Burson Soloist 3X Performance Head/Pre Amp - 8Wpc XLR with MUSE72320 volume control
Mar 1, 2021 at 9:44 PM Post #692 of 1,274

Sam Spade

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Oh so @JWahl and everyone, if you have a great DAC and a cd collection there are some stunning old school CD transports out there that i think equal the best new models as transports. Except maybe the PS Audio's PerfectWave transport and PerfectWave DirectStream DAC and top end Chord. Ive even thought about modding the electronics on my cambridge audio 840C with sparko/burson gear. Ill start a thread on it. But my circa1990 marantz CD80 is stunning as a player and even better as a transport. It will play the most scratched discs imaginable. As a source for the qutest it is unbeatable. I modded the CD80 with a new Philips TDA1541A S2 double crown d/a converter, burson op amps and low jitter clock, new caps.That improved it as a player but As a player/dac It isnt as detailed as my cambridge audio 840C or chord Qutest but it has a beautiful timbre and realism with simple acoustic music. BTW the chord qutest is astonishing. Unbeatable Detail and musicality.
Partly price, and partly because if I was going to go that route for about the same price, I'd just get a Conductor 3X Reference or the 3XP for considerably less. My personal philosophy toward DACs at the moment is that if they're priced over about $1,000 USD, they need to have some kind of unique "gimmick" to justify the price. Whether that be Schiit or Chord's unique DAC implementations, or the RME's many genuinely useful DSP features. I suppose the swappable op-amps could be considered a useful feature of the Composer as well. Living with the Modius for awhile at $200 also really skews the value perception for everything else in terms of basic delta-sigma DACs. I've also been curious of the Cayin idac-6 mk2 and the Matrix Mini-i Pro 3, but not enough to spend my own money on it upfront. The later has a very nice screen built in and has limited streaming capabilities. The Cayin has an optional tube-buffer stage. They're both just under $1,000 USD. I'm probably a little partial to the Schiit multibit sound since I've owned the Yggdrasil and Gungnir multibit before, so I'm familiar with the "house sound". In contrast, the Soloist 3XP earns it's price premium for me due to its generous power output, relatively compact size, unique volume-control implementation, and tune-ability via op-amps. I can't think of much of anything on the market right now that combines all 4 of those points.

EDIT: One other philosophical nitpick about the Composer. IMO, the decision to use the MCPS (high-quality switching supply) is one that is most beneficial to dedicated amplification circuits like the Soloist, where large and near-instantaneous power delivery is more desirable than the potential trade-off of harmonics generated beyond the audible spectrum. In the Composer, that makes less sense versus a true linear power supply. Although, I can understand the benefits of doing so from a business economics standpoint; it's more efficient to have parts which can apply to multiple product models and the design process is more streamlined. What might be more interesting to me, especially given that I liked the Neo with the TI 1793 DAC, would be one of the older Conductor units as a DAC or maybe even the older DA-160, both of which used linear power supplies and are available with the 1793 DAC. The DA-160 only used the 1793, whereas the older Conductors had the option of that or the Sabre DAC. The only downside to those is no balanced output. I suspect the older DA-160 might benefit from a modern USB-SPDIF interface, though.

https://6moons.com/audioreviews/burson6/1.html

Just go the Qutest and mscaler :)
 
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Mar 1, 2021 at 11:36 PM Post #694 of 1,274

JWahl

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Oh so @JWahl and everyone, if you have a great DAC and a cd collection there are some stunning old school CD transports out there that i think equal the best new models as transports. Except maybe the PS Audio's PerfectWave transport and PerfectWave DirectStream DAC and top end Chord. Ive even thought about modding the electronics on my cambridge audio 840C with sparko/burson gear. Ill start a thread on it. But my circa1990 marantz CD80 is stunning as a player and even better as a transport. It will play the most scratched discs imaginable. As a source for the qutest it is unbeatable. I modded that with a new Philips TDA1541A S2 double crown d/a converter, burson op amps, new caps.That improved it as a player but As a player/dac It isnt as detailed as my cambridge audio 840C or chord Qutest but it has a beautiful timbre and realism with simple acoustic music. BTW the chord qutest is astonishing. Unbeatable Detail and musicality.


