Burson Op Amps - Reviews
Pros: 1) Amazing sound quality. Gives the feeling of very expensive systems. Literally shocked by the result.
2) reasonable price. If there are marginally better opamps out there, there are for double the price. For a budget friendly solution this price makes more sense.
3) nice beautiful cover provides correct orientation and makes installation easy. Better aesthetic results as well.
Cons: For the little bear b4 specific case the battery consumption is more. This negative is case specific though since that would NOT be a problem in implementations that uses connected power supply or bigger capacity battery. This opamp was not designed for little bear afterall.
This is a review of the Burson Audio V5i Dual Amp installed to the Little Bear B4 tube hybrid amplifier. I want to thank once again Charles and Burson Audio for giving me this opportunity.

I had for a couple of months the little bear b4 hybrid portable amplifier that I got for 53£. The sound quality was good out of the box but as I know from experience with these Chinese audio equipment that a further investment in components increase the sound quality considerably for a reasonable cost. However, in the little bear b4 you can not change the tubes or buy an audiophile great power supply as it is battery operated only. But you can do a significant change, you can change the heart of the amp which is the opamp.

Therefore, I was looking this forum for advise and solutions since I had not clue about opamps in general. General advice and wisdom was to try the Burson Audio V5i Dual opamp as the best solution available. I was delaying my purchase not because I ever doubted this advise but because I was so much busy with other stuff even in order to devote such little time. Meanwhile, reading extensively the dyi thread for katana I was influenced by the creators of katana for the supposedly sparkos superiority in the world of opamps. But with a brief search on the internet I realized that first the equivalent sparkos opamp is double the price on 80£ approx and considerably more expensive than the little bear and second it seemed naked to me without cover particularly ugly to place under the window of my little bear.

I have decided thus that when I buy an opamp burson audio V5i dual will be my choice. However, as I was extremely busy with the preparations of my wedding reception in another country I had zero desire to spend time and energy for playing with opamps at the current point in time. I said to myself, I will buy the V5i Dual at some point in future when I have more time. But then I received an email from Charles and the Burson Audio team if I want to test the V5i Dual opamp for a review. Although busy, I felt honoured and flattered and could not refuse this fantastic proposal.

Thus, a week later the opamp arrived and I was not fully prepared to change it since I did not have the right tools. Although, it seemed a daunting task for non dyi users like me at the beginning, I can assure you that if someone has the right tools, then to change the opamp in the little bear is very easy. I could order the relevant screw drivers from Amazon but did not have the time to order the specific tool that removes the previous opamp. That was the most difficult part for me, as to remove the previous opamp without the tool is challenging and I might have destroyed mine in the process. But if you have the tool then there is no problem since you can grab it properly and remove it. Installation of the new amp is super easy just place it in the right position. The V5i has the cover with the letters in one orientation so no mistake can be made at this point.

In my case, as I did not have time to wait for the right removal tool from eBay and because I am not competent enough to do it with my hand or a knife, I was a bit brutal for removing my previous opamp. But this the thing: There is no way the dual V5i to depart from my little bear in the foreseeable future.

Sometimes with substantial improvements there is an initial shock. A disbelief. The sound is different, something really changed but you can't realise what is happening. It might be a burn in period or the mental burn in or whatever else. In this case, it took only one day to realise what really happened. The little bear transformed completely from a little bear to a huge polar bear. The same improvement in magnitude that I realized from going from a mediocre budget onkyo AV receiver to my stereo Marantz amp, I realized with this change as well.

I listened for few days with my HD6XX, HE4XX and Meze neo and I was really astonished. The amazing thing is that already I had a great improvement at that time by going balanced from unbalanced with my Radsone audio es100 Bluetooth transmitter because of the more power that the es100 can provide through the balanced connection (do not ask me I do not know why) so the fact that I went back to unbalanced and had such an improvement it was a shock to me.

I used my es100 as bt transmitter and as a DAC to feed the liitle bear b4 amplifier and I connect my headphones to little bear directly with a nessessary adaptor for my balanced cables so to be connected on the unbalanced output of the little bear. If I could use the V5i Dual in a balanced set up with my es100 I suspect that the sound quality would go to stratospheric levels but as far as I know with my set up this is not possible.

