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Burson Audio Supreme Sound Opamp V5

  • Measuring 12.4mm X 14.5mm (0.48 in x 0.57 in) the Supreme Sound Op-Amp has almost the same footprint as a standard through-hole IC op-amp. At only 29mm (1.14in) high it is the smallest discrete type op-amp in the world. It conveniently fits wherever they’re used.

Recent Reviews

  1. CHxJC
    Great OP-amp
    Written by CHxJC
    Published Jun 8, 2017
    Pros - Really great sounding compared to stock OP-amp
    Cons - Price quite steep, IMO requires good gear to shine
    Disclaimer: The following review are my impressions, and may not be what you experience. My ears are wierd. In addition, the Burson V5 OP-amp is provided for free by Charles from SS-audio (Burson Audio) in exchange for an honest review.

    My original setup was simple: Laptop -> FiiO Q1 -> HD598.

    After a while, I really wanted to try out how tube sounds like. Unfortunetly, without a big budget, I settled for a hybrid tube amp - the Little Dot 1+. It suited the bill very well: Lower impedence headphones such as the HD598 works well without much noise, and the pre-amp tube was rollable. Of course, as any tube amp owners will do, I rolled the crap out of tubes. However, after reading the forums, I discovered that in addition to tube rolling, the LD1+ can also OP-amp roll. Enter the Burson V5.

    Setup: Laptop -> ODAC(Rev.2) -> LD1+ -> HD598

    Tubes Tested:
    - EI Yugoslavia 6HM5/EC900 Platinum
    - Mullard M8161/CV4015

    (Kinda Tested):
    - Mullard M8100/CV4010
    - Voskhod Golden Grid 6ZH1P-EV

    Queen (Lossless CD Rip)
    Lindsey Stirling (Lossless CD Rip)
    Various Piano Collections (iTunes+ AAC (256kbps CVBR))
    Random tracks that I like (iTunes+ AAC (256kbps CVBR))

    The Burson V5 is a bit of a hassle to put in the LD1+. It is too tall to fit in, and the extender snapped when trying to bend it sideways. After inspecting the extender a bit more, it seems to be designed to only bend sideways and not forward/backwards. It is also crucial to NOT bend the ends of the extender, as the silver-like thin wire will instantly snap like butter, as mine did on me. No matter, I just grabbed a few cardboard pieces, cut it to size and stacked it on both sides of the amp to make it tall enough for the OP-amp to fit within. I honestly recommend getting the smaller V5i if you are planning to upgrade the LD1+ to avoid the hassle, albeit according to others it is only 70-80% as good as its big borther V5. (Or just #DealWithIt hanging there.)

    Oh this looks awesome!
    Ummm... Oops.
    Errr No matter.

    Moving on, I chose to start with the 6HM5 (tall) tubes to test with. They seem to be the "best" tube the forums agree on for the LD1+. My first reaction is: OMG this sounds awesome. Unfortubetly I am still quite new to the hobby so I can't quite give you teechnical jargons how it sounds better. I just instantly could tell it sounds better. To me, it sounded more lively. The LD1+ also handled the details much better than the FiiO Q1. As we all know how wide the soundstage the HD598 has, it suffers from accurately presenting the details. Howevere, I do feel that more details are present, and sounded way more lively. The low end sounds a lot more "full", the rumbling sounds from music/movies rumble as they should, but do not sound as dead compared to the Q1. In addition, the warmness of the tubes also bring out the lows-mids a lot more. However, this does not mean the highs are overshadowed by the low end. While admittedly my ears are rather prone to sibilance and may prefer such warmer sound signature, as an owner of the RHA MA750i, I know how a balanced high should sound like. The frequency drop is perfect on this setup - drum cymbals are plenty clear, and I found it to be rather easy to distinguish the distance and the different cymbols (e.g. crash vs. splash). If my ears aren't derping, the frequency curve with this setup should show a drop starting about 9-10K Hz, which makes it very pleasent to listen to.

    Next, I tested the V5 combo-ed with the Mullard M8161/CV4015. In addition to the 6HM5, this is my other favorite tube. It colorizes the sound significantly less compared to other tubes, making it rather solid-state sounding. Perfect for orchestra IMO, yet still retaining a certain degree of ability to supress the highs. As I put the tubes in (don't forget to swap in the jumpers for the LD1+!), and... just as expected it sounded very solid-state like. It however, sounded even more lively compared to the old OP-amp.

    Unfortunetly I haven't had much time to test with the other tubes. I do have to note that the Mullard M8100 sounded better with the Burson V5, but its bass was still too strong for me. The Voskods also show an slight improvement, but I haven't had much time with it to give impressions.

    And so, was the V5 a great upgrade? Yes and no. Here's why - If I were to give a scale of scores of each upgrade I got, heres how it would look like: Uprade to HD598 + FiiO Q1 (0%->50%), upgraded to ODAC + LD1+ + Tubes (50%->80%), upgrading OP-amp (80%->90%). The difference in the HD598 is just not enough to justify. My recommendation is to get better headphones first, as many people would say they scale the best with your money spent. After that, then upgrade the DAC/Amp & OP-amp. I reckon the Burson V5 wuld be even more amazing if I had the funds or a better headphone. As many reviews show, the Burson V5 are often used in end-game DAC/Amp projects.

    Verdict: The Burson V5 is a great product in itself. It however, in my opinion, requires high end gear to really shine. Upgrading your headphones is still a more money effecient way to go, and then match your amp/op-amp with your headphones accordingly.
  2. NCSUZoSo
    Burson V5 OPA & V5i Op-amp Run Down Review!
    Written by NCSUZoSo
    Published Jan 16, 2017
    Pros - The closest to "analog" sound you will hear from an op-amp. OPA series offers one of the largest soundstages I've heard with an open, airy refinemet.
    Cons - Size is a factor on both of these components with the V5-OPA being 1.14" tall. Cost is another factor.

    Burson Audio V5 Series Op-Amp Review:

    (This Review is not yet complete, but Burson Audio encouraged me to share what I have finished so far. I hope to have the rest of it finished as soon as I have the parts that I need.)

    You can also read my review on my website here: https://zosoncsu.com/bursonv5review/

    (Disclaimer: I had to enter a price paid in order to provide the review, but these are review samples and I didn't purchase them. This is the only part of the signal chain I didn't purchase.)

