Burson Audio Supreme Sound Opamp V6 Vivid and Classic

Latest reviews

crabdog

Headphoneus Supremus
Tasty Topping
Pros: Muscular, energetic sound
Improved resolution
Holographic 3D soundstage
Increased dynamics and texture
Cons: Pricey
Bulky
Operational amplifiers (op-amps) are often referred to as the workhorse of analogue electronics. In this review, I’m testing the Burson Audio V6 Classic op-amp. The V6 Classic is a discrete op-amp and is the result of 12 years of research by Burson Audio.

Burson Audio official website: https://www.bursonaudio.com/

Disclaimer: This sample was provided for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.

Burson Audio V6 Classic Op-amp​

Specifications​

  • Op-amp model: V6 Classic
  • Design: fully discrete
  • Min voltage: ±3.5V/ 7 VDC
  • Max voltage: ± 16.5V / 33VDC
  • Current consumption: Single 7mA | Dual 14mA
  • Unity gain stable: Yes
  • Reverse-voltage protection: Yes
V6 Classic enclosure and pins with plastic case

Design​

The Burson V6 op-amps are the 6th generation of their designs, are the smallest discrete op-amps in the world and according to the company, are the only op-amps in the world to have reverse-voltage protection. What does that mean? Basically, it means the op-amps won’t die if you accidentally insert them in reverse.

Burson claims that their op-amps are “specifically designed to optimize audio performance”. We’ll find out soon how that turns out. The company certainly seems to be confident in the quality of its products, since every Burson op-amp is covered by a lifetime warranty.

Close up of the V6 Classic pins

My first impression of the V6 Classic was that it’s big (12.4mm X 14.5mm X 29mm), at least compared to something like the LME49720 or MUSES8920. It has an orange-coloured plastic enclosure that surrounds the 2 parallel printed circuit boards inside for improved temperature tolerance. There’s a groove on one side of the enclosure which helps to indicate the correct alignment for the op-amp.

The pins on the V6 feel much more robust than the ones on the LME49720 that can bend and break easily. I feel much more confident handling the V6 which feels as though it will survive endless swaps and system changes. Overall, the build quality feels reassuring and also goes a long way towards justifying the higher cost.

Topping DX7 Pro front panel with V6 installed

Test Setup​

For this test, I swapped out the Texas Instruments LME49720 op-amps from the headphone path of my Topping DX7 Pro and replaced them with the V6 Classics dual op-amps. The process was simple although there wasn’t much room to move around. Unfortunately, due to the size of the V6 Classics, I need to keep the chassis open but I will most likely get their 35mm Extension Lead x 2 in the near future.


  • Burson Audio V6 Classic op-amp
  • Tighter view of the op-amp

Sound​

To my surprise, the difference in sound is quite dramatic and immediately apparent. Suddenly the DX7 Pro sounds more muscular and slightly warmer with better bass extension. It sounds more analogue, almost akin to a tube amplifier.

Also, the sense of depth is heightened plus the lower frequencies have added texture and body. But it’s not only the depth that improves. The entire soundstage feels more expansive and open. It seems that the treble is also more extended but at the same time slightly warmer.

  • Burson Audio V6 Classic view from front
  • V6 op-amp from front-left
The only negative thing I would say about the V6 Classic is that heavy bass notes sometimes sound a little looser. But for me, that is a perfectly acceptable trade-off for all the other improvements it brings.

Perhaps the most startling change is the increase in overall resolution. Suddenly every sound sounds like it’s floating in its own space. The level of transparency is intensified and instrument separation is improved. With the V6 Classics in place, the imagery intensifies and the soundstage takes on a more holographic nature.

There is a greater sense of layering now too and all these things seem to be in contradiction to the added colour the V6 Classics bring. Normally, an increase in warmth and body will shrink the soundstage and create a more intimate space but with the V6 it’s just the opposite: somehow these little blocks increase the dynamics and resolution while at the same time making the stage more expansive.