Just go the Qutest and mscaler :)
I'd really like to hear one of those TDA1541A designs some more one day. I'm pretty sure I already have at a meet in one of the AMR CD players. Probably the best sounding overall setup I've heard at a meet (twice), but it was also paired high-end Eddie Current DHT tube amps both times. I thought it sounded much better than the Chord Dave (without m-scaler) at the same meet, but that was only out of the headphone output of the Dave, so it's not really a fair comparison.

The M-Scaler is super interesting in theory, but I feel like for the price I could probably design my own similar device, and add some other useful DSP features into it as well and save a big chunk of money. Granted, it would be my own filter designs, and not Rob Watts' filters. Or for even less money, I could build a dedicated embedded streamer using (paid) HQPlayer software, which has a large selection of custom digital filters, including 1 and 2 million tap Sinc filters. There's several on another forum that have compared the HQPlayer filters favorably to the M-Scaler. Either would really have to wait until well after I graduate and have some significant free time on my hands once again. The latter (a processing streamer) is also a lot more time-realistic than trying to design a high-end DSP box from the ground up. I think the HQPlayer software is around $250, but when you compare it to the price of an M-Scaler, it seems like a bargain, assuming the hardware is up to the processing task of the high-tap filters.
 
Mar 2, 2021 at 7:20 AM Post #695 of 1,274

Sam Spade

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So i've got the Burson Conductor 3x but i'm annoyed that if i run a DAC into it, then it digitises the signal to adjust the volume and the turns it back to analogue, possibly obliterating or at least modifying the DACs signal character?

Fortunately I love the CX3 ref in my main system, it;s a DAC, head amp and preamp all in one, and awesome for music and stereo AV. And I've replaced my musical fidelity Nuvista pre with it. Never thought i'd part with that #176/500 https://hometheaterreview.com/musical-fidelity-nu-vista-preamp-reviewed/
Qutest in the FS for $1300 🤪
Yeah, it cost me $1750 $US which is $2250 AU shopped and insured from hong kong, full warranty.
 
Mar 2, 2021 at 8:12 AM Post #696 of 1,274

Sam Spade

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So i've got the Burson Conductor 3x but i'm annoyed that if i run a separate DAC into it, then it digitises the signal to adjust the volume and the turns it back to analogue, possibly obliterating or at least modifying the burson DACs sabre ESS signal character or the input DAC? Is that true? Help for a novice welcome.

Fortunately I love the CX3 ref in my main system, it;s a DAC, head amp and preamp all in one, and awesome for music and stereo AV. Runs my LCDxc and LCD4's and LCD3s (which) I must sell. Takes my rotel RB1080 power amp and dali towers to a new level as well. And I've replaced my musical fidelity Nuvista pre with it. Never thought i'd part with that It's legendary and the most beautiful thing I've owned in form and function. But no headphone jack, Bluetooth, etc, and the Burson CX3 shades it for SQ. The nuvista is #176/500, it's a great story. I'd love to keep it but I think I'm selling it.
https://hometheaterreview.com/musical-fidelity-nu-vista-preamp-reviewed/

Then I needed to upgrade my home office. I thought about the composer and soloist. But while the soloist might shade the conductor as a head amp, the composer only has one SABRE32/ESS9038Q2M DAC chip. The conductor has fully balanced with one DAC chip per channel. Pure Class-A and fully discrete SABRE32/ESS9038Q2M DAC and XMOS USB receiver chips are the most advanced and expensive in the industry. There are two ESS9038 DAC chips in the C3 Reference and its USB receiver comes with customised driver by Thesycon, Germany. I mean I'm not sure i'd pick the difference as a dac between the Conductor or composer but ya know.......

