Burson Soloist 3X Performance Head/Pre Amp - 8Wpc XLR with MUSE72320 volume control
Aug 28, 2020 at 6:04 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 1,121

raoultrifan

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Hello,

Just found out some very good news from BURSON Audio and I am glad to let you all know that a new headphone amplifier, with Class-A discreet output buffer, pretty similar with what's inside the Conductor 3X Reference, will come up to the market in few weeks. Below are some of the features:

Key Features:
  • 8Wpc XLR, 4Wpc SE Headphone amp / Preamp.
  • Three levels of feedback based gain, matching headphones from 60db to 110db sensitivity.
  • 4 X Burson proprietary Max Current Power Supplies eliminating noise and unveiling micro-details.
  • High current Class-A and fully discrete circuitry, achieving incredible sound.
  • The same MUSE72320 based volume control system used in ultra-high-end preamps such as the Pass Lab XP-30 and the AVM Ovation achieving phenomenal channels balance and soundstage.
  • Headphone power amp mode to remove volume control from the signal path and reach even higher transparency.
  • Opamp rolling to tune Soloist 3X to your preference.
  • Designed to pair perfectly with the Burson Composer 3X DAC https://www.bursonaudio.com/products/composer-3x-performance/

Shipping in late September.
MSRP: 1144USD
Pre-Order Offer: 915USD


Seems to be made to match Composer 3X size and appearance, but it will be easy to pair it with anything else that outputs music via RCA or XLR plugs, so any DAC should do.

Soloist_Composer_.jpeg


Soloist 3X Performance_.jpg


Soloist_Composer 3X_.jpg


Burson-Soloist-3XP-6.jpg


Burson-Soloist-3XP-13.jpg

I see plenty of output power on both balanced and non-balanced headphones plugs, so I'm waiting for the first reviews to come up.

Regards!

L.E.: Adding manufacturer website: https://www.bursonaudio.com/products/soloist-3x-performance/ and Head-Fi showcase webpage for adding reviews for this headphones amplifier: https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/burson-soloist-3x-performance.24591/.
 
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Aug 29, 2020 at 2:11 AM Post #2 of 1,121

raoultrifan

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Now here's some of the guts from inside:

Burson-Soloist-3XP-11-Map_.jpg


We can easily spot three power rails built based on the same new MCPS technology like the Conductor 3 series, so I expect no mains hum in the headphones.

The input stage and the line-level output stage benefit of the Solid-State V6 Vivid opamps and given the DIP8 sockets soldered on the motherboard everyone will be able to swap them with different audio opamps, a great thing for opamp rollers.

The line-level outputs, both XLR and RCA plugs, are having their volume adjusted via the new on the market MUSES 72320 chip that is really low-noise with its -118dBV of internal noise. This design seems to me similar with the Conductor V2 where the output level is adjusted via the Texas Instruments PGA2310 chip.

The output buffer for the headphones-out is about the same as seen on the Conductor 3X combo, so four independent amplifiers are driving the XLR output and only two of them are used to drive the jack outputs. I noticed that the TO-92 transistors from the Conductor 3X, eight for each amplifier (so a total of 32 of them), were replaced with SMD ones, for a better heat dissipation and a smoother internal design. However, the big TO-220 Toshiba transistors are still there, ensuring lot of power to drive every pair of headphones.
 
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Aug 30, 2020 at 11:27 PM Post #3 of 1,121

JWahl

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I've been looking forward to this for awhile after falling in love with the Fun. A Burson rep hinted to me a few months back that something like this was in the works. I'm too attached to the features of my RME DAC, so I've been wanting an amp-only upgrade to the Fun. This fits the bill perfectly. I'm especially glad they went balanced to sufficiently distinguish it from the Fun.
 
Aug 30, 2020 at 11:42 PM Post #4 of 1,121

Mightygrey

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I'd love a picture of the back - curious to see how many line-level inputs it has.
 
Sep 1, 2020 at 12:06 AM Post #6 of 1,121

escalibur

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Great addition to their product portfolio. I wonder how will it perform against Conductor 3 models. :)
 
Sep 1, 2020 at 12:32 AM Post #7 of 1,121

raoultrifan

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I am pretty sure the base schematic is the same on both units, just the transistors have been changed to surface-mount one (except the output buffers).

I anticipate an even darker background while preserving the same output power. It might be better for sensitive IEMs.
 
Sep 1, 2020 at 2:30 AM Post #8 of 1,121

DjBobby

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Would be very interesting to compare the Composer 3X + Soloist 3X combo vs. the Conductor 3X.
On the one hand the Conductor has an edge over the Composer featuring double dac chips, on the other hand the analogue volume control of the Soloist IMO, has still an advantage over the digital one in the Conductor.
 
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Sep 2, 2020 at 1:32 AM Post #9 of 1,121

raoultrifan

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[...] the analogue volume control of the Soloist [...]
Well, it's still a rotary knob inside the Soloist 3X Perf., not an analogue potentiometer.

The ESS 32-bit digital attenuator is doing a great job inside the C3X DACs, but maybe for IEMs the NJM volume chip might have a slight advantage, so looking further for first review and maybe a side by side compare to sort things out.
 
Sep 2, 2020 at 3:11 AM Post #10 of 1,121

DjBobby

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Well, it's still a rotary knob inside the Soloist 3X Perf., not an analogue potentiometer.

The ESS 32-bit digital attenuator is doing a great job inside the C3X DACs, but maybe for IEMs the NJM volume chip might have a slight advantage, so looking further for first review and maybe a side by side compare to sort things out.
I agree for the ESS digital attenuator, but am a little bit confused for the Soloist.