    Opening Thoughts: To start with, I want to run down the signal chain for my audio out. I am running a highly modded Creative ZXR with a DC capacitor mod (direct coupled) and four Analog Device op-amps for the front channels (ADA4627-1BRZ) in the ZXR which uses a two stage arrangement (see below). The op-amps are not that relevant since I am using the ZXR solely for its DAC (digital-to-analog converter) and then essentially a line out to a Little Bear P5-1 Preamp utilizing NOS Date Matched Pair GE 5 STAR 5654 Gray Plate Tubes. Then to a FiiO E12 DIY edition headphone amplifier utilizing a Burson V5-OPA-D (currently) with the E12 chassis held by an electronics vise to accommodate the size of the Burson op-amp!

    All of my interconnections (wiring) utilize Canare L-4E6S RCA cables (ZXR to P5-1 & PF-1 to Magni 2 backup amp) and Canare L-4E6S RCA to 3.5mm stereo (PF-1 to E12 DIY); all made by Ghent Audio out of China (excellent quality for the price, been using them for years). All of this is going to a set of Audeze EL-8 planar magnetic open-backs that have set a new bar for me in terms of “reference sound.” I also have a Schiit Audio Magni 2 headphone amplifier available to compare with if needed. I will be using Foobar2000 w/ DSD to PCM capabilities with foo_input_sacd and Power-DVD 16 Ultra for movies with WASAPI capable outputs features for both software packages. (See end of review for full PC specs)

    (I have illustrated each channel's signal path from DAC to output.)

    Thanks to Burson Audio for allowing me to do this review and hooking me up with multiple pairs of their V5 series op-amps. Even more reviews are to come down the road, engineering permitting! This is exciting for me, as I will have a chance to run an all V5-OPA op-amp setup on my Creative ZXR and then tryout their newest cable technology! I am just at awe, as it already sounds like Susan Tedeschi is singing in my bedroom through Audeze’s “Fluxor™ Magnetic Technology.” At only 30 ohms, this reasonable impedance value allows you to listen to these babies on almost any device! They sound great on my laptop, but you can hear a huge difference when giving it a proper amplifier. Thanks to Burson for setting me up with a pair for such a steal.


    Info on Fluxor Tech: https://www.audeze.com/technology/engineering


    · See audio terms list at end of review for technical definitions.

    · You cannot fit either the V5i or the V5-OPA-D into the E12 for normal use; this is only possible while doing a bench-top test or using a custom E12 housing.

    dual-v5-opa-pic-only.jpg [​IMG]
    (Although I wasn't able to use this setup during the review, I wanted to show the readers what it looks like to run all V5-OPA's in the ZXR.)

    Part 1: Testing Begins!

    (V5i Circuit Exposed)
    burson-v5-opa-exposed.jpg [​IMG]
    (V5-OPA Circuit Exposed)

    I am starting with this setup mentioned previously because I know this configuration on my sound card the best (most hours) and I know it is free of static or hum. The ZXR sound card is very high fidelity using this op-amp and DC modification setup, but now after working with Burson Audio, I have a new opinion of what high fidelity is! I am trying their newest (most expensive) OPA op-amps and a pair of their V5i-Ds. The V5i are much smaller at about 1/3 the height the OPA series. In my time trying out literally dozens of op-amps from companies like Analog Devices, Burr Brown, TI, MUSE, etc. I have noticed certain characteristics that are specific to the V5i-D and V5-OPA-D, which I will go into detail on in the following pages.

    The biggest thing I noticed about the V5i was how accurate and snappy the audio is, excellent for movies and bass tempo oriented music really pops. The OPA op-amps are jaw dropping through the setup mentioned. OPAs are so transient and far-reaching in their frequency response, airy, but refined. The bass, some will say is not the best out of the bunch, but for me it is accurate and punchy. This is what I am looking for in bass personally, not so much in decibels.
    I would call the V5i slightly bright, but not in a bad way. They are bright in the way a set of Infinity “Reference” speakers are bright, compared to the Infinity “Kappa” series. It is a pleasant change for most listeners when talking about op-amps and audio, some of this has to do with presence variation (how close the audio feels to your ears). Imaging on the V5i’s is nearly unmatched by my other op-amp samples (see full list at end of review), I used these while playing video games, I was very impressed. Separation of left to right is especially important for gaming and I would recommend the V5i for this characteristic. When you jump from the V5-OPA to the V5i you notice the soundstage shrink, but you notice an increase in bass.

    If you solely want bass I would look at other op-amps, I am not saying that these do not have good bass, I just know others have more bass than these at a much lower cost. I really like the bass of these V5i’`s and probably prefer the imaging and bass of the V5i’s to the V5-OPA. The V5i sounds seem closer to your ears, also called presence.
    Characteristics touted of op-amps are always in the eye of the person using them. Trying to give an honest review is tough because I will always prefer some characteristics in the sound that you may not. I try to point out general thoughts/observations on the sound characteristics as I go from op-amp to op-amp. This is to try to give you some relatable information for making your choice from the available options out there.


    The V5-OPA-D is one of the most open and airy op-amps I have ever come across. The OPA series by Burson is a discrete transistor-to-transistor based design (with a few resistors/caps), impressive on many fronts. The sparkle on the top-end is unmatched to me, as I have never had a discrete transistor-to-transistor op-amp setup before. I am comparing these 1.14” op-amps to ones 1/3 that size or smaller, in a DIP-8 package usually. This is new territory for me, one that I am happy to unearth.

    Jumping back to the V5i-D: from Burson, I have to say the mid-range is excellent and guitar solos are good enough to give you chills. Somehow, Burson figured out a way to create a very organic sound in a small package! When you look closely at the image below, you will see the V5i is two separate single-DIP op-amps stacked on each other. This should result in better SNR & THD if nothing else when compared to a Dual-DIP op-amp. Listening to Aretha Franklin through DSD files puts you into a different world. A time when gasoline was $0.25 or less and people left their doors and windows open at night in the summer.

    Aretha Franklin “Since You’ve Been Gone” DSD64: this really showed me the frequency range the V5i-D has, that treble range and then roll off is spot on! I do not find the treble harsh and it has a sparkle that reminds me of a tube amp on the top end.

