Burson Soloist 3X Performance Head/Pre Amp - 8Wpc XLR with MUSE72320 volume control
Apr 25, 2022 at 5:43 PM Post #2,582 of 2,688

adeadcrab

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Sorry, wasn't clear. I was considering the SA1 based on some of the reviews/postings I was seeing. Am still pretty new to all this, so I don't have any experience with any of these amps. Right now the only amps I have are the THX 789 and a Darkvoice 336se, neither of which has any real chance of powering the HE6's. Now that I've gotten the Burson the THX will probably go up for sale. Keeping the Darkvoice because it offers a pretty stark contrast to any neutral amp and depending on my mood and the music I'm listening to I find it a kind of fun pairing with my Senn HD650's, particularly since I swapped the stock tubes.
Can you describe the THX789 vs Soloist 3XP? I have the 789 with me and find it quite linear in tone but not delivering the kind of punch and dynamics that I want.
Volume matched of course :D
 
Apr 25, 2022 at 6:34 PM Post #2,583 of 2,688

headband

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In any event, I just purchased a Burson Soloist based on some of reviews I've read, so of course I love any review that talks about what a great amp/value it is. Are you using the Burson just to power the LCD's? Any other HP's? Mine is going to be matched with a pair of HiFiman HE6se, which I understand needs a ton of power. It will replace the Drop THX I've been running for a couple of years, and which I don't think would be up to the task. Will also use it for my Sennheiser HD 650's which I've owned for years. Interested to see how it will change the sound on these.
Honestly volume is like measurements - if you go by measurements, the Topping A90 would be the best amp in the world with totally flat response, no noise and high power. But many if not most more expensive amps are noisier and less flat by measurements, but many prefer them - maybe it's all placebo, maybe it's not - it's basically all subjective and how people feel about how something sounds.

Dbs are the same - depending on where in the frequency range the dbs are coming from, and whether it's pleasant or crappy noise, people perceive volume differently. So db measurement is a theoretical measure of sound pressure but is it like FR or noise measurements? Volume, loudness, like FR response and noise, are often a matter of opinion. Would I care if a db meter tells me two things are at the same volume while one sounds louder than the other because it's loud in certain frequencies that I am sensitive to? Honestly I care more about how my ears feel than what some meter displays.

@phalanx2357 i think the same thing. Charles Hansen of Ayre Acoustic wrote a great piece on feedback correction in amps. one of his ideas is that "if measurements are the answer, then every amp would sound exactly the same". most amps use feedback to correct noise, but I suspect the chi-fi amps of going overboard with it. topping uses "NFCA" which even the name implies tons of multiple stages noise filtering. The way feedback filtering works is the same as 'noise cancellation' in headphones. What it fails to do is address the problems the circuit is introducing in the first place, so in a real sense it's 'glossing over' the imperfections. so with NFCA, to me, I think the sound is a bit compressed and lifeless. the psychoacoustic things that people pay a premium for, I think, have a lot to do with dynamics and timings. transients/fundamentals, timbre, the very nuanced signals conveying space... i think (pure hypothesis here) those are what benefit from an amp designed to rely less on feedback correction, and more on good topology/circuit design.

