Burson Audio Soloist 3X Grand Tourer


100+ Head-Fier
It's Easy to be Immersed when the Sound is so Accurate
Pros: Video Games, Movies, Shows, and Music Sound Correct
Can Power Almost Any Headphone
No Hiss for Sensitive Headphones
Sensitive Headphones Can be Played at Low Volumes
Both Balanced and Single Ended Outputs
Both RCA and XLR Inputs
Three Gain Settings
Crossfeed Setting
Case is Heavy Duty, Looks Great
Optional Upgrades (Silent Power and Supercharger)
Supports Remote Control
Can Sit Horizontally or Vertically
Op Amps can be Changed to Customize the Sound
Cons: Remote Control Must be Pointed Directly at the Amp
Remote Control is Limited to Volume, Mute, and Input
Audible Noise from the Cooling Fan
Burson Audio Soloist 3XGT Review:

In this hobby I've often read that the headphone is the most important part of the audio chain. It’s said that you should prioritize getting a good headphone over any other gear, and worry about the rest of the audio chain later. As your audio chain improves there is a point where things flip though, where the most important parts become the DAC & Amp. In my experience the trick to long term happiness with this hobby is to have several competent mid-tier (or better) headphones that you can use on a whim to keep things fresh, all while having one really solid DAC & Amp combo which allows those headphones to sound their best. The Soloist 3XGT fits that amp role right out of the box. I’ll go more into the details of the sound below, but first some background on me and additional details on the amp.

A brief history of where I’m coming from is that around a decade ago I finally got some mid-tier headphones. In wanting those headphones to sound their best I started playing around with portable amps. Adding a dedicated headphone amp into the chain made it obvious how important a quality amp is, regardless of the headphone you use. All headphones scale with proper amplification, and they scale up by a large amount. Over the years I’ve tried desktop amps from a dozen or so manufacturers, but ended up enjoying the Burson Conductor 3 Reference the most. After using the Reference for a few years I upgraded to the single ended Conductor 3GT, which immediately became my favorite amp. I was curious as to what the sound difference would be in using a dedicated amp, such as the Soloist, instead of the combo DAC + Amp of the Conductor. With that I jumped at the opportunity to give the Soloist a try.



Unique Features of the Soloist 3XGT:

10 Watt Output @ 16 Ohm Balanced, or 5 Watt Single Ended: Having both balanced and single ended outputs allows you to use almost any headphone. For power hungry headphones you never have to wonder if your headphone is being fully driven. The Hifiman HE6se V2 is notoriously difficult to drive with a sensitivity of 83.5db @ 1mW. The Soloist is so powerful that I’ve preferred to use the HE6se V2 on low or medium gain depending on the source. The sound is similar to using a speaker amp, just with more detail. Using low gain delivers the most accurate stage and detail, while medium adds some additional body for the most demanding headphones. I never found a need to use high gain on any of my headphones, as all were fully driven on low or medium gain settings.

The single ended output has less power than the balanced, which makes it ideal for more sensitive headphones. My most sensitive headphones (102db per 1mW @ 32 ohms) don’t have any audible hiss on low gain, and they start at a low listening volume on level 01. Those same sensitive headphones get up to my normal listening level at around volume 10.

Both RCA and XLR Inputs: You can use a DAC that outputs RCA or balanced XLR. I tried both types of inputs and they both were great. You do not need a balanced DAC to enjoy this amp. I ended up preferring the RCA inputs in my setup, as my best DAC outputs single ended.

Subwoofer + Headphone Mode: You can attach a subwoofer to both hear and feel the sound. I mainly use my headphones in a home theater setup where the sub is far away from my listening position, so I didn’t end up using this feature. Should be fun for those that have a close listening position though.

Remote Control is Included: A must have if you are planning on using a headphone amplifier in a home theater setup. I’ll talk more about the remote control further down.

