Burson DA-160 USB Dac "Best Price/Performance in this category"

  1. drubrew Contributor

    DA-160 DAC $950 Shipped in the US
    Best Price/Performance in this category
    The HA-160D 3 in 1 unit has been warmly received by fellow audiophiles since 2010.  Since then, developing a stand alone DAC based on the DAC section of the HA-160D has always been on our minds.  After taking into account feedback and many more valuable suggestions from the audiophile community, Burson have developed the DA-160, which is fully discrete, more refined in sound, with better compatibility and Connectivity.  The result met all of our expectations.[​IMG]

    Fully discrete:

    Our dissatisfaction with IC based building blocks such as IC opamps and 3 pin power supply regulators have been well aired.  The DA-160 is completely free of such cost focused building blocks. Instead they have built the entire DAC with idealistic circuitry designs and top quality discrete components. The focus of our discrete approach was purely on performance.   

    A more matured and refined sound

    Although the DA-160 is based on the DAC section of the HA-160D, being a stand alone DAC they had more freedom to further optimize its performance. They decided to tweak the power supply network into a constant current source power supply and use two power transformers to lower the noise.  The result is a more matured sound with even richer micro dynamics and substance.


    The new DA-160 is designed to be the heart of an audio system, therefore connectivity is a must. They added two sets of USB inputs to make sharing the DAC between 2 PCs or wireless player easy. Apart from the standard RCA S/PDIF, an additional Optical Toslink was also added. Furthermore there are two sets of RCA outputs  running parallel to make sharing the outputs of DA-160 between the two systems possible (eg, headphone amplifier and intergraded amplifier).

    Burson HD Audio DAC[​IMG]

    While most of the marketing spin centers on the DAC chip, the output stages are in fact the most critical stages in any audio DAC design.  They are not getting the air time that they deserve because properly designed output stages are complex and expensive, and the concept is harder to sell to a customer compared to a DAC chip model number.
    After the digital signals (0s and 1s) are converted by the DAC chip into stereo signals, A chain of output stages are needed to reconstruct, preserve and amplify the very weak analog signals.  Any distortion and signal loss during these stages is irreversible.  Unfortunately, due to the lack of customer awareness of the output stages, they are where most audio companies cut their costs, and it is common to see an output stage designed around a $20 IC opamp.
    The DA-160 has fully discrete output stages that are independently powered.  Operating in Class-A, they ensure the highest level of signal preservation. The result is higher resolution audio playback, with a completely transparent sonic signature consistent with our ideals.


    [​IMG]High Density (HD) Construction

    Conventional PCB designs are not only big and clumsy, but they often leave audio equipment not optimized. They squeezed components close and stacked one densely populated PCB on top of another.   This design process was completely manual and it complicated production.  However because the sonic benefits outweighed the pain, they persisted. Burson's HD construction achieves a smaller footprint, while enhancing sonic performance by lowering noise and unwanted capacitance.
    When they design an audio circuitry, they painstakingly position each component to ensure that they are as close to each other as possible while maintaining symmetry.  This often means transistors overshadowing resistors, solder points a millimetre apart and densely populated PCBs stacked in layers.
    [​IMG]This process is painstaking because they cannot rely on any computer program to do this.  Instead, they do the whole process by hand, one component at a time and one millimeter at a time.  The end result also slows production and increases the possibility of error as all solder points are extremely  close to one another.
    That is why other manufacturers in their “right” minds would not do it.
    team did this for the same reason as they do everything at  Burson Audio. That is, the sonic benefits from doing so outweighed the pain.  With our HD construction they were able to overcome some of the fundamental shortcomings other manufacturers tend to ignore.  
    • Less noise – by minimizing and optimizing the signal path they were able to reduce any EMI noise that may be  picked up with a longer and less optimized signal path.
    • Less parasitic capacitance – These are unavoidable and unwanted capacitance that exists between closely spaced conductors, such as those on a PCB track. With our HD construction, such capacitance is minimized, allowing our circuit to operate in a more ideal condition.  
    • Smaller footprint – Space is luxury.  The HD construction enabled a bigger sound from a relatively smaller package. Our DA-160 for example would be 4 times larger if they were to use a standardized component layout.  
    Higher Definition
    The function of Opamps at the output stage is as important as the lens on a cinema projector.  Regardless of the analytical capability of the audio gear, an inferior opamp will halve a machine’s performance, and distort every dB of sonic imagery. Just like our acclaimed HA-160D, the DA-160 features our Burson HD audio opamp.  It enables the DA-160 to reproduce music in superior resolution and accuracy. The team at Burson Audio has been developing the HD Audio Opamp project for a number of years now.  From the first version to the current production, improvement has been made along the way, as part of the quest for perfection.
    The foundation of the HD Audio Opamp is a sophisticated Voltage Differential Amplification network. The entire opamp is constructed from audio graded transistors and resistors. Such a design will ensure minimal colouration and maximum dynamics, but this design feature  also  posed a great challenge to production; without rigid component matching, it would be  easy for sonic imbalance to occur.
    only use a 1% tolerant resistor.  Before  soldering them onto the PCB, they put them through  a component burn-in module. After 50 hours of burn-in, each resistor  will then be retested and matched before proceeding to our assembly line.  The  result of such a quality control process, is a  further 10% of  component  rejection.   This strict and very expensive BURN and MATCH process ensures the stability of the circuit.  It ensures a perfect balance of sonic imagery across the entire frequency spectrum.  It also guarantees a stable and realistic sound stage between the speakers. Furthermore they insisted on a top quality lead free solder and temperature controlled soldering process.  This was  the only solution to reducing heat stress on our [​IMG]components, and minimizing short circuits caused by a soldering bath used in large-scale  production. Cost focused manufacturers would  never adopt such an approach due to the significant increase in production costs. Burson Audio on the other hand knows that only our level of quality control can produce opamps worthy of our badge.  Only our level of quality control can produce the best Opamp in the market.  