    Aretha Franklin “The House That Jack Built” DSD64: if this does not make you tap your foot with a pair of EL-8’s on your head then you had better check your pulse. The transfer to SACD and then to DSD is not perfect, there is some floor noise/hum in the recording. However, you find Aretha there, in a raw, untouched form. Offering a sonic range only a SACD/DSD can deliver. I do think that 192 kHz/ 24-bit FLAC is nearly the same, but there are some subtle differences.

    Lenny Kravitz “Sister” 192kHz / 24-bit FLAC: this recording has a purposely-inserted tape noise by the studio; you really notice it when you have a pair of planar magnetic headphones on your head. Question, is it good to have 1.5 Tesla surrounding your head on both sides? The EL-8 have permanent magnets inside and cannot be near a pacemaker due to this. Back to the recording, this is impressive to say the least. The vocal realism and detail insane. The combination of acoustic and electric guitar makes this one of my favorite Kravitz titles. The V5i proves well in the bass department with this track. The sound stage feels perfectly balanced and the attack is spot on with a transparency I have never before experienced until now. The sturdiness of the V5i really shines in this specific track and this is where many other op-amps fade off. Based on this, I would also recommend the V5i for jazz and bluegrass; two genres I listen to personally.

    Lenny Kravitz “Are You Gonna Go My Way” 192kHz / 24-bit FLAC: The bass is exactly what I want for this song and the guitar is raw/mean. I am coming to the realization that the V5i is suited very well for guitar solos, what I consider the holy grail of rock and roll. Now I am going to shift to the V5-OPA from Burson and see what notices I change.
    When I inserted the V5-OPA I noticed an immediate drop in how forward the guitar was in the sound stage while vocals were present. This just shows how two op-amps place the tracks slightly differently. Then it went into a guitar solo and I find myself surrounded by what used to be one of the best guitarists touring the USA. The soundstage shines once again and I am blown away by the performance of this op-amp in comparison to other very good offerings such as a MUSE01!

    I shift back to Lenny Kravitz “Sister” 192kHz / 24-bit FLAC: to see what changes I notice in the title. Firstly, the inserted tape sound is far less annoying/bright before the main vocals begin. This shows me a better tonal balance of loud vs. quiet signals. The difference I find with the OPA is now I can hear the emotion in Kravitz’s voices. The bass then pours out and I change my opinion on the V5-OPA’s reach with respect to bass. I find the OPA bass to be tight and thick, two characteristics that are hard to find with the other characteristics of this op-amp (sparkle and airy). Burson set out to create the best of the best with their V5-OPA design and at this point, I think they nailed it.

    Aretha Franklin “People Get Ready” 192 kHz / 24-bit FLAC: V5i in the E12 here really brings out the vocal notes and the treble is smooth without the vocals being too forward. There is enough detail to hear each breathe between stretches of sonic onslaught as Aretha leaves it all on the stage. Aretha never fails to deliver, no matter the op-amp, but the V5i really shines on this track.

    Flipping to the V5-OPA-D to spot differences between the two and it becomes apparent immediately. Aretha has this newly found texture to her voice that reminds me of being in church and I can once again hear instruments in the soundstage I had never heard before. Aretha seems to jump immediately to the front of the sound stage and the sparkle on the top end shines through in this track for the OPA. The combination of the V5-OPA-D and the new EL-8 open-backs literally open a door for a “heavenly-audio” closing by this great artist during the last 30 seconds of the song. I am in complete shock that a portable amplifier like the E12 can deliver such sonic quality, especially using a simple tube pre-amp.

    Sister Hazel “World Inside My Head” 44.1kHz / 16-bit FLAC: I am using the V5-OPAs to start with and this is a song I know very well, but haven’t listened to yet with planar magnetic headphones. It is a live recording, so the openness of the OPAs is able to shine with precision sound placement accomplished flawlessly. The bass in this track is not that loud, but the OPAs provide a tight, kicker sub sound that I enjoy. The mid-range finds a balance with high notes and guitar riffs; it all seems to flow in harmony. I give the OPA an A+ on this track. I will be curious to see how the V5i compares. I flip back to the beginning of the track with the OPAs to hear the vocals once more and I notice detail never before heard as I close my eyes and focus on the sound. Now to the V5i!

    I notice a slight drop in the audience background noise to begin with, probably due to the soundstage size. The treble is a little bit bright compared to the OPAs, but not so much that it is harsh, just brighter. The soundstage again shrinks in comparison to its big brother, but considering the physical size of the V5i, the stage is still big enough for my needs. The issue comparing the stages is that the V5i sounds a tad muddy when you swap back to the OPA. It is not that the V5i is actually muddy; it is just that the OPAs are that open/airy and extraordinary pieces of hardware! The V5i series is also a formidable opponent in the world of op-amps due to its more normal form factor and excellent sonic quality.

    Shifting to Films: Using the V5i-D: I immediately noticed the transient response (“snap”) during a live action film. Snap is the speed by which the op-amp delivers the immediacy of live instruments or in this case, a film soundtrack. Without a good transient response, the sound will be smeared and have less left to right separation. Too much snap and you end up with harshness (especially on the top end), due to thin bass and a steely sound signature.

    I jump back to the V5-OPA-D and notice in some of the vintage audio such as a JFK speech in an Apollo film, the vocals are textured, but also transient. This gives a signature that separates it from its smaller brother the V5i-D. Continuing with the Burson OPA I find channel separation to be spot on with tight bass, but also a sparkle on the treble end that I have only heard in a discrete op-amp. The MUSE01 has some sparkle, but it is not like the V5-OPA in the slightest. I have a 4x ADA4627-1BRZ setup that was my main setup. The V5i-D I can say does compete with the Analog Devices setup, but the V5-OPA blows it away on all fronts.

    I have around two years with the Analog Device setup mentioned, but as soon as I heard the Burson V5 series I knew I was about to change my setup up based on my initial
    testing. I find the width of the soundstage in the OPA series stunning. It has surgical precision with regard to placing the sound throughout the immense stage seemingly available to it. I go back to the V5i and listen to a launch of Apollo 11 in Dolby Digital 2.0. Compared to the V5-OPA, the V5i has a better attack and some may find the soundstage more pleasing compared to the OPA. I can compare it like this, as I have said before, the V5-OPA is very airy and open, presenting you with a very natural, almost vinyl/tube-era sound. The V5i is a more modern sound, with a more forward sounding mid-range and treble. The bass is deeper, though not as tight as the OPA at times. The V5i has the presence dial turned up more than the V5-OPA does overall and the V5-OPA series has the sparkle dial turned up over the V5i series.

