Burson Conductor 3 Performance & Conductor 3X Performance
Dec 21, 2021 at 3:12 PM Post #182 of 190


100+ Head-Fier
Dec 3, 2011
Yup. One of the op-amps was deffective and it was exchanged under warranty :)
I might be lucky since I'm in Australia, then... the fix might be quicker. I'll try the OpAmp swap today. Thanks for the advice, mate!
Dec 21, 2021 at 4:15 PM Post #184 of 190


500+ Head-Fier
Jun 7, 2019
I might be lucky since I'm in Australia, then... the fix might be quicker. I'll try the OpAmp swap today. Thanks for the advice, mate!
If the problem does not go away you can contact Burson on their web, or drop an email. They are very helpful.
Dec 21, 2021 at 4:28 PM Post #185 of 190


100+ Head-Fier
Dec 3, 2011
If the problem does not go away you can contact Burson on their web, or drop an email. They are very helpful.
I agree, they were very helpful before changing my usb card to make it compatible with my Mac usb-c.

They just sent me the latest version of their usb module - no question asked.
Dec 21, 2021 at 6:51 PM Post #186 of 190


100+ Head-Fier
Dec 3, 2011
Guess one of your op-amps is deffective. Happened to me some time ago. Try either swapping the op-amps in the slots or use those spare ones to see if that's the culprit
So.... I moved the OpAmps around and there's definitely a change in the noise floor and balance between the noise in each channel. I'll contact Burson because there's definitely something there....
Dec 21, 2021 at 11:53 PM Post #187 of 190


Headphoneus Supremus
Dec 30, 2013
You had the same hiss+imbalance because of that. Really? Just changing OpAmps fixed it?
Same here, opamp swap. However, it could also be an opamp pin that is not making a good electrical contact in the socket, so you may also try to softly bend with 1/10mm each pin and see if you can reinsert the opamp back in the socket (power off and remove the power plug before doing this!).
Mar 20, 2022 at 2:54 PM Post #188 of 190


1000+ Head-Fier
Oct 16, 2006
Has anyone noticed that the power output of the Conductor 3 Performance (3P, model M-180) changed on Burson Audio's website?
It now says 330mw at 300ohm (it used to be 160mw). Is there a new version of this DAC/amp?


Bloom Audio's website still says 160mW.
May 16, 2022 at 4:08 PM Post #190 of 190


Headphoneus Supremus
Jun 5, 2003
Conductor 3XP Review

I was offered a chance to demo and review the Conductor 3X Performance DAC/ amp. A huge thank you to Burson for this opportunity. Even though my selection of gear to use with it is stretched a bit thin these days, I believe I was able to hear what this fine piece of Burson product is capable of. Carlos of Burson Audio has been especially helpful answering any questions, and making sure I was getting the most out of it, making all connections properly, and understanding all the features. I can only imagine that as a product owner the level of customer service would be excellent and most supportive for the life of ownership.

A little about my approach… I go about doing reviews in a purely observational manner, trusting the characteristics and differences that I hear. I am not equipped to do technical measurements, or explain things with the backing of an engineering degree. I just love listening to music with great sounding audio gear. So my method for this review was just to gather up my current IEMs, as well as any other sources, get to some listening, and see how things shook out!


=== Some general Conductor 3XP info ===

Included accessories:
1x Premium RCA to RCA line cable.
1x Spare fuse.
4x Op-amps for Op-amp rolling.
1x Hex key to open the unit.
1x USB C to USB A cable.
1x Gaming headset adaptor.
1x Bluetooth antenna.
1x Extremely well made remote.


  • Input impedance: 38 KOhms Conductor 3 Performance.
  • Model # M180 USB Cable
  • Frequency response: ± 1 dB 0 – 58Khz Remote Control OTG Adoptor
  • THD: <0.0017% RCA Cable 24V Power Unit
  • Output impedance (Headphone Amp): 0.6 Ohm Power Cable
  • Output impedance (Pre Out / DAC Out): 1 Ohm / 25 Ohm


  • Inputs: USB, Optical Toslink, BlueTooth 5.0, microphone Weight: app. 3 kg
  • Outputs: 1 x RCA Pre Amp
  • 1 X RCA Line Level DAC
  • 1 x 6.3mm Headphone Dimensions: 200 X 250 X 60(mm)


Impedance (Headphone Jack) Power Signal to Noise Ratio Separation
  • 16 Ohm 4W 95db 99%
  • 32 Ohm 2W 97db 99%
  • 100 Ohm 640mW 94db 99%
  • 150 Ohm 420mW 95db 99%
  • 300 Ohm 160mW 95db 99.5%