Changeable Op Amps to Fine Tune the Sound: We all change our preferences over time, and we all want the sound to be exactly what we prefer. Out of the box the Soloist 3XGT sounds correct, but if any aspect of it isn’t to your liking then you can change the sound at the hardware level by putting in different op amps. There’s a lot of op amp choices out there that will make the sound warmer, brighter, more dense, less dense, more detailed, or alter the sound stage however you like. Since the capability of this amp is so great, it’s possible to fine tune the sound to be exactly what you prefer.

Microphone Input, and Preamp Outputs: I don't have a use case for these features, but I'm sure there are others out there that will benefit from these.

Crossover: You get Low, Medium, and High crossover settings to simulate what you would typically hear from speakers. This is great on some recordings, but I typically leave it off to get the most accurate sound stage.

L/R Balance: As we age our ears will often age at different speeds. You can get that perfect stereo image regardless on if one ear is quieter than the other.

Optional Upgrades: The Silent Power Modules can be swapped to further reduce noise in the chain (should increase detail and separation). There’s also a Supercharger power supply that also filters out any noise in the chain prior to the amp. With past Burson products I would say the Supercharger is required to get the most accurate sound, but with the Soloist 3XGT I found the sound was already correct right out of the box. Still, these upgrade options are available for those that want to push the resolution further, or for those that need additional power filtering.


Works great in a home theater setup. You can have full volume at night while others are sleeping.


It's easy to use and does everything you would expect. All issues in usability from past models have been fixed, but otherwise the form factor and UI is similar to past Burson models.

  • Numerical OLED Display: The volume is displayed numerically, and is saved when you turn off the unit. At all times the display will show you the volume, input, and bitrate. The system does not let you turn off the screen, but you do have the option of setting the brightness to Low, Medium, or High. Low brightness works great in both light and dark environments. My usual listening position is 3+ meters away, and the display is clear and easy to read from that distance.

  • Smooth Scrolling Volume Knob: The volume knob is large, feels solid, and moves smoothly. In some past Burson models there was an issue where the knob would be overly sensitive, causing the numbers to jump up and down with the slightest touch. The knob feels unchanged from past models, but the sensitivity is lowered to the point that the volume or selections no longer jump around. The knob now works well and feels premium.

  • Front Buttons: The buttons under the front display are input, output, settings, and display orientation. Gain is hidden in the settings menu which is the same as past Burson models. I used to think it would be best to have gain as a dedicated button up front, but in using the Conductors for years I’ve found it really isn’t an issue. I do tend to change the gain somewhat often, but it’s not a bother to have to press one additional button to do so, especially now that the volume knob is no longer overly sensitive. Everything works and is easy to access.

  • Remote Functionality: The remote is unchanged from past models. It’s solid metal and fairly small, about the size of a disposable lighter. The remote allows you to change the input, mute, volume up, and volume down. The remote looks and feels fairly high end, but it’s line of sight capability is somewhat limited. You do need to point it exactly at the Soloist for it to register. To improve the IR capability I used the stock remote to teach another universal remote the commands, and with that I have zero issues with using the Soloist in a home theater setup. I've had the same remote for the last several years (on other models), and while everything works I do wish it had some more buttons/commands. I'd love if the next remote design would include 'Power', ‘Left’, ‘Right’, and ‘OK’ buttons, which would allow you to go through the menu to change settings from a distance. This isn’t necessary by any means, but it would be a useful feature I'd love to see on future models.

  • Gain Settings: The Soloist has Low, Medium, and High Gain settings. This differs from the Conductor 3GT model which only has Low and High. The Soloist has more power than you should need on any headphone, so which gain you use will come down to the sensitivity of the headphone and your preference. In general Low gain will offer the cleanest sound and maximum separation. Increasing gain will add warmth and density at the expense of detail and stage. Different headphones will sound best with different gains, but you’ve got all the options you need to get the best sound for your setup.