Because Lindemann quotes for the Muses 72320: High-class analog volume control provided by MUSES 72320. The analog volume control comes from the studio sector and is currently representing the measure of all things. It ensures a very high resolution and minimal losses with low-level signals.

https://rogershifi.de/produkte/produkte/produkte-elektronik/lindemanns-limetree-headphone/
 
Sep 2, 2020 at 8:47 AM Post #11 of 1,121

JWahl

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I agree for the ESS digital attenuator, but am a little bit confused for the Soloist.

Because Lindemann quotes for the Muses 72320: High-class analog volume control provided by MUSES 72320. The analog volume control comes from the studio sector and is currently representing the measure of all things. It ensures a very high resolution and minimal losses with low-level signals.

https://rogershifi.de/produkte/produkte/produkte-elektronik/lindemanns-limetree-headphone/

The Muses is an analog stepped-attenuator IC. Think of how a resistor-ladder DAC uses tiny resistors laser-trimmed into the substrate. This is similar, except a set of resistors inside the chip reduce the volume in tandem with the setting on the rotary encoder. The rotary encoder sends a digital-control signal to the IC telling it which resistor values in the IC to choose (Well technically, to a microcontroller, then to the IC). From what I've read about the Muses, the advantage of it is that the designer doesn't have to use built-in op-amps for the IC, and thus Burson is using their discrete op-amps with it. *I think* the op-amps serve to buffer the output of the IC so current-delivery remains consistent to the following stage of the amp.

In other words, although the IC is controlled digitally, the signal itself undergoes no analog-to-digital or digital-to-analog conversion. Some will manually do this with relays and discrete resistors, but this consumes significant space and cost. I see the Muses as a superior engineering compromise to the unwieldy relay-resistor implementations.
 
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Sep 2, 2020 at 2:15 PM Post #12 of 1,121

raoultrifan

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I agree for the ESS digital attenuator, but am a little bit confused for the Soloist.

Because Lindemann quotes for the Muses 72320: High-class analog volume control provided by MUSES 72320. The analog volume control comes from the studio sector and is currently representing the measure of all things. It ensures a very high resolution and minimal losses with low-level signals.

https://rogershifi.de/produkte/produkte/produkte-elektronik/lindemanns-limetree-headphone/

It's exactly like in Conductor V2, a rotary knob and not an actual analogue potentiometer, like in the older versions of Soloist.

However, inside the MUSES7230 everything that happens is at the analogue level, the sound is not getting digitized at all.

So YES, the volume control is analogue indeed, but the knob itself is not a regular analogue potentiometer, and that means that Johnson thermal noise will be non-existent and channel separation and channel imbalance would be better in every aspect vs. the old carbon tape potentiometer.
 
Sep 4, 2020 at 2:40 AM Post #13 of 1,121

Sam Spade

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Would be very interesting to compare the Composer 3X + Soloist 3X combo vs. the Conductor 3X.
On the one hand the Conductor has an edge over the Composer featuring double dac chips, on the other hand the analogue volume control of the Soloist IMO, has still an advantage over the digital one in the Conductor.
I have the conductor 3x reference. It is sublime. As a head amp, preamp or DAC. I did a brain dump review of it here: https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/burson-conductor-3x.24156/reviews

I know it is $1000 more, but the DAC is unbelievable, It kicked my other DAC sources in the butt. So if you have the cash, I suggest considering getting it.

If you don't, then I'm sure the soloist will be sensational with whatever you pair it with.

Oh and I'm paired with LCD3s, LCDxc's and a hi end Rotel power amp/Dali tower speakers. Well not extreme hi end, but it would be a $10k combo if I had to replace it.

The Conductor made everything sound better. Including AV, not just music.
 
Sep 4, 2020 at 3:05 AM Post #14 of 1,121

Sam Spade

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The Muses is an analog stepped-attenuator IC. Think of how a resistor-ladder DAC uses tiny resistors laser-trimmed into the substrate. This is similar, except a set of resistors inside the chip reduce the volume in tandem with the setting on the rotary encoder. The rotary encoder sends a digital-control signal to the IC telling it which resistor values in the IC to choose (Well technically, to a microcontroller, then to the IC). From what I've read about the Muses, the advantage of it is that the designer doesn't have to use built-in op-amps for the IC, and thus Burson is using their discrete op-amps with it. *I think* the op-amps serve to buffer the output of the IC so current-delivery remains consistent to the following stage of the amp.

In other words, although the IC is controlled digitally, the signal itself undergoes no analog-to-digital or digital-to-analog conversion. Some will manually do this with relays and discrete resistors, but this consumes significant space and cost. I see the Muses as a superior engineering compromise to the unwieldy relay-resistor implementations.
So Jwahl and @raoultrifan, do your posts above mean that my conductor 3X volume control will perform just as well as the new Soloist for my Audeze LCD3 and LCDxs planars and rotel power amp/ dali speakers?

Although even if it isn't as good I can't see myself adding a soloist.

I won't ever use IEM's with the CX3R. I do have some Shure SE530's that I love, but would only use with my A&KSP1000M when I need IEM's.

Oh and some Sennheiser PMX686G sports headphones that I will only use with my A&K AK70, that's my running, gym, cycling and snow skiing combo as it's smaller in size and cheaper and If I kill it I won't be as upset as the more expensive gear, and it's smaller so it's a great package for active use.
 
Sep 4, 2020 at 3:44 AM Post #15 of 1,121

raoultrifan

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Conductor 3X has built-in DAC chips 32-bit volume attenuator, while Soloist 3X has a separate chip to do volume control.

There's not a general rule to state what's good or bad and both ways of controlling the output volume are perfectly accepted in the Hi-Fi world as providing a better channel imbalance vs. the analogue potentiometer.
 

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