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Burson Audio Supreme Sound Opamp V5i

  1. larry piencenaves
    Brings Music to Life
    Written by larry piencenaves
    Published Mar 9, 2018
    Pros - smooth and lively, gives a more 3-d presentation to the music, emphasis on midrange
    Cons - subdued mid-bass, price, bulkiness might be a problem for some
    This item gave to me by Mr. Carlos from Burson Audio in exchange for my honest opinion, btw im brutally honest i dont care if i bought it or someone gifted it as long as its bad, it bad, so you can count on me, i also have a relatively good hearing capabilities, ive only started to care about good quality audio last year, never bought headphones nor speakers during that time, so my ears are not exposed to loud music or anything (can still hear till 17k-18k at most) so some small details that the burson v5i dual can bring, i could notice.

    I paired it up with my zishan z3 which i think is a good compliment with this op-amp, as it balances the things i dont like in the z3 tho the sonic difference with the stock op-amp is not too drastic like "wow!" i could say that its an improvement in the overall sound quality.
    It fits nicely with the z3, no problems with that.
    the v5i dual is bulky but still fits in the z3 with ease, tho some smaller budget dap, it will be a problem.

    Btw, before i notice the improvement, it took 2 days of continous use non-stop, i dont know if this op-amp benefit in burn in(?) since the first few hours of it, didnt notice the difference it sounded like the stock op-amp on the z3 which has a shy mids and highs that would make any songs a bit dark and warmy (i didnt like that personally). But after that 2 days, i a/b test them again with the stock op-amp and also with the unused v5i dual, (I have 2 of them, only one is in use) and thats when i realized im hearing the change.

    Sound: One thing that I really like the most is the emphasis in the midrange, its elevated but not forward sounding (different from the mids sound signature of the grado which is elevated and forward that might be fatiguing in long hours of use). highs are also now lively and airy which i personally prefer unlike the stock op-amp , the only downside i heard so far is that the mid-bass are subdued, ive noticed it when i played some bass-heavy songs, those "boom" in the music are significantly lessened, this would be a no-no for the basshead type of people, but not for me, i really liked it since the vocals would shine. Now this changes can be easily equalized by the built-in equalizer in the zishan z3, you would think its not worth the buy for this product, I also thought of that but there are still a few things that v5i dual gives that the eq cant provide.

    There is a unique reverb or maybe soundstage(?) im not really sure, its making some of my songs sound artificial, but in a good way. its more of like giving the song a 3-D representation versus the typical stereo sound effect (however the effect is only minimal). Aside from that, it adds more lushness and smoothness to the overall sound signature. definitely a huge plus for me since a one of my headphones exhibits sibilance, and listening to them via z3+v5i dual is a blessing to my ears.

    So, to sum it up:
    (both op-amps have the same degree of details and resolution)
    z3 with stock op-amp LM4562NA - warm, flat bass response, dull sounding due to recessed mids and highs
    z3 with V5i dual op-amp - 3-d representation, mid-bass-lite, smoother and lively.

    If your finding a balance sounding op-amp, this is not for you, this adds color to your music which is a personal preference, It would be a direct similarity with grados, its either you love it or hate it. fortunately i like how they bring color tk the music so this op-amp is for me. Its a true high fidelity op-amp, its clean sounding, details and resolution are great, imaging are accurate, and those added smoothness to the music is just so nice to listen at.

    btw, I also reviewed the zishan z3 in its stock form(https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/zishan-z3.22970/) Ive said it there that it doesnt bring a smile to my face, but with z3+v5iD...... : )

    Conclusion: Is it worth the buy? well, that is for you to decide, $39 (i dont know if it includes shipping) is a lot, you could buy 2-3 budget iems, which will make you think twice of buying it, this also the reason i rated it 4.5 stars, but for those who has some extra budget and money is not your concern, i recommend it, its not a waste of money, it brings changes to your listening experience, its worth.

    Once again thanks for Mr. Carlos for this free trial, this product is definitely not snake oil or anything like some other products are, this one actually works and its great. if this product goes down to a lower price and readily available to lazada, shoppe, aliexpress (i live in asia) i would definitely buy.
      Origen Ru likes this.
  2. Origen Ru
    Review of the Burson V5i applied to the ZiShan DSD
    Written by Origen Ru
    Published Mar 1, 2018
    Pros - Pros: Pure High-End sound and a large Sound-Stage in a relatively compact size!
    Cons - Cons: Size slightly larger than a standard OPAmp that can make it difficult to install on amplifiers with little space!.
    Review of the OPAmp Burson V5i applied to the ZiShan DSD.

    In my search for a perfect Opamp to upgrade my Dac ZiShan DSD Player which includes an OPAmp JR21AFE3 / LME49720NA from the factory which has a very natural sound playing in conjunction with my Alessandro MS2e By GRADO headphones but its sound is very narrow, I was looking for The broadest sound that could be obtained from an OPAmp without altering the nature of the sound, I got the OPAmp MUSES 02 Original which greatly widens the stage but unfortunately alters the nature of the music, its sound is very bright and its basses are almost non-existent creating as a consequence a sound not funny and sometimes impossible to tolerate.

    The GRADO Family headphones have a sound full of details in the brand's unique mid-high frequencies that are my delight and a tight bass without dulling the details are for me the kind of perfect headphones, they lack Sound-Stage so I found myself in the need to Investigate even more thoroughly on the topic of the best OPAmp's in the market in relation to High-End Quality and Sound-Estage. This was how I got to know the BURSON AUDIO brand and its different models of OPAmp's Hybrids, in Head-fi.org Forum, a Burson representative gave me the opportunity to try out their newest product, the OPAmp V5i, this being the model that completely covered my need for quality, Sound-Stage and size.

    The installation was easy and fast, although if it was necessary to desolder the Dip-8 socket and solder the V5i directly to the card so that it could close correctly becoming the V5i the permanent OPAmp of my ZiShan DSD, I could not take picture of the V5i since I paid the service of a company of electronics technicians who soldered the V5i to the ZiShan DSD card in only 10 minutes but they did not allow me to take pictures of their service.

    It takes me 4 hours a day for 10 days for the V5i to Burn-in correctly.

    My opinion about its sound: Its sound is perfect, the separation of the voices is so effective that it is possible to understand the verses of each voice you sing at the same time that the MUSES 02 does not achieve !, the high frequencies are perfect, full of detail without getting to go over bright, and it is magical that finally the bass took its ideal level, deep thick and tight without dulling the details thus becoming the "V5i in the sound you want to get so much"

    Try to update a second V5i for my LITTLE BEAR B-2 portable headphone amplifier unfortunately, even though this included an OPAmp JRC4556AD OPAmp was not compatible with the Burson V5i, when I tested its sound I realized that it did not sound and when I went up volume was totally distorted sound, I tried the two V5i in case the problem was the V5i but in both OPAmp's the same fault was presented.

    I give you the greatest congratulations to BURSON AUDIO for its true High-End OPAmp V5i that has been for me the best I've heard so far and my biggest thanks for giving me the opportunity to try your newest courtesy product =)(= .
  3. kazaakas
    Stylistic analog feel
    Written by kazaakas
    Published Feb 26, 2018
    Pros - Warm analog-type of sound, solid slamming bass while retaining sparkle, Very easy to swap without bending pins due to its handy size
    Cons - Relatively pricey, rolled off treble might not appeal to some
    I compared this little op-amp to the LME49860 in my first generation Matrix M-Stage. DAC used was a titanium HD. Headphone used was a Fostex TH-X00 and an AKG Q701.