  • It’s got a fan!: Due to the Class-A design there is now the need for active cooling. The fan is quiet. In a home theater setup the sound isn’t noticeable to me. If I was right next to the amp the noise is so low that it wouldn’t bother me, but everyone is different. Just know there is a very low air hum whenever the amp is on. It sounds similar to air quietly blowing out of a house vent.

Sound Impressions:

Most reviews are focused on how music sounds out of an amp or headphone. I listen to a lot of music, but I use my headphones more for playing all sorts of video games and watching movies or shows. With music there is a lot of leeway in interpreting if the sound is correct. You cannot see where the sounds are supposed to be in the stage, or the details of how the sound is being created, so it's easy to listen to music and think that the sound is accurate when it actually deviates in multiple ways. When you are watching visual media your eyes get involved too, and you can then better interpret if there is something off with the sound. That said, the 3XGT delivers the greatest movie experience I've ever had while using headphones. The sound placement is exactly where it should be, the acoustics are correct, sound detail matches up with the visuals, and the entire presentation is done in a 3D like bubble that mimics a surround speaker setup. This same experience extends to video games, shows, and music. In short everything sounds ‘correct’ regardless of the media.

Normally I would go into the specific details of the sound signature, but in the case of the Soloist 3XGT it’s not really necessary. Sound reproduction is how it should be. If there is thunderous bass in the mix, that is what you will get. If there are subtle sounds in the layers of the music, you can hear it. All of this assumes that the rest of your audio chain is not altering or reducing the audio quality, but the point is that the Soloist 3XGT does what it is supposed to do. What is worth mentioning is how the Soloist 3XGT differs from other amps in order to deliver that ‘correct’ sound. While detail, timbre, and tonality needs to be accurate, the largest difference is the sound stage and density within that stage. The sound stage is presented as a 3D bubble filled with sound which gets us closer to what we hear in our every day life. Many amps have large sound stages, but typically they won’t extend properly behind you, or the stage will be large with a lot of blank space in-between. In life when we hear a sound from a short distance away it isn’t just in one small spot with blank space around it, but instead the sound fills the space in front of us while having enough spatial info for us to pinpoint the exact source. The Soloist 3XGT fills the sound stage with sound as it should be, giving a more realistic sound reproduction. The Soloist 3XGT accomplishes this great presentation while keeping detail at a level where you don’t feel that anything is missing.

While the Soloist 3XGT does exactly what it needs to do, that isn’t to say it is absolutely perfect. In our everyday life we are surrounded by sound that contains a lot of data. That amount of data is not going to exist in a stereo recording, but there is a point where a headphone goes from sounding really good to sounding correct, even if it is still missing data. The Soloist 3XGT crosses that line where you can just be immersed and enjoy. While the sound is correct, there is always going to be the potential for 'more'. The ability to get more detail, more spatial information, cleaner sounds, blacker backgrounds, etc… I have no doubt that the Soloist 3XGT can gain additional detail by customizing the op amps, making sure that the power input is pristine, and upgrading the silent power modules. Even then, the sound reproduction won’t exactly match what we hear in our everyday lives. However, while upgrading and playing with op amps is always fun, it’s not really necessary for the Soloist 3XGT. There comes a point where the amp sounds correct enough to convey exactly what the recording intends, and more is just more. The fundamental experience won’t change by adding 'more'. So while upgrading the components can likely improve the sound further, the Soloist 3XGT is good enough out the box to be all that is needed as the amp in your chain.

Closing Notes:

