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Burson Audio Play

Rating:
4.75/5,
  1. newdoughboy
    Burson Play /w V6s Discrete Opamps - Daily Driver
    Written by newdoughboy
    Published Jan 14, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Build Quality, Value, Fun Factor, Audiophile Prowess
    Burson Play Review
    20171220_154458.jpg
    I’ve had the Play for over 15 days, and this is my review. The unit was originally sent with JRC IC opamps. I also ordered some V6 Classics to have 3 Dual and 2 Singles for the ultimate setup. Discrete Opamps will go through a 50 hour burning period.

    20171220_154512.jpg

    Equipment wise, I own/have owned HT Omega Claro Halo, K702, HD650, K550, Beats Studio, SE535 Reshelled (CIEM), Xiaomi Piston 2, TTPOD T1-E, Xuelin ihifi960, Blox BE03, Brainwavz S5, Bravo Audio Ocean, PreSonus HP4, Racoon SG-300. AT120usb, Denon 110 MC cartridge, Cambridge Audio Azur 651p

    20171220_160352.jpg

    My newer equipment tend to lean more towards speakers equipment.Pro-Ject 9.1, Gram Amp 2 Special Edition, Anthem Integrated 225, Totem Forest, Hifiman HE400i, Burson Air, Chord Mojo, and AK120.

    20171220_154541.jpg

    So I get a good sense of what I can get in terms of sound quality for the extra cost. My favourite combination is Anything going into my Anthem 225 and coming out of Totem Forest. Source is very important, and most of my music is in FLAC, and I am slowly building up a decent vinyl collection.

    20171220_160842.jpg

    Since the Burson Play is made for the PC market, I am going to approach this product from 2 directions.


    1. Gaming and Movies
    • Game will be World of Tanks

    • Movie will be Fate of the Furious
    1. Opamp switching audiophile grade DAC + Amp
    • Songs from different genres using V6 Classics Vs.

    • || Chord Mojo

    • || Conductor Air
    Songs tested were in FLAC unless otherwise stated

    20180116_111637.jpg

    Play with V6Classics vs Chord Mojo

    FLAC - Foobar - DAC/Amp - K702 with new foam earpads and new mps x-7 cable.


    MIA - Paper Planes

    The bass is tighter and deeper in the Play

    The detail retrieval is very similar from both units. They both present the gunshots, finger snaps, cash register noise etc. very realistically.

    The soundstage/presentation is definitely better coming from the Play. The spatial imaginary is more accurate while giving this song an intimate/close presentation. The play removes a veil that is present on the Mojo.


    Evanescense - Tourniquet

    After repeated listenings, I keep coming back to the same findings from Paper Planes.


    Fleetwood Mac - Dreams (Alternate Mix)

    The Play has a significantly blacker background, which contributes to a clearer soundstage.

    The Mojo makes Stevie Nicks sound a little softer, which is perceived as a little more vulnerable. That attribute is actually my favourite part of her voice.


    The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall - Wishing you were here again

    The quieter backdrop really gives the song a better presentation and more detail. One thing I noticed on the Play and not on the Mojo as much/at first was that I can hear the singer take her breathe before every strong part.


    I find that the play is significantly better than the Mojo, therefore; the Play will replace the Mojo as my daily driver.


    **************************************
    20171223_122343.jpg

    I decided to put the Mojo into Line-Out and use the Burson Soloist as the headphone amp to see if that helps with the sound. It absolutely did by opening up the soundstage, and improving the details. This in my opinion put the 2 units on equal footing with the Mojo/Soloist producing better background notes and synth spark/shine/pop, and the Play producing the most lush focals.


    **************************************


    Play with V6C vs Conductor Air


    Eagles - Hotel California in dsd64

    The resolving power of both units are very similar. The difference I can find between the 2 units is that the Play can produce bass better. The bass guitar sounds much more prominent, instead of hiding behind rest of the instruments. The bass drum also punches harder and deeper.


    David Guetta - Sexy Bitch Ft. Akon

    Katy Perry - Dark Horse Ft. Juicy J

    To support the findings above, I listened to some bass heavy songs. There is definitely greater bass extension from the Play. The only way to add more bass is to increase the overall volume, which increases rest of the spectrum to ear bleeding levels.