    Let me start off with saying that the bass response of this little opamp pleasantly surprised me. My recent ventures into electronic styles of music and purchase of a Fostex headphone have turned me into a bit of a basshead. I still tend to boost the 31Hz and 62Hz sliders quite a bit for that little bit of extra oomph. I can turn that EQ down quite a bit now with the Burson V5i, while I did need it with the LME 49860! The treble sizzles a bit less with the V5i, but I guess that is to be expected with frequency response being a relative thing.

    If I had to describe this amp with one word it would be analog. Its sound stage is a little more intimate than the LME as well, making the more old school sound complete. It really is a good thing for my Q701, which can be quite anemic and shrill at times.

    I'm not sure if I would keep it for use with the Fostex TH-X00 though, but that's probably due to my set-up as well. Both my DAC and amp are quite warm and bassy on their own and with a very bass heavy headphone with a more intimate soundstage the V5i might push it a little too far into that direction. The bass quantity is impressive, but with this particular combination of equipment it gets a little too closed sounding and the bass a little too loose. An opamp with a leaner sound, together with a slight EQ nod below 60Hz for bass addicts like myself might fit it a little better, because the mid bass stays in control more.

    I do prefer it with the Q701 though, because it tames the shrillness and beefs it up where needed. Should I have had a brighter sounding DAC and amp I might have preferred it with the Fostex as well. This is not a bad thing at all though. I think that opamps are a great way to fine tune your system to your wishes and this little opamp does it very well for setups that need a little more roll off in the treble and a little bit more low end.

    Would I recommend buying it? As always: it depends. If your set up calls for a bit more analog with a bit of slam I think it's a great choice. If all you need is one dual opamp in your headphone amp, like I did, the price is acceptable. If you need an entire array of them I can see the price being an objection. It is not that dissimilar than cheaper opamps, but it does have its own signature nuances.


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  4. hydroid
    V5i-D adds more life and energy
    Written by hydroid
    Published Feb 17, 2018
    Pros - Impressive sound with great detail extension and cleaner output. Supreme sound indeed.
    Cons - May not fit to several DAP/AMP due to space congestion.
    These all boils down to sound preferences and gears used during my testing and listening sessions. My views are mostly subjective. I don't have any affiliation with Burson Audio or any other sellers and just sharing my honest review and impressions.

    Burson V5i-D is better than the muses02 for my taste. It sounds more refined and cleaner as my sound preference leans toward a cleaner detail output. The bass quality of the V5i-D is more energetic and the midbass is crispier over the muses02. The musicality and soundstage of the V5i-D to my Walnut F1 and Zishan Z1 brings out the best from them. V5i-D made these devices sound great and with more extension in details and sparkle on the higher end. However, LME49860NA Dual opamp has more sparkle and cleaner output on the detail reproduction but sometimes get a bit sibilant on several tracks. Therefore, V5i-D opmamp is less fatiguing and more fun to listen to over LME49860NA dual and NE5532NA opamps.

    Highs: V5i-D is more refined than muses02. LME49860NA produces more sparkle and micro details though.
    Mids: V5i-D is better than muses02 (punchier and crispier midbass) Vocals sound more natural.
    Lows: V5i-D is better than muses02 in terms of unhindered mids and highs. Muses02 has more subbass quantity that sometimes overpower other frequencies.
    Soundstage: V5i-D is slightly wider than muses02
    Instrument Separation: V5i-D is almost identical with the muses02.

    Only minor issue is the small room of the Walnut F1 to fit the Burson V5i-D opamp. It doesn't have enough space to close the front casing of the F1 and this could be attributed to the design of the walnut F1.
    I've tested them both with Zishan Z1 DAP and Walnut F1 amp using my Ibasso IT01, Tennmak piano with balanced SPC cable and RY4S earbud. The Tennmak piano (my bass cannon iem) with balanced SPC cable has the best synergy using the balanced out of the Walnut F1.
    1. raoultrifan
      Unfortunately, your MUSES02 is a fake. You should stop using eBay when purchasing MUSES opamps...sorry for that. :frowning2:
      raoultrifan, Dec 8, 2018
      hydroid likes this.
    2. raoultrifan
      However, good review...you should try the SS V6 Classic and Vivid, you'll love it!
      raoultrifan, Dec 8, 2018
      hydroid likes this.
  5. drhiziracil
    V5i vs MUSES01 and combined
    Written by drhiziracil
    Published Feb 6, 2018
    Pros - Clear, detailed sound. Doesn't distort and heat up much at high sound levels
    Cons - Might not fit tight spaces. Mids are a little dry and highs are little bright while not being harsh
    Hi everyone

    I don't have much experience with opamps and this will be my first view. I'm not a specs guys, I'll just try to write my impressions I hope it will be helpfull to you.

    Charles from Burson has reached out to me some time ago and offered me a review sample of the V5i single op-amps in exchange for my honest opinion on them. Thank you Burson Audio for letting me try them.

    I’m not in any way affiliated with Burson Audio.


    I'm using SMSL VA1/DT amp with SMSL Sanskrith 6th dac. I have A5PRO, HD598 SR, XB950N1 headphones.



    It came in a nice secure package. It has metal building and DIP 8 pins are stronger comparation to normal ones. Other ones pins tend to be bended when you pull out them if you are not carefull. But it is much easy with these to roll them. They don't bend

    My Default Set up


    My amp has 6 op-amps 2 input stage and 4 outputstage(paralel amplification) dual op-amp. Stock op-amps were meant be for bright beyerdynamic dt series so for other headphones they were really lifeless and had bad bass. So I had bought 2 muses01 for input stages. I'm not gonna write comparation in this review compared to stock op-amps because they are smsl's own made and most people wouldn't know the sound. (I will do that in SMSL VA1 thread)

    As for input stages V5i


    Now that I have rolled them in it's time to make some comparations to muses01. Know this I mainly listen to rock not much other genres. And I didn't use any EQ while testing. And I have been burning in them for 2 weeks

    Muses01 has a really sweet, open, warm sound with low distortion. They have excellent bass while not bloated. Mids are just right and highs are so warm they definitely have non fatiguing sound for me. And I really can't explain the "sweetness" of the sound. But they have bad habit in my amp. They tend to heat up when I go over %40-50 level of the sound. And when they heat up they start to mess up the sound. Sound becomes muffled and distorted when it starts to heat. Luckly for me normally I don't need to go over %25-30 sound level by using the low impedance out. When I do need I switch to high impedance out rather than rising up the sound level

    V5i has analitycal, detailed, a little bright sound with clearness. They have excellent bass too. Muses01 has just a little better bass. They tend to pronounce bacground sound more (like back stage vocalists, and some other sounds). It makes me lose a little focus from music. It is a little bright while not being harsh, but now this my usual taste is darker sound. So it might be normal for other people. Mids are behind muses01 they are a little dry. It has a certain big advantage over muses01 and it is by given their metal shielding/heatsink. It doesn't heat up like muses01 and they don't have any distortion at high levels. I can go %60-70 level sound with my amp and they don't sweat a bit. Any higher sound that I can't go without becoming deaf.