@Cosmo223 i think you'll absolutely love the soloist. i think the most popular headphone in the hobby is the senny hd6## (hd6xx / 600 / 650 / 660), BUT... i think there might be a hivemind conflation of 'bright' and 'good', 'bass' and 'cheap'. the FR of things like senn, focal, and beyers... very generally lean clockwise, brighter. meanwhile the bass starts rolling off just under the 150Hz "slam" region. So i've read something like "it's got lots of bass, but it's 'good' bass" which I would say is objectively not true in terms of "lot's of bass". I'm not attacking those headphones, I'm setting up the reason I think the Burson is an excellent Amp for those coming from that background. I consider the HD600 my first hi-fi headphone experience. Anyways, the burson can really drive some power to my planars. I find that listening at higher gain but the similar volumes, the headphones get richer fuller bass and things sound slightly more open. i don't know if it's the same with dynamic cans, but if it is, then the Soloist is a great match because it would really benefit those super popular, but brighter headphones. i had a chance to side-by-side test the topping dx3 pro+ and the burson and it wasn't even close. the topping was relatively more compressed and congested and boring in sound even if it was "accurate" as far as measurements are concerned. Meanwhile the soloist just has more depth, height, 'punch' and clarity. I guess, generally more dynamic since I'm describing the topping as somewhat compressed and boring. comparing the topping actually makes the burson feel more warm than it actually is. obviously, this is all opinion. The LCD-X 2021 are my only pair of headphones at the moment, although I'm aiming for Susvara's or Meze Elites as my next cans (possibly the Atrium???). What a great time I have with the burson and these LCDX headphones, though! I just listen for hours. These headphones get knocked for recessed mids, but I think it's fine and more relaxed, I also don't have any problems picking apart vocals from the mix the LCDX2021/3XP combo. The treble of the Soloist is controlled and refined. Some might think "rolled-off' but that's too extreme in my opinion. Tracks with sharp highs just get a bit less crazy. So if the HE6se or almost ANY other planar are in your future, then I'm pretty sure the 3XP can hang. The bass out of the Soloist is sublime. For some who think hi-fi is mostly treble detail, I think they'll say the bass out of the burson is "bloated" but I completely disagree. I don't sense bleeding into lower mids (150-300Hz) like bass hits and low organ/synth tones aren't an amorphous blob at all. the bass detail is preserved and I can still find texture in low end synth as well as subtle dynamics in the sub bass region. Anyways, I'll keep comparing gear in the future because I like to read about gear and watch reviews about it, and I always wonder what I would think of it (if I can afford it). I'm also very excited for CanJam SoCal coming in Sept.
 
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Apr 26, 2022 at 2:36 AM Post #2,584 of 2,688

Terr0rSandmann

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Can you describe the THX789 vs Soloist 3XP? I have the 789 with me and find it quite linear in tone but not delivering the kind of punch and dynamics that I want.
Volume matched of course :D
I had a 789 and 887 as well for some time. The things you are missing atm are exactly the things you will get with the Soloist 😊 plus better staging
 
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Apr 28, 2022 at 5:13 AM Post #2,585 of 2,688

adeadcrab

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I don't have the Soloist 3XP (yet..) but I do have their op-amps and have used them for a number of years now. Currently they get use in my Gustard P26 preamp.

I have observed today that they sound best on maximum volume (99 on the preamp's display). I've used foobar to mitigate volume and tested.. the classics, for example, can give a leaner sound on 50, however the sound also sounds hollowed out and digitally artifacted in the treble. It's weird to explain...

I'm sure the circuitry is much different between the P26 and Soloist 3XP, but perhaps these opamps sound the best when run at '100%' so to speak. Or at least the circuit performs optimally at that level, and anything less can degrade the sound.
Spent half an hour searching for this post to update.
I would humbly like to walk back this previous statement, and state that I don't know what I'm talking about sometimes. The circuit runs fine at half volume or full volume. Lengthy explainer below...

I don't know if it was because of the Koss 95x's abnormally tall soundstage exaggerating soundstage changes, but I've been going back and forth with the Burson Classic opamps in my Gustard P26 preamp.
Running the preamp at the max brings out the most of what the Classics have to offer; instruments that are mixed towards the center are presented in an 'oval' shape like this:
( ) rather than around the head like so: O
And quite simply the warmth of the midrange is at its highest when preamp is at 99 (the max).
I've been testing the preamp at various levels and the sound just gets progressively cleaner, and the soundstage flatter, the quieter the preamp.

For example in foobar I am at -30 dB; if I lower the preamp to 80 from 99 (half a dB per step), and I increase the preamp to -20 dB in foobar, the volume stays the same but the degree of warmth decreases.