    Perfect Matching

    Burson  understand how critical it is for a DAC to match well with different down stream equipment (eg. Headphone amplifier, pre amplifier, passive preamp and various solid state or tube designs.) In 2007 Burson introduced the AB-160 audio buffer to resolve this precise issue. In the DA-160 Burson designed a Variable Output Buffer stage to allow better matching with all down stream equipment. It ensured optimal performance of our DA-160 across any platform.


    Input impedance: 52 KOhms
    Frequency response: 5Hz (-0.3dB) to 35 kHz (-1dB)
    Signal to noise ratio: >101 dB at 0dB gain
    THD: <0.001% at 6mW/300 Ohms
    Channel separation: >95dB/10kHz
    Output impedance: line out 25 Ohms 45 Ohms (selectable)
    Power dissipation: <25W, internal, regulated power supply
    Dimensions: (180mm X 250mm X 80mm)
          2 x USB Connection (Support up to 24bit @ 96Khz with 10ppm low jitter clock)
          1 x Coaxial RCA (Support up to 24bit @ 192Khz)
         1 x Toslink / SPDIF   (Support up to 24bit @ 192Khz)
          2 x  RCA output (line level output with + 6dB gain selection)
    Weight: app. 5 kg
    Color: silver anodized aluminum
    Moon Audio is an authorized dealer for the following Product Lines: Cardas , AKG , Audio Technica , Beyerdynamic , Denon, Grado, HiFiman, Monster, Sennheiser, Ultrasone, Blossom, Burson Audio, Cary Audio, Creek Audio, Grace Design, HiFiman, iQube, Music Hall Audio, DEQX, High Resolution Technologies, Marantz, PS Audio, Wadia, Reference 3A, Selah Audio , B&K Components, Draper Screens, Knoll Projectors, Panasonic Pro Video, Toshiba Video, Mitsubishi Video, Universal Remotes, Core Audio Design, Furutech, WBT, Wattgate, Nuetrik, Switchcraft, Hubbell, ACME and many more.
    Return Policy: We offer 14 day return policy on all items except for IEM headphones, custom orders and sale/demo items. Custom orders are such that they are unique in nature or one offs. This being odd lengths or terminations. We also do not offer returns on Headphone modifications unless they are non invasive. This being the inability to return the headphone to its original state. IEMs because they are inserted into your ear canal can not be returned for health reasons. There will be a 10% restocking fee on all returns or a minimum of $15. Moon Audio cables are exempt and can be returned within 14 days with no restocking fees unless they are custom cables If you have questions, please check with us first. We do not offer 14 day returns on headphone mods when the customer supplies their personal set of phones. We do warranty all of our work regardless if it is our phone or yours. We only warranty the phone if bought through us except for Grado Headphones as we have a special deal with Grado. There will be a 10% restocking fee on Ebay and Audiogon Sales to cover lost fees for the transaction. Shipping fees are never refunded.
    Thank You.
    Drew Baird, P.E. 
    Moon Audio 
    308 Chrismill Lane 
    Holly Springs, NC 27540 

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  2. drubrew Contributor
    The first shipment has arrived:)
    Moon Audio Stay updated on Moon Audio at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
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  3. grig
    someone that has this dac ?

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