The sound coming out of your headphones will only be as good as the weakest part in your audio chain. This includes your power quality, DAC, Amp, interconnects, headphone cable, and finally the headphone. Often times we end up tinkering with cables or ear pads to equalize a sound when it’s not those items that are causing issues, but rather something else in the chain. This can lead to a lot of trial and error as we attempt to fix the symptoms of an issue rather than the root cause. This also leads to differing impressions of how audio gear sounds, as we all try to patch together a correct audio signal while altering it in different ways. Ideally the end goal is to make sure each part of the chain is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do, not altering or degrading the sound. That is how you end up getting the most out of your headphones, but it's difficult to find gear that simply does it's job. The Soloist 3XGT is accurate, it can be that piece of your audio chain that you don’t have to question or change to get it to sound right. That's one piece of the puzzle solved. Now you just have the difficult task of figuring out the rest of the chain.
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New Head-Fier
Great Service Great Product
Pros: It's a great amp that benefits from op amp swapping
Cons: be careful op amp swapping
Bought this amp based in part the great reviews here and elsewhere. About six months ago I decided to swap op amps. I put a pair of Sparkos 2590's into the volume control and a pair of Sonic Imagery 994s into the input buffers. Worked great and to my ear brought sonic improvements to the amp. About four months later I got the itch to upgrade again and this time I replaced the Vivid Op Amps in the Voltage Gain with a pair of Burson Classics. It was sonic heaven - tube-like and rich - resulting in a bigger improvement to the sound then the Sparkos and the Sonic Imagery put together. Problem is, after about two weeks the amp stopped working. Oh it turned on and lit up, but it produced no sound, no matter what configuration of op amps or external connections to headphones and DACs that I tried.
I took the amp to Audio Design and Service, a highly regarded pro-repair shop here in Los Angeles. Some $300 later they told me the Classic op amps were both fried (they had no explanation for why) and that they repaired all damage and the amp was now working. So, I ordered a new set of Burson Classic op amps which I had the repair shop install and run for three solid days without a problem. However, when I brought the amp home it worked fine for about two weeks and then it died again no matter what op amps I drop in or how I tried to connect it.
Luckily I was contacted by Burson as a result of the review above. Charles at Burson told me that they stand behind their equipment and gave me a local address to send the amp in for repair at no cost. Charles kept in touch with me during the entire process and was truly helpful throughout. Long story short, they found a broken pin on the Sparkos, replaced it and repaired all damage to the amp. I've been running the amp for over a week now and it sounds even better (even more effortlessly commanding and more musical) than before it broke the first time. I don't know what magic they've got going on behind the scenes, but I've been in the audio game a long time and have owned and dealt with repairs and upgrades from companies from Ayre to Schiit to Innuos and Burson is without a doubt among the very best there is when it comes to standing behind their products and seeing that things are done right. (I've posted an image below of the broken Sparkos op amp that they found)


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I'm sorry that your headamp got damaged! Try contacting Burson, maybe try sending the board back to them, so they will analyze it and see what triggered the defect? Hope you'll figure out what the issue is and maybe you'll be able to fix it.
Thanks. They finally reached out and I'm sending it in to their authorized repair shop. My only concern is that after hearing the amp with the classic op amps installed I don t think I want to listen to it in any other configuration. After blowing the thing up twice now, I worry that even after their repair it will happen again and at $145 a pop for the classics and having already thrown about a thousand buck in op amps and repairs into the amp, I don't know how many more rounds of this I can take.
Good thing Burson recommended you an authorised repair shop to troubleshoot for your issue, so let's wait for their answer. Perhaps one of the opamps you swapped was loose in the socket or the DC on outputs was too high. Have you measured DC output after swapping opamps? Also this headamp was setup for use with default Burson opamps, so Sonic Imagery may not be fully compatible with this headamp, meaning that after installing these opamps you need to check for output DC and for any possible ringings or oscillations. However, looking fwd for some good news from the authorised electronics repair shop (you may want to post this in the dedicated GT thread too).


Headphoneus Supremus
A true Class-A powerful headphones amplifier
Pros: A very powerful true Class-A headamp.
V6 Vivid SS opamps are adding a great touch to the sound.
Look & feel is awesome, especially with the Mothership rack installed.
Cons: Heat and power consumption, although it's perfectly normal for a Class-A amplifier.
Active cooling might not be compatible with some audiophiles.
I’m happy to share my initial experience and to write here the first Head-Fi review about the recently released Burson Soloist 3X Grand Tourer (2023). The device looks identical with the previous Soloist 3X Grand Tourer model reviewed by @qsk78, the main difference consisting in the new Silent Power Modules, but worth mentioning that the rest of the circuitry has been also fine-tuned by Burson. The same Silent Power Modules are also used in the Timekeeper 3X Grand Tourer and will probably be used in other Burson devices as well. More about these modules can be read on one of the below paragraphs.