    ***************************************


    So I did test the Play in gaming and movie performance. To be honest, I have never valued audio in gaming very much. This test did reveal that the Play is significantly better than my Alienware laptop’s on-board DAC, which we all would’ve assumed. Explosions and ammo ricochets were more realistic in World of Tanks. However, that did not significant enriched my gaming experience. Since I'm not a FPS gamer, I cannot fully judge how well the Play can produce fatigue-free 3D positioning for hours of gaming. In Fate of the Furious, I had similar findings. I even bore myself writing about it. The Play makes everything sounds better, but I look for amazing visuals and story line in movies. In musicals, that would change everything; I would be looking at it from an audiophile perspective. Since I have the privilege of owning a home theatre setup, I like to enjoy big action films with the thundering roar of a subwoofer.

    So from an audiophiles perspective, I honestly believe that the Play with V6Cs are a great value, near end game DAC/headphone amp combo. I’m sure that systems that cost several thousand dollars can beat it, but how many of us working Joes or budding audiophiles or students can afford those? For me, these will be my daily driver because I do not own a better combo. I guess I shouldn’t conclude the review without discussion how good I think the unit looks. It’s simple, and elegant in my opinion. The black goes well with all my existing audio equipment, and the interior build quality just looks confidence inspiring.


    I will post my findings about the V6Vivids when I get a chance in the future.

    ***************************************

    It’s the future guys, and Im here to compare the Vivid to the Classic in the Burson Play


    Taylor Swift - Enchanted

    V6V

    Very analytical, the instrument separation is very good, and detail is incredible. Very 3 dimensional. It does in a way make all the parts a little distracting.


    V6V Duals and V6C Singles

    Right away I noticed the detailed guitar notes are pulled back to let the vocals shine. Just a better presentation. Somehow the volume is quieter than all V6Vs.


    V6C Duals and V6V Singles

    The better matchup with very good detail and intimate vocals. Similar detail, witch a more cohesive presentation.


    V6C

    Lacking a little detail, good vocals with absolutely no fatigue. Soundstage is still good.


    The Cranberries - Ode to My Family

    V6V

    Most detail to instruments. Percussion detail is just mesmerizing. Hard to just enjoy the music

    V6V Duals and V6C Singles

    More bass than all V6C

    V6C Duals and V6V Singles

    Gives more details and energy to guitar. Opens up the soundstage. Vocal layering more noticeable. Slightly louder. Vocal more fatiguing than all V6C

    V6C

    Very intimate vocals, with good guitar accompaniment. Warmer presentation. Smokey lounge feel.



    Massive Attack - Angel

    V6V

    Deep and powerful bass, Piercing details.

    V6V Duals and V6C Singles

    Slightly less powerful bass than all V6V.

    V6C Duals and V6V Singles

    Good details, warms it just enough to soften the parts that would cause listening fatigue

    V6C

    Just a veil that removes too much energy from the music.


    From the above 3 songs, I have determined that I definitely want the V6V singles in my Burson Play. I also decided that I don’t want All V6V or V6C, I’m going to try to find the best combination.


    Next, I listened to a few songs to determine which duals I will use.


    After introducing Modest Mouse - Float On, and The Killers - Somebody Told Me into the rotation; I began to see whether I want the V6V in I/V Stage and V6C in LP Stage, or Vice Versa. So my conclusion is that I prefer the V6C in IV Stage and V6V in LP Stage. I love detail, but with All V6V Duals, it is just a little too harsh in comparison. So with the V6C in I/V Stage, I get all the details while rounding out the highs to enable longer listening sessions.


    One thing I noticed with the Play is that if you have one opamp not fully plugged it, there’s a little relay inside that prevents it from running.
      llamaluv and raoultrifan like this.
  2. ostewart
    Powerful and fun DAC/Amp
    Written by ostewart
    Published Oct 18, 2017
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Op-Amp rolling, versatility, power and overall sound quality
    Cons - no analogue or optical inputs
    Firstly I would like to thank Burson Audio for selecting me as the first member of the UK tour, I made sure to give the unit plenty of hours of play before the final review.

    *disclaimer: This sample was provided on loan 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: HP Laptop > Curious USB cable > Play (V6 Vivid and Classic op-amps) > German Maestro GMP400 / Ultrasone Edition 8 EX and others...

    DSC_9043.jpg

    Tech specs:
    Extensive info can be found on the product page: https://www.bursonaudio.com/products/play/

    Pricing:
    Play Basic - NE5532 X 3, NE5543 X 2 - $299

    Play with V5i - V5i-Dual X 3, V5i-Single X 2 - $399*

    Play with V5 - V5-Dual X 3, V5-Single X 2 - $475*

    Play with V6 Vivid - V6-Vivid-Dual X 3, V6-Vivid-Single X 2 - $549*

    Play with V6 Classic - V6-Classic-Dual X 3, V6-Classic-Single X 2 - $549*

    *All models above the Basic come with the remote. Prices include shipping and are in USD.