Meze 99 are not power hungry headphones so V5i inside the liitle bear is more than enough. HD6XX although a power hungry headphone also is driven adequately from this set up. The HE4XX contrary to the massdrop advertisement is an extremely power hungry headphone considerably more than to the HD6XX due to the planar technology so one V5i Dual inside the little bear maybe is not enough for the optimum result. But this is maybe a limitation of my set up and the low power that the es100 in unbalanced mode can provide. I say that, because I get more drive from es100 alone in balanced mode. If I could use the es100 in balanced mode in this set up the power could be more than enough.

I should point here that any such limitation of my set up does not constitute a criticism of the burson Audio opamp as this opamp was not designed specifically for the little bear b4. It is an opamp developed for various situations and this particular instance might not be the most representative one. For instance, the battery consumption is considerably higher with this opamp but this is a limitation of the little bear as well. In addition, little bear does not work when connected to a power supply directly so there is no possibility to use the v5i in this set up with an audiophile power supply that permanently feeds the amplifier. I suspect that a good power supply feeding V5i would do a crazy combination raising sq in stratospheric levels with the power consumption not be of a problem in such a set up.

Also the fact that katana uses 6 opamps for its DAC section also means that are limitations for using only one opamp. I am not expert at all but I imagine in other solutions more opamps will be needed for the best result.

Burson Audio V5i opamp sounds so good that I am seriously thinking to research other possible set ups so I can use more extensively this opamp for example with Marantz amps.

The obvious limitation of my review is that I am not a professional reviewer and I do not have other opamps to compare. Also, it is extremely difficult to compare different opamps because you cannot change instantly between opamps. Unless you have many little bears with different opamps installed and used them interchangeably any definite conclusions should not be made. However, this is not the purpose of this review. It is an informal review by a simple consumer that is completely unbiased. As such has a different perspective to provide. As a result, although this review should have been a bit difficult to be made at the end was rather easy for me because of the sound quality difference I experienced in my set up.

Maybe I am so impressed because, as I already said, I am not a professional reviewer and I have not expensive gear, I do not have a mojo/poly, Hugo 2 or whatever similar hi end expensive gear. But again, does this really matter for the context of my review???

I had a 53£ equipment and I used a component of around 40£ to improve it. Did the sound improved significantly after all? The answer is YES and in a huge big way! The sound quality I am getting now is unbelievable for the money. For around 100£ you have a great solution and you can add the DAC of your choice. Connect straight from your phone or an inexpensive bt receiver like the es100 or an ifi audio DAC component which I am particularly fond of.

The instruments, the notes the musicality everything has a huge depth, a quality arising from underneath the fundamental instruments that constitute the music of a particular piece. The guitars the violins and the classical music sounds particularly impressive and clear. Clean, analytical but not bright nor harsh. I have the illusion that I am hearing a super expensive audiophile system. Bass, treble and everything between sounds simply better in an elegantly subtle but also impactful way. You do not need a/b with the original little bear opamp to realise the difference, it is just there noticeable immediately from the first note.

More to my personal story, as I left for my wedding reception and my honeymoon I decided to take only with me the es100, the balanced cable and the HE4XX. I listened for a few hours before sleep for some days and I really enjoyed it. I also have chosen all the music for my reception in that way. But then when I returned back home and I used the es100 with my little bear/V5i set up I fell in love with the music even more. Somehow everything worked in my brain even more while I was away so when I returned back the set up with this opamp made more impact to me. A less portable combination for sure but the music quality is astonishing. Having that near the bed before you sleep is great for a small and convenient bedroom set up.

One criticism I could make is that the sound from this opamp seemed to dominate in the little bear a little too much in my initial hearings. Sometimes it gave me the impression more of a pure solid state system than a hybrid tube amplifier. But even that criticism is not fair. The little bear never had for me a dominating tube part like some other tube preamplifiers I have. And the sound now is never harsh is just so much impactful and dominating as you would expect from an audiophile amp like Hegel for example.