The Burson Soloist 3X Grand Tourer (2023 model) is a genuine Class A headphones amplifier and by genuine I mean that the output stage transistors are biased in Class A for its entire output power, not just for a quarter or for half of it, like other manufacturers are usually implementing in their amplifiers. So, no matter the gain you’ll be using or the volume level you'll be listening to, the output sound will be reproduced in Class A by the output stage. This was possible in this new Soloist amplifier due to the oversized output stage created around the eight powerful output transistors that can easily dissipate up to 30 Watts each one of them! This comes with some sort of trade off in terms of power consumption, as I measured 74 Watts with no music playing, although whoever is purchasing such a Class A amplifier usually cares not about how much power it consumes, especially if nearby the desk there’s a tube amp glowing that takes few times more mains power than this Soloist does. :) However, I do appreciate that Burson implemented a neat Auto Power Off feature that can be activated from the Settings menu, so Burson was thinking to save some electricity cash when the amplifier is not used for a while or if simply the owner forgets to power it off. This makes the device more eco friendly, even if we’re talking about a Class A amplifier.


A great feature that most headphones amplifiers are lacking, but it gladfully exists in the amplifier reviewed here, is the crossfeed function. A good article about this feature was written years ago by Dr. Meyer Corda here, providing good explanations and images. Also Mad Audio has a good article here about crossfeed and there’s also a short explanatory movie as well on the same topic. Basically, music is recorded by the recording companies to be played on speakers, so the stereophony is created by the audio engineers in such a way that some instruments are to be played only on a single speaker, artificially increasing the stereo imaging, the scene becoming larger for few moments. However, when the same songs will be played on headphones, the stereophonic effects will be perceived by our hearing as being on the extreme side because, for example, hearing cymbals on the right ear and a female voice on the left ear at the same time is totally unnatural and might induce fatigue faster. By activating the crossfeed feature, the circuitry inside Soloist GT will deal with such extreme stereophonic effects, so we can enjoy listening to headphones for even more time. Before owning this amplifier I was using software crossfeed plugins that I was manually adjusted based on the type of music I was listening to. Now I’m enjoying the natural sounding of the new Soloist GT 2023 with the crossfeed feature set to Low or to Mid, so thank you Burson for a great feature that every headphones amplifier should have it built-in by default.


The amplifier benefits by active cooling and the top case fan is a very silent one (18.8 dB A-weighted) from NOCTUA, model NF-A12x25 PWM, that blows the warm air generated by the electronic components outside the case (negative air pressure) while the colder air from the room is sucked in from the bottom of the case. This way the entire PCB, which acts as a big interior heatsink for all the electronic components, and the eight powerful transistors from the output stage are getting cooled down efficiently. The top-case vents are somehow increasing the air noise with a few dB’s, but still the noise is well kept under control, especially if the distance between amplifier and the listener is one meter or more. However, if some audiophiles will prefer to sit very close to the amplifier, then rotating it with 90 degrees, with top fan oriented backwards, will make the amplifier virtually dead silent. Also, placing the amplifier on a shelf, above ear level, will also make it virtually dead silent as well.


The Soloist 3X GT amplifier has a series of protective circuits that activates and powers off the device when someone tries to operate it with the top cover open or when the active cooling fan gets defective or unplugged by the customer. This is a good thing to know it has been implemented, due to the fact that the heat generated by the powerful amplifier, if not evacuated quickly by the Noctua fan, might damage some of the electrical components inside. Of course, the amplifier is also protected to any accidental DC voltage that might occur on headphones outputs, but protection could also trigger if a Silent Power module was not properly installed in its socket, grace to the dedicated circuitry designed for this around the C1237HA chip.