    Build quality and Accessories:
    As this is part of a tour, it did not come in retail packaging I don’t think, as it came in a clear plastic box. The unit itself is quite industrial looking, with an all black chassis that feels hefty and solid. On the front you have the volume knob, LED volume numbers, 6.3mm headphone output and also a 3.5mm microphone input. On the back you have the regular power input, a power input for jumpers from a PC PSU if you want to mount it in your PC, RCA outputs and a USB input. Everything is extremely well finished and put together with tight sockets and minimal play.

    Accessory wise you get a USB cable, remote control and RCA cables. This is a tour unit so additional V6 Classic op-amps are included, the V6 Vivid are pre-installed in this unit. With the retail version you get a panel for the back of your PC with RCA jumpers so you can still use the pre-amp output whilst mounted in a PC.

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    Features:

    This Amp/DAC is aimed at those who want the best sound out of their PC, hence why Burson made it the size it is, so you can mount it in a PC case. It also has a dedicated microphone input, which is again aimed at gamers, and provides a high quality microphone input.

    I will be using the Play as a regular Amp/DAC with headphones for music playback. Now the Play is a full class A amp (runs warm) with built in DAC, it has no analogue inputs to allow you to only use the amp section. It also only has USB input, which is a shame as an optical port would have made it even better.

    Now this Amp/DAC can output a lot of power, so should be able to drive most headphones out there with ease. It also has RCA outputs so you can use it as a DAC/Pre-amp, the RCA volume is changed with the knob and is not a fixed line-out.

    DSC_9056.jpg

    You get a remote control which allows you to control volume along with muting the device; you can also mute it by pressing the volume knob in. The volume control is digital and has 99 steps, the gain is fairly high, as is the output impedance (8 Ohms) so it is really made for full-size headphones and not sensitive IEM’s.

    One major feature of the Play is the ability to roll op-amps with ease; the unit comes with a hex key to open it up and allows you easy access to change the op-amps. Also the circuit is designed to get the most out of Bursons own series of op-amps.

    DSC_9060.jpg

    Sound:
    V6 Vivid:

    The Burson play leans more to the fun side of sound with the Vivid op-amps, not being a purely reference amp. It has plenty of power and punch yet also finesse; the finer details are not smeared or hidden. It is a dynamic and punchy sounding amp, allowing you to hear excellent detail without sounding overly harsh. Separation is excellent and the soundstage is very enveloping allowing you to easily pinpoint instruments within the soundstage.

    There is never any sense that you are missing out on anything in the recording, there is plenty of air around instruments without sounding detached. With the V6 Vivid the sound is transparent but not strictly flat and neutral, it doesn’t want to be either. It wants you to enjoy the music without trying to analyse it.

    As I said with the V6 Vivid it is a more dynamic and punchy sound, more direct and fun adding a little bottom end presence which works wonders with my GMP400’s.

    DSC_9061.jpg

    V6 Classic:
    With the V6 Classic vocals are upfront and intimate, you get a bit more of an intimate sound with a bit less air but you get a little extra smoothness. Again the details are there, but not as up front and exciting as the Vivid, the sound is a little more laid back but intimate. The bass is smoother and has less visceral punch, instead stays more in line with the recording. Vocals are the focus here.

    I find the V6 Classic to sound more linear and balanced but with a little added smoothness, the soundstage is still wide but instruments have a softer edge to them, the highs are not as exciting but still extend effortlessly.

    I find the V6 Classic to be less exciting but more towards my preferred sound, it has a very detailed and well balanced sound with a hint of smoothness, they work well with all genres and sound excellent.

    Microphone input: The input works really well and is excellent quality, no issues here and an excellent feature for gamers: https://vocaroo.com/i/s0pisjvHvJpL

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    Conclusion:
    Well what can I say; it does what it says on the tin but with added functionality that other DAC/Amps do not offer for this price. The amp section is extremely powerful and can be tuned with different op-amps and offers an excellent platform for people looking to test various op-amp configurations. It has a microphone input on the front for gamers, and can be neatly mounted in a PC tower.

    With the V6 Vivid op-amps you get a very dynamic and crisp sound that is extremely fun to listen to, with the V6 Classic op-amps you get a more neutral sound but still with a hint of smoothness and intimacy that is more in line with my personal preferences.

    The Burson play really is an excellent DAC/Amp, that is versatile and works really well with most full-size headphones. For the price it is a highly recommended product for those looking for a desktop DAC/Amp. I personally would have liked to have seen optical and analogue inputs, but I suppose you can’t have everything.

    Sound Perfection Rating: 9/10 (no analogue or optical inputs)
      raoultrifan and selvakumar like this.