Burson Audio Supreme Sound Opamp V5i

General Information

A Hybrid Audio Opamp with SSV5 DNA

The inception of our latest product originated as a result of our partnership with a leading microchip foundry. Together we have created an integrated version of our V5 FET circuitry. In order to overcome many of the inherent limitations associated with ICs, we have externalized parts of its circuitry and completed those sections with high quality discrete components.

The newly developed Burson V5i is a hybrid audio opamp, which is both partially IC and discrete. It bears the sonic signature of its bigger brother, the V5 discrete opamp, considered by many as the reference in audio application.

Latest reviews

Pros: -Soundstage Width
-Engaging Live/Lifelike sound
-Music has more “Soul”
-Instrument separation and air on the high end.
-Lows dig a bit deeper
Cons: -Marginal Improvement (Not night and day difference)
-Expensive for an OP-AMP
-Larger size might be an issue
-May not fit in the Objective 2
-Might not improve all amp designs
Introduction

I was contacted by Burson Audio to conduct a review on the V5i, as such I was provided with two Op amps to test them in my Little Dot I+ and My Objective 2 on the output side. Tube rolling aside I found that the GE JAN-5654W which are the military variant are my favourite tubes for ”ME” at the moment. They have excellent clarity without sounding overly digital while simultaneously not being sloppy in the bass department, as a result these were the tubes I chose to use for this review. I am in no way affiliated with Burson Audio, all results are my own findings and personal opinions. For the time being my review is based on the Little Dot I+ since I use it the most, in the near future I will review these in the objective 2 amp. Right now my Little dot has been paired with an AliExpress knockoff of the Muse02 op amp which by itself was decent for what it was.

I started to get into great sounding audio when I 8 years old playing around with mixing tapes and than burning cd’s. When I was 13 I got an iPod mini which is when I started playing with compression only to learn the hard way that it ruined the audio files. When the world moved on to iPods and high compression in favour of convenience I was left behind with my CD’s and portable disc player knowing that this was the best way to listen to music.


I don’t call myself an audiophile but rather a music and gear enthusiast. I have other hobbies and love getting new equipment, tools and gear for each hobby or task, than putting it to good use in my day to day life. If I cant justify a purchase, I wont buy it…simple as that. I’m not interested in high end cables and typically try and find the best value for my money wherever possible. That said, I do like to have certain high end items if I know I will use it daily or often so the definition of ”value” is very subjective. Usually my internal justification entails reading hours of reviews and educating myself on certain products. Specifically how they work and how the engineering principals would apply, aswell as reading between the snake oil marketing gimmicks. In most cases
this has served me well over the years.

The V5i Dual Op Amp
For the sake of this review I will skip the physical, fit and finish of these OP Amps since this is the least important aspect when the equipment is closed up. They are much larger than a standard amp and I would encourage those that have clearance issues in smaller equipment to check the data sheet and measure with a micrometer. These amps do have a nice quality feel to them and a nice laser etching of the manufacture and model on the face. After removing a few screws on the bottom of my Little Dot i+ and popping the little op amp into the slot, I was ready to roll.


Test Setup.
The testing setup I’m using is the little dot i+ (V5i Dual op Amp and GE JAN-5654 Tubes) mated to my Hifiman 400i planar magnetic headphones, and my Ibasso DX120 in DAC mode. I’m most familiar with my DX120 since I use it almost daily. I would love to do an A-B comparison however having only one Little dot makes this impossible, so for now as difficult it may be the review will have to be based solely on swapping the op amp.

Music
  • Guillaume Perret- Sirenes
  • The Haggis Horns - Stand up for Love
  • Jesse Cook - I Put a Spell on You
  • Quadro Nuevo - Tango Del Mare
Lows
Those luscious lows are addicting on the 400i's, there is no question about the planar magnetic bass. This is not a night and day difference and unsubstantiated without an A-B switcher, however there is something different that seems to push the lows to dig further. The Melancholy mood in Guillaume Perret's Sirenes paints an eerie atmosphere which is reinforced by the now deeper digging bass. In the haggis Horns - Stand Up for Love, The bass seems more organic and less digital with more soul compared to the Muse02 knockoff, the bass also seems to be better controlled throughout the spectrum.

Mids
The mids are probably where I detect the least amount of difference especially in the french horn in Quadro Nuevo - Tango Del Mare, however the total package seems to come together nicely with a sense that the music is live in an intimate studio, yet somehow it sounds more engaging, more alive with the V5i. The closest visual representation I can think of is on an HDR TV where the upgrade allows the colors to pop out a bit more akin to the V5i allowing music to Pop a bit more, the former being more obvious or contrasting. The air around the instruments once again allows the separation to stand out in an impressive way since this track also carries a lot of depth and layers.