In addition, I have not the chance yet to use the V5i with a different DAC. What if I use the ifi audio ione DAC I so much adore later on as my source or the xDSD? As I am really fun of the ifi reclocking/DAC cababilities and the smooth analogue sound it provides only makes me truly wonder where is the true limit with this specific opamp.

In any case, I have the instinctive intuitive feeling that this is an amazing opamp, one of the best of its kind even without a direct comparison with other expensive opamps. Every time, every note I listen with this set up it reminds me the following question:
How much more another device could improve this sound? I would be really amazed if I could do a further leap forward from this point onwards.

Therefore, I can say that it is for me a best value for money solution in my set up for sure. And in different set ups and after further comparisons may also be a potential giant killer. I would not be surprised if in the future I realise that this system is better than more expensive systems.

The Chinese manufacturers should consider seriously selling more expensive versions of the little bear with this opamp installed as a standard. And other more established companies should consider using this opamp in their respective implementations.

Finally, I would like to conclude saying that according to me:
You should not get a V5i to use it inside the little bear. You should get a little bear in order to use the Burson Audio V5i Dual opamp.

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Pros: - Easy installation
- Big sound-stage improvement
- Bass!
Cons: - It can be a little pricey
- May be difficult to install in small portable amplifiers.
Hello everyone this is my first review here so be gentle with me ;D.

I was eager to start into opamp rolling, i have tried tube rolling before and i must admit it is a pretty fun experience, i understood the basics of tube rolling but with OPAMP rolling the concept was a little diffuse to me, at first i was a little skeptical about it, i mean i have seen people argument it's just bogus and snake oil, on the other hand you can see people swearing by it or even pushing it further like Burson who has brought the concept into the masses with their products like the "Lycan" or the "Play", they even developed their own "audiophile" OPAMPS this is probably the best way to start my journey.

I got the Burson V5i besides some more traditional OPAMPS the TE OPA2107 and the stock Little Dot I+ OPAMP so lets start this review and comparison. My setup consist of the following PC > Schiit Modi 2 > Little Dot i+ with Voshkod 6zh1p-ev tubes (the rocket ones) > Hifiman HE400i, Grado SR325e and Sennheiser HD558.

I will try to compare the performance and sound of all opamps mainly with the HE400i which are my current daily drivers, but i will mention any significant difference i notice with the other headphones i have too. I have been using these opamps and switching between them for a month to get used to them, i think i have a certain idea on how their sound differ specially with my HE400i, i am an avid gamer too so i will throw gaming into the equation.

So without further a due lets start with this.


Unboxing and installation

The V5i comes in a tiny plastic box which is well presented inside there's a foam construction that holds the OP AMP in place, there is a card with the logo of the company, warranty registration page and some QR codes, overall i really like the attention to detail Burson puts into this product, the other OP AMPS i've seen come in plain brown boxes.

Once you open the box you see the V5i and it is entirely different to other OPAMP's, the V5i is bigger which maybe will be a problem to some restrictive portable amps, it has a heat sink that towers above regular opamp's on top of it it's the model name engraved on the metal in a tasteful fashion.

Now let's install the V5i, fortunately Installation is pretty easy just plug and play no change of settings or jumpers, just be sure to sit it well and in the correct direction, difficulty depends on your particular amplifier, in my case i had to unscrew the bottom part of my Little Dot i+ to expose the PCB, finding the OPAMP was simple too.

V5i vs Stock Little Dot AMP

This is the easy one, the stock opamp is effective is not bad by any extend, but it is quite clear once you switch it that there was room for improvement, for example the first time i used the V5i i immediately noticed how the sound-stage was expanded, bass was noticeably improved across all the songs i played, i could pickup more micro details, snail drums sounded very different and voices were clearly improved, i really think there is not much to say about this the presentation is objectively better on the V5i and is an ez upgrade for any amp that uses OPAMPS.

In games the sound stage expansion is really welcomed and easy to pinpoint.

But what if you have already upgraded the stock OPAMP and you are using one that is well regarded by the community as the OPA2107?