    I find the V5i as a no-brainer upgrade to a MUSE01/02; as I switch back and forth from the V5i to the MUSE01. The soundstage shrinks, the treble loses sparkle, and the frequency response isn’t as wide as the V5i. The V5i overall is a very impressive op-amp that I can without a doubt recommend if you have the cash and the room to fit it. The V5i is about twice as high as a normal op-amp due to the metal housing (see above). If you are looking at a MUSE01 at DigiKey it will likely be $100 or more to get it to your house and the V5i is in that range. For this reason, I recommend the V5i to this category of shopper because it is superior in almost all regard to soundstage and especially the mid-range. If you prefer a wider and more analog sound, I would recommend the V5-OPA but you need over 1.14” of space (height).

    Concerning the OPA series: I love this series, easily the best sounding op-amps I have ever had the pleasure of testing. When I jump from other op-amps, including the V5i series, I feel this tingle in my spine with the OPAs during select songs. This may be due to the new EL-8s, but I believe it is the sparkle and airiness along with the OPA utilizing a huge soundstage to deliver a sonic experience next to none in my book. Between Audeze’s EL-8 and Burson Audio’s V5 series of op-amps, I will be in sonic heaven for a long time to come.

    I hope you have enjoyed my review (so far) of the V5 series and other various op-amps. Please see the YouTube video if you are reading this on a forum or some other form of social media. You should be able to find a link at the bottom of the review. I have taped output from my 100 MHz oscilloscope with a CRT panel, using a Samsung NX3000 w/ a 50-200mm lens and a 10x magnification filter! I have overlay the V5i over the V5-OPA signal to see if we can spot any visual differences to give us hard data.

    Burson V5 Oscilloscope Comparison:


    Part 2: Op-Amp Run Down!​

    Now I am going to cycle through the op-amps listed below and give my thoughts on audible changes going from one op-amp sample to the next on the same tracks at the same volume level with nothing touched except the op-amps themselves. I will do my best to use a variety of audio types from song genres to PC games with high fidelity (192/24+) sound in order to give a full picture of just what changes I notice. Strap in, here we go!

    2x OPA 604AU vs. 1x Burson V5i Film: The OPA 604AU has a deeper thump to its bass, but the soundstage shrinks considerably and the highs roll off is much steeper and sooner heading towards the higher frequencies of the spectrum. Things like wind and dripping water don’t stand out like they did with the V5i. The OPA 604AU is not nearly as snappy as the V5i and comes off a little muddy in direct comparison. There is a lack of texture with the 604AUs when I go back to the V5i I notice this. The soundstage is definitely not as large in the 604AU and the sound placement lacks because of this, leading to a muddy signature when going against the V5i directly.

    The 604AU is a heck of an op-amp I recently purchased ten of them for a project on my ZXR where I will be upgrading the surface-mount stock ones with for their “analog” sound. Note I didn’t mention that when swapping with the V5i, this is because the V5i has an analog quality to it superior to the 604AU. This is a Burr-Brown creation from Texas Instruments so we know it’s a high performance op-amp and I picked it because of my experience with it.

    (V5i being tested, 3.5mm Y-cable in the output of the E12 amp.)

    For now, the review has to end here... I thought at first I had a faulty op-amp, but after more testing it seems my FiiO E12 DIY edition is no longer outputting sound. I have tried a variety of sources with and without pre-amps, nothing will output sound. Not even a line out from my Aune T1 DAC to the E12 would work. I tried with both my Audeze EL-8s, SoundMagic HP150s and Shure SE425s nothing can detect any output at all, not even noise/hiss/hum. I am in contact with FiiO now and I will let you all know if I find out anything important about how I did my op-amp rolling, maybe that damaged the unit. On the other hand, if I can fix it I will let you all know what it took.


    Operational Amplifiers Used (1x = Dual DIP Op-Amp | 2x = Single DIP Op-Amp)

    · 1x Burson V5i
    · 1x Burson V5-OPA-D
    · 1x MUSE01
    · 2x AD797A
    · 2x OPA 1611
    · 1x AD8620
    · 2x OPA 604AU
    · 2x AD 4627

    FiiO E12 DIY Voltage Reading (Pin-8 = Vcc) with Burson V5-OPA-D installed = 22.34V


    Audio Terms Definitions:
    · Airy: Spacious. Open. Instruments sound like they are surrounded by a large reflective space full of air. Good reproduction of high-frequency reflections. High-frequency response extends to 15 or 20 kHz.

    · Attack: The leading edge of a note and the ability of a system to reproduce the attack transients in music.

    · Bright: A sound that emphasizes the upper midrange/lower treble. Harmonics are strong relative to fundamentals.

    · DSD: Direct-Stream Digital (DSD) is the trademark name used by Sony and Philips for their system of digitally recreating audible signals for the Super Audio CD (SACD). DSD uses pulse-density modulation encoding—a technology to store audio signals on digital storage media that are used for the SACD.

    · Fidelity: the degree of exactness with which something is copied or reproduced.

    · FLAC 192/24: FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) is an audio coding format for lossless compression of digital audio, and is the name of the reference codec implementation. Digital audio compressed by FLAC's algorithm can typically be reduced to 50–60% of its original size and decompress to an identical copy of the original audio data. 192/24 refers to 192 Khz and 24-bit recording, near the upper limit of FLAC. This offers near studio quality playback at home or on the go.

    · Frequency Range: See Roll Off

    · Harsh: Grating, abrasive. Too much upper midrange. Peaks in the frequency response between 2 and 6 kHz. Or, excessive phase shift in a digital recorder's low pass filter.

    · Hum: The sound often has heavy harmonic content above 50–60 Hz. Because of the presence of mains current in mains-powered audio equipment as well as ubiquitous AC electromagnetic fields from nearby appliances and wiring, 50/60 Hz electrical noise can get into audio systems, and is heard as mains hum from their speakers.

    · Imaging: The sense that a voice or instrument is in a particular place in the room.

    · Muddy: Not clear. Weak harmonics, smeared time response, I.M. distortion.