Highs
Im a huge fan of Jesse Cook, and unfortunately due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak the live concert I had booked is now cancelled, as a result listening to his recordings will have to do for now. When I play "I Put a Spell on you" I can hear a slight amount more air between the instruments. The twang in the background guitar takes an interesting seat on the stage, while Jesse guitar takes a slight backseat to the lush intimate vocals. I chose this song as its fairly busy with multiple layers without being overwhelming which would otherwise make it difficult to detect discernible differences, it also has vocals which if you may have guessed by now is the least of what I listen to. One would have to spend substantially more money on a better sounding setup for this genre of music (400i, LD i+ with V5i Op Amp). I do feel though however that the highs are somewhat discernibly different not by overall clarity but rather soundstage width and instrument separation or air around the instruments. I would love to at this point do A-B comparison on a stock OP AMP little dot but as mentioned this is unfortunately not in the cards at the moment as I don’t own two LD i+ amps.


Performance Closing thoughts:
The 400i's are a bit of chameleon when it comes to some recordings, they are very transparent and can be picky which makes them a great review candidate for showcasing the V5i. They scale very well with source quality and one thing I've noticed is that there is this invisible wall to the width of the soundstage, where height was never an issue but width can . At times, depending on the source cause the 400i's to sound out of balance or "Off" when the recording hits the "invisible" sound wall for width. This is more depending on the recording than anything else, strange though that I noly hear with the 400i's. That being said I do believe that the V5i has improved the overall width of the soundstage which I believe is the reason why there is a bit more air around the instruments, however this will not fix a sloppy recorded track that has no attention to detail. The V5i does seem to help a smidge with this virtual sound width wall phenomenon in the 400i's as well. Regarding the V5i there is no question though that its arguable one of the best performing op-amps available in its price class. As mentioned these are my findings and im trying to find differences and improvements, if someone was to swap the OP amp without one knowing, I highly doubt anyone would wake up one day and say "Hey! This thing sounds great…What happened?!". The improvements im noting could also be the placebo affect which unless I have a second identical amp that very few do, I cant perform an A-B switch to rule this out. Im still claiming that I notice an increase in air and soundstage in the highs, the lows dig a touch deeper and have more "soul". The music as a whole seems to sound a smidge more lifelike and engaging, more realistic and less digital.

Value
In The quest for value I think the V5i is a great opportunity to step up your game into some high end OP-amps. The price for admission is high compared to some other op amps but low in a world where people spend hundreds of dollars on cables. Once you justify how much you will use the equipment and whether or not its worth it to spend the money, the rest is easy. Since I’m not one to spend unnecessary amounts of money on speciality cables trying to convince myself I hear a difference, I’m far better off spending money on an OP AMP or two to maximize the equipment I already have. There are a lot of pieces of well designed equipment that were produced in china with generic but swappable parts, the little dot having come with a cheap op amp and basic tubes is a fine example. Op amp rolling is also cheaper than rolling the entire amp. Paired with the little dot i+ I think the V5i is a no brainer upgrade since you only need one, pair that with some nice tubes and you will have a winner. Given the opportunity if I got another amp I would likely be looking at installing these OP amps.

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Pros: Shines at mid frequencies
Good details
Lifetime warranty
Build quality
Cons: Expensive (for me)
Need some burn-in process
Burson V5i-D Review


Shalom,

Hello Head-Fi! In this review, I’m going to do a review on the Burson V5i-D op-amp. The op-amp was sent by Carlos from Burson Audio, so I’d like to give him and Burson Audio a thousand thanks for giving me a chance to try one of the world’s well-known op-amp in the world of audio.



Introduction

Quoted from Burson’s website;

“A Hybrid Audio Opamp with SSV5 DNA
The inception of our latest product originated as a result of our partnership with a leading microchip foundry. Together we have created an integrated version of our V5 FET circuitry. In order to overcome many of the inherent limitations associated with ICs, we have externalized parts of its circuitry and completed those sections with high quality discrete components.

The newly developed Burson V5i is a hybrid audio opamp, which is both partially IC and discrete. It bears the sonic signature of its bigger brother, the V5 discrete opamp, considered by many as the reference in audio application.

