Burson Funk - 3Wpc Headphone Amp and 45Wpc Class-AB Speaker Amp

Otto Motor

Headphoneus Supremus
Burson Funk Headphone/Speaker Amplifier Review - Muscular Aussie
Pros: Power, robust/organic sound; versatile application (headphones/iems, speakers), low output impedance; super design and build; advanced power supply.
Cons: May result in opamp rolling addiction; deluxe package is effectively a “must”.
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Executive Summary

The Burson Funk is a highly versatile combined headphone/speaker amp that particularly impresses by its midrange reproduction and power.


This review was originally published at www.audioreviews.org


Introduction

Burson Audio was established in 2001 out of Melbourne aiming to push the boundaries of innovation. They started with audio parts (“opamps”) before moving into complete amplifiers. The company prides itself of not advertising and not visiting trade shows (we don’t do that either…no ads here) – and they don’t buy reviews (I have not received an offer yet). This attitude, combined with their product quality is appealing to many so that Burson has generated quite a following. And, as far as I can assess, rightly so.


Specifications

Selected Data
HEADPHONE AMPSolid State, Class A
Power:2*3.5 W @ 16 ohm
Output Impedance:<2 Ohm
SPEAKER AMPSolid State, Class AB
Power:2*45 W @ 4 Ohm
Download Manual:Google Drive
Product Page:Burson Audio
Purchase Link:Burson Audio
Tested at:$744 for the Deluxe Package (with two NE5532 installed,
two V6 Vivid Op amps and “Cool Stand”)
Standard version:$544 (with two NE5532 opamps installed)
Full Specs

Physical Things

During the design phase of their Lisa computer in 1981, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in a meeting: “Well, circles and ovals are good, but how about drawing rectangles with rounded corners? ” This started a series of designs that persist right to the current iPhones. Nothing new here, though, Jobs was obviously following the idea of the Bauhaus school “form follows function“.

Burson also picked up on that German idea with their designs that are minimalistic and functional…and therefore attractive. After all, “less is more“.

The Burson Funk is a piece or art — and not only that. It is that square box with rounded corners and minimalistic operational elements. Build is as good as it gets, the enclosure made of a high-density aluminum. Rugged and heavy. A clever “ridge-n-groove” groove heat-sink structure increases and maximizes the surface area, which optimizes heat dissipation.

The “Cool Stand” also incorporates this design. And it keeps the Funk in an upright position, which further increases head dissipation by decreasing its footprint. Nomen est omen. Didn’t we know this from external computer hard drives?


Rectangles with rounded corners are everywhere! Steve Jobs.


Burson Funk


Burson Funk’s top cover: ridge-n-groove head-sink design maximizes surface and therefore heat dissipation. Allen keys for removing screws are included.


Burson Funk


The heavy duty “Cool Stand” has its name for a reason. Positioning the Funk in an upright position maximizes the surface area exposed to air – and therefore cooling.


Burson Funk



The “Cool Stand” features three pods (the single one avoids the Funk’s rubber feet).

Features

What it does:
Drives headphones and even sensitive iems with its powerful Class A circuit
Drives near-field speakers with powerful Class AB amplification
Is a sonic chameleon through opamp rolling
The low-noise MCPS switching power supply minimizes signal contamination
Can be used by gamers though its microphone bypass


What it does not:
Has no balanced output

Operation

Just like its general shape, the Burson’s operation is straight forward and strictly functional. The front panel offers two headphone jacks, one for 6.3 mm and the other for 3.5 mm plugs. There are three buttons, one for on/off, the second for toggling between headphone amp and speaker amp, and the third for low/high gain. High gain may be used for harder to drive headphones, and low gain for sensitive iems.

The applied settings are indicated by blue “pinhead” LEDs that are subtle and inconspicuous even in a dark room. The volume knob in the centre has good resistance when turning and is as accurate as could be.

The back panel hosts all sockets: RCA for source input, mic-bypass for gamers, speaker-cable connectors, and the socket for the power supply.


Burson Funk


Front panel from R to L: three buttons (on/off, headphone/speaker amp, low/high gain), volume knob, and two headphone jacks.


Burson Funk


Rear panel sockets from R to L: power-supply, speaker-cable output, mic bypass, and analog source input.


Burson Funk


Mic bypass: splitter included for connecting an external microphone and headphone while bypassing the dac. Gamers frolick!


Amplification

The Burson Funk’s Class A headphones circuit offers a healthy 3.5 W at 16 Ohm and a still very generous 150 mW at 300 Ohm. It drives my 300 Ohm Sennheiser HD 600 with ease and will probably do justice to the most inefficient planar magnetic headphones. A low gain setting and the relatively low output impedance of <2 Ohm make the Funk also well suited for sensitive iems. I went as low as 16 Ohm iems in my testing and heard no hiss.