    · Open: Sound which has height and "air", relates to clean upper mid-range and treble.

    · Organic: A term I use to combine texture, transience, and realism.

    · Planar magnetic: Planar magnetic transducers typically consist of two main components: a diaphragm with circuit and magnet arrays. The “planar” in planar magnetics refers to the magnetic field that is distributed in the same plane (parallel) to the diaphragm. Planar magnetic diaphragms are thin and lightweight compared to much heavier moving-coil or dome diaphragms found in “dynamic” drivers. This thin diaphragm is suspended in the magnetic fields created by the magnetic arrays.

    · Presence: A sense that the instrument in present in the listening room. Synonyms are edge, punch, detail, closeness, and clarity. Adequate or emphasized response around 5 kHz for most instruments, or around 2 to 5 kHz for kick drum and bass.

    · Punchy: Good reproduction of dynamics. Good transient response, with strong impact. Sometimes a bump around 5 kHz or 200 Hz.

    · Range: The distance between the lowest and highest tones.

    · Roll-Off: The gradual attenuation that occurs at the lower or upper frequency range of a driver, network, or system. The roll-off frequency is the frequency where response is reduced by around 3 dB.

    · Snap: A system with good speed and transient response can deliver the immediacy or "snap" of live instruments.

    · Snappy: A system with good speed and transient response can deliver the immediacy or "snap" of live instruments.

    · SNR: Signal-to-noise ratio (abbreviated SNR or S/N) is a measure used in science and engineering that compares the level of a desired signal to the level of background noise. It is defined as the ratio of signal power to the noise power, often expressed in decibels.

    · Soundstage: The area between two speakers that appears to the listener to be occupied by sonic images. Like a real stage, a soundstage should have width, depth, and height.

    · Sparkle: Refers to the way in which the highest frequencies are perceived/reproduced. In a tube amplifier, you may have a sparkle control knob to dial in the setting, the way you would your presence control. I believe the airiness of the op-amp plays a role in the sparkle.

    · Static: crackling or hissing noises on a telephone, radio, or other telecommunications system.

    · Sturdiness: Solid, powerful, robust sound.

    · Texture: A perceptible pattern or structure in reproduced sound.

    · THD: The total harmonic distortion, or THD, of a signal is a measurement of the harmonic distortion present and is defined as the ratio of the sum of the powers of all harmonic components to the power of the fundamental frequency.

    · Top-End: Refers to the highest frequencies, usually 5 kHz and higher.

    · Transient: Good transient response makes the sound as a whole, more live, and realistic. The leading edge of a percussive sound.

    · Transparency: Easy to hear into the music, detailed, clear, not muddy. Wide flat frequency response, sharp time response, very low distortion and noise. A hear through quality that is akin to clarity and reveals all aspects of detail.

    · WASAPI: The Windows Audio Session API (WASAPI) enables client applications to manage the flow of audio data between the application and an audio endpoint device. Every audio stream is a member of an audio session.







    Audio Titles:

    Aretha Franklin – Since You’ve Been Gone: http://www.sa-cd.net/showtitle/9233

    Aretha Franklin – The House That Jack Built: http://www.sa-cd.net/showtitle/9233

    Lenny Kravitz – Sister: http://www.hdtracks.com/are-you-gon...

    Lenny Kravitz – Are You Gonna Go My Way: http://www.hdtracks.com/are-you-gon...

    Aretha Franklin – People Get Ready: http://www.hdtracks.com/lady-soul

    Sister Hazel World Inside My Head: https://www.amazon.com/Lift-SISTER-...


    Full PC Specs:

    1. CPU: Intel i7 3770K @ 4.6 GHz
    2. GPU: MSI GTX 1070 Armor @ 2.14 GHz / 9.624 Gbps (45C Max Temp)
    3. Display: HTC Vive + Viewsonic XG2703-GS 27”
    4. Sound: modded Creative ZXR w/ 2x Burson OPA-S + 2x Burson V5i-D
    5. Motherboard: ASRock Z77 OC Formula
    6. RAM: Corsair Vengeance Pro DDR3 2400 4x8GB
    7. SSD: Samsung 850 EVO 500GB + Samsung 840 Pro 128GB
    8. PSU: Corsair HX 750W 80+ Silver (62A)
    9. UPS: Cyberpower CP1200AVR (720W)
    10. OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
    11. Cooling: Corsair 650D + TT Water2.0 Pro + Corsair H110 + Corsair 2x SP120

    ZXR Modding Update!
    ((1st Stage = 4x dual-dip) Surface Mount Opamp Removal!)

    So I did something rather rash and removed the 1st stage surface mount opamps found on the ZXR. In the photos below you will see this was a challenge, but I can tell you for a fact that the JRC 2114s are no match for Burr-Brown 2604AUs. The sound has so much more punch and has the presence dialed up more than the JRC offerings in the stock locations. It matches the higher end opamps found in the left and right setups better.

    I want to warn you that this mod did not go exactly as planned. I didn't have good desolder wick yet nor did I have the flux that I used to do the install with to aid me during the removal. I even got the SMD-1 from ChipQuik for doing anything else with 8 or more legs in the future to avoid this again (lifting pads form the PCB with the opamp).

    The rest of this is a quote from my own post in the Creative Z-Series Sound Cards thread:


    1st Stage Rear and Center/Sub SMD op-amps upgraded! If I did this again I could do it without lifting pads/traces now that I have good desolder wick and MG Chemicals flux & solder paste. Grabbed some ChipQuick, just in case I need it for taking out something with 8+ connections.

    This is by far the messiest soldering job I have posted to a forum but never had to repair half a dozen lifted pads/traces and not given up on it, haha. To my knowledge, nobody has ever tried to replace the SMD op-amps on the ZXR, I mean who the hell would? An Electrical Engineering student with an addiction to modding hardware! I have dozens of hours already invested into soldering this card doing the DC cap mod and rolling op-amps to find the perfect combo.

    I wasn't going to quit after a pad (connection point) lifted off the PCB with the stock op-amp (or 7 more) leaving me bare plastic in its place. Then you need to figure out where the connection comes from (what direction on the PCB), then scratch off some plastic at the nearest spot possible until you see copper and then bridge something between that and the op-amp leg! (Be careful, you can easily scratch off the copper or go too deep in a multi-layer PCB and hit a 2nd, incorrect copper trace)

    Note: 600F is about where the solder used on the ZXr flows easily, at least in dealing with the metal combos I had. Their solder goes molten around 475F but doesn't make solid connections till ~525F+.