DAC Spec Asynchronous Isochronous USB Spec

  • Channel Separation: 142 dB @ 1KHz, 135 dB @ 20KHz Desktop OS: Windows XP, 7, 8, 10 Mac OSX
  • THD+N: 0.0005% @ 1KHz, 0dBFS Desktop OS: iOS* , Android (OTG support)
  • COAX & Toslink / SPDIF : up to 24bit 192K PCM Support: PCM ? 768kHz @ 16, 24 or 32bits
  • Native DSD: Native DSD 64 / 128 / 256 / 512
  • Bluetooth Input Bluetooth 5.0 aptX HD (Qualcomm CSR8675) DSD over PCM: DoP64 / DoP128 / DoP256/Dop512


BURSON Max Current Power Supply

Description of MCPS benefit from Burson site:

When electricity passes through a conductive material it meets resistance. The longer the material, the higher its resistance. A power transformer is a very long stretch of wire with very high resistance. Even the best quality copper wire transformers have over 15ohm. This is not ideal for audio amplification. During music playback, the demand for current fluctuates sharply with the music but the resistance from the transformer is constraining supply. Music playback becomes unimpactful and lacking in details. Engineers can use various means to mitigate the impact of impedance on sound, but not eliminate it. The Burson Max Current Power Supply (MCPS) resolves this problem by removing the power transformer altogether. It uses transistors and as such it has less than 1 ohm of resistance. It means delivering electric current instantly to meet any demand. The resulting music reproduction is detailed and dynamic, the way music should be.




Equipment used during review:

• Sony Walkman WM1A
• Luxury & Precision W2 dongle (connected to either Note20 Ultra, or Lenovo laptop)
• Softears Turii dynamic driver IEM (with Dunu Hulk cable)
• 7Hz Timeless planar IEM (with Fiio LC-RE cable)
• ISN EST50 hybrid IEM (with TRN TX cable)
• Aroma Audio Thunder hybrid IEM (with ddHiFi BC120C Sky Pro cable)

Select music listened to during review (all on Amazon Music, in either HD or Ultra HD):

• Fleet Foxes - Shores, Helplessness Blues
• Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool, In Rainbows
• The National - I Am Easy to Find
• Death Cab For Cutie - Kintsugi
• The Tear Garden - The Brown Acid Caveat
• Health - Vol.4 :: Slaves of Fear

These are just a few of my go-to's for comparing gear since they all seem to be well recorded/ mastered, and present a wide dynamic range to test all aspects of frequency response.

=== Build Quality ===

Opening the box, the clean industrial form of the machined metal chassis and its ribs immediately impresses. Chunkiness and solidity come to mind, like a BMW or other German automaker's quality. The knurled volume knob is really satisfying, clicking through the rotation, and also functioning as a push select button for menus. The machined metal remote is equally impressive, and the build quality of everything just screams polished execution and durability. I’m sure this DAC/ amp would last many, many years… or at least until upgraditis hits.

=== General Listening ===

Starting out the first couple times, I noticed a curious thing when beginning a listening session. When first powering it on, it would sound pretty much identical to the WM1A running balanced. But after about 15 minutes the sound would open up significantly. I remember reading somewhere that it goes through a warm up time during which it comes to full potential, and I was surprised at how dramatic the effect was once it had done so. After that initial time of opening up, the sonic improvements over the WM1A were easily observed, and the gap was significant.

I ran the Conductor 3XP two ways: with PC connected via the USB C cable, and with the WM1A connected over bluetooth. The latter was very easy to do, with the Sony player recognizing the Burson immediately. Both methods sounded great, and the WM1A via bluetooth to the Conductor sounded significantly better than the WM1A on its own. I did feel that the PC connected with USB C was even more potent sounding, so that is what I stuck with for the rest of the time.

IEMs used:

Turii (single DD):
Impedance: 25 ohm @ 1KHZ
Sensitivity: 117DB / VRMS @ 1 KHZ

7Hz Timeless (planar):
Impedance: 14.8 ohm @ 1KHZ
Sensitivity: 104dB/1Khz

ISN EST50 (1xDD / 2XEST / 2XBA hybrid):
Impedance: 18Ω@1Khz
Sensitivity: 100db SPL@1Khz

Aroma Thunder (1xDD / 10xBA hybrid):
Impedance: 17Ω@1Khz
Sensitivity: 108db SPL@1mW

=== Sound Breakdown ===


I’ll just start off saying this: the Conductor 3XP is a stellar piece of gear. If I imagine coming up with a tag-line to describe it, it would be something like - "powerful and muscular drive, yet detailed, nuanced and faithful to the music’s recording". The Conductor proved to be neither cold/analytical, nor tubey/overly warm. Instead, it just gave a clear window into whatever music was thrown at it, with a dash of muscularity sprinkled in the mix. Everything simply flowed with more energy, detail, space, and drive in each listening session. The Max Current Power Supply (MCPS) technology must really be doing its thing, and not just some marketing hyperbole.

When driving the Turii (an IEM which shows every subtlety of a player or source) it exhibited rock solid bass and wonderful extension on both ends, with a full and rich midrange in between. It was a real treat. With such an easy to drive dynamic driver IEM, I was a bit worried that the Conductor 3XP would be overkill, but that was far from the case. Instead it just took hold of the transducer and pushed out even more detailed and powerful sound. The Turii never sang like that with the WM1A, and the Burson definitely brought out the best of its sonic traits.