  • Closeup of the Burson V6 and DX7 Pro heatsinks
  • DX7 toroidal transformer with V6 in background

Conclusion​

In many cases, upgrading or customizing the sound of your expensive audio gear means buying new components or an entirely new system. But sometimes it’s possible to simply change the op-amps which can bring significant improvements or at the least change the character of your system’s sound. The Burson Audio V6 Classic is a fantastic choice, especially if you want some additional warmth or colour to your sound. I wasn’t sure what to expect at first but I’m a true believer now and the V6 gets my recommendation.

suman134

Headphoneus Supremus
Best Op-Amps for vocals
Pros: Excellent vocal performance, outstanding tonality, imaging and resolution
Cons: Stage is smaller than V6 vivid.
I have reviewed the Burson Audio playmate with their V6 Vivid Super sound Op-amps few weeks ago. It is one of the best op-amps in the market and provides a comprehensive upgrade over the default NE5532 chips that comes pre installed inside the PlayMate. Just like the V6 Vivid, the V6 classics are their top of the line chips with a different type of output. In their words

"The V6 Classic deviates further from its V5 foundation. With an entirely different output stage design, it is intimate, exquisite and very engaging. With the V6 Classic, Norah is asking you to come closer. She wrote the song for you and she is singing it to you. It was time to stop analyzing and start living in the moment."

The V6 classic has a different take on the sound with a different imaging. It delivers a more intimate sound with a cohesive and engaging tonal balance.

Get these OP-amps from here:-

https://www.bursonaudio.com/product/supreme-sound-opamp-v6/

V6-S1.jpg


Installing V6 classic:-


THINGS TO KNOW:-

The Super Sound series of OP-amps have a lot of improvements over the basic NE5532 opamp which are pre installed on the Playmate. These OP-amps from the Super Sound lineup are some of the best aftermarket discrete OP-amps one can find. They can be used in sound cards and a lot other DAC/AMPs.

In their words:-

"Discrete circuits are custom built by Burson for specific applications rather than an op-amp’s jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none specifications. The art of circuit design yields superior sound in every way in comparison to simple plug-a-chip engineering.

A system can only sound as good as its weakest link. All our products use thick, quality, temperature-stable printed circuit boards with high-purity copper traces and gold-plated soldering pads. And extra coating is applied to both sides of the PCB preventing oxidation. The boards are hand-built use high-spec metal-film resistors and other audio-grade parts using as few hand-matched components in the signal path as possible."

"The V6 Vivid and V6 Classic are the results of over 12 years of research and six generations of designs. They are the most refined we have ever created."


Burson is really proud of their OP-amps and if you have bought them, you can get a lifetime warranty on them. All you have to do is register the OP-amps here.
These OP-amps are not huge is size and fit everywhere without much struggle. One of the remarkable features of these V6 is their reverse voltage protection. If you have installed them the wrong way around these will survive without any problem where other opamps will be fried. That's a fantastic thing to be precise.

Read the build and other specifications of the Burson Playmate here.

V6-S2.jpg


SOUND QUALITY:-

The V6 vivid is already an excellent sounding chip with plenty of details and clarity. The stage is huge and provides a well spread instrument distribution. Does it lack something? Maybe the vocals could have been a bit more forward and the huge stage at times is unable to convey more intimate details with conviction.

Steps in the V6 classic. It has the same size, same design but finds a middle ground between the NE5532 and V6 vivid chips. NE5532 is a not the best chip, it has excellent mid range but kills the treble stage and lacks some bass thump too. The V6 classic delivers a well spread stage with better intricate details than the NE5532 without sacrificing anything. It delivers better contrast than both the other two chips. 5532 is brighter and the Vivid is on the slightly darker sides of the spectrum.

I am putting the Fischer M12s to good work here. Being the neutral one, it helps in exposing the changes more vividly than other colored and damp sounding headphones.