The power adapter outputs 24V @5A max. directly into the Soloist equipment from where a powerful MOSFET transistor, IRF5210S, acts most likely a rail splitter that delivers couple of +/-20.5V rails for the output stage. So, a total of 41V RMS is used to make the eight powerful transistors to pump up the audio signal into the headphones.

The audio input stage is created around the solid-state Burson V6 Vivid dual op-amps that are able to provide a natural but crisp sound, followed by a couple of Japanese high-end volume control chips MUSES 72320 that act also as pre-amp. The output stage of the pre-amp is also based on Burson V6 Vivid op-amps to ensure that the played sound will maintain the same natural but somehow warmish Burson audio pattern. When used strictly as a pre-amp, the audio signal goes into a pair of V6 Vivid opamps, then into the MUSES 72320 volume controller, then it gets to the output pair of V6 Vivid opamps. So, your externally connected speakers amplifier will benefit from MUSES low noise and distortions sound, but also of the Burson V6 Vivid sound signature.


Inside the Soloist 3X GT 2023


The six solid-state V6 Vivid op-amps, firmly tied-up to their DIP8 sockets

The low-pass filter (crossover), responsible for connecting external subwoofers, is created around NE5532 op-amps. These are neutral sounding op-amps that are used in several professional audio recording interfaces and inside Soloist are doing a great job in separating the low-end from the rest of the audio band. Using solid-state V6 op-amps in the crossover for connecting a subwoofer would make not much sense, given that these expensive op-amps are showing their best potential in the trebles department and sound stage.

The above op-amps are powered by four dedicated low-noise modules specially manufactured by Burson to further eliminate any background noise that might get created by the power rails or, why not, any noise that might get injected by the mains. These power modules are Burson’s response to technology evolution which gets changed and improved every few years. These modules are named “Silent Power” and are based on the very low-noise chips LT1963 and LT3015, we’re talking here about 40µV to 60µV RMS. These custom-made modules are an important technology step-up over the former power regulators used in the previous Soloist models where the power regulator chips used were the well-known LM317 and LM337, although very good power regulators for most audio applications, but probably not the best option for today audiophile equipment given their 0.003% noise (per datasheet). In our particular case, 0.003% out of 20V would mean 0.6mV or 600µV, although with bigger and low-impedance capacitors placed on rail outputs this figure usually goes lower, as per the picture taken from Burson website below:


From top to bottom we have: LM78xx, LM317, LM1963


The "Silent Power" modules are blue lighten while operating



Inside the "Silent Power' modules

Worth mentioning that the "Silent Power" modules are upgradable, because are socket-based components, so if Burson will decide to manufacture new improved modules in the future, than a simple drop-in of the new power modules will upgrade the device easily. The modules are providing power for the Burson V6 opamps only. See below picture with the sockets for +/-15V:


Power modules sockets

Like in the previous Soloist version, same MUSES 72320 chips are also used to control the volume of the headphones amplifier, but also the volume of the pre-amplifier (if selected). Unlike the previous model, the GT 2023 volume control is operating much smoothly across the entire volume scale, from 0 to 99. Switching between pre-amplifier and headphone amplifier modes can be easily done from the LCD menu. There are direct knobs for switching between inputs or outputs, as per below screenshots:


The output stage is crafted around four pairs of complementary 2SD2061 and 2SB1369 transistors encapsulated in TO-220 outer shell package and able to dissipate up to 30-40W @25C case temperature, so quite a beefy output stage for a headphone amplifier. The transistors are biased with a higher current than usually, making them to operate in Class-A 100% of the time, meaning that Soloist GT will deliver audio natively in Class-A from the lowest sound signals and up to the maximum power of the amplifier.