    Will let you know my opinions later on if there is any noticeable change going from the stock JRC 2114s to BB 2604AUs.


    The 2nd op-amp from the bottom (in the pic below) had pad #7 pull up and this trace (connection line) actually runs underneath the op-amp itself. This means the leg I added to bridge the lifted pad is running under the op-amp. Try getting that to make a solid connection without bridging legs! Leg/pad #1 on the bottom op-amp is also like this, so this was definitely a learning experience for me, dealing with such close quarter connections/repairs.


    (had my lowest end op-amps in place during testing in case of a serious malfunction)

    Leg/Pad #1 and Leg/Pad #7 are the outputs of the op-amp which explains why these are the only two traces seen leaving the op-amp. All other legs are inputs & Vcc/GND. Their traces all come from the sides, so if you ever need to repair the traces on the SMD op-amps remember that. You can always get a trace going towards the outside of the original pads except for pads #1 and #7 (this is true of all dual-dip op-amps in this location on the ZXR, other cards/equipment may vary). For pads #1 and #7 you will need to piggyback onto the correct output trace; hold a flashlight at the correct angle and you can see the traces (downward at a 45 degree, then straight down). This will usually result in a replacement pad/bridge laying under the op-amp itself which is the hardest way to repair a pulled pad. Avoid damaging these locations!! If nothing else make sure you got pads #1 and #7 off cleanly.


    A reminder, here is the signal chain:


    Some of my modding rig tools:


    Also, you can buy sockets for SMD to DIP-8, but you only have room for the 1st stage of SMD op-amps, the 2nd stage is surrounded by capacitors. I personally think $5 a piece is a little high for an adapter, but it is a pretty unique item:


      snellemin likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. snellemin
      I'll be awaiting your findings on the Cable+
      snellemin, Feb 5, 2017
    3. NCSUZoSo
      Sounds good, Cable+ RCA-to-RCA is on the way now according to Burson Audio! Don't expect me to publish anything until around March, too much work to do with Jr year of Electrical Eng.

      You have a link to the Wima Cap upgrade?
      NCSUZoSo, Feb 7, 2017
    4. NCSUZoSo
      Just received the remaining V5-Series op amps from Burson Audio, allowing me to do direct comparisons from a full V5-OPA setup to a full V5i setup (or mixed).

      I also got the RCA-to-RCA Cable+ from Burson Audio in the same package!! I was so excited to hook it up and without saying too much too early, I am impressed. I am comparing their cable directly to Canare L-4E6S (Star Quad) & Mogami 2534 (Quad) (all w/ Neutrik Rean connections) to Burson's Cable+ technology.

      Initial impressions are extremely good and will be interested to see what type of data I can collect using all of my new lab tools like the Digilent Analog Discovery2.
      NCSUZoSo, Feb 16, 2017
  3. snellemin
    From Mid-fi to Hi-fi
    Written by snellemin
    Published Dec 25, 2016
    Pros - Details Details Details
    Cons - Finding out what you have been missing
    I was given a pair from Burson to evaluate the opamp in my setup.  I posted my finding in this other thread http://www.head-fi.org/t/830082/parasound-and-burson-adventure .
    I first heard the V4 Burson opamps in fellow forum members Gustards H10.  I was amazed at the detail that came out of my music with the Burson's installed.  But the size wasn't ideal for my portable setup and just stuck with the Muses series opamps.  But I upgraded my work music station to something better and started rolling opamps again.  At some point I got contacted by Burson after posting some of my pics and tweaks in my Parasound setups.  Parasound has a sound signature that I enjoy for headphone use.  I enjoy the Parasound way more now with the V5 Burson's installed.  
    To my ears the Burson are few steps above the Muses02, Muses01.  Musical, alive, spacious and non-fatiguing.  
    Burn-in really matters with this upgrade.  The sound changes as the hours go by and it sounds great once it has settled.  The EQ settings that I have been using, had to be changed with the Burson's. The Sonic Maximizer that I had been using for that extra umph, could now be eliminated.  I now have a headphone setup that sounds just as nice my home setup.  
    LL.jpg WP_20170109_14_47_56_Pro.jpg  

      Hawaiibadboy likes this.
  4. Voxata
    Wow.. I've been missing out!
    Written by Voxata
    Published May 10, 2016
    Pros - Authority, presentation and musicality
    Cons - Size
     So I've gone ahead and upgraded my STX using the Burson V5 Dual Opamps (x3), I've seen quite a few in this thread ask if upgrading opamps in general is really worth it so here are my impressions, YMMV of course.
         Before I start it should be known that I've owned my Essence STX since 2009.. yeah, I had to look up how long. I only know this because I purchased it at the same time Windows 7 was released. This card has lasted through MANY computers and headphones, I don't think it'll ever stop working. It has sat above hot running GPUs (fermi) and been in poor airflow situations. I've rolled about half a dozen opamps before settling on signatures I liked. I have two different sets of opamps I prefer. One set which sounds best for headphone use, and another that is great for my speaker setup when using the card as a DAC. In short, I'm very familiar with what the STX brings to the table. 
         My headphones are currently Hifiman's HE-400i and DT770 Pro 250's from Beyer. My speaker setup consists of a Carver M200t amp, and Event 20/20 speakers. I also have a Bifrost/Asgard2 stack that I use for music listening which I purchased six months ago.
        The following songs well known to me, I'll be sharing general impressions on my various setups. 
         First though, I'd like to note that the packaging for these opamps is top notch. They include risers (which I did not use, to help ease fitting in my case) and have quite the quality feel with solid non flexing gold pins. If you've rolled opamps before, you know how nice it is to have a quality rounded pin setup because those cheap ones bend like no tomorrow. 