The Class AB circuit is designed for near-field listening, but 2*45 W on 4 Ohm speakers are overkill for desktop use. The Burson Funk works quite well for midsized rooms, too.

MCPS Power Supply

Burson have created their proprietary Maximum Current Power Supply “MCPS” that is included with all their amps. It is an ultrafast switching power supply that minimizes noise riding on the signal – and it lowers resistance speed up performance.

Opamps

Operational amps (“opamps”) are one of the building blocks of analog electronics circuits, used for signal conditioning, filtering, and/or performing mathematical operations, and therefore sound optimization and customization. They are easily plugged into/pulled out of the logic board (Allen keys for opening the enclsoure are included).

Opamps fine tune the’s sonic signature, and help tailor the sound to the listener’s preference – similar to tubes in tube amps. Opamps are universally deployable across different amps independent of brand.

Burson includes a pair of their flagship V6 Vivid opamps in the “Deluxe Package” that produce an energetic and dynamic sound. They also offer opamaps separately, for example, the V6 Classic, which generate a more laid back, relaxed sound with a vinyl charm.

The Funk holds two opamps (hence the supplied “pair”), one for the headphone circuit and the other for the speaker circuit. Feel free to use a different opamp in each signal path. Many users prefer the V6 Classic for headphone use and the V6 Vivid for speakers.

Caution, “opamp rolling” can be addictive!


Burson Funk


The included V6 Vivid Dual is Burson’s flagship opamp.


Burson Funk


Two dual opamps installed. Each is for a different signal path…the upper left one for the speakers and the central right one for the headphone. You can use a different opamp for each signal path if desired.


Burson Funk


V6 Vivid opamp in the headphone’s signal path.


Sound

Headphones

Equipment used: Questyle QP1R reference dap | MacBook Air + Khadas Tone2 Pro with Allo Nirvana SMPS; AudioQuest Golden Gate RCA interconnects; Sennheiser HD 600 heaphone; Sennheiser IE 300/400 PRO iems.

What became evident first to me was how the Burson Funk with the V6 Vivid opamp replaces the analytical signature of the Questyle’s own Class A amp with a slight warmth and an overall subtle tone colour moving the signature towards analog. Sound is quite natural and definitely not digitally artificial.

Bass with the Burson Funk is tight and the vocals above are placed where they should be, not back and not too up front. Voices are delivered with very good weight and definition, and with crispness, which is of utmost important for my enjoyment. I found that the Funk worked well even with the overly sharp recorded vocals in my test track portfolio. Vocals reproduction is the Funk’s biggest trait which would be my personal dealmaker.

Treble extension with the V6 Vivid is good without any grain. The top end is as sweet as the rest of the spectrum
In contrast, the Topping L30, hailed as one of the best audio products around by quite a few, failed my ears miserably in the vocals department and timbre. That’s where many cheap amps cannot convince: they attenuate the midrange, possibly for better perceived transparency, and they sound sterile and lifeless. The Funk does not suffer from these.
The opamp certainly justifies its “Vivid” name, but the dynamics are well dosed and not overpowering. If you want less punch, try the V6 Classic.

Stage has excellent depth and height, but average width. Headroom is plenty so that a balanced output is not missed. Resolution and separation are very good, too. Most headphone amps I have tested (“Topping L30” type) sounded digital, flat, and thin in comparison. But I have not auditioned many, admittedly.


Burson Funk




Speakers

Equipment used: Marantz SA8000, Monster M-series RCA interconnects, Heybrook HB1 speakers (8 Ohm, 90 dB).

The Burson Funk’s AB speaker circuit is designed for near-field speakers on our desks. 45 W per channel @ 4 Ohm speakers appears to be overkill for our eardrums. I therefore undermined my reviewing task — also because I don’t have (space for) desktop speakers — and ran the Funk with 8 Ohm Heybrook HB1 speakers @35 W on the main floor of my 2000 sq. ft house. Sourced by the Marantz SA8005 SACD player, the Funk replaced my regular Luxman L-410 dedicated speaker amp.

The result was somewhat predictable. The Burson Funk lacks the Luxman’s sheer power, body, and note weight (“quantity”) but it excels in quality: that is better transparency and depth, better three-dimensionality, crisper attack, better defined notes and better detail resolution.

The Burson Funk is leaner than the Luxman, but never thin. It is a bit underpowered for that large area when listening to Metallica, but I still thoroughly enjoyed its fluidity with Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos by Café Zimmermann. Move the unit into a mid-sized room…and bingo.