V5i vs OPA2107

Well this is a harder one because the OPA2107 improves in almost every way the stock opamp, just like the V5i so what is the difference? i can say that sound-stage and instrument separation is better on the V5i, Bass is still more present and and defined on the V5i too, mids are practically the same to my ears, details on the high end are a bit better on the V5i but i noticed i bit more brightness overall with the OPA2107 nothing to write home about tho.

In games explosions sounded still better on the V5i same as sound stage for example in Overwatch which has a excellent audio design the V5i just let me hear on a wider stage i think it was much more noticeable in games than in music, PUBG is not as good as OW in the audio department but it was still noticeable, footsteps on grass on the other hand were a little more present on the 2107.
I played Dark Souls 3 too and with both the experience was pretty cool but i have a little more preference for the V5i.

I noticed the V5i paired really well with the Grado sr325e which already pairs perfectly with the Little Dot i+ it really makes a difference specially coming from the stock opamp.

The Sennheiser HD558 didn't respond that much but i agree this is not the best amp for this headphones i think they sound better out of my Schiit Magni 2.



I started this expecting little to be honest, but now i am a opamp believer, i heard people really exaggerating the effects of OPAMPS that really made me doubt, everyone is different but some people say it is like changing amplifiers which i do not agree on, switching opamp's won't change your amplifier to the point it sounds like a different one, OP AMPS improve on it's base it makes it better it accentuate certain details that maybe were not as present, it is an upgrade i do recommend just be warned that if your amp suck it would just suck a little less with a better OP AMP, this is a refinement upgrade and one that i consider to be worth it.

I am pretty eager to try the higher end ones like the V6 Vivid and Classic if they are that better compared to the small V5i then i'm in for a treat.


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Pros: Great sound signatures with choices from intimate to large soundstage.
Cons: larger than standard IC so may not fit in all devices. Cost.

First off, I’d like to thank Burson for sending me a V5i Op-amp to test in my walnut F1 and other devices. As a matter of chance, I also received the Play test unit with the V6 Classic and V6 Vivid Op-amps so have had the opportunity to compare and contrast all three against the other common op-amps on the market.

This has probably been the most difficult review I have done to date. Changes between op-amps are not something that just jumps out at you and makes for easy comparisons. At best, changes are incremental and at worst, differences are so small that at times I questioned whether I was hearing a difference or was grasping at straws.

For purposes of this review, I used each op-amp in a variety of gear so as not to assume any characteristic of one amp or another was actually an effect of the op-amp swap. On the portable side, I tried the op-amps in the Zishan DSD, the Walnut F1 amp, and the Fiio E12 DIY. On the desktop side, I used the Little Dot 1+, and a Topping T30. I stuck with devices that use a dual op-amp in order not to introduce any variability due to that so all references from here forward are to the Dual version of the Burson products.


For those of you who might not have replaced an op-amps before, it is worth noting that installing an op-amp backwards is physically possible but will more than likely result in burning out the op-amp and quite possibly the device you install it in. Be very careful to know where pin 1 is on both the op-amp and the socket and align them properly. My advice is photograph the existing op-amp before removing it with enough visual cues around it to be able to re-install it using the same orientation. Having this reference will save you later, trust me. Most op-amps have a marker at one end in the form of a half circle cutout in the edge of the chip as shown below. Others may not so be careful.

Also, worth noting, just because an op-amp will fit in the socket does not mean it will work properly. Electrically, op-amps vary and are rated for different rail voltages and differing input current. In most cases, differences are not enough to result in damage to the device around the op-amp, but it is a possibility. Running an op-amp outside of spec can make for worse sounding output. Remember, just because an op-amp sounds different does not mean it is an improvement and from a circuitry perspective it may well be a distinct downgrade.

I had spent a fair amount of time rolling op-amps in the walnut f1 looking at what various op-amps might have to offer. Depending on which side you believe, I was either wasting my time entirely, or I was going to find out that the differences were startling. Truth is somewhere in between. I never had an “OMG” moment where one op-amp was just monumental different than the other, but I did find places where differences were evident. One of the differences for example is the 2134 that came with the F1 does not image as well as the 2604. Soundstage also seems narrower on the 2134 compared to some other flavors. If the imaging is better on the 2604, the detail and clarity are better on the 2134 so even though differences exist, I cannot declare a clear winner as both have pluses and minuses.