    Between them my choice would be muses01. I like the sweet sound of them more.

    And The Combination Testing


    I didn't know first if my outstage op-amps were dual or single and after I learned they were dual I thought I sould give it a try. I didn't use parallel amplification by using only 2 V5i in the outstage. I thought I would have lower level sound by using like this. But guess what! It had the almost same level as those 4 stock op-amps. But they were hard to fit in there because of the big size. You should note it might not fit tight spaces

    After using this set up music became amazing. It opened up so much and became much more alive and dynamic! While keeping the sweetness sound of muses01 and having detailed sound of V5i. Muses01 is covering for the a little dry mid of V5i's. It is like they compansated each other missing points by joining together. But V5i's a little bright sound is there. As I said before my taste is a little darker so it might be normal for you.

    UPDATE: I haven't use my last set up (2xmuses01 in input 2xV5i in output) for long. But after trying them a couple more days it seems they are bright and fatiguing for me. And there is this V5i's percussions. It makes the sound a little unnatural. I compared them to sound that directly came from my dac. They are fast but its like clipping the edges of the treble. That makes you hear things in more detail but more unnatural. And with this combo it has a little sibilance that I started to notice later. I really liked the liveliness of the sound but it started to fatigued me as I feared because I liked warmer and darker sound

    I hope my first, a little amateur review would be helpfull to you.
  6. theoutsider
    A Hybrid Wonder
    Written by theoutsider
    Published Dec 27, 2017
    Pros - probably one of the cleanest sounding opamp that you can swap into your audio system
    Cons - $

    However corny it sounds, I think listening to music in the dead of night is incredibly cathartic. Music is my solace; I have invested many of my hours finding the right sound, zoning out on music and many more crawling through Head-Fi. For a normal person, that might sound rather absurd but as an audio geek, I can't think of a better way to use my life.


    Burson Audio was kind enough to send me two Supreme Sound V5i hybrid opamps in exchange for an honest review. I have since kept myself busy trying out V5i. The picture above is a snapshot of the opamps I currently have in my arsenal: National LM4562NA, Texas Instrument NE5532P, National LME49720HA and Burson Audio Supreme Sound V5i.
    *Texas Instrument acquired National Semiconductor in 2011.


    I must say Burson's presentation of the Supreme Sound V5i is impressive and their products seem professionally packed. I can still recall seeing Supreme Sound V5i for the first time, it was serene: the two V5is were siting comfortably in the foam padded plastic snap box. The V5i opamp is housed in a shiny metal enclosure that suggests sturdiness and complexity. The metal enclosure probably also dissipates heat and shields itself from EMI (electromagnetic interference). I enjoyed the unboxing experience and appreciate Burson's attentions to details so I really can't claim that I was not fed with the "you will get a significantly better sound" placebo.


    For a long time, I remained a minimalist listener. I listened straight from my smartphone and refused to use an amplifier. I did not believe the extra heft is worth the trouble and yes, I am a thrifty person. Gradually and eventually I gave in to temptations and bought myself a Zishan Z2 DAP and a XZ-U303 (Nobsound NS-02E in the West) desktop headphone amplifier. I learned that amplifiers (however cheap they are) open up to a whole new audio experience. My decisions to acquire the two devices were partially driven by how customizable they are: Zishan Z2 has a DIP8 slot while XZ-U303 has two DIP8 slots with a 5670 vacuum tube (valve for the Brits) socket. I had a lot of fun time swapping ICs and tubes and I get to enjoy different sounds without having to splurge on another pair of headphones.

    Let me talk a bit about Burson Audio and their products. The company sells a line of single-purpose discrete circuits opamps under the Supreme Sound label. Discrete circuit opamps are different from the more popular solid-state integrated chip (IC) opamps. IC opamps are commonly used in PC and various electronic devices. Due to their versatility and popular demands, integrated chips were manufactured in high volume so they are dirt cheap. You can probably walk into a nearby electronic shop and purchase a piece of NE5532P or NE5534 for a single dollar. Since IC opamps have to cater for a wide variety of applications, a lot of their components have nothing to do with audio amplification.
    *There are some exceptions: e.g., Muses ICs were developed by New Japan Radio Co. NJRC specially for audio applications.


    Instead of going with the flow, Burson Audio offers discrete circuit opamps like Supreme Sound V5 and Supreme Sound V6. Both the V5 and V6 look tall, colorful and different because beneath the plastic covers are capacitors, resistors and PCBs. On first thought you might think that it is a backward approach but Burson did so for some good reasons. With this approach, they get to design their own circuits specifically for music. They are able to cut down on components and remove unnecessary components that have nothing to do with audio amplification. An opamp with fewer electronic components is better at preserving the purity of sound since sound signals will be processed by fewer components hence lower external noise and coloration. Separating out components also enables better quality control of each component. Metaphorically speaking, a discrete circuit has the character of a vinyl player since its sole purpose is to play music while an IC opamp behaves more like a smartphone, a jack of all trades. If you don't need a tool for communication and status updates, you are probably better off with a vinyl player since it plays better music (spare me the debate).
    * Marantz's HDAM and its clones are discrete opamps as well.


    Supreme Sound V5i is one of a kind. It is an opamp Burson developed and produced in collaboration with an external microchip company. V5i is amphibious in the sense that it is technically not a full IC. The FET circuit of the V5i is in solid-state IC form and it is complimented by some external discrete components (think capacitors and resistors). For that reason, it is more appropriate to categorize V5i as a hybrid opamp, or an IC opamp with some externalized discrete parts. I believe the goal is to produce an amp that has the size, price and efficiency of an IC opamp while having the sound characteristic of a discrete circuit opamp. Reading through the technical details and company history, I learned to appreciate the technologies that went into V5i even more.


    On first listen, I was amazed by the resolving power and transparent sound of V5i. But then again I was also equally thrilled by TI/NS LME49720HA when I first have it. In my point of view, V5i and LME49720HA sound better overall compared to the stock opamps that came with my devices. To put things into perspective, it is safe to say that listening to music through Zishan Z2 (with any opamp) is perceptibly better than plugging straight into my laptop; going from a dollar opamp to a higher tier opamp also helps with the sound. It is just that the more expensive opamps tend to be equally good in sound. When I pair my headphone amps with lower impedance headphones/ earphones, the benefits of an amp diminishes. I do not have golden ears so if I blind-test all the opamps I own, I will not be able to name each sound correctly. Of course I am not saying that all the opamps sound the same, I can probably distinguish one from another if I compare them side by side (if your aim is to enjoy music, you will not do that). I do not find the sound of V5i to be supremely better than say the LME49720HA. I think both of them are neutral sounding and V5i has a more analogue character (easier to ears). I believe both V5i and LME49720HA are a tad smoother sounding than the NE5532P and LM4562NA. One thing I do not like about the LME49720HA is its form factor, I could not use it straight out of the box, I had to snip and bend its pins and use it with a DIP socket to prolong its lifespan. LME49720HA also seems to heat up in a short period of use. On the positive note, it is a sign that I am not getting a fake since it is probably doing something. I can hardly squeeze the LME49720HA into my Zishan Z2 but the V5i goes into Z2 with great ease. I also find it easier to handle V5i as I am able to pinch its metal cap with my finger tips and pull it out of my devices but I can not do the same to the odd-shaped LME49720HA. Overall, I must say V5i is a more complete product.