Concluding Remarks

The Burson Funk is a gorgeous device that has been pure pleasure for me. Great to look at, great to handle, and very good sounding with lots of power. Most impressive is its vocals presentation.

It does more than justice to my 300 Ohm Sennheiser’s HD 600 and 16 Ohm Sennheiser IE 300/400 PRO iems. And it works well with my speakers the size of a bookshelf (“bookshelf speakers?”) in a mid-sized room. Thanks to the “Cool Stand” finally an amp that fits on my crowded desk.

There is nothing I dislike about the Burson Funk other than perhaps my desire to try more opamps. Well done, cobbers!
Until next time…keep on listening!

Jürgen Kraus signature


Disclaimer

The Deluxe Package of the Burson Funk was provided unsolicited for this review by Burson – and I thank them for that.

Get the Burson Funk HERE.

My generic standard disclaimer.
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Dobrescu George

Reviewer: AudiophileHeaven
Burson Funk Amplifier for Speakers, Headphones & IEMs - Let's Jazz
Pros: + Build Quality
+ Driving power for both speakers and headphones
+ both 3.5 and 6.3mm headphone outputs
+ Great Control
+ Clean, neutral sound
+ No distortions
+ Great Value
Cons: - Needs external DAC, setup price will be a bit higher
- Not the most bassy sound out there, needs you to have bassy headphones or speakers to sound its best
Burson Funk Amplifier for Speakers, Headphones & IEMs - Let's Jazz

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Burson Funk is a high-end amplifier for Stereo and Headphones, with a starting price of 550 USD, and depending on the configuration, able to reach 750 USD. It will be compared to other amplifiers, like Aune S6 PRO, Hagerman Tuba, and Audio-GD Master 19.






Introduction

I have always been enthusiastic about Burson products, and their Funk makes no exception being an exceptionally musical one, with a good price tag, and tons of power under the belt, not to mention the high quality class AB, which you can hear working in the background. I haven't had such a high opinion of the Playmate, but I loved the Burson play, so I kept my opinions as neutral as possible, but I have to say, they are one of the more enthusiastic companies out there. With a 5-year warranty, Burson Audio is surely going to survive years of usage, and if you watch closely on second hand forums, you will find folks still rocking Burson Audio products from the first generation with zero issues, so we have one that's going to survive for years to come.

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It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with Burson Audio. I'd like to thank Burson Audio for providing the sample for this review. This review reflects my personal experience with Burson Funk. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it. The purpose of this review is to help those interested in Burson Funk find their next music companion.



Packaging

First things first, let's get the packaging out of the way:

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Burson has always had this way of approaching customers by having more marketing done online, rather than spending money on fancy packages. It is paying off, and I have to say, the package of the Funk is as simplistic as that of their other products, yet this time around they have included a few extras, like a tool to open it, power converter and protectors on the RCA jacks applied from the factory.

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There's no need for a 6.3 to 3.5mm adapter since Funk has both.



Build Quality/Aesthetics/Functionality

Speaking of the amazing stuff that Funk can do, this one is a beautiful desktop amplifier, with a large volume wheel at the front, and a selection of 3 buttons. It is able to select between speaker and headphone output, has an on/off switch, and it also has a selector between 2 power outputs for the headphone output, for both IEMs and Speakers.

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And this is where things started to get fun. Funk has a bypass for headsets with a microphone, and you can use a cable from its back to your main soundcard to use your gaming headphones with it. In terms of headphone driving power, it has a full 3W Class A headphone amplifier, which means that you can drive everything. This includes HIFIMAN He6SE which are notorious for being hard to drive, but also Rosson RAD-0, Audeze LCD-MX4, Kennerton Thror and everything in between. Funk is simply unstoppable when it comes to driving headphones.

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The fun doesn't stop here, because it can also drive IEMs and has an extremely low noise level, no background hissing, it is the perfect amplifier to drive everything you have around the house. Comparing it to a DAP, I would say it is as silent as Astell & Kern SE180 when driving IEMs, making Funk one of the most silent and efficient power amplifiers for both headphones and IEMs I ever tested. I had trouble with this because usually I reviewed products from FiiO that have a pretty high noise floor for IEMs and I can't recommend them much with IEMs, unless we're talking about the infamous Final Audio E5000, the IEM that's harder to drive than most headphones. Fun fact is that I also reached nirvana while driving E5000 from a Burson, but it was the Burson Play back then.