Running the output stage in Class-A comes with increased power consumption (I measured about 74W with no music playing), which translates in increased temperature on the surface of the case as well. I was able to measure around 40C on the sides of the case, in a room with a rather constant 24C and no forced ventilation. Not a concerning temperature for sure, but still pretty warm to the fingers when touched, especially on the bottom of the case where temps are usually higher than on the sides, so a bit over 40C.


Given the above average temperature of the case, I further “investigated” if the output stage transistors are having any thermal paste underneath, so I needed to dismantle all the internal parts to get to the bottom plate that acts as a huge heatsink for these transistors. I had a pleasant surprise when I realized that a sufficient amount of silver-based compound was properly installed under each of the eight transistors.


Output stage transistors - silver-based thermal compound


Aluminum backplate (transistors heatsink) - silver-based thermal compound

Some personal measurements:

The first measurements I performed were related to the DC output from both jack and 4-pin XLR plugs and I was thrilled when I realized that we’re talking about 0 mV (yes, zero!) on both plugs and on both channels! Given an amplifier of this size and the power it delivers, the complete lack of output DC voltage is quite an exquisite feature to me because. Along with the rest of protections from inside this audio amplifier, the complete lack of any output DC ensures that the connected headphones will not have audio distortions induced by any DC voltage coming from the output stage, even when talking about the low-impedance ones.

I‘ve also doing testing for the THD+N as well and I manage to get a respectable figure of 0.0004266% (-107.4dB) on the Pre-Out and 0.0009772% (-100.2dB) on the 4-pin XLR headphones output.


THD+N of 107.4 dB @ 4V RMS input (XLR), Low-gain (using E1DA Cosmos ADC)

Listening tests:


Soloist 3X Grand Tourer (2023 model) and a MacBook Pro happily playing music inside of the Mothership audiophile rack

For better ergonomics, good looking and a much cooler desks space I have conducted my listening tests with the audio device and laptop placed on the Burson Mothership. This also ensures a proper air ventilation while I was able to take much less space on my rather small desk from the living room. This aluminum rack has an audiophile appealing, but with a professional look and it can accommodate most types of audio gear. All of the wires are properly hidden inside the vertical aluminum pillar and the colder air is properly sucked up by Soloist's Noctua fan due to the special groove (hollow) created in the middle of each of the two horizontal levels, so the active cooling devices will greatly benefit by the properly engineered Mothership audiophile rack. Although Burson designed this "Mothership 1" rack to accommodate two audio devices, I see that I can use the "ground floor" shelf for a third equipment as well, although purchasing the bigger Mothership 2 might be an even better option. :)

Not sure if it was my mood or it was just a consequence of how the new Soloist 3X GT (2023 model) looks like, but I felt that I need to listen to 70’s-80’s rock bands for my listening test. :) So, Europe, Alice Cooper, AC/DC, Guns N’Roses, Nirvana, Scorpions a.s.o. were playing into my ears straight out from the output stage of the Soloist for several hours.

Massdrop x Fostex TR-x00 Ebony (25 Ohms, 94 dB/mW, max. 1.800 mW) were driven with authority and with a very good amount of bass and subbass too. This is what I love to powerful headphones amplifiers: their ability to drive planars to their best potential. The trebles quality and quantity are mostly given by the solid-state V6 Vivid operational amplifiers, so everyone that was ever listening to a Burson audio equipment driven by V6 Vivid opamps knows very well what I’m talking about: lots of details and an increased soundstage. The clear mids and the detailed female voices coming out of the Soloist GT 2023 will make this pair of Fostex to sound less V-shaped than I was used too, making it the perfect combo for rock listening (not for ballads), but also for any song that has enough bass and rhythm in it, like pop/trance/disco/dance music. Perhaps these Fostex are the funnies and pleasant sounding headphones I was listening with this amplifier.