    I did try Supreme Sound V5is on my XZ-U303, a hybrid headphone amp that runs on two opamps and a tube (an analogue component) and that is a whole different story, a whole new game of its own. I don't think anyone who is looking for an accurate unaltered sound will go for a tube amp, the whole point of using a tube is for the deliberate audio coloration, or the 'tube sound'. So to use a clear sounding opamp in XZ-U303 kinda defeats its purpose. As of yet, I have not given XZ-U303 - V5is enough listen because the XZ-U303 was designed in a way that the DIP8 slots are not easily accessible. I might write about this interesting fella when some of my 5670 tubes arrive.
    * Update, Burson Supreme Sound V5i does not pair well with XZ-U303, my review of U303: https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/xu...eadphone-amplifier.22822/reviews#review-19698


    I consider V5i a middle-of-the-road hybrid opamp that targets mid-level audiophiles. I can't claim that V5i sounds entirely different from a pure solid-state IC opamp but it is indeed an upgrade from whatever stock opamps that came in my devices. Maybe Supreme Sound V5 and V6 do sound different but I am not sure since I don't have them. By the end of the day I can't say for sure how V5i will benefit you or if it is worth your money. In my case, I have spent countless of hours toying with my V5is, swapping them in and out of my device, configuring and tinkering with my system... am I a happier person now? Obviously yes!
      JoePR31 likes this.
  7. Nec3
    Control Your Amp!
    Written by Nec3
    Published Dec 19, 2017
    Pros - Adds sparkly treble, helps control peeks and excessive resonance, compliments any headphone/earphone. Worth more than other expensive options.
    Cons - Doesn't shoot lasers.

    ’ve never been a person who enjoys sound straight out of the box, I tweak everything for my personal enjoyment. Opamps, cables, foam linings, cables, equalization; everything that can get me sweet mids, bass that punches and digs deep, smooth treble that sparkles at the end, and ties together in one nice pleasant presentation.

    So how far would one go for tonality, for that extra ten percent of micro-detail, for slightly more controlled peeks, treble sparkle and linear bass response? How about as far as buying an Opamp? I was completely oblivious Burson Audio created an affordable opamp that could replace many of the existing budget opamps as a premium upgrade alternative, and a representative offered me one to try out.

    Dual Op-amps
    AD823, AD823AN, AD8066, AD8620, AD712, AD827, C4570, JRC4556AD, JRC4580, JRC5532, JRC5532D, JRC5534, LF353, LM4562, LME49860, LM833N, MUSES8920, NE5532, NEC4520, NEC4570, NJM2068D, NJM2114, NJM2214D, NJM4558, NJM4558D, NJM4560, NJM5532, NJM4558P, OP275, OPA1612, OPA2277PA, OPA2132, OPA2134, OPA2604, JRC4558, RC4558D, RC4558P, TL052, TL072, MUSES01, MUSES02, MUSES8820, MUSES8920, MUSES8832, BA15532

    Single Op-amps:
    NE5534, LT1122, TL071, OPA134, OPA627, AD811,AD829, AD844, OPA604, AD8610, AD711, AD797, LME49990, LME49710

    You could also contact Burson Audio to see if yours can be replaced


    Had I known of this opamp prior to purchasing the NJR Muses02, or the TI LME49720HA, I would have purchased this opamp with no hesitation, as it is a clear upgrade over the NJM2068D on the gain stage of the JDS Labs Objective O2 amplifier.

    So what’s wrong with the NJM 2068D?

    The 2068D does nothing wrong, but the Objective 02 sounds fatiguing with this opamp. The upper mids are glared, there’s not much weight in the low end and treble is grating. But it’s less than one dollar on the market and easy to replace.

    The LME 49720HA is highly regarded, costs a third of the NJR Muses02 why not use this opamp?

    The mids are a touch warmer but also clearer than the 2068D for the cost of the upper mids being too bright and shouty even with the Sennheiser HD600. The treble is slightly rolled off, sub-bass still to be desired; maybe the Muses02 will fix the low end.

    And you know what, the Muses02 does fix the low end.

    The NJR Muses02 is bass reincarnate! Sub-bass digs deep, bass tones in piano and cellos resonate and pronounce themselves in thunderous body, vocals linger and wrap itself in warmth, treble is there but isn’t refined like Burson Audio’s opamp. Slow decay and a darker presentation is why you get the Muses02. The problem with the Muses02 is that bassy ear/headphones can sound bloated, and peeky vocals tend to stay around a little too long due to the slower decay. As of December 19, 2017, the Muses02 is also ten U.S. dollars more expensive than the Burson Audio opamp.

    Okay so how do I make the voices go away?


    Introducing the Burson Audio Supreme Sound V5i Opamp. Percussions hit hard with speed and definition, treble sparkles, micro-detail in the background is brought forward, and peaks are more controlled than before. The dreaded honk of the Audeze iSine 20 is reduced, the Sennheiser IE80’s bass hump is controlled, the Sennheiser HD600’s treble is brighter. The V5i isn’t a magic cube that does your taxes and makes your problems go away, but the V5i keeps sound under control. A definite upgrade over the stock opamp in my JDS Labs Objective O2, and it will stay in my amp forever.

    So if you want to keep your current gear and want the extra ten percent of micro-detail, for slightly more control in peeks, treble sparkle, linear bass response and natural tonality; then I highly recommend the Burson Audio V5i Opamp.
      Burson Audio likes this.
  8. Arvan
    A little gemstone of an opamp.
    Written by Arvan
    Published Nov 17, 2017
    Pros - It sounds really good.
    Cons - Is it that much better than the opa2107 to justify the price?
    The v5i was provided by Burson for an honest review.

    I have rolled some opamps before in various amplifiers. Although i think i hear a slight difference between each of them, its really hard to tell exactly what is improved or what got worse.

    My thoughs on rolling opamps is that you cant properly A/B them for a straight forward comparison. Swapping opamps takes quite the time and your hearing memory is short. That said, i want to think that it makes a difference going from a really cheap chip to a rather good one..But the step above " a good one" is a lot harder.

    I guess this goes with my overall thoughts on diminishing returns. The last steps to "perfect" is very expensive and most of the times not really worth it in the end anyways.

    I don't claim to have perfect hearing, and i don't have perfect gear either. My gear is compiled of products i find interesting and are somewhat affordable. My gear is not compiled for the purpose of perfect sound. The purpose of my gear is to give me a variety of signatures and most importantly, to give me listening pleasure when i'm enjoying music, gaming and various tasks on my computer.

    Gear used for this review:
    Amp - Little dot 1+ with a matched pair of Mullard EF91 tubes
    DAC - Korg DS-dac 100m
    Headphones- AKG k240M, AKG K260 ( i'm in the middle of moving so majority of cans are in boxes at this time )

    My little dot have seen different stages of "upgrades" during my time with it. First of all i have rolled some tubes. Mullard 8081, and Voshkod 6ZH1P-EV and finally the EF91.

    The previous opamp was a OPA2107 from BB/TI and it was quite the upgrade to the stock "crap"

    The V5i takes the overall sound quality to another level, or at least i want to believe it does. As i said earlier its hard to tell since the swap is complicated.

    I really think the v5i is superior however.

    The soundstage is the first thing that came to mind. It just sound much more spacious and open compared to the 2107.