Some owners have said that the burson implementation of the SABRE32 is glarey in the treble and flattens the sound stage, I haven't found that at all, but with Sennheiser 8XX or some other non planars I might.

I've also slapped some sparko pro opamps in my Comductor. Significant improvement. still love the V6 pros both classic and vivid.

Anyway home office a Sparko Aries ex review sample landed in my lap. All analogue. needed a DAC decided on a Chord Qutest. The golden ear brigade love it. The measurement Nazis at ASR love it too. It's win win. I adore the industrial design too. plus I might inherit some cash and buy a m-scaler. :wink:

The Qutest is seriously good. I almost bought an RME ADI2 DAC but all I needed was a DAC, not an amp. so I picked a budget and put it all into what I thought would be the best no frills DAC. The Sparko Aries is sublime. Neither have a remote which shirts me, but on my home office desk it doesn't matter.

Im looking to upgrade my Marantz CD80 and Cambridge 840c further with sparko and maybe some burson components. If I think it can get me close to the Qutest/mscaler.

The custom filter is built on an Analog Devices “Blackfin” 32-bit DSP chip running upsampling software provided by a company called Anagram Technologies. Cambridge calls the filter algorithm Adaptive Time Filtering (ATF), presumably because the filter is optimized for time-domain response (conventional digital filters are optimized for frequencydomain response). The filter upsamples the 44.1kHz/16-bit audio from the CD (or external source) to 384kHz/24-bit. Dual Analog Devices 24-bit DACs convert the digital data to analog signals differentially. That is, the left and right channels are each split in the digital domain to create balanced signals, and converted to analog with two DACs per channel (one for each phase of the balanced signal). This technique reduces DAC-induced distortion (artifacts common to both halves of the balanced signal cancel due to common-mode rejection) and lowers the noise floor. It requires, however, double the number of DACs and analog output stages compared with conventional conversion. Another benefit of differential DACs is that a balanced signal is created without the penalty of a phase splitter in the analog domain. This is the right way to create a balanced output signal from a digital source, and one that is rarely used because of the additional expense.
https://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/cambridge-audio-azur-840c-cd-player


Josh, I'll ask you more about HQ player next post and tell you more about some of the TDA Marantz stuff I got to play with in another post.

Oh another thing, it's amazing how close the Astell and Kern AKSP1000M is to the desktop gear for a portable. It isn't cheap but if I could have one player/dac/amp, it would be A&K SP1000M even runs my LCD4s with a balanced cable, just a little shy on headroom but close to perfect.
 
Mar 2, 2021 at 12:25 PM Post #697 of 1,274

MakubexGB

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An update regarding the pairing of the HE6se V2 with the Soloist 3x. I'm quite happy with the pairing now after both settling on the configuration of SparkoS in the input stage and V6 Vivid in the Volume stage, and replacing the stock cable with a relatively affordable aftermarket cable. I originally did the latter because I didn't like the feel of the stock cable, but it actually fixed a lot of the treble issues I was having before. It now slightly reminds me of when I had the HE-1000 V1 as a loaner about 5 years ago, but with more intimacy and focus. If someone is on the fence about the SparkoS because of price, I recommend just getting a single pair to start with, as you may prefer it anyways like I did. I'll probably end up selling the extra pair eventually, or trading it for V6 classics to try.

With SparkoS in both positions the sound is very clean with a little more refined treble, but it seems to lose some energy with macro-dynamic swings. This is a similar reason I preferred the sound-signature of the Modius over the RME, too-flat dynamics. Likewise, V6 Vivid in both positions is too much of a good thing and makes it a little too diffuse and loses some texture. Mixing the two gives the best of both worlds, so to speak, and results in a nicely balanced sound with the HE6se V2. Because I preferred the Modius in this chain still, I've already returned the Neo iDSD, and I'm currently waiting on a replacement Bifrost 2 to arrive, hopefully by next Wednesday. The Neo is still really good if the HD-650 is a primary headphones, but it's just not really "meaty" enough with this particular chain. The HD-650 can be a little