Easy & Effective
When designing the Burson V5i, our goal was to create a product that was to manage. Similar to the size of a typical DIP8 opamp, the V5i is the easiest plug-in upgrade for any audio project. Starting at the price of $39.00 USD, the V5i is a fun upgrade with serious performance capabilities.

Unsurpassed Performance & Quality
It is said that we as humans can only hear up to 20 KHz; however, the new V5i has bandwidth of 50 MHz. In other words, you will not be able to hear all the micro details, but you will surely feel them. With the creation of the V5i, music will simply be more engaging and live like.

Holding fast to our tradition of elite service, the V5i is also covered under our Worldwide Lifetime Replacement Warranty. Here at Burson Audio, we maintain a high level of customer service with our commitment to design and quality.

Sonic Characteristics
Like the fully discrete SSV5, the V5i is fast, dynamic, and transparent. Music shines through a peach black background and a wide stage. The V5i pushes IC based audio opamp beyond its limitations and it is truly worthy of the Burson badge.”

Visit Burson Audio official site here: https://www.bursonaudio.com/
SS V5i site: https://www.bursonaudio.com/products/supreme-sound-opamp-v5i/


Product Quality

IMG_20191006_181244.jpg

The op-amp comes in a small, nice-looking box with “Supreme Sound” sealing label wrapped around the little box.

IMG_20191006_181310.jpg

When you open it, the op-amp(s) placed in a Styrofoam. Lift the Styrofoam, you can see and scan the barcode to visit the registration site and register each op-amp you owned. Best thing is, once you’ve registered your goods, Burson doesn’t offer one, three or ten years of warranty, but instead you’ll get a Lifetime Warranty. So no need to worry about aftersales problematic.

The op-amp is made from smooth aluminum(?) shell, and does not get warm quickly.



Sound Quality

Disclaimer:

1. This is a straight-to-the-point review, so don’t expect a long, detailed review on the sound quality.

2. Everything that I wrote here are “IMHO” and as is. I did not get paid for saying something good or bad. This is based on my experience with the V5i-D. And also, Carlos asked for my honest feedback, so this is my honest review on the sound

Head gear(s): KZ ES4, TFZ Series 2

Device(s) used for test: Zishan Z1 (comparison no.1), Zishan Z2 (comparison no.2)

Music genre(s): Metalcore, deathcore, metal, EDM, trap, anime and acoustic.

Volume: Both Z1 and Z2 are on 90
(3 o’clock) volume knob


==========================================================================


First Impression: “Okay…”

At first, it sounds obviously better than my stock op-amps, the NE5532P, LM4562 or the OP297. But, I was like, “So this is the $39 op-amp that everyone is talking about?”

The reason is because it doesn’t blow my mind away. It sounds good but not great. The soundstage has improved, but not much. Lows are fast, boomy but details are a bit lacking. Vocals are thin. Highs have good details, but sound “metallic”.

However, after using it in my Z1 for more than 3 days, things has changed… a lot.


Before 3 days of usage

Comparison 1.1 | Paired with Z1 & KZ ES4

IMG_20191006_174230.jpg

Disclaimer: Z1 sounds neutral to bright and ES4 has a warm sound with laid-back feeling by default

Lows: One thing that I noticed from the start, are the bass textures. Bass are refined here compared to Z1’s stock NE5532P op-amp and OP297. The lows on V5i are fast and dynamic, but not as “round” as OPA627.

Mids: Vocals are great, forward but a bit thin and more wet compared to my OPA627 (SOIC8 to DIP8). More bodied if compared to stock NE5532P.

Highs: Highs are nice and clear, but not more than that.

Soundstage: This is where V5i shows up it’s potential. Soundstage is really good, wide but not “Stadium-sized” stage. I heard that instruments are at their place, but height is still lacking of details. Have to admit this section is really enjoyable. The OPA627 is the only op-amp that I have which can compete the V5-I on soundstage-wise.

Separation: The instrument separations on V5-I are well separated. I can hear the instruments better compared with NE5532P or LM4562, but the OP297 can handle this section better unfortunately.


Comparison 1.2 | Paired with Z2 & KZ ES4

Disclaimer: Z2 sounds neutral to warm and ES4 has a warm sound with laid-back feeling sound by default.

Lows: Not much different with the lows on Z1 (with the V5i). However, on Z2, the bass are bigger than Z1.

Mids: Z2’s vocals by default are a bit pushed backward and a tad more bodied than Z1. Putting the V5i and the vocals are pushed more forward and detailed, more suited to my listening preferences.