Focal Clear sounds fantastic with Classics adding half their warmth to an otherwise transparent signal! :L3000:
 
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May 1, 2022 at 4:08 AM Post #2,586 of 2,688

headband

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After spending a couple of weeks with the GS-X Mini and A/B-ing it to the 3XP (volume matched! but it didn't change my opinions) I think I have an idea of their individual strengths. Yes, I use the 3XP in poweramp mode, and I've tried it in both high and medium gain (I prefer medium). All music was through roon/qobuz/hq player upsampled to DSD256 (totally unnecessary, but I really love the effect).

I think the GS-X Mini is the better amp. I wrote a slightly longer review of it over in the forum for the GS-X Mini. This is a thread about the Burson though. If the GS-X Mini were a direct competitor then it's no contest. However the reality is $1800 vs $1144 so for the money, the 3XP wins

The GSXM has better noise floor performance, is comparatively more neutral, bigger stage, lots of detail. An all around excellent amp.

The 3XP has more bass, more warmth, sweeter treble, it's got a euphonic tonality I enjoy in the mids. It's got a comparatively more intimate in stage. It's not too hard to pick apart detailed tracks, especially with planars which the 3XP has no problem at all driving.
 
May 1, 2022 at 7:14 PM Post #2,587 of 2,688
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Only had about a day with the amp.. love it so far. Think I enjoy poweramp mode in medium gain most as others have mentioned, but I absolutely despise having to control the volume through my PC since my BF2 has none. Probably just leave it in medium gain with poweramp mode off since I enjoy using the awesome volume pot Burson has created. It's definitely a step up from my singxer. I think this is it for me. No more upgrades (famous last words). It's time to enjoy the music and stop chasing marginal improvements with wallet crushing costs haha. Maybe an LCD4 way down the road but thats a topic for another day
 
May 1, 2022 at 7:20 PM Post #2,588 of 2,688

adeadcrab

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Only had about a day with the amp.. love it so far. Think I enjoy poweramp mode in medium gain most as others have mentioned, but I absolutely despise having to control the volume through my PC since my BF2 has none. Probably just leave it in medium gain with poweramp mode off since I enjoy using the awesome volume pot Burson has created. It's definitely a step up from my singxer. I think this is it for me. No more upgrades (famous last words). It's time to enjoy the music and stop chasing marginal improvements with wallet crushing costs haha. Maybe an LCD4 way down the road but thats a topic for another day
If you use foobar, they have a fantastic volume implementation. It functions like a preamp.
 
May 1, 2022 at 11:26 PM Post #2,589 of 2,688

Cosmo223

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So I've been spending some time with my Burson Soloist and my HiFiman HE6se's and all I can say is WOW. Both represent an upgrade from my Sennheiser HD650 powered by a Massdrop THX 789. The biggest change is obviously the headphones. This is my first set of plannars and the difference is simply amazing. It's as if I've never heard drums or cymbals until I listened to them through these headphones. The sound is just so crisp. The bass is tighter and more impactful. And the level of detail ... I can now literally separate out every instrument and I feel like I'm hearing things I've never heard before in tracks I have been listening to for years. I honestly thought the differences would be negligible, but they are obvious.

As to the differences between the Soloist and the THX - they are more subtle, but noticeable. The THX is drier. Whereas the Soloist is warmer and more "musical" if that makes sense. The highs feel slightly warmer and the bass feels tighter. I will say the quality of the underlying recording seems to make more of a difference when listened through the HE6se's and the Burson. A crappy recording will sound crappier through this set up than through my Senns.
 
May 1, 2022 at 11:43 PM Post #2,590 of 2,688

jonathan c

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So I've been spending some time with my Burson Soloist and my HiFiman HE6se's and all I can say is WOW. Both represent an upgrade from my Sennheiser HD650 powered by a Massdrop THX 789. The biggest change is obviously the headphones. This is my first set of plannars and the difference is simply amazing. It's as if I've never heard drums or cymbals until I listened to them through these headphones. The sound is just so crisp. The bass is tighter and more impactful. And the level of detail ... I can now literally separate out every instrument and I feel like I'm hearing things I've never heard before in tracks I have been listening to for years. I honestly thought the differences would be negligible, but they are obvious.