    Songs: Led Zeppelin - Moby Dick, Atmosphere - Camera Thief, Metallica S&M - The Call of Ktulu
    STX : Coming off of listening to the Schiit stack for a while these tracks sounded flat on the STX w/my 'upgraded opamps'. A black background with strong presence, clear soundstage and natural presentation is extremely important especially during the large drum solo, and this setup didn't have it. Breaking the Moby Dick track out early quickly showed me how much of a gap is between the STX and the Schiit Stack. Piano keys are not convincing, the worst culprit being the 400i's with obvious tonality issues on the upper end. 
    STX w/Burson V5's : Woah,,. wait a minute. I'm pretty sure I must mixed something up between my bench and computer desk. This doesn't sound like the same card I've owned for ages. Musicality has greatly improved, tones (especially bass/mid bass) are now presented clearly and with authority. I have been known to boost the lows on my STX since they've always lacked the impact and body. This is no longer the case. The thin and brittle sound is gone and in its place a very solid linear presentation. The tonality of the highs are vastly improved on the 400i, they are now enveloping and simply engaging. Where the heck were these things 9 years ago? I'm really into these, after jamming out I'm thinking I really need to test this vs my $650 dollar stack.. 
    Schiit Bifrost 4490/Asgard2 : This is the part where I settle back into being spoiled and don't look back right? Well.. Yes, presentation, staging and authority are improved however there is some seemingly obvious diminishing returns. Especially as both setups do seem to be limited to the quality of audio you're feeding it. Before the V5 upgrade this was not the case. Honestly, both setups are quite engaging now. I couldn't vouch for engagement before the V5 upgrade and I've spent some dead serious ear time on the STX.. Honestly, if I was in my return period for the schiit setup I would be returning it simply for the fact that it is many, many times the cost of the V5 opamp upgrade. 
            Will I sell the schiit setup? No.. it's definitely on solid bedside duty, however, my plans to upgrade my gaming PC from the STX are definitely scrapped. Looks like it'll keep going for quite a few more years. How awesome for Asus to make this soundcard upgradable, and major cheers to Burson for pulling this V5 opamp off. I've learned that the STXs amp section is the weak link, and this opamp has really overcome the problem. 
    Carver m200T + Event 20/20 -- Bifrost 4490/Essence STX Burson V5 DAC : This is where things got real interesting, when comparing the DAC sections. The STX is well known to have a great DAC, and it also utilized the V5's in the link. When comparing these two DACs on this setup I was able to discern a difference between the two DACs, however, I was unable to decide on one that I hands down preferred over the other. I felt the STX was more engaging or musical, while the Bifrost was more detailed and clean. Each had its strength, this was not the case when I originally compared the 4490 to the STX with lower quality opamps.

           When you consider the cost gap between these two setups, the V5's have enabled the ol' STX to punch well above its weight class. This is a very worthwhile upgrade, especially if you're considering anything mid-fi to replace it.   Happy hunting all!
    1. beyerdude
      Great review. I'm extremely impressed with the V5 Opamps also and the main thing I learnt is that there is a huge gap between the standard Opamp rolling options and the Discrete V5's - it's almost impossible not to notice the difference immediately and rather than a difference that quickly becomes fatiguing (like some of the more 'wow' factor upgrades) the added transparency/definition comes with an inherent smoothness. Probably one of the best value upgrades out there despite the cost vs standard opamps.
      beyerdude, May 15, 2016
  5. xPakrikx
    Best of the best on my STX
    Written by xPakrikx
    Published Jan 20, 2016
    Pros - Sound stage | Stereo imaging | separation | clear and natural sound | dynamic ...
    Cons - little more expensive but for this sound ... | for someone size
    In this short post I'm gonna try to describe my feelings about my STX + Burson V5-OPA-D and what mods I have done on STX. :)

    I am a very happy owner of speakers EVE audio sc205, which I bought in 2015. Before them I was using M-audio BX5 D2. After short time I started to think about upgrade of my STX, because of new speakers of course :) After quick search i found couple upgrades possible, like:

    - change OP amps in din8 socket
    - upgrade crystal oscillator
    - change caps in LP filter

    In first step i chose to change OP amps, it's less invasive to PCB and the simplest way to improve sound. In the beginning i tried to obtain MUSES 02, but without success, only one shop sell this OP amps in my country (Slovakia), pretty high price for shipping ...:frowning2:. Ok then i try buy some on aliexpress, fake of course, but for extremly low price.
    Fake MUSES 02 sounds dull,thick, inaccurate bass with messy layering. After this "test" with fake MUSES i increase budget for OP amps and start looking for Burson discrete AP amps. In november I finally decided to buy Burson V5-OPA-D2. I took “Head-fi Hot Topic Deal” for $180USD inclusive of postage + after communication with burson i got extension legs for free. Very friendly and helpful communication, thanks for this to Burson.

    After installation i had problem with EMI from PSU. Soundcard was very close to PSU and unfortunately i have m-atx MB (asus maximus v gene) and two-slot GPU + tiny pc case (Jonsboo C3).
    To solve this problem i got idea to customize original EMI shield, photos bellow :)

    How does Burson V5-OPA-D sound?
    - much better separation in mids
    - very clear and natural sound
    - much better dynamics
    - very clear heights
    - significantly improved precision and deep bass
    - beautiful sound stage and stereo imaging
    Thanks for V5 Burson :)
    1. pietcux
      Man that is great stuff! thinking about modding my STX too now. Btw, my PC looks quite similar inside.
      pietcux, Jan 20, 2016
    2. xPakrikx
      xPakrikx, Jan 21, 2016
  6. peter123
    Possible a great upgrade to you existing system!
    Written by peter123
    Published Jan 20, 2016
    Pros - Natural, musical and very non-fatiguing sound
    Cons - May not fit in all devices, expensive
    The Burson Audio Supreme Sound (SS) Opamp V5 was sent to me by Burson Audio to be a part of my Matrix M-stage HPA-1 review. However I’m so fascinated by this product that I think it deserves its own review as well. Those of you that have already read my HPA-1 review may recognize a lot of the things said here from that review.  I’d also like to send a big THANK YOU to Burson Audio and Dennis for letting me check out the SS V5 and answering all my questions about it.
    The SS V5 is available in two different configurations: one with a single op amp circuit and one with a dual. Since the M-stage uses a dual op amp that’s what I received.
    The SSV5 are available on eBay or directly from the Burson Audio website:  
    I’m not in any way affiliated with Burson Audio.
    The SS V5 is delivered i a premium package

