Burson Audio Soloist 3X Grand Tourer

General Information

2021 – The Burson Soloist 3X GT is the embodiment of our innovative spirit. It is the first headphone amp in the world that works so hard it needs active cooling.

Through research and over-engineering, we turn unconventional approaches into design benchmarks, And we thank all the like-minded audiophiles who appreciate our approach and witness our progress.

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Symmetrical through and through​

You can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can judge circuitry by its layout. Symmetrical dual-mono is beautiful and achieves the highest possible audio performance.
Under the bonnet, the GT has two independently powered mono amps in mirrored symmetry. The resulting pitch-black soundstage and crisp details are breathtaking!

Powering the GT​


The thumping heart of the Soloist GT is 5 sets of Burson Max Current Power Supplies. We are pushing these MCPS to the limits of their potential. So much so that they consume 90W when idle and need active cooling.
Although spitting out 10 Watts, the GT is not tracing power. Instead, it pursuits purity. So if you ever wonder what Norah Jones really sounds like, this dream machine takes you there!

Symmetrical Audio Paths​

The V6 Vivid discrete opamps are wildly regarded as the best globally and used in countless recording studios.
The GT uses three V6 Vivid opamps per channel, achieving incredible transparency. However, it still plays to your preference by allowing opamps to change, enabling you to create your own listening experience.

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Elitist Volume Control X 2​

The typical stereo volume control creates lots of cross channel interference. Industry aristocrats such as Pass Lab and AVM use the MUSES72320 volume control to reduce such distortion in their flagships preamps.
The Soloist GT goes further by using one MUSES72320 + V6 Vivid discrete buffer volume control per channel, eliminating any chances of cross channel interference.

Headphone Crossfeed​

Live music and loudspeaker sound arrive at your head mixed. It gives you a sense of positioning. Most recording engineers also work under the assumption that their tracks will be playing through stereo speakers, not headphones.
Some headphone listeners use software to create that crossfeed, but such DSP often create other distortions.
The Soloist GT has three levels of hardware-based crossfeed emulation. So you can listen to your favourite track, exactly the way you like it!

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GT Cool.​


Our Burson Cool Case is already the most oversized heat sink on any headphone amp. Still, we adopted active cooling for the GT.
With every component operating in a predetermined temperature range, independent of the environment, active cooling gives us the freedom to push the GT to its performance limit.
To eliminate wind noise, we designed a new enclosure to enhance stiffness and reduce resonance. Combining this resonance-free enclosure with the quietest fan money can buy from Noctua in Austria, wind noise sits below 25dBA. In comparison, an empty recording studio has over 30dBA of ambient noise. So, the GT is quieter than the background ambience of your music.

Speaker Centering​


Who can afford a fully symmetrical, sound-treated home auditorium? For everyone else, it is so typical to have a door or window near one speaker and a bookshelf near the other. These elements distort the sound stage.
With one MUSES+V6 Vivid volume controller per channel, you can adjust the volume of each stereo speaker separately. Bring you closer to that perfect sound stage previously reserved for the fortunate few!

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Head+Sub Mode. Say what!?​

We feel sound as much as we hear sound. Before the invention of headphones, music listening has always been a full-body experience. It’s not just what your ears can hear but all the energy that your body feels that move the soul.
Headphone listening goes to a new level with a carefully matched and placed subwoofer. The GT enables this experience with its Head+Sub mode.

Rev it up!​


The Soloist 3X GT is a drive for perfection. Headphones may change, and digital formats come and go, but this analogue performer is timeless.
It let us hear and feel more. So fire up the GT, and ride down memory lane. Revisit moments when life changed tracks and the songs enriching the journey.

Latest reviews

qsk78

Headphoneus Supremus
Australian TOTL headphone amplifier
Pros: Transparency, neutral tonality, instrument separation, detail retrieval, resolution, soundstage, functionality, weight and dimensions for 10 W in Class A with a silent Active Cooling system, Super Charger, vertical positioning, versatility
Cons: Active Cooling feature may be considered not for perfectionists, highly sensitive volume/selection/mute control knob.
INTRODUCTION

My journey with Burson Audio started a year ago when I decided to upgrade my home desktop system to drive Snorry NM-1 more efficiently (TOTL planars of a local manufacturer that time). After some deep market investigation my choice fell on Soloist 3XP and Composer 3XP.

