Burson Audio Supreme Sound Opamp V5

General Information

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.

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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

Sources:
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!
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Ummm... Oops.
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Errr No matter.
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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.
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)

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(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.

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


Notes:

· 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.


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(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!

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(V5i Circuit Exposed)
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(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.

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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.


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(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.


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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

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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.

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References:

http://www.head-fi.org/a/describing...


https://www.audeze.com/technology/e...


https://www.bursonaudio.com/product...

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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-...

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Full PC Specs:

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  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:

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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.


SMDOpampsInstalledSm.jpg


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.


BeforeAfterRepair.jpg


(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.

BB2604AUPinOut.jpg




A reminder, here is the signal chain:

SignalChainSmaller.jpg

Some of my modding rig tools:


ZXRModRigsm.jpg


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:


http://www.ebay.com/itm/361490134147?_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK:MEBIDX:IT

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snellemin
snellemin
I'll be awaiting your findings on the Cable+
NCSUZoSo
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
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.
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.  
 
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LL2.jpg  
LL.jpgWP_20170109_14_47_56_Pro.jpg  
 

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