Using the 7Hz Timeless planar IEM, the results were similar to what I heard with the Turii. While the Timeless doesn’t “need” gobs of power (it is reasonably listenable with a dongle and my Note20 Ultra), a heap of extra current sure helps the sound and brings out its best performance. It sort of bloomed, and opened up, with a bigger sense of space - a real treat after being used to a somewhat compressed soundstage front-to-back with either the W2 dongle or the WM1A. Bass was much better controlled, and treble had more shimmer and sparkle.

Plugging in the ISN EST50 on the 3XP showed a big gain as well. I think the combination of DD driver and the presence of EST’s really helped show the strengths of the Conductor. Biggest gain areas were bass definition (it can sound a bit loose in the low end on the WM1A with bass heavy material), sense of larger space and soundstage, and better sparkle to the highs. I was somewhat surprised at how nice of a gain this IEM exhibited with the Burson DAC/amp. This hybrid scaled great on the 3XP.

Towards the end of the review period, I got in a pair of the Aroma Audio Thunder. This is a hybrid single DD / 10BA IEM which is very efficient and easy to drive. After getting some hours on them, I did some listening with the Burson. I was a little surprised to find that it didn’t show quite the same muscularity and vice-like grip in the lows as the Turii did on the Burson. But that was the only part of the range which didn’t exhibit similar gains like the other IEMs. Mids, highs, and soundstage all displayed similar improvement as I found on the Turii / Timeless. I’m guessing the Conductor 3XP does its best with somewhat tougher loads, especially in the IEM world. I wound up a little bit sorry not to have any full sized headphones at the time, wondering what a good set would reveal about the Burson’s personality. Subtle hiss was present as well, but minimal.


Having been a mild basshead for most of the time I’ve been into portable audio gear, I really appreciate authoritative lows. Bass on the 3XP thankfully is wonderfully deep and full, never failing to satisfy listeners like myself. It certainly reaches lower than the WM1A and the L&P W2, with obviously better command over a dynamic driver. There's an added dose of physicality that's not present in the other two sources. I noted a better sense of air movement, carrying more energy. The punch of bass drum impacts hit deeper, and the reverberation of the drum skin was simply more realistic sounding. In short, it was just at another level. This is especially apparent on a track like Slaves of Fear by Health, which has absolutely concussive bass hitting around the 1:00 mark. On a lesser source (including the WM1A by comparison), it can get a bit muddy and confused sounding. But on the 3XP, it is cleaner, more controlled, yet just deeper reaching. It’s addictive!


The longer I go on my audio journey, the more I’ve come to enjoy midrange. I’m starting to get aggravated when I encounter recessed mids, or when thin, or having an odd nasally tone. The Burson’s mids are none of that, displaying more fullness and weight, making the WM1A and W2 both sound somewhat thinner in this area (though I hadn’t ever considered either one problematic at all when listening on their own). Yet the mids retain all the detail and insight, without ever becoming thick or chesty. More lifelike is how I’d describe it, with vocals sounding noticeably “human” by comparison. Spatially the mids spread out and occupy a bigger area, but voices will be front and center, pinpointed, if that’s how they are recorded.


The highs likewise show excellent resolution, detail, and sparkle, without ever biting back. With the Turii, the highs were very impressive to say the least. It’s an IEM that could border on having a touch of brittleness and bite in the treble band (and I mean truly the slightest amount), but with the Conductor it took on a new level of refinement. The highs start to show some of the same naturalness as in the mids, seeming more true to life, with cymbal strikes having a heftier metal 'tick', and shimmering longer in the air.


This is maybe where the Conductor 3XP showed the biggest improvement over either of my other sources. The sense of space (once the DAC/ amp was fully warmed up) could truly be immense depending on recording. Music where the volume of the recording studio is well heard was amazing on the Burson. Over the WM1A and W2, the soundstage was expanded in all dimensions, conveying noticeably more height and depth. And instrument placement within was more defined. These characteristics were what drew my attention first when getting used to the Burson (along with the bass depth). It’s obvious this piece of gear is another league when it comes to space, placement, and localization. Holographic in the most genuine sense of the word applies here.

=== Conclusion ===

I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to listen to such a fine DAC/ amp. The pairing with the Turii was just sublime, and I'd find that combination was so engrossing that it would be hard to do anything else than just sit back and get lost in the music, let alone get any of my evening consulting work done while doing so. I can't think of any higher result than when a piece of audio gear accomplishes that. I regretted having to send it to the next recipient for the loaner tour, and its sound qualities will be missed. I will definitely consider Burson gear for future purchases, especially if I come back to owning some full-sized headphones. Thankfully it still proved to be most excellent for my planar, hybrid, and single DD IEMs.

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