Audeze LCD-2 (Fazor) (70 Ohms, 101 dB/mW, max. 5.000 mW) are usually picky to amplifiers, due to the fact that they are planar headphones with a rather high impedance, low powered headamps may not drive them very well. However, this Soloist beast can easily drive such planars perfectly on the lowest gain, proving again that the beefy output stage can probably drive any low-sensitive pair of headphones (sorry I have no Hifiman HE-5 to have them tested). If the Fostex TR-x00 had a Burson-distinctive bass, the LCD-2 instead sounds extremely detailed on both balanced and non-balanced outputs. Voices and cymbals are so natural and detailed that can easily transpose me from my room to the scene if I close my eyes. Not sure this is caused by the Vivid opamps or by the output stage that warms up the trebels a little bit, but I know for sure that Burson sound is something that is non-fatiguing and invites me to listen more an more.

Hifiman HE-560 V2 (45 Ohms, 90 dB/mW planars) another pair of planar headphones, a more balanced presentation between bass, mids and trebles. Sound may be not so detailed like the LCD-2 above, but the crisp in the trebles and the clean bass delivered by the amplifier makes the sound coming out of these cans super enjoying and engaging.

Beyerdynamic DT-880 (600 Ohms, 93.78 dB/mW): these dynamic cans are the ones were I can really push the volume louder, due to their low sensitivity and high impedance. A good amplifier for these phones is one with a high output voltage and with some power reserve left. Soloist GT 2023 can drive these cans perfectly on the medium gain setting. These are very detailed cans and the V6 Vivid opamps are improving the details even more, so perhaps these headphones in combination with V6 Vivid may not be the best combination for very long listening sessions. However, if audio details and critical listening is what you need, then this pair of amplifier/headphones worth a try.


I’ve tested several Burson models here on Head-Fi and I’ve noticed that all these audio devices are “touched” by the Burson sound pattern. Same happens with the new Soloist 3X GT 2023: the sound is neutral, without emphasized bass, no trebles hissing, so sound is definitely neutral, although the songs played are somehow warm and pleasant to my ears, causing less fatigue for long time listening.

The workmanship inside is just amazing, though I was expecting this from Burson given their Soloist line and their experience in the audiophile field. The double-side (multiple layers) red PCB with big ground plane on both sides, the layout of the inside sections, the power transistors used, the well-known solid-state opamps, the very low-noise power regulators, basically...the high quality of all electronic components used in this amplifier are making it a veritable high end quality headamp. Now we should all be aware that the high quality components used are clearly leaving a mark on its price tag, but this is perfectly normal for a deluxe audiophile equipment.

Besides being a veritable Class-A headamp, like previous Solist amplifiers this new GT model is again a very powerful one, so I can definitely recommend it for music lovers that want to listen to low or mid sensitivity headphones of any kind. I got perfect sibling with both planar and dynamic headphones, due to very low output impedance of the output stage, but also due to its very high amount of output power.

Note: Do not try to operate this amplifier with top case open, as this might get it defective and void the warranty! Also, do never try to dismantle the "Silent Power" modules, as the warranty may get void as well!


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@eugene2 if price diff. is not impacting his finance too much, I would vote the 2023 model, due to the new and lower noise power regulators, but also due to an improved inner circuitry too. However, you should ask such questions in the main thread for this amplifier if you want to get more oppinions.
Adding V7 Pro op-amps is moving the Soloist GT 2023 into a higher league, so totally recommended!
Totally agree. My old Fezz Omega Lupi (with tubes) and the Ferrum OOR+Hypsos combo are getting ready to go on Classified. 😀


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.

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.


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


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

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%



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



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


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

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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


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)


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.



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!



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)


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



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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The color...
Interesting. Because there is a 2023 version diferent to 2022 that looks the same, I thought that the first red knob version was a upgrade version of the version with grey knob. Actually in all the reviews of the new 2023 they only compare with 2022 with red-knob.
To my knowledge in 2022 the red color was just a variation of the GT 2021. I have a red color kit (red knob, cool stand, remore contol knobs) for the GT 2021.
Changes inside the amp (silent power modules) came with GT model 2023 only if I'm not mistaking.