    Short introduction to Burson Audio:
    Burson Audio is an Australia based company founded in 1996.  They’ve specialized in making headphone amplifier and amp/DAC combos, stereo amplifiers and op amps using discrete circuits.
    This is what says themselves about their philosophy:
    Our philosophy is simple; the less our components interfere with the audio signal the more complete your musical experience. This is our core design philosophy since we began in 1996. If our equipment is designed well and transparent enough — and it is — then the pace, rhythm, timing dynamics and tonality becomes a natural expression of the music. We feel this can never be achieved with standard circuit building blocks like IC chip op-amps, IC regulators, or even standard transformers. Instead we research and develop customized discrete circuits specifically to suit their applications. Only then does each and every component in the signal path perform at its peak. And only then will the end result match our expectations.
    About me:
    I’m a 43 year old music and sound lover that changed my focus from speakers to headphones and IEM’s about five years ago. At that time I realized that it wasn’t realistic for me to have all the different setups that I wanted and still house a family of four children and a wife so my interest turned first to full sized headphones and later also IEM’s.
    My preferences are towards full sized open headphones and I believe that also says something about what kind of sound signature I prefer (large soundstage in all directions, balanced and organic sound).
    My music preferences are pretty much all over the place (only excluding classical music, jazz and really heavy metal). My all-time favorite band is Depeche Mode although I also listen to a lot of grunge/indie, singer/songwriter/acoustical stuff as well as the typical top 40 music.
    I do not use EQ, ever.
    I’m a sucker for value for money on most things in life Head-Fi related stuff is no exception.
    Demo list:t
    Mark Knopfler – Sailing to Philadelphia
    Røyksopp (Feat.Susanne Sundfør) – Save Me
    Ane Brun – These Days
    Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana
    Metallica – Die Die My Darling
    The Peter Malick Group – Immigrant
    Eva Cassidy – Songbird
    Thomas Dybdahl – A Lovestory
    Norah Jones – Don’t Know Why
    Celldweller – Unshakeable
    Jack Johnson – Better Together
    Seinabo Sey – Younger (Kygo remix)
    Dire Straits- So Far Away
    Bjørk - Moon
    Lupe Fiasco - Deliver
    Morrissey – Earth Is the Loneliest Plane
    The Burson Audio SS V5 is a discrete op amp that’s compatible with a lot of the common op amps out there. As already mentioned it comes in two different configurations (single and dual) so the first thing you need to do is to find out if it’s at all a drop in replacement for your existing op amp in the device where you plan to use it with. To do this I’d recommend visiting the Burson Audio website through the link on the top of this review where they list a lot of common op amps that the SS V5 is a direct replacement for. You will also need to know whether you need two single or one dual (or even more depending on your device) of them. The price for two single ones is the same as for one dual. If you’ve got any questions whatsoever just ask them. From my experience they’re very knowledgeable.
    The SS V5 measures 12.4mm X 14.5mm X 29mm (0.48 in x 0.57 x 1.4 in) so you will also need to make sure that it fits in your device. Especially the height may be a challenge in some devices (in my Little Dot I+ this was a problem). As for the M-stage it fits perfectly after the 8DIP adapter is removed.
    Please also make sure that you put the op amp in the socket in the right direction. There should be markings on both your old and new ones showing which way to be inserted.
    All Burson Audio op amps come with a lifetime warranty.
    The SS V5 mounted in the Matrix M-stage HPA-1
    For this comparison I’ve used the Matrix M-stage amplifier fed from my Advance Acoustic MDA 503 with some NOS Ei tubes in the output stage. I used me Philips Fidelio X2 and AKG Q701’s for listening.
    The M-stage uses one dual op amp that’s mounted in a DIP8 socket and is very easily user replaceable. In general I find op amp changes to be quite subtle, especially when a/b testing with short listening sessions. I find that long time usage makes it easier to say at least which sound you prefer and which may cause more fatigue or other wanted/unwanted characteristics. Still I’d consider op amp changes fine tuning kind of in the same way as with tube changes. I’d also like to say that there are no “better” or “worse” op amps in my opinion but there may be differences in synergy with the rest of your system and of course also in what preferences one have.
    My M-stage came with the OPA627 pre-installed. Lately I’ve acquired a MUSES8820 op amp and now also the SS V5.
    OPA627 (top left), MUSES8820 and Burson Audio SS V5
    This is how I hear them each and I hope that it will give a fair impression of their characteristics.
    OPA627 (class A biased), $30:
    With the OPA627 installed the warmth in the M-stage is easily noticeable but clarity and details are still in place. Focus on each instrument is excellent and the OPA 627 is the most intimate sounding among those tested here.
    Full bodied, focused and warm is keywords for this op amp.
    Burson Audio SS V5, $70:
    With the SS V5 the black background of the M-stage is even more noticeable. There’s also more air to the presentation and the stage feels wider while still keeping the great positioning of each instrument. The more airy presentation also makes it feel less warm if that makes sense. The V5 has great extension in both ends.
    Rich, detailed, airy and non-fatiguing is keywords for this op amp.  
    Muses 8820, $13:
    The MUSES8820 sits nicely in between the OPA 627 and SS V5 when it comes to warmth and soundstage. It has good extensions in both ends and is quite neutral.
    Neutral and musical is keywords for this op amp.
    I’ve also made a short breakdown of the characteristic of the three op amps I’ve compared:
    Warmth: 627 > 8820 > V5
    Black background: V5 > 627 = 8820
    Soundstage: V5 > 8820 > 627
    Extension: V5 > 8820 > 627
    Airy presentation: V5 > 8820 > 627
    Separation: V5 > 8820 = 627
    Once again these differences are not big but it’s how I hear them with my ears in my system. That being said it’s no doubt that I prefer the Burson offering over the others for long term listening because of its very musical, natural and non-fatiguing presentation.
    The Burson Audio SS V5 is just an op amp. Despite of this it has been an eye opener for me in how there’s possible to fine tune the sound on your existing amplifier (or DAC) to suit your system, headphones and preferences. The first time that I put the SS V5 in my M-stage there were no doubt that it was a noticeable change in sound from the OPA627 that I’ve used in it for a long time. If it’s for the better or worse it depends on what you prefer. Whether it’s worth $70 or not will also be up to you to decide. For me it took one of my favorite amplifiers to the next level and has made me stop looking for my next amplifier purchase, at least for now :wink:
    To moderators: I couldn't find a more suited place to post this so if it's in the wrong section please feel free to move it. 


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