As to the differences between the Soloist and the THX - they are more subtle, but noticeable. The THX is drier. Whereas the Soloist is warmer and more "musical" if that makes sense. The highs feel slightly warmer and the bass feels tighter. I will say the quality of the underlying recording seems to make more of a difference when listened through the HE6se's and the Burson. A crappy recording will sound crappier through this set up than through my Senns.
• The Sennheiser HD650, being a dynamic-driver headphone with a 300 ohm nominal input impedance, is best driven by a higher output-impedance, high output-voltage swing amplifier. The Massdrop THX 789 is not this. You have not been hearing the full capabilities of the HD650. The ‘gap’ between the HE6se and HD650 may not be quite as wide.
 
May 2, 2022 at 12:48 AM Post #2,591 of 2,688

headband

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So I've been spending some time with my Burson Soloist and my HiFiman HE6se's and all I can say is WOW. Both represent an upgrade from my Sennheiser HD650 powered by a Massdrop THX 789. The biggest change is obviously the headphones. This is my first set of plannars and the difference is simply amazing. It's as if I've never heard drums or cymbals until I listened to them through these headphones. The sound is just so crisp. The bass is tighter and more impactful. And the level of detail ... I can now literally separate out every instrument and I feel like I'm hearing things I've never heard before in tracks I have been listening to for years. I honestly thought the differences would be negligible, but they are obvious.

As to the differences between the Soloist and the THX - they are more subtle, but noticeable. The THX is drier. Whereas the Soloist is warmer and more "musical" if that makes sense. The highs feel slightly warmer and the bass feels tighter. I will say the quality of the underlying recording seems to make more of a difference when listened through the HE6se's and the Burson. A crappy recording will sound crappier through this set up than through my Senns.

I agree. I’m pretty new too. I was blown away by the planar sound and a good amp. I don’t know if it’s a class A thing or what. Those HE6se are notoriously hard to drive so good choice on the burson. Actually, I keep hearing from others, planars and other headphones all benefit from a higher power amp source. All I know is I do think it sounds better. Congrats on the upgrade.
 
May 2, 2022 at 10:41 AM Post #2,592 of 2,688

Cosmo223

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Interesting comments Jonathan. I agree the HD650's and the THX did not play well together. I also own a Darkvoice 336 SE with upgraded tubes. The sound is completely different than with a solid state amp and not really neutral, but it's a fun change of pace if I'm looking for a warm/tubey sound and I kind of like them with the HD650's.

Yes, headband, recently bought the HE6's because HiFiman was having an open box special and price was too good to pass up. Unfortunately, I almost immediately realized my current amps were not capable of driving them to their full potential. So my "bargain" headphones ended up costing me additional $$$. Did some research and it looked like the Burson would have enough power to drive them and wouldn't end up costing me an arm and a leg. Was lucky enough to find one in the Classified section (thanks David222).
 
May 3, 2022 at 4:38 AM Post #2,593 of 2,688

nigel801

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Soloist does do justice with HE6SE I like it over my A90.
 

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May 6, 2022 at 12:42 PM Post #2,594 of 2,688

wstam

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I have just received a Soloist 3XP yesterday. I have also ordered a pair of Sparkos SS3602 opamps, waiting for the delivery. I am new to rolling opamps. I read about the two places for the opamps: the input and the volume stages. However I also see people using I/V and L/P stages. What are these two stages? Not sure what do they stand for?

Thanks.
 
May 7, 2022 at 12:28 PM Post #2,595 of 2,688

Atriya

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Has anyone tried the 3XP with the Hifiman Arya/Arya SE in low-gain power-amp mode? I'm finding it to be noticeably better than using volume control, and the low-gain setting is a pretty good match for my Arya SE. While my DAC (Chord Qutest) doesn't have volume control, I apply a preamp ranging from -2db to -6db (depending on the recording) in HQPlayer on my laptop (which is streaming in NAA mode from a Raspberry Pi), and that gives me my desired volume.
 
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