The same held true across all the op-amps I tried. A little better here, a little worse there. I ultimately settled on the Muses02 as I listen to a lot of vocal and acoustic music and this seemed like the best trade-off for me. Your tastes may vary, please do not send me hate mail about how could I pick this over that.

It is against this backdrop, that I received the Burson op-amps. Two are fully discrete, one is partially discrete. Two won’t fit in the same space as an IC and one might. I say that as the V5i would fit in some devices and allow the case to close, but not in others. The Topping and Little dot both closed, the F1, E12, and Zishan all required leaving the case off or the battery outside the case in order to fit the v5i. The Discrete V6 op-amps would not fit in any of the devices with the case in place (it was really close in the little dot but still too tight for comfort).

I listened to the same songs over and over and over with each Burson op-amp and compared against the Muses, 2604, and 2134 looking for any differences in detail resolution, staging, imaging, clarity, extension, and background. Again, differences were not gigantic, but they were there.

The v5i semi-discrete op-amp in the walnut did have one immediately noteworthy difference. It is louder at the same setting compared to any of the IC designs. This throws another wrinkle into the testing as we all know a louder sample is usually perceived as a more detailed sample. I did my best to volume match the samples so I could judge fairly. At the end of my testing, I found that it really depended on genre as to which Op-amp I preferred. The stock 2134 was closer to neutral and was technically very good. The muses brought a touch more musical presentation and was less clinical sounding than the 2134. Vocals are farther forward on the Muses which makes it an excellent choice for music where the primary element is vocals (I dig me some Pentatonix). The v5i brought a bit more energy to the presentation but seemed to be less neutral in doing so. Sub-bass is forward of midbass and upper mids and lower treble are the other focal point making for a more lively if slightly less technically correct presentation. If the muses shines with Vocals, the v5i is made for electric guitars. The place where the v5i was truly fantastic was on classic rock where it brought you into the concert and made you feel like you are sitting on the front row. Soundstage was a bit wider on the Muses but depth was about equal and extension was a split decision. At the low end, the v5i did a better job but on the other end of the spectrum the Muses had more air and sparkle to its presentation. I could live with either the v5i or the Muses, but in my case the fit inside of portable amps and the genre’s I prefer again left me in a split decision. Ultimately, I left the Muses in the Walnut F1, and put the V5i in the Zishan DSD. When paired together, I get the best of both worlds.

Moving on to the V6 discrete op amps, again I found no clear winner in all categories, but did find that the V6 op-amps did acquit themselves quite well and were an easier overall pick at the end of the testing. While both the v6 classic and V6 vivid are fully discrete op-amps, they are not the same circuitry. What is funny is the v6 Classic is not the circuit that is an evolution of the V5. That honor belongs to the Vivid. If you’ve had the opportunity to listen to the v5 and liked it, you will most likely like the Vivid as well. It is very similar to the v5i, very dynamic and energetic, if not technically absolutely correct. I found the Vivid to perform well with the same genres as the v5i, classic rock, blues rock, and blues in particular. When we got to the crooners and the jazz tracks, the extra energy is not as appreciated and I found myself liking the V6 Classic a bit better. Soundstage on the Classic is not as broad as the Vivid, but the classic provides a more intimate picture and makes it easy to see the insturuments in space in small ensemble pieces. Both the Vivid and Classic image well, but again I think the classic is slightly better. Instrument separation on the other hand is a bit more pronounced on the Vivid. I found a lot of similarities between the Muses02 and the classic as both do their best work in similar genre and both have a rather intimate staging that isn’t present on the v5i or Vivid. Detail presentation is good across all the Burson products and is probably at its best on the Vivid. Overall, if I had to pick a single op-amp and live with it, I would take the Vivid. Since I don’t have to live with just one, I’ll use the Vivid for Blues rock in the Topping and the Classic in the Little Dot where the Mullard tubes add a fluidity to Jazz that complements the Classic and really makes for a wonderful intimate performance.