    The treble is also better extended and a bit more refined. The k240M is not a very bright headphone to begin with. It can sometimes sound a bit dark but at the same time i really love how mellow and organic they sound. The v5i ads a little sparkle to this setup.

    The K260 is a quite rare headphone but it's newer than the K240 and does absolutely not sound anything close to the 240. Plugging these into the 1+ really brings out the details in the music. However compared to the more modern headphones these days they can be a little to unrefined in the treble and is not quite the match with the V5s extended detail.

    The bass is tighter, or maybe its not as much as with the 2107..its really hard to determine this aspect of the opamps since i would need a proper A/B switch to get this settled. It's not worse its just a bit different and i would say that its tighter and faster with the V5i, but its

    Overall the V5i is a good opamp..And for the price, it should be. If you replace a really cheap bad quality opamp with this, i think the results would be quite shocking. Burson did not put this together without doing the research, you just have to trust me on this one.

    However if you are on a somewhat budget rig i would not spend the money on the v5i compared to let's say the 2107 in my case. But if you really want to ring the absolute best out of your amp, then why not? If you find the performance lacking at least you cant blame it on the opamp.

    The v5i is a very simple install on the Little Dot.
    The v5i to the left compared to a standard size chip to the right.
    IMG_20171108_201803.jpg The first thing you need to do is to replace the awful super bright blue LED on the little dot amplifiers. I soldered an yellow/amper in place instead.
  9. earfonia
    Clarity and Transparency Master!
    Written by earfonia
    Published Jul 24, 2017
    Pros - Low THD, Metal Shielded, Small, Lifetime Warranty
    Cons - Slightly lower SNR at high gain (20 dB) as compared to other Op-Amps in the test.
    01 P1330209.jpg

    Op-Amp is a very popular component in almost any electronic equipment these days. A small and versatile amplifier chip for various applications including audio. Different amplifier design resulting different amplifier characteristic such as noise, THD, slew rate, etc. The different characteristic translates to a different sonic characteristic in audio applications. Therefore, each op-amp has their own sonic signature.

    There is a long debate over op-amp as a small chip amplifier over the larger discrete amplifier circuit that uses discrete components. Both have their own pros and cons, and I personally don’t really care much about it. As long as the amp gives good measurement result and sounds good, it doesn’t really matter whether it is in a form of a chip or discrete circuitry.

    Before I continue with the review, I would like to say a very big thanks to Burson Audio for providing me with review sample of the V5i Supreme Sound Op-Amp!

    Burson V5i is supposedly the miniaturized version of their V5 discrete Op-Amp, therefore it is expected to share the sound signature of its bigger brother the V5. While Burson V5 is a fully discrete Op-Amp, V5i is a hybrid audio opamp, which is both partially IC and discrete. The FET circuitry has been integrated in IC form while some other components are discrete.

    Product webpage:

    02 P1390402.jpg

    Let’s get to the summary before we discuss it in more detail:

    Consistent low THD in both low gain (0 dB) and high gain (20 dB).
    Metal shielded for better EMI immunity.
    Smaller size than the fully discrete V4 and V5, easier to fit in tight spaces.
    Cheaper than both Burson V4 & V5.
    Lifetime Warranty.

    Slightly lower SNR at high gain (20 dB) as compared to other Op-Amps in the test.
    Found to be not compatible to replace NJM2114D on the DAC I/V stage of Creative Sound Blaster X7.

    Suggestions for Improvements:
    Improve SNR at high gain.

    Clarity, speed, and transparency are the main sonic signature of V5i, therefore when improvement in detail and clarity department is desirable, V5i is recommended. V5i is a neutral sounding Op-Amp. If a certain type of coloration is desirable, such as adding warmness to the sound quality, V5i may not be the right choice. But when reducing coloration from the sound quality is the goal, V5i is a good choice. For example when a system sounds too mellow, veiled sounding, and lacking speed and clarity, swapping the existing Op-Amp with V5i may give it an extra zest, and improve the overall transparency.

    03 P1390387.jpg

    For those who have some knowledge about Op-Amp and its characteristic, it is recommended to read the datasheet of the V5i Op-Amp:

    Check the followings before replacing any Op-Amp in your equipment:
    Number of channel of the existing Op-Amp, single or dual channels Op-Amp.
    Supply voltage of the existing Op-Amp should be within the operational range of the V5i Op-Amp (between ±5V to ±16V)

    During the test, I found that V5i was not stable (hotter than normal) and exhibit a high level of noise when it was used to replace NJM2114D on the DAC I/V stage of Creative Sound Blaster X7. But it worked well replacing the LME49710, which is at the differential to single conversion stage of the SB X7 DAC. Only one case so far, therefore I cannot jump into conclusion that V5i is not suitable for DAC I/V stage until it is proven so with more than just 1 DAC. And I don’t have other DAC with replaceable Op-Amp on the I/V stage to test it. So this is just a precaution if V5i is to be used on DAC I/V stage.

    Op-Amp performance is highly dependent on the circuit design, power supply, etc. Therefore there is no straight answer if a certain Op-Amp will perform well in a given setup or equipment. The same Op-Amp may perform differently in a different circuit, therefore read Op-Amp reviews with a grain of salt.

    04 P1330221.jpg

    I did Op-Amps comparisons in the past, and the latest one was when I reviewed Creative SB X7:

    To avoid overly lengthy review, I limit the comparisons of V5i to some well known Op-Amps. I also borrowed Burson V4 and V5 from a friend of mine for comparison.

    Initially, I planned to use 3 equipment for V5i review:
    Violectric HPA V200
    Fiio E12DIY
    Creative Sound Blaster X7

    In the end, I used only the Fiio E12DIY and HPA V200 for listening test, as the headphone output of those amps is noticeably quieter than the SB X7, therefore it is easier for me to observe minute differences with a quieter background. For headphones & IEMs, I used mostly Beyerdynamic T1 (1st gen.) as monitoring headphones, DUNU DN-2000J, DUNU DK-3001, and AK T8iE Mk2 are the 3 most used IEMs during the comparisons.

    Sound Quality
    To be honest, comparing the sound quality of Op-Amps is not easy, at least for me. The differences that we need to observe are tiny, and usually, it is more of an accumulation of impressions over time. So please bear in mind that differences described below are in the order of small degree of differences.

    05 P1390335.jpg

    Burson V5i can be considered a neutral sounding Op-Amp with almost no noticeable coloration in the sonic character. Clarity, transparency, speed, and instrument separation are the main sonic characters of the Op-Amp. There is a tiny bit of emphasis on treble sparkle and ‘s-es’ on vocal, giving the impression of enhanced clarity. As expected, sibilant on the vocal recording will also very slightly more emphasized, just very slightly, and nothing to worry about it. I don’t perceive V5i as having super silky smooth treble, but also not the harsh and grainy type. In comparison to V4 and V5, both have a tad smoother sounding treble than V5i. Bass and mids are neutral sounding with good speed and texture. V5i has fast transient, and it seems help to improve the detail and resolution. I really like the fast transient of V5i, especially for percussions. Hits and attacks of the percussion instruments sound more realistic than other chip Op-Amps in the test, and bass note has good texture on V5i. Detail resolving capability is very good, therefore it is quite a revealing Op-Amp. I think what important to take note here is the treble character. If reducing sibilant is the goal, V5i may not help. But as mentioned earlier, when improving clarity and transparency are the objective, V5i is highly recommended.

