pros: Outstanding performance, low noise floor, compact footprint, great build quality, premium materials
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
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

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.

Construction Quality



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.

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
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!
Would love a comparison between the FUN ($400 version) to the Sololist SL MK2 ($500).


1000+ Head-Fier
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.


Headphoneus Supremus
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_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.


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 ( 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.


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.


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.


Frequency response (perfectly flat till 20 KHz)




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:, 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

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:
Would love a comparison between the FUN ($400 version) to the Sololist SL MK2 ($500).


Headphoneus Supremus
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.


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.


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).


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


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
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


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?


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.


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.
Would love a comparison between the FUN ($400 version) to the Sololist SL MK2 ($500).