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


1000+ Head-Fier
Great opamp for those looking to upgrade their Little Dot 1+
Pros: Better bass quantity and quality
More liquid and lush mids
Better definition in treble with no harshness
Increased size of sound stage
More precise imaging
Slight increase in overall resolution
Cons: None
Introduction and Background
Burson contacted me about reviewing one of their opamps since I owned a Little Dot 1+. I jumped at the chance to try one of their opamps with the Little Dot 1+ since I've tried many other opamps (all the usual suspects from Burr Brown, Muses, LMI, etc.) in the past with this great performing yet inexpensive tube-hybrid amp. I decided to try the V5i-D.

A few weeks went buy and I received the V5i-D. Initial impressions were this thing is built much better than your typical chip based opamp. I opened up the bottom cover and removed the Muses 8820 I had in place and inserted the V5i-D. Replacement was super easy with no issues.

I connected the Little Dot 1+ to a MHDT Steeplechase DAC and fired both up for warm-up. After warm-up I plugged in a ZMF Auteur Classic headphone and settled in for initial listening. I have to say from the get-go I was surprised with what I heard!


(Little Dot 1+ paired with Topping D50s and Sundara or HD6XX for travel setup.)

I normally prefer to run my ZMFs with pure tube amps whether they are OTL or transformer coupled designs. After spending some time with the Little Dot 1+ with the V5i-D opamp I'm going to have to reintroduce this amp into the regular home rotation. For the last year or so I have been using the Little Dot mainly for traveling paired with a Topping D50s DAC and usually a HD6XX, Sundara, or Aeon Flow X. I could throw everything into a back pack and easily set everything up in a hotel room. The humble Little Dot 1+ is transferred to a higher level when using the V5i-D opamp. It really makes a big difference. More on that and specific aspects of the sound below.

Both bass quantity and quality are improved with the V5i-D. Bass lines that could be lost in the mix with other opamps are easily heard and followed with the V5i-D. Bass slam also increased as well as speed. Very nice job Burson!

Mids become much more lush and liquid while not becoming to slow or losing any detail. Simply put the increased lushness in the Mids while running the V5i-D makes the Little Dot 1+ sound much more like a full tube amp and not a hybrid. That is a very positive change imho.

Highs become more extended without adding any harshness with the V5i-D. I'm a drummer and enjoy hearing the decay and shimmer of cymbals in well recorded tracks. This makes a recording sound much more life like imho. This shimmer and decay was much easier to hear with the V5i-D.

Soundstage, imaging, and Resolution
Soundstage width and depth both increased with the V5i-D. Imaging also becomes more precise as its easier to place respective instruments and voices. Overall resolution of the Little Dot 1+ also increases when using the V5i-D.

Final Thoughts
I really like the changes the addition of the V5i-D brings to the Little Dot 1+. To my ears it increases the performance across the board to the point where the Little Dot sounds like a much higher priced amplifier. I was only listening to the Little Dot when travelling for the last year or so but now I'm introducing it back into the regular rotation. If you own a Little Dot 1+ you really owe it to yourself to try it with the V5i-D opamp. It really transforms the amp.
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Headphoneus Supremus
Excellent performance in Little Bear B4-X
Pros: Enhanced midrange, outstanding resolution, clear vocals
Cons: Reduced overall bass richness, won't fit in some devices
I received an offer by John from Burson Audio to try out a set of Burson V5i Dual Op-amps in exchange for my honest opinion. I accepted the offer, but a few days later it was weighing on my conscience whether I should have accepted the offer of the Burson Op-amps in exchange for my opinion. So I backed out of the offer and didn't hear another word about it.

Well, about 6 or 7 weeks later a surprise package was delivered to my doorstep. I didn't even know it was delivered or how long the package had been sitting at my front door because I was out of town when the package was delivered.