Despite the fact that the whole build is made for it to be a heatsink, I actually dig it. I like the design, being a bit industrial, is really cool, and the finish is really nice too. You can open it up and replace the Op-AMPs, which will change its sound greatly, and it comes with the Basic OP-AMPs by default, and you can replace those with VIVID or Classic Burson OP-AMPs (I made a review on the Vivid in the past).

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When we reach the back of the unit, things start to get even more interesting. We have our typical RCA input for the signal, but we also have a full sized speaker output! The speaker amplifier part is class AB, and it can provide 45 Watts of power. While it may not seem like much, it is more than enough for pretty much any bookshelf speaker out there, and both with Buchardt S400, NHT C3, and Dali IKON MK2, I had the pleasant experience of Funk being able to take them to full power. I could get all of them so loud that I almost shattered the glass of my room, other audio products started dancing on my desk, while Burson Funk stayed still because it is rather heavy.

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In fact, this surprised me the most - Burson Funk has absolutely zero distortions at maximum volume. While I can rarely take a 3W Class A Headphone Amplifier at maximum, I was able to explore the speaker amplifier quite a bit, and man, I was not expecting Funk to withstand the maximum volume it can reach with absolutely zero distortion. There's simply none, no problem using it all the way to the maximum, so unlike your latest sports car, with Funk, if you paid for the whole volume wheel, you can use the whole volume wheel. Naturally, everything is gold plated and should survive well to usage, plus with speakers, you generally don't have to replace the cables often.



Sound Quality

Since we need a DAC for using Burson Funk, I have used Burson Play, Burson Playmate, Cyrus One Cast, Mytek Brooklyn DAC+, AAdac from Analog Audio, as well as a few portables including iBasso DX300, Astell & Kern SE180, and Lotoo Paw 6000 for testing Burson Funk. I also teste it with speakers including NHT C3, Buchardt S400, Spendor S8e and Dali Ikon Mk2. For headphones, I tested the Burson Funk with Sendy Audio Peacock, Audeze LCD-XC, Crosszone CZ-10, HIFIMAN Arya, and Final Audio A8000, Final Audio E5000, Campfire Dorado 2020, Metalure Wave, Unique Melody MEST MK2, and Audeze Euclid, as far as IEMs go. Basically, I did my best to cover all grounds and provide you with the best review I could on the sound, pairing and overall abilities of Burson Funk.

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The general signature of Burson Funk can be described as really open, wide and musical. There's a slight difference between the headphone output and the speaker output, but both share the same overall tuning. What is most surprising about Funk is the musicality, how effortless it sounds, how it can simply drive everything that comes in contact with it, and how it has control and authority over any headphone and speaker. We're looking at a leaner sound, with a neutral bass presentation, a musical and rich, slightly warm midrange, and a sparkly, airy, detailed and well extended treble.

The bass is the least intruding part of Funk's sound, being neutral, but really quick, effortless and having a smooth presentation. A smooth bass means slightly less impact than a hard one, but Funk's not afraid to deliver a fluid, distortion-free bass even in the most picky of speakers and headphones, and will be a perfect match for already warm and thick sounding IEMs / Headphones / Speakers. I really like the pairing with Buchardt S400, where it helps with their already fairly warm nature, and I also really love the pairing with Final Audio E5000, which are fairly thick and bassy, as well as Rosson RAD-0 and Sendy Peacock. Generally, the bass has a ton of detail, but no grain, being presented really effortlessly compared to most amplifiers out there. Burson really made it sound like Funk ain't struggling in any way.

There's the open and fun midrange, and Funk has a really nice stage to my ears, with good detail, and still the same fluid and effortless presentation. In some ways, despite the leaner and neutral tuning, Funk is one of the most musical amplifiers I know of, and despite it not having Tubes, or Lamp Tech inside, Burson knows how to design a natural sound and musically pleasing sound. The midrange has no particular coloration, and I'm sure Funk would measure dead neutral regardless how you measure it, but one thing I'm not sure would be revealed by any measurement is the softer kind of presentation it has. Dynamics are through the roof with Funk, and it is the perfect amplifier if you like metal, rock, pop, punk, or modern classical / Jazz music, and if you like to be surprised by a myriad of new sounds + colors.

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We're also looking at a really interesting treble, open, reaching new heights, but non fatiguing. I always thought of the Burson house sound as a bit light, but this is insane on Funk, as it has one of the most mature, detailed, clean and airy trebles you can get around this price point. For driving a nice pair of speakers, once again, I think it is a perfect pair for Buchardt S400, which needs a natural and open treble rather than smoothness to reach a balanced presentation. For Headphones and IEMs, Burson pairs best with warmer and bassier headphones / IEMs, where it can give them some extra sparkle, and anything you thought sounded dark will become more open and more airy. The stage is helped by the high extension, and overall Funk has a slightly splashy, wet character treble, so you can expect zero grain but full fluidity throughout its entire sound. Another important aspect about the treble is again, how effortless it is. Reminds me of the way Astell & Kern design the treble in their sound, effortless, well extended and clean.