Usually, I audition everything before I make any purchase decision. Unfortunately, there was no possibility that time to go to the dealer and listen to any of Burson Audio product since they just started their partnership as Burson dealer and had nothing in stock yet. So, I risked…and fortunately I won.

I was happy with performance of Burson combo especially when I replaced stock PSU with Super Chargers. In my option the key features of the combo are transparency, dynamics, smoothness and naturality.

It was obvious for me to switch to Grand Tourer later as the next step in home system evolution.

I should admit that I was thinking about some other alternatives on the market - Niimbus US4 was in my short list, especially with a good discount at a local dealer. But I decided to stay with Burson family after a year of positive experience with a regular Soloist 3XP.

There were some concerns about the GT right after its announcement. The most disturbing thing was a newly introduced (may be the first on the market) Active Cooling system.
The fan inside a TOTL amplifier – Are you kidding me? How about noise level? Dust accumulation? Are you serious?
I believe that many people thought and continue to think the same way.

I will come to Active Cooling later.



DESIGN AND SPEC

Some key features of the amplifier:

10Wpc XLR and 5Wpc single-ended Headphone Amp / Preamp
Dual Mono symmetrical design
High current Class-A with Burson Vivid Opamps.
2 X MUSES72320 + V6 Vivid discrete buffer volume control.
Speaker Soundstage centring
3 levels of hardware-based headphones crossfeed.
Weight: 5 kg
Dimension: 255mm x 270mm x 70mm


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Dual mono design
The GT has two independently powered mono amps in mirrored symmetry.

MSCP
5 sets of Burson Max Current Power Supplies.

Active Cooling
The quietest fan money can buy from Noctua in Austria, wind noise sits below 25dBA.
5 sets of MCPS consume 90W when idle and need active cooling.

Headphone Crossfeed
The Soloist GT has three levels of hardware-based crossfeed emulation.

Head+Sub Mode.
Music listening with a full-body experience.

Output power


Impedance (Headphone Jack)Power XLR / SESignal to Noise RatioSeparation
16 Ohm10 / 5W112db99%
32 Ohm8 / 4W110db99%
100 Ohm3.8 / 1.9W111db99%
150 Ohm1.3W / 650mW110db99%
300 Ohm640 / 320mW109db99.50%



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INPUTS AND OUTPUTS

You can find all these pictures in the User Manual on the official website

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DISPLAY / MENU / FUNCTIONS

The display has 3 levels of brightness.
There are 4 buttons under the screen: Inputs, Outputs, Settings, Display Orientation


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Settings: Gain, Speakers balance, OLED Level, Crossfeed, Remote on/off, Reset Set, Auto Off
Inputs: RCA1, RCA2, XLR1, XLR2
Output Modes: Headphones, Pre Out, Head + Sub

The only remark from my side is a high sensitivity of the knob. Sometimes I skip the function I need in the menu since the knob rotates very fast. I think you just need to get used to it, but it would be nice if you can adjust the speed somehow.

Auto Off
The Amplifier goes into sleep after 20 minutes of idle

Crossfeed
This feature has 3 levels: low, medium, high.
From my experience the higher level you choose the more central left and right channels go and mix. This is how I hear it in my headphones but you may have a different experience with this mode.



ACTIVE COOLING

In my opinion the question about Active Cooling is not about the cooling solution and design itself but more about if you can accept it or not.

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The key point here is that you should experience it first and see if it is an issue for you or not.

I made a quick experiment for noise measurement using a dB Meter app.

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I can make the following conclusion based on the experiment results:

GT Active Cooling system is the most silent among other devices around.
GT Active Cooling system produces 3 dBa less noise than Intel NUC.
GT Active Cooling system produces 7 dBa less noise than two Intel NUCs.
GT Active Cooling system does not add any additional noise to the existing working environment.

Active Colling is not an issue AT ALL in my case. It can be different if you live in completely silent environment.