Highs: Stock Z2 has already a good highs, so to my ears, not much improved, I can only noticed that there are a bit more details. Compared to Z1, Z2’s highs are smoother.

Soundstage: Wider than stock op-amp, but still lacks of height.

Separation: Similar to Z1 well separated and enjoyable.


Comparison 1.3 | Paired with Z1 & TFZ Series 2

IMG_20191006_173354.jpg

Disclaimer: Z1 sounds neutral to bright and Series 2 has a bright sound signature by default

Lows: Bass’ transients are faster than ones on 1.1, and also well-controlled here. Suitable for metal music. Overall, better than 1.1.

Mids: Aggressive. That is the word that I can describe about this combination. My ears are used to ES4’s warm, laid-back sound. In this pairing, vocals are thin sounding and lacks of body. S2’s mids have a forward sounding by default, while Z1 is also has a good vocal. This combination brings me into a mid-centric experience. In the song “Heart Realize” by Tia, the vocals are… sibilance. A lot of sibilant. Need to turn down the volume to 4 o’clock to enjoy it, unfortunately. More suited to listen to metalcore and deathcore for this kind of sound.

Highs: Better details, airy and sparks are more audible. Overall, not as aggressive as the mids.

Soundstage: Wide and open

Separation: Good


Comparison 1.4 | Paired with Z2 & TFZ Series 2

Disclaimer: Z2 sounds neutral to warm and Series 2 has a bright sound signature by default

Lows: Punchy, strong rumble, fast

Mids: Really forward, thin, transparent, not too sibilant.

Highs: Airy, detailed, quite aggressive.

Soundstage: Wider than 1.3 with better height

Separation: Good


After 3 days of usage

Sound has improved… a lot.

Comparison 2.1 | Paired with Z1 & KZ ES4

Disclaimer: Z1 sounds neutral to bright and ES4 has a warm sound with laid-back feeling by default

Lows: Details on sub-bass are clearer than before. Better punch, fast bass transient

Mids: Forward, more bodied (not as thin as before). Acoustic guitars sound crunchy, while guitar distortion sounds more “rusty” and real than before (which is a good thing for metal music)

Highs: Airy, great details. Much clearer than 1.1. Nice treble presentation. Really improved after 3 days of usage.

Soundstage: Wide and open, now with detailed height, not just width.

Separation: Improved. Better separation (cymbals, high hats, bass kick and thumb bass are well separated)


Comparison 2.2 | Paired with Z2 & KZ ES4

Disclaimer: Z2 sounds neutral to warm and ES4 has a warm sound with laid-back feeling sound by default.

Lows: Rumble. Bigger.

Mids: Now vocals are forward, more full and bodied.

Highs: Improved! Now I have no complain on Z2’s treble. Open, detailed while still smoother than Z1.

Soundstage: Wide

Separation: Well-separated, a bit better separation than 1.2


Comparison 2.3 | Paired with Z1 & TFZ Series 2

Disclaimer: Z1 sounds neutral to bright and Series 2 has a bright sound signature by default

Lows: Faster than 2.1. Better sub-bass presentation! Better bass punch details.

Mids: More full and bodied, even though still thin sounding to my ears. Mid-centric experience.

Highs: Sparks, details. Good treble presentation. Really airy treble! But can be aggressive in some songs, especially in deathcore music.

Soundstage: Wide and open with better height

Separation: Great


Comparison 2.4 | Paired with Z2 & TFZ Series 2

Disclaimer: Z2 sounds neutral to warm and Series 2 has a bright sound signature by default

Lows: More punch! Not just dreary rumble. Good bass texture. Pretty fast too. All rounder bass.

Mids: Forward, but fuller and more relax compared to 2.3. Great details!

Highs: Airy! Open! Better details while still smoother and “calm” compared to 2.3. Overall really improved on treble section

Soundstage: Really wide with great height extention

Separation: Great! Best separation among the four combination


Conclusion

Burson V5i-D sound signature (After approx. 100 hours of burn-in process): Mid-centric sound signature with great bass and detailed highs

Suitable for: Pop, jazz, classical, proggressive metal

So, is it worth it? Does the V5i worth it? Well, first, depends on you. Are you willing to spend 39 bucks for a small op-amp that has a mid-centric sound signature? If you are, then go ahead, it’s worth it, especially if you’re already have real Hi-Fi equipment class. But for people like me, who likes to search cheaper op-amp(s) with good sound, well, I’d save my money for better things to buy (IMHO, no offense). I am more into “cans player”, because output is the most affecting matter when it comes to sound (IMO).