I brought the nondescript package into the house and opened it to find a set of Burson V5i-D Op-Amps in a small plastic container. I thought about sending them back to Burson's Fulfillment Center and set the sealed plastic container aside. A few days passed, which turned into a couple of weeks and finally out of curiosity I opened the sealed plastic box revealing 2 metal encased V5i-D Op-amps nestled in anti-static foam and proceeded to replace the MUSES02 Op-amps I've been using up until now with the Burson V5i-D Op-amps.


Equipment: Shanling M3X > Little Bear B4-X. Head gears: FiiO FF3 Earbuds and TTROMSO Tipsy IEMs.

Burson V5i Impressions:

Replacing the MUSES02 op-amp was a breeze. The V5i is clearly marked with a small dark circle on the top of the metal housing which indicates pin 1. After carefully prying out the MUSES02 chip with a small screwdriver it was easy to plug in the Burson V5i Op-amp.


The first thing I noticed was the V5i has a different sound signature compared to the op-amps I had been using until now. To me the V5i has an enhanced midrange. The V5i presents with exceptional clarity, but was lacking some richness of tone due to a reduced bass. Not to say the bass was gone. Bass is present, but was taking a backseat to the clean midrange. I'm not a 'basshead' by any means, but I do appreciate the richness in tone that bass lends to the overall musical soundscape.

I was starting to wonder if the V5i was better suited for certain styles of music and not useful as an all-rounder op-amp. So after reading some V5i reviews I found it was a mixed bag of impressions. Good bass, no bass, enhanced midrange, excellent for vocals, etc., to mention a few of the opinions.

So I thought I would try different things to see if I could get the sound I like out of the V5i op-amps.

My usual setup is to either set the Shanling M3X to line level output to provide the highest source signal level or to set the volume between 60 and 70% of max. I'm pretty sure that everybody that double amps does this same sort of thing to use the full dynamic range of the source. I started thinking about how the Little Bear B4-X hybrid tube amp really works and how it affects the audio signal passing through it.

Even though the Little Bear B4-X is labeled as an amplifier, for the most part it is really a mono tube buffer stage with unity gain op-amp output x2 (left and right channels). There is some amplification in the tube stage, it isn't by orders of magnitude though. This can be proven by plugging in your favorite IEM, flathead earbuds or headphones into the B4-X, making sure the input audio source is set to a low volume and turning the volume knob on the Little Bear to maximum and leave it there. Then start your music and adjust the volume of your DAP, phone or whatever your source is until you get a comfortable listening level. Next stop the music at the source, leave the volume level of the source the same (untouched) and plug your IEM, earbuds or headphones into the source and play your music. What you'll hear is your music with either the same volume or a little lower than what you heard coming out of the Little Bear B4-X. If the B4-X was amplifying the sound a lot you would expect the volume to be much higher from the B4-X than from the source, not equal or just slightly lower. So what is the B4-X doing if it's not amplifying the sound? It's purpose is to give your ears listening pleasure with tube generated 2nd order harmonic distortion and the op-amp stage provides the driving power (voltage and current) for your head gear. Did I mention unity gain op-amp stages... yep, so no amplification from the op-amps.

Borrowed this schematic from the Portable tube amp from China? thread.

The schematic is for the B4, not for the B4-X. The main difference as far as the op-amp circuit is concerned is that instead of using a single dual op-amp, the B4-X uses 2 dual op-amps, one for each channel. The B4-X op-amp is wired in dual parallel unity gain configuration per channel instead of single like shown in the schematic. The other major difference is that the B4-X uses +/- 12 volt rails instead of +12v and 0v (ground).
Little Bear B4 schematic.jpg

So what? How does this help us to get better sound out of the Burson V5i op-amps you just installed in your B4-X?

What I found with the Shanling M3X sourcing the B4-X is to turn the volume knob of the B4-X near maximum and leave it there. Control the playback volume at the source. With those two steps you can enjoy the nice midrange and airy treble the Burson V5i is known for and get the added bonus of getting nice smooth richness of bass. This is my own findings (YMMV) and this is how I'll be using the Shanling M3X and B4-X with Burson V5i op-amps from now on.