NEW VOLUME CONTROL

I asked Alex from Burson Audio if there is a reason they took away a very popular Headphone Power Amp mode from a regular Soloist 3XP to bypass its volume control.
I was using this mode most of the time giving the volume control function to Composer 3XP.
The answer was as follows:


“With the Soloist 3X Performance, we anticipated that there could be a better volume control system upstream from it. ie if you buy a cost no object DAC or preamp then it may have a volume control superior to the 3X-P.

With the Soloist 3X GT, we have thrown the kitchen sink into its volume control design. Using one MUSE+Vivid discrete system, independently powered, per channel. It's not just what's in the 3X-P and times that by two. It's a lot of redesigning and optimization around each controller “


My personal experience with the volume control is only positive, I don’t have any complains and do not miss that specific mode on the GT.

I had some minor issues with volume level adjustment in the past and I had to play with Gain on both Soloist and Composer depending on a mode when it was too loud or too silent.

With the GT I don’t have this issue, I run my HEDDphone in High gain all the time and it is silent enough at 1 and loud enough at 30-40 so I don’t have to switch gain back and forth.

There is also a remote control which works just fine.



PERFORMANCE

My experience here will be very subjective since we all have different DACs and headphones, we all have different experience and understanding of how a TOTL amp should sound.

My current setup is:

Roon ROCK on Intel NUC → ifi Audio ZEN Stream → Composer 3XP w/ Super Charger 3A → Soloist 3XP GT w/ Super Charger 5A → HEDDphone One.

Cables:
Interconnect 2XLR x 2XLR - Oyaide Tunami Tzero V2 XX
Coaxial Oyaide DST-75R V2, USB Audioquest Forest

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My typical play list for any device test:

From Instrumental jazz and classical music to dissonant technical death metal and funeral doom


Avishai Cohen Trio - From Darkness (96 kHz / 24 bit)
Tord Guvstansen Trio - The Other Side (96 kHz / 24 bit)
Alboran Trio - Islands (96 kHz / 24 bit)
BassDrumBone - The Long Road (44.1 kHz / 16 bit)
Jo Kaiat - Come to My World (44.1 kHz / 16 bit)
Sinee Eeg & Thomas Fonnesbak – Staying in Touch (96 kHz / 24 bit)
GoGo Penguin – Man Made Object (44,1 kHz/ 24 bit)
Danish String Quartet – Prism I, II, III (96 kHz / 24 bit)
Kowloon Walled City - Piecework (88,2 kHz / 24 bit)
Ulcerate - Stare into Death and Be Still (44.1 kHz / 24 bit)
Ad Nauseam - Imperative Imperceptible Impulse (44,1 kHz/ 16 bit)
Rome in Monochrome - Away From Light (44.1 kHz / 16 bit)
Carach Angren - Where the Corpses Sink Forever (44,1 kHz/ 16 bit)
Mournful Congregation – The Monad of Creation (44,1 kHz/ 16 bit)
Funeral Moth - Transience (44kHz / 16 bit)
Intaglio – Intaglio (15th Anniversary Remix) (96 kHz / 24 bit)


HEADPHONES OUT

Regarding tonality I find GT more on a neutral side where every TOTL amp should be, I think.
You can play with various DACs and headphones to find your sound or add some coloration if needed.

GT is very precise in terms of instrument positioning and imaging.
The soundstage goes wide and deep, thanks to its dual mono design I think.
The GT provides tons of details. There is a lot of air between instruments.
Bass is fast, layered and articulated.

I read some complains about mids - mids are slightly recessed and the GT may sound thin
I don’t hear it. Mids sound rather balanced with the rest of the spectrum and I don’t consider this range thin sounding.

It can be a question of a DAC or headphones or to personal preferences.
This is like Audeze headphones: some people are addicted to the bass they deliver, others consider them bass heavy.

Highs are well extended and bring a lot of information.

I believe the final sound signature will depend on a DAC used with it. I assume that the better DAC is used the better the result is in the end.


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HEADPHONES + SUBWOOFER OUT

Well, I was excited about this possibility to run a subwoofer in parallel with headphones, but I did not know how it would work in reality and what it would mean “with a carefully matched and placed subwoofer”.