Once again, many thanks to Carlos and Burson Audio for giving me a chance to try this op-amp! Really appreciate it!


Thank you very much for reading my simple review!

God bless us all.
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Pros: Incredible improvement over all other op-amps tried.
Cons: little pricey for the budget conscious.
About me:

I am an average Joe on a budget chasing audio excellence. I am not able to drop huge cash on audio gear so I have to be conscientious of my purchases. However when I found a deal on the Burson Audio V5I-D on my local marketplace I had to jump on it simply on Burson Audio’s reputation.

Packaging:
The chips come in a very appropriate box, fully protected and sealed looks professional and more than appropriate.

Installation on Biosciencegeek Cmoy :

Yep a Cmoy. It is really a great Amp that is portable and budget friendly. The installation is extremely simple, you just have to remove the original OpAmp, and place the V5i-D correctly. it is pictured hear sitting atop my dusty Little Dot MK3

I have rolled a lot of OP-amps they are…were cheap and fun. There are sound differences for sure! Some sound like ass, some just meh, and some are bombastically awesome!

The top competitors for the Burson where the Muses 8820, 8920 (close enough to muses 1 and 2 without bleeding money) and the best of the bunch the OPA1622.

Very Subjective sound analysis:

If you looking for the review by a mad scientist with oscilloscopes and other high tech magic you may want to stop reading . I will give you the impression of an average Joe who happens to love great music produced exceptionally without spending the equivalent of a Bugatti La Voiture Noire. If you are one of those guys who has the disposable income I envy you, I truly do, and if you have any cast offs I would surely put them to good use but I digress.

What do I want? I use my amp and headphones (Sennheiser Momentum/Beyerdynamic dt 1350pro) through my work computer using a Essence STX sound card most of the time while working at my desk trying to avoid conversations around my workmates various ailments and leakages which I guess any old amp and headphones would do however why settle? Mostly though I want something that takes me as close to “there” as I can be. Soundstage, ambiance, clarity and moments of having my breathe taken away by an exciting passage or movement in a song. I listen to a huge range of music from sub genres of metal to muddy waters.

I will save me some typing and say that the Burson V5I-D is in a league of its own. It destroys the Muses on all counts and bests the OPA1622 especially in ambience and soundstage. With the Burson in the amp I am catching myself noticing the “air” around the performers. What? I know right? It is like going from a 3d image to looking at a hologram. So much more realism and texture. There is moments when I am simply listening while working and I am forced to pause as the goosebumps creeping up my arm will not be ignored. Some tracks that I suggest you give a run:

Pinapple Xpress-Audiomatic Phaze- With its driving beat I find my head bouncing almost uncontrollably and a smile creeping across my face. The headphones are bouncing off my head with a clear precise reproduction of Bass.

Shall rise/Shall be dead – Invictus- Heart palpating drumming and speed. This may not be your cup of tea but worth a listen if you want to hear one of the best drummers on earth. No machines it is all him. The Burson makes this poor recording better but you’re not listening to Invictus for micro details, your listening to blow your mind with amazing metal and the Burson and Invictus delivers.

Falling apart-Great Lake Swimmers
- these guys are all about Ambience and the Brunson clearly separates itself from the others while comparing and listening to this song.

Moving Pictures Silent Films-Great Lake Swimmers- Again these guys are all about Ambience. This was recorded in an old church on vintage gear. This track clearly is simple but puts any system to the test to recreate the feeling of the moment and the ambiance of an empty church. The Burson once again clearly separates itself from the others while comparing and listening to this song however I sense that there is more there to be resolved-perhaps Burson V6 Vivid Dual X 2 is the answer?

I searched the forums for quality recordings to test my gear out on and created a playlist on Spotify of all the suggestions I found for myself -Audiophile-Headphone Test Tracks- check it out if you want to save some time there is some real jewels in there.

Conclusions:
I know that buying an Op-amp that is twice the price of the amp it is being used in is silly. However what you should extrapolate from my budget audiophile experience if the Burson can elevate my simple set up what it will do to your dampened, chrome alloy, tuned and ported, twin waffle banger set up will be extravagant. Actually ignore everything I said you may not want to leave the house after you upgrade to the Burson and I don’t want to be the one responsible for you turning into a shut in.

I bought the Burson due to it being a good deal on my marketplace, however having listened to it I would happily go tell my past self it is worth the price new.

The Burson is clearly a worthy upgrade if transparency, color and texture, dynamics and sound stage are something you enjoy and really who doesn’t.

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