BASS :-

The NE5532 was missing a bit of volume and the V6 vivid is missing a bit of mid bass feel. The V6 classic has it all. It has excellent the extension, rumble, mid-bass body and fullness. Notes are juicier and fuller and have better texture now. The lower region doesn't feel clumsy or constrained. Notes express themselves with a lot more freedom. The V6 brings more heft without compromising on accuracy, details, resolution and clarity. The Playmate attains a more natural and neutral status and can be paired with any type of headphone and speakers without worrying about the bass region being unnecessarily analytical or less exciting.

MID RANGE:-

Mid range used to take a huge chunk of the stage size with the NE5532, making the playmate a mid-head DAC/AMP and the V6 vivid took slightly more than desired off the mid range, making it a bit dull and less engaging. The Classic brings the required amount of depth and energy to the mid range. The odd thing is it has more vivid instruments than the Vivid chip. Maybe the more intimate instrumental placement is reason. With the 5532 the notes were sharper with smaller base, the V6 has a bit more notes body with a better depth. The vocals are more agile, textured and crisp than the V6 vivid. The upper mid range has a very good amount of energy with equally good transparency and clarity. It has the right amount of sharpness and attack. Layering and separation of instruments remains excellent. Air between instruments takes hit, not because the notes are thick or fuller but because of the smaller stage size.

TREBLE:-

I complained about the lack of treble stage with the NE5532, which was literally fighting for air. The V6 vivid provided a lot of room to breathe but can feel a bit hollowed at times. The V6 classic strikes a balance between the two with improved stage presence compared to 5532 and exhibiting better instrument density than the Vivid. The treble feels evenly expanded with equally impressive treble extension and vastly improved sonicality and dynamism versus the 5532. There is better energy and sparkle at the lower treble region than the Vivid, the projection is in line with the mid range and is equally emphasized. The only niggle comes at the higher treble region where the classic doesn't maintain similar energy and loses some points.

V6-S31.jpg


COOPARSIONS:-

VS EARMEN TR-AMP ($250):-


NE5532 was more attacking. The V6 vivid is a bit mild and slightly smoother with notes. The V6 classic matches the emotions of the EARMEN dac/amp. Both have the same type of crispiness and contrast.

If you are not paying much attention it is tough to tell these two apart. Both have similar bass volume and quantity but the V6 classic has more resolution and better texture. Both have similar mid range notes presentation but the classic has a bit more forward vocals and more natural and organic tonality. The treble feels similar with notes sharpness but the TR-amp is on the drier side with slightly better energy at higher treble region.

Stage size is a bit smaller on the TR-amp, the instruments are a bit more closed in with similar intimacy. The Classic chip pulls ahead with better emotion and micro details.

COMPARISON TABLE :-

Bass​
Mid range​
Vocals​
Treble​
Stage size​
Tonality​
Accuracy​
V6 vivid​
8.4​
8.2​
8.5​
8.8​
9.2​
8.5​
9.2​
V6 classic​
8.8​
8.8​
8.8​
8.3​
8.5​
9.2​
9.5​
TR-Amp​
8.1​
8.3​
8.3​
8.5​
8.2​
8.2​
9.0​
HUD-100mk2​
8.2​
8.3​
8.3​
8.3​
8.0​
8.2​
8.8​

V6-S4.jpg


CONCLUSION:-

I love the way these chips change the sound signature without breaking the bank. The V6 classic manages to deliver excellent amount of details without being harsh or aggressive. Not a single instrument is missing from the scene or feels suppressed. If the track has it, you are hearing it, with excellent transparency, very good clarity and stupendous amount of texture. The tonality is as real as it is supposed to be. The V6 vivid is excellent but the textured feel is much better with the V6 classic. Both male and female vocals have excellent bite to them.

Notes have the agility and pace, along with good amount of body to them. I am impressed. I though V6 vivid was excellent, the V6 classic is nothing less than that.