I was a bass guitar player in the past in a metal band at student time and spent many hours on stage and also visiting many live concerts. I remember that full-body experience from standing in front of the stage when the kick drum hits hard into your chest and you physically feel this air blast…that was unforgettable and great experience.

So I decided to purchase a small sub. First I thought to buy a cheap subwoofer just to try how it works, but eventually I bought a better sub to get better performance.
After my own market investigation and some expert consultation I decided to go with REL.
I bought Tzero MKIII, the smallest sub of REL. This is a down firing sub. I could not find a front firing sub of this size to fit my dimension request . May be the front firing sub for this particular application would be a better option, I don’t know.

I don’t consider the Head-Sub mode for a usual daily listening. This mode is mainly for fun listening when you have a certain mood. It will probably not work for each and every genre.

I’m not a big fan of electronic music but I have some playlists in my car, and I like Aes Dana with his psy-ambient stuff…these things sound great with the subwoofer.

The important thing is subwoofer placement. I am not fully sure if the place I chose (on the shelf) is the right one. Ideally the sub should be placed on the floor in the corner, I think. But then you need to increase the volume on the sub, so I placed it closer to my ears.

The next important thing is the Sub volume and frequency range control. It depends on your preferences: if you want it to produce the whole range from 30 to 120 Hz or you need to cut it and get the lowest range only.

You should make the sub sound rather loudly to experience the full-body sound. The kick drum starts pushing air into your chest at 30-35 volume on the GT and maximum volume on the REL.

One more thing is how the members of your family react to the sub). I try to turn this mode on only when I’m alone at home which happens not often.

As a short summary of the Head-Sub mode: this is a nice thing to have for fun listening in addition to a usual amp operation.
Great idea, Burson!


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SPEAKERS OUT

Unfortunately, I did not have a possibility to evaluate this mode since I don’t have any speaker system at home today but after I tried Head-Sub mode I start thinking about it. If I can use Head+Sub mode sometimes, nothing stops me from adding two more speakers to it)


COMPARISON WITH SOLOIST 3XP

To me GT is an evident step up from the Soloist 3XP as I expected.
To already clean and transparent sound it adds more of everything…
Regarding tonality GT goes more into a neutral and linear side of sound delivery while the younger brother is slightly warmer and pushes mids more forward.

GT has less bass quantity, but it brings better quality in comparison. It is faster.
Dual mono design makes another step up in channel and instrument separation.
When you switch from 3X GT to 3XP you hear more “compact”, more colored and more congested sound.

Soloist 3XP has more of its own character while the GT is stricter and doesn’t bring much of its own I think.

You should keep the price of both amplifiers in mind. Soloist 3XP remains a great performer which is hard to beat in this niche


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FINAL WORDS

Does the GT meet my expectations? Yes, absolutely.
I can consider the “amplification” question closed now.

Besides the performance I would like to underline its multiple functions and applications:


It may extend your experience beyond the headphones listening.
If you want more live and full-bodied listening, just add a subwoofer.
If you want to take off your headphones, switch the mode on GT to active speakers.

Nice job Burson Audio!

I would like to wish all the best to the company and looking forward to new products.

GT needs a new DAC…😉


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Last edited:
DAPpower
DAPpower
I also felt the mids were slightly different the first time I listened to the GT, but I'm sure with a longer burn in with the capacitors, the sound should stabilize, I sort of like this tuning anyways, the mids aren't too present which doesn't drown out the other frequencies. It could also be the pad choice that I used with my ZMF VC at the time too.
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PointyFox
PointyFox
"The only remark from my side is a high sensitivity of the knob. Sometimes I skip the function I need in the menu since the knob rotates very fast. I think you just need to get used to it, but it would be nice if you can adjust the speed somehow."

No. It's not that it's highly sensitive, it's that it's just plain inaccurate due to Burson not bothering to implement it properly.
The tactile feedback from the knob doesn't correspond to adjustments. Also the software just "guesses" whether you're turning the knob left or right and will often be wrong. It's actually less accurate when you turn the knob slowly. There are plenty of products that have similar hardware that don't have these problems. It's just lazy design. The issue exists in all their current products. I was hoping they would have fixed it with this new product.
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