Comparisons

Given the price point, but also the design, I selected a few competitors that are at least priced similarly and to a similar job. I'm talking about them being a headphone amplifier, because honestly no speaker amplifier I tested in this price range can come even close to Burson Funk. The main competitors I selected are Aune S6 PRO, Hagerman Tuba, and Audio-GD Master 19. Generally, the DAC for driving all of them was either Aune S6 PRO, Mytek Brooklyn DAC+, Audio Analogue AAdac, Keces s3, or Astell & Kern SE180.

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Burson Funk vs Hagerman Tuba (550 USD vs 500 USD) - Tuba's one heck of a sweet sounding and soft sounding amplifier, and priced pretty close to Funk, but the differences in versatility are a bit high, with Tuba being tube-based, and driving mostly headphones well, while funk can drive headphones, iems and speakers too. The overall signature has a sweeter midrange, but smaller soundstage, softer treble and softer bass on Tuba. By comparison, Funk sounds more neutral, more balanced, has more detail, more sparkle in the treble, as well as more overall punch in the bass. Tuba's has a more euphonic sound, Funk is more effortless and everything is more fluid with Funk.

Burson Funk vs Aune S6 PRO (550 USD vs 700 USD) - S6 PRO comes with a DAC too at that price, and a balanced output too, but the power delivery is actually rather low, and S6 PRO is best for IEMs and really easy to drive headphones, while Funk is best with pretty much everything under the sun. The big sonic difference between the two is that S6 PRO has a colder, more analytic sound, more neutral, with even less bass, where Funk sounds more natural and balanced, has more overall bass and is more musical. S6 PRO has slightly more detail, but the better driving power in Funk gives it more dynamics, and more expressivity with all headphones / IEMs.

Burson Funk vs Audio-GD Master 19 (550 USD vs 880 USD) - We have a hard one here, because Master 19 is the strongest headphone amplifier below 1000 USD that I reviewed to date. It has more power than even Funk, but that's not something too long lived as you don't really need more power for headphones than Funk can offer. Master 19 is also harder on IEMs and I would recommend Funk more. The sonics are different, with Funk sounding more neutral, and Master 19 sounding more colorful, more dynamic, but also harder hitting. The smoother, more effortless sound of Funk is really nice for rock and melodic songs, where Master 19's harder impact works well for EDM, Dubstep and Metal. Both are really capable amplifiers, but Master 19 is needlessly large in practice, and will take a good portion of your desk, where Funk is just perfectly sized for any desk. Master 19 is great as a preamplifier, where Funk is the final amplifier for speakers too, having more usage versatility.



Value and Conclusion

While I can't speak about Funk's value negatively I know for sure I can speak positively. It has probably the best value you can get from an amplifier in this price range, since it can drive both speakers and headphones, and even IEMs, for a starting price of 550 USD, and up to about 750 USD. This means you have a media center at your fingertips, and one with full Class A Headphone Amplifier, and Class AB Speaker amplifier, and enough power + control to make your other gear kneel.

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The package is interesting, but not very marketing-oriented, rather made to offer protection to Funk during shipping. It has a pretty typical power converter, but Burson gave us the tools to open the Funk and replace the OP-AMPs if we wanted to, so power to us.

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Before the end of today's written review, I want to add Burson Funk to Audiophile-Heaven's Hall Of Fame for its exceptional performance, as well as price / performance ratio, plus forward-thinking design, and good control over both headphones and speakers.

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At the end of today's review, if you're looking for a smooth, musical, neutral-natural, effortless sounding Amplifier, with tons of driving power, able to deal with both stereo systems and headphones, and if you're looking for an amplifier you can always have on your desk, Burson Funk is surely going to be among the first choices you'll naturally come to.
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PoSR77
PoSR77
Nice review; currently trying to decide between this or the Soloist 3x. I don't need the extra power as I'll be using it primarily for IEM's (Odins), but if the Soloist has better sound quality it would be worth it. Kind of wondering if I should just get the cheaper Funk first to try the Burson sound and then later use it in a bedroom set up if I decided to go up the the Soloist for my main.
Dobrescu George
Dobrescu George
@PoSR77 - You could totally go for the Funk first and repurpose, but it doesn't have a DAC inside, so if you made it a bedroom setup, you'd need to think of a DAC too. Otherwise, I would get funk first to see if Burson House Sound is right for you :)
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