If you have burson DAC/AMP or are into op-amp rolling these chips are must have items.



I swapped the V6 vivid with the V6 classic and... I am sticking with it. The classics are just excellent.
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GotNoRice

100+ Head-Fier
Pros: Able to give sound that is smooth while also retaining the texture of the music. Very energetic sound.
Cons: Large case requires adapters or other creative solutions in order to fit within certain devices.
History:

A while back, when deciding which Opamp to use in my Little-Dot I+ Headphone amplifier, I had narrowed down my favorite opamps to the LM4562 (dual opamp) and the OPA627 (two single OPA627 opamps on an adapter board). The LM4562 had a texture to the sound that I enjoyed, but was also just a little bit harsh. The OPA627 was very smooth, but almost too smooth, and lacking texture. I generally preferred the LM4562. The Burson V6 Classic Dual seemed to be the next step up, but I was not actually sure what to expect.

My system:
-Maverick Audio TubeMagic D2 DAC (Sylvania 5654W tube & 3x LM4562 Opamp)
-Little-Dot I+ (Sylvania "Gold Brand" 408A tubes)
-Beyerdynamic DT770-Pro 80ohm / Sony MDR-XB700 24ohm headphones.

First impressions:

The Burson V6 Classic Opamps come in wonderful packaging, also containing an optional riser. The riser was very helpful in keeping the Burson Opamp up above the other components on the circuitry on the Little-Dot I+ (at least with my PCB version).

Case with one Opamp and one riser removed:
Package.jpg

When playing the first song after installing the Burson V6 Classic, what I noticed immediately was that the sound just seemed a bit more energetic, especially vocals, and making for some very punchy midbass. Thinking back to my previous comparison between opamps, this Burson seems to have both the smoothness of the OPA627 while having even more texture than the LM4562; truly a best of both worlds, and more.

Unfortunately, the V6 Opamp is so large that the bottom of the case for the Little-Dot I+ won’t close with it installed (and the riser only makes it worse). As I have seen in other reviews, some have simply cut a hole in the bottom of the case, others have used custom extensions/adapters to use the Opamp at an angle. I will have to decide which route I want to take, but for now, I will simply use my Little-Dot I+ on its side.

littledotbottom.jpg

Littledotside.jpg

DAClittledot.jpg

Extended listening:

First, I went through some Hard Rock and Metal using my Beyerdynamic DT770-Pro 80ohm headphones. I use many of these songs as my benchmark to test vocals, to see if the vocals can retain their clarity and energy even in the middle of a very “busy” song. The Burson V6 Classic had no problems passing this test. There was no accentuated treble either, and listening fatigue was not an issue even after a long session.

Next, I swapped over to my Sony MDR-XB700 24ohm headphones. These have very large drivers, and at 24 ohms the Little-Dot I+ can put out almost a full watt. I use this for listening to music with very deep bass, including some Pop, Hard Rock, EDM and Dubstep. Bass can have a texture of its own, and I have observed differences between Opamps in this regard before. Using the Burson V6 Classic, I did not notice anything special about the deep bass. But at least, it didn’t seem to be doing anything worse than past Opamps that I have tried, and even bass-heavy songs still have plenty of midrange and midbass that clearly does benefit.

Conclusion:

My experience with this Burson V6 Classic Dual Opamp has been fantastic. Everything about my listening experience was either equal to, or better than, every past opamp that I have tried.

The tall size does make installation in devices such as a Little-Dot I+ a challenge without getting creative, but in my opinion, It’s worth it.

Ultimately, I want to try using these in my DAC also.

Comments

colescuttle

New Head-Fier
I didn't see the LME49720 listed s one of the op-amps that can be replaced by either of the Burson V6 series. Does anyone know if the 49720 is safely "rollable" with a V6? I'm thinking specifically of it's use in the Topping DX7 Pro.
 
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