Final verdict: 4.5 Stars

Burson V5i-D Op-Amp is a very good op-amp upgrade for the Little Bear B4-X tube amplifier. Recommended!
Nice review, bro! I used the V5is in my recent DIY DAC/amp I put together and they certainly take the sound to another level over the MUSES02s I started with. It looks like @o0genesis0o has some competition...😉
It was eye opening about the fact that the B4X colors the sound rather than amplifying it :thinking:
There are tiny 'gain' and 'volume' trim pots on board and people do play with them to adjust channel imbalance or to increase the gain a little. I didn't adjust those trim pots from factory setting. The tubes actually are made to run at a higher voltage, but in the B4-X they are running in a low voltage state with the grids biased to help accelerate electrons from cathode to anode. I wouldn't adjust those pots unless I was feeding a test signal and scoping the signal first.


Organic and Exuberant
Pros: - Natural, energetic, light and juicy upper midrange without sounding shouty or overdone
- Lifelike timbre
- Midrange is neither too forward or recessed
- Great balance between female and male vocals
- Treble and upper treble becomes more sweet and sparkly
- While narrower, the soundstage is mostly preserved despite the upper midrange boost
- Controlled and textured midbass and subbass response
- Good build quality
Cons: - Not enough kick in the lower regions
- For those seeking huge soundstage, these aren't for you
- Won't pair well with shouty or too bright IEMs and headphones
Disclaimer: Burson sent me this product for free in exchange for a full and honest review.

* I'm using the Burson V5i op-amp together with the xDuoo XD-05 BAL dac/amp.



MUSES 8820

8820's bass is less defined and a tad more present and soft, which ultimately sounds muddy to my ears.
Midrange and upper midrange are a bit dry and are not lifelike as the V5i.
Treble and upper treble extends more on the 8820, but are not as sparkly and detailed like the V5i.
Soundstage is a bit wider on the 8820, as a result of its more neutral midrange.
In contrast, female and male vocals are clearly better on the V5i, due to the more cohesive and intimate midrange and upper midrange.

V5i is the winner here.


1612 will sound warmer, thicker, mellower and darker with most headphones and IEMs. While it still has some treble sparkle, It isn't enough to save its sound of complete mudyness and lack of detail.
The soundstage is the only good part, it's the wider due to the bass boost and upper midrange scoop. However, 1612 has a good synergy with shouty or sharp IEMs and headphones, for obvious reasons. For example, using with my TRI Starlight, which is a super bright sharp V-shaped IEM, the timbre gets more tamed and smooth.
However, pairing with the Kinera Nanna, it becomes a complete mess, because the sound of this IEM is already thick, mellow and average on details. At the end, It's all a matter of synergy. But still, there are better options than the OPA1612 on the market today. You can find better amps and op-amp which are warmer without being dark and muddy.

V5i is the clear winner here.

JRC 5532DD

Dead flat, lifeless and distant sounding. Average to low detail. Worst op amp I ever tried. V5i beats it in every single aspect.

V5i all the way.


I know it's a different kind of comparison, but I find it interesting to make one, due to its huge popularity and efficiency.
BTR5 is more neutral and brighter and its midrange isn't as pronounced and organic as the V5i. Treble and bass extends more on the BTR5 and the same goes to soundstage's width and depth. It's difficult to define a winner here. Again, It's all a matter of synergy: I would choose the V5i when using with a more V-shaped and harder to drive IEM or headphone, because it will give me the fluidity that is missing in the midrange, but I would stick with the FiiO when using a more balanced earphone that doesn't require much power and correction to its sound.


Burson V5i gives you a significant upgrade from the stock OPA1612, also beating most op-amps from its price bracket. It can be a bit expensive for some people, but it will definitively sastisfy those seeking for a more organic and mid-centric sound.
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