    Comparisons to Burson V4 and V5
    Thanks to my friend Siu who lend me Burson V4 and V5 for comparisons. As mentioned earlier, differences in sound quality between Op-Amps are not very easy to be observed. In general, Burson V4, V5, and V5i to my ears sound pretty close, especially between V5 and V5i. They share a lot of similarities, like transient, resolution, and dynamic which are pretty close in my observation. All three of them have the clear and transparent sonic character, and not the warm and mellow type. Compared to V5i and V5, V4 has a tad thicker and fuller sounding mids and bass. V4 can be perceived as slightly more organic sounding, while V5 and V5i may be perceived as having slightly more clarity and resolution. The V4 and V5 may sound slightly more dynamic than V5i, while v5i may sound as having a tad higher level of clarity and also slightly sound snappier. V5 sounds like it has the dynamic of V4 and the clarity of V5i. IMHO V5 is probably the better one of the three, excellent dynamic with good resolution and sounds quite refined. But to be honest, the differences are very subtle, at the level that I may not pass a blind test to differentiate the three. More like of an accumulation of impressions after listening to them for a long period.

    My personal preference based on the equipment that I used to test them, I like the V4 and V5 more than V5i for analytical sounding headphones and IEMs, where they benefit from the smoother treble of V4 and V5. But with warmer sounding headphone and IEM, V5i performs really good and might be the preferred Op-Amp of the 3.

    06 20170530_143042.jpg

    Comparisons with other IC Op-Amps

    AD797 is probably the closest to V5i clarity and transparency. It is fast, snappy, and transparent sounding. To be honest I had a hard time to differentiate the two. V5i is still a bit better in instrument separation, especially in a busy and congested track, I can hear slightly better separation with V5i. Also on percussions, V5i sounds slightly faster and more realistic. In general they both shares many similarities in sound signature with V5i wins by a slight margin, especially in transparency department. Personally, I do prefer V5i in comparison to AD797.

    OPA627 sounds smooth and neutral. The perceived bass and midrange ‘fatness’ or ‘fullness’ are similar between OPA627 and V5i, both are not fat sounding Op-Amps, for example, in comparison to OPA827. The difference between OPA627 and V5i is more on the treble quality where OPA627 sounds a tad smoother than V5i, while V5i has a more lively sparkle on the treble. OPA627 treble is actually pretty close to V5 treble. V5i also sounds a bit faster and snappier than OPA627, transient and attack are more pronounced on V5i. I perceived OPA627 as smoother and more polite sounding, while V5i is a bit more aggressive and dynamic in comparison. My personal preference is more on the V5i.

    07 P1390381.jpg

    OPA827 is one of my favorite Op-Amp especially for matching with analytical IEMs. It is pretty much OPA627 with fatter and fuller bass and midrange. Treble may be perceived as a tad softer and smoother than V5i, with fuller mids and fatter bass. When a system needs a little bass boost, OPA827 might be a good choice. As expected, V5i wins slightly in the transparency department.

    OPA604 is the most polite sounding from all the Op-Amps I tried, treble is very smooth and perceived as softer than other Op-Amps that I’ve tested. I perceived OPA604 as a tad mellow sounding, kinda the opposite of the lively and sparkling V5i. For long session listening OPA604 sonic signature probably helps to avoid ears fatigue, but sometimes may sound less lively. Those who prefer smooth and intimate sounding vocal might like the OPA604 sound signature. But as always, the overall result is always depending on system matching and personal preference.

    I need to make a disclaimer here that my measurement shouldn’t be considered as accurate as manufacturer measurement, therefore it is not to be compared with manufacturer specification or other measurements. The objective of the measurement is only to compare the V5i with other Op-Amps, measured in the same system using the same equipment. Besides that, the performance of the Op-Amp will also greatly affected by the circuit design where it is installed. Basically, a particular Op-Amp might give different measurement result when it is installed in different circuit or equipment.

    For the measurement equipment, I use QuantAsylum QA401 Audio Analyzer:

    08 P1390399.jpg

    Fiio E12DIY gives the best measurement result, generally lower THD and higher SNR than HPA V200 and SB X7, therefore measurement result from Fiio E12DIY will be used for the THD and SNR comparison between Op-Amps. The supply voltage for the Op-Amp in Fiio E12DIY is ±11V (Total 22 volts). I will also share some measurement result from HPA V200 and Sound Blaster X7 for observation purposes.

    Since the measurement is from the headphone output of the headphone amplifiers, I use DIY coaxial cables with 33 ohms resistor terminated inside the 3.5mm jack, to simulate headphone load.

    There are many parameters that can be measured from an Op-Amp, and it requires lab grade measurement instruments and lots of time to measure them all. Therefore, due to the limitation of my measurement instrument, and not to make this review a long and detailed lab report, I only did THD and SNR observations on 0 dB and 20 dB gain, at different output level of the 1 kHz signal, which I think is good enough to see some fundamental differences between the Op-Amps.

    Before we get into the number and graphs, here is the summary of the observations:
    • V5i THD performance is good, consistently low THD on both low gain (0 dB) and high gain (20 dB). This means that we can expect consistent sound quality from low to high gain application.
    • SNR at high gain is slightly lower than other Op-Amps in the test. Therefore for high gain and low noise application, V5i is not the best option.

    THD Table:
    09 2017-07-25_013639.png

    SNR Table (SNR measurement is ‘A’ weighted):
    10 2017-07-25_013746.png

    200mV, 50mV, and 1V Measurement
    The first measurement is comparing THD and SNR between low and high gain at the same output voltage, which is 200mV. 200mV is roughly around the moderate listening level for easy to drive headphone like Audio-Technica ATH-M50, Shure SRH840, etc.

    The second measurement is comparing THD and SNR of low gain at 50mV output, and high gain at 1V output. 50mV is around the moderate listening level for sensitive IEMs (110 dB/mW sensitivity or higher). What we would like to observe at this sensitive IEM playing level, is the hissing noise, or SNR at 50mV. A quiet output should have >85 dB SNR for the hissing noise to be practically pretty low to be easily audible. Therefore >85 dB SNR at 50mV is kind of my standard for a quiet headphone amp for sensitive IEMs. Some DAPs I tested have their headphone output with lower than 85 dB SNR at 50mV, and hiss noise is audible with sensitive IEMs. While 1V measurement is just for comparison of THD and SNR at near the line level. There is no standard for audio SNR measurement, but some company uses 0dBV or 1V rms for their standard SNR measurement, so I just follow for easy comparison. 1V is also around the listening level of high impedance headphones, so still a value within headphone listening level.

    Below are some screenshots from the measurement using QuantAsylum QA401:

    200mV at Low Gain (THD measurement):
    11 Fiio E12DIY - V5i - HO LG 33 Ohms - 1kHz 200mV - THD 01.png

    200mV at High Gain (THD measurement):
    12 Fiio E12DIY - V5i - HO HG 33 Ohms - 1kHz 200mV - THD 01.png

    50mV at Low Gain (THD measurement):
    13 Fiio E12DIY - V5i - HO 33 Ohms - 1kHz 50mV - THD 01.png

    1V (0 dBV) at High Gain (THD measurement):
    14 Fiio E12DIY - V5i - HO 33 Ohms - 1kHz 0dBV - THD 01.png

    Violectric HPA V200
    HPA V200 has 2 replaceable Op-Amps per channel. One at input stage using NE5532 (dual) and the gain stage using NE5534 (single). I couldn’t replace the NE5532 with V5i due to the 36V supply that is too high for V5i. The NE5534 supply voltage is actually a bit too high as well at 33.4V, but I took the risk to install the single channel V5i to replace the NE5534, and it works quite well so far. I read somewhere in the forum that V5i can actually take 34V supply at Max, that’s the reason for me to take the risk, to use V5i in my HPA V200. And I’m glad I did, as it is now permanently replaced the NE5534 in my HPA V200. Using the stock Op-Amp (NE5534), HPA V200 sounds rather dark, with the treble perceived as too smooth, soft, and lacks sparkle. V5i helps to improve the transparency of HPA V200, and improves the clarity and treble brilliance.

    15 P1330232.jpg
    16 P1330233.jpg

    I did some measurement by using V5i only on the Left channel, and other chip Op-Amps on the Right channel. I notice that the noise floor is slightly higher on the V5i as compared to the stock Op-Amp NE5534.

    16b P1330265.jpg
    17 P1330260.jpg

    Noise floor, Burson V5i A Left - NE 5534 Right - Headphone Output with 33 ohms termination:

    18 Burson V5i A Left - NE 5534 Right - HO 33 Ohms Noise Floor 04.png

    The low-frequency harmonics shown above seems coming from the transformer inside the HPA V200. Sometime I observed similar low-frequency harmonics as shown above from other desktop equipment that has a transformer inside. The noise floor on the Left channel with Burson V5i is showing -87.5 dBV, while Right channel with NE5534 is showing around -91.6 dBV. The value fluctuates a bit, but generally, the noise floor is a few dB higher on the V5i.

    At 1V output level, measurement results are quite similar between V5i and other chip Op-Amps. From the measurement of Fiio E12DIY, we know that the Op-Amps has lower THD and noise than what are shown below. So I guess the similar measurement result is due to the whole system THD and noise that are relatively higher than the Op-Amp THD and noise.

    Burson V5i A Left - NE 5534 Right - Headphone Output with 33 ohms termination:
    19 Burson V5i B Left - NE 5534 Right - RCA Input  - HO 33 Ohms - 1kHz 0dBV - THD+N 01.png

    Burson V5i A Left - AD797 Right - Headphone Output with 33 ohms termination:
    20 Burson V5i B Left - AD797 Right - RCA Input  - HO 33 Ohms - 1kHz 0dBV - THD+N 01.png

    Burson V5i A Left - OPA627 Right - Headphone Output with 33 ohms termination: 21 Burson V5i B Left - OPA627 Right - RCA Input  - HO 33 Ohms - 1kHz 0dBV - THD+N 01.png

    Creative Sound Blaster X7
    As mentioned earlier, I didn’t do much measurement on SB X7 due to compatibility issue when V5i was used on the DAC I/V stage. Another reason is that the noise level of the headphone output of the SB X7 is higher than Fiio E12DIY.

    21b P1390393.jpg

    Just for your observation, this is the output of SB X7 with stock and V5i Op-Amp:

    Headphone output measurement at around 67mV (couldn’t it set closer to 50mV due to the step of the digital volume) with stock Op-Amps without V5i:
    22 P1390353.jpg
    23 Creative SB X7 HO LG - Stock - 33ohms - 50mV SNR 01.png

    V5i Op-Amp only on the DAC I/V stage:
    24 P1390363.jpg
    25 Creative SB X7 HO LG - V5i Dual - 33ohms - 50mV SNR 01.png

    V5i Op-Amp on both the DAC I/V stage and the differential to single stage:
    26 P1390365.jpg
    27 Creative SB X7 HO LG - V5i Dual Single - 33ohms - 50mV SNR 01.png

    V5i Op-Amp only the DAC differential to single stage:
    28 P1390367.jpg
    29 Creative SB X7 HO LG - V5i Single - 33ohms - 50mV SNR 01.png

    Hopefully, those measurement result from various equipment can give us the idea of how an Op-Amp perform on different equipment. I’m quite happy with V5i for the improvement it brings to my headphone amplifiers. The single channel V5i will stay permanently in my Violectric HPA V200, proofing that it does improve the sound quality of the well known HPA V200. And I plan to use the dual channel V5i to replace the OPA2604 inside my Yulong Sabre A28 headphone amplifier. But since the 2x OPA2604 are soldered to the circuit board, I have to desolder the OPA2604 before I can test V5i on the Yulong A28. In my opinion, V5i is certainly a good sounding hybrid Op-Amp. When used in the right and compatible application, V5i may give a nice improvement in the overall clarity and transparency of the system.

    30 P1330269.jpg

    Equipment used in this review

    Audio-Technica ATH-R70x
    Beyerdynamic T1

    In-Ear Monitors:
    AK T8iE Mk2
    DUNU DN-2000J
    DUNU DK-3001

    DAC and Amplifiers:
    Creative Sound Blaster X7
    Fiio E12DIY
    iFi micro iDSD
    Onkyo DP-X1
    QueStyle CMA600i
    Violectric HPA V200

    Measurement Equipment:
    QuantAsylum QA401 - 24-bit Audio Analyzer

    Some recordings used in this review:
    31 Albums - A 1000px.jpg
  10. mbyrnes
    V5i full swap for Creative Sound Blaster X7
    Written by mbyrnes
    Published Jul 20, 2017
    Pros - Good Cost/performance
    Detailed Bass and Mids, vocals sound natural
    Cons - Highs seem rolled off compared to Sparkos SS3601 and SS3602 (Twice the cost of the V5i)
    Burson V5i op amp upgrade for Creative Sound Blaster X7

    Link to the Bursonaudio.com site for the V5i

    I was contacted by Charles from Supreme Sound (Burson Audio), provided (2) single op amps and (2) double op amps, for my honest opinion of their product.

    What is it:The Burson V5i is a hybrid op amp. It has an integrated chip, which is what most op amps are in entirety, but also takes some parts, and separates them, adding some high end discrete components. This is to improve performance while maintaining a small form factor. This is how they can shrink down the V5 into the much smaller package, while retaining the sound signature of the full blown V5. I have not heard the regular V5, but this was their design principle in making the V5i. The V5i is much smaller and “should” be a drop in replacement for most op amps.

    What does it do: Operational Amplifiers main job is to amplify a signal, typically a voltage (can also be used to amplify current, voltage to current, or current to voltage). If you are interested in learning more about op amps, I found this website to be beneficial. The math may seem simple, but in real world components, achieving the best performance can be difficult. It is striking a balance between performance, size, cost, tradeoffs, etc. Each company will use a different design with certain design goals in mind.

    Why me: As many of you may already know, I purchased the complete X7 op amp swap, Sparkos Labs SS3601 and SS3602 op amps, shortly after I purchased the X7. My review is located in my signature. I have used those op amps for many months, and have been very happy with their performance. They greatly improved the sound quality of the X7, and I still believe that op amps are a great way to get more out of such a versatile DAC/Amp/VSS unit. Before that purchase, I did not believe that op amps could make that much of a difference. I have gladly changed my tune, and will continue to suggest op amp upgrades for equipment that can have them swapped. Most IC op amps seem to have to make sacrifices, and fully discrete is the best way to go (audio as the end goal of the op amp, as they have MANY different uses).

    Starting point: Upon receiving the Burson V5i op amps, they were burned in for roughly 150 hours, as Burson suggests 100 hour burn in period. Now I did listen and use the X7 normally during this burn in period. I did notice that as time went on, the V5i op amps did seem to change over time. When I first received them, I was not impressed with them. Coming from the Sparkos, they didn't seem as clear, and they weren't as efficient (volume dial needed to be turned up more for the same volume). I went back to gaming and watching movies, listening to music, but not analytically.

    Critical Listening post burn in: The V5i op amps do have some nice qualities. They produce clean and tight bass, a very musical mid range, but do seem rolled off in the highs compared to the Sparkos. Soundstage, instrument separation, and overall clarity are very good, much better than the stock op amps that come with the X7. These are a definite upgrade, and for $120 for the complete swap, not a terrible price to pay for a noticeable change in sound. The Sparkos, which I believe to be the best op amps available in a small form factor (they're also fully discrete), are double the cost at $240 for the complete swap.

    Setup/Equipment: I tested the Burson V5i op amps several different ways. I used just the X7 and it's amp, as many will be using the X7 in this way. I also used the RCA outs to connect my Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL 2, which has a much "blacker" background, and overall very good sound quality. The X7 was connected to my PC via USB, using Foobar2000 updated to the latest version. For Headphones, I used Hifiman HE-X V2, Fostex TH-X00 Ebony, Monoprice M1060, Beyerdynamic DT990 SE 250ohm. I also listened through my 2 channel setup, which consist of X7>MZ2>Marantz SR8500 AVR>Vienna Acoustics Mozart Grand speakers.

    Overall Thoughts: I know the Sparkos very well, and they will remain my op amp of choice for the X7. The entire frequency response with the Sparkos is crystal clear and matches my headphones of choice, perfectly. At $240 though, you are pretty close to Modi Multibit, which you can use with the X7 through the optical out (and still use the Virtual Surround Sound (SBX). Even just switching out the Duals, which make a larger difference to sound quality, will set you back $160 before shipping for the Sparkos. The V5i, will be $80 for the Dual swap. That is a much easier amount to swallow, especially if you are trying to keep your setup simple with an all in one solution.

    The Sparkos require less power to output at the same spl level. I noticed this in my Sparkos review, that they played much louder than the stock op amps. The Sparkos during this review were usually at 11:00-11:30 on the MZ2. The Bursons to achieve the same volume, sat around 12:30-1:00 on the MZ2 volume dial. The Bursons are more efficient than the stock op amps, but do not match the Sparkos. Another thing I noticed is that the Bursons got HOT during use. I would say they were within the 60-80 degree Celsius operating range at all times. This could be due to the metal enclosure on the V5i, and there not being a case on the Sparkos. The bottom cover will NOT fit on the X7 with either the Sparkos or Bursons installed. IMO this is very minor and no big deal. Neither projects out from underneath, they are just a mm or two larger than the cover can manage.

    Without a direct comparison between the two, I really didn't notice the V5i as lacking. They sounded great when they were the only op amps in the X7 for a few months. Gaming, Movies, and Music all sounded great and I was happy. Ignorance can be bliss, and without swapping back and forth between the Sparkos and the Bursons, I grew to really enjoy the V5i op amps. One area where I think they can really help people, is with headphones that are V or U shaped where the highs can become fatiguing. The Bursons brought down the highs enough to make a few of my headphones more enjoyable for extended listening. Particularly my TH-X00 and DT990. The slight drop in highs really helped the DT990 for music, and they were still great for FPS gaming, with plenty of the detail that is needed to hear the sounds you do want to hear. The Bass and Mids were truly good, very comparable to the Sparkos, and I would have to nit pick to find any differences in these areas. I cannot change the op amps fast enough to get a true comparison of the differences in Bass and Mid range (hearing memory is extremely short!). Both excel in this area. My two main headphones are Planar (HEX and M1060), which both recess the highs naturally, and the Sparkos really help those headphones in this area. Headphones with an edginess to the highs, may sound better with the Bursons for music. I know for me, I preferred the DT990 with the V5i op amps.

    As you may know, the X7 does have a built in EQ, so you can change the sound however you want. All of my listening was completed with a flat EQ, and if you aren't against it, you can dial in the V5i op amps by bumping a few decibels here and there. I realize that some are COMPLETELY against EQ, so this review is with the V5i straight into the X7 without any help.

    Burson (critical listening) with comparisons to Sparkos:

    Led Zeppelin "Whole Lotta Love", FLAC rip from remastered CD. Very low background noise, Robert Plant's voice is extremely clear and natural sounding. Snare drum sounded impactful and decayed well. The Top Hat is where I noticed a difference between the Sparkos. It sounded slightly recessed, and not as clear as the Sparkos. Overall this song sounded great and natural.

    Live "White Discussion", FLAC rip from CD. This is one of my favorite songs to test all kinds of gear. When the band jams, it gets loud and congested with heavy guitar and drums, and they can overpower the rest of the instruments and singing. The V5i performed very well, where each instrument is clearly heard when listened for, and the overall sound was better than I expected. The guitar was not as clear on the V5i compared to the Sparkos, but without knowing this song as well as I do, this could be missed by many listeners. The V5i IMO do a very good job of keeping the impactful changes, with great bass and mid bass. I did not like this song with the stock op amps.

    Metallica "Master of Puppets", FLAC rip from CD. Alone the V5i do a very nice job on this song. Another song with a lot of things going on, and the only notable difference I could tell was the drums didn't sound as clear versus the Sparkos.

    The Who "Love Reign O'er Me", FLAC rip from CD. Love this song, the beginning with the rain and piano, is one of my favorite starts to a song ever. The Bursons did not disappoint. Everything was clear, impactful, and Roger Daltrey sounded very lifelike. The Sparkos are better, but it isn't as obvious on this track.

    Black Sabbath "War Pigs", FLAC rip from CD. Sounded great, another one of my favorite demo songs. I did notice a big difference in clarity of the symbol crashes and their decay. The Sparkos really show their muscle here, my notes on the Sparkos: "Symbols decay FOREVER". This really stuck out when the Sparkos were installed, and there was a noticeable difference when the V5i were installed. The symbol decay was still very good on the Bursons, but clearly not as good as the Sparkos. Everything else, like drums, guitar, vocals, all sounded very good.

    Arcade Fire "Reflektor", FLAC rip from CD. This is a bass heavy song and really the reason I chose it. There is some good percussion, male and female vocals, and a song I really like. The V5i sounded very clear with bass and vocals, but again lost to the Sparkos.

    The bass and mids performance of the Burson V5i was very good with all of my listening. Vocals sounded clear with both Male and Female voices. Really the one note that kept coming up, was a lack of clarity in the upper ranges. The highs seemed a few decibels down compared to the Sparkos, and finer details just weren't there against it's twice as expensive foe. The V5i did excel with everything else, and compared to stock, this is a very nice upgrade, at a price that I think is worth it. I would call the Burson V5i a "warm" sounding op amp compared to the Sparkos. This may be exactly what you are looking for, especially if you are trying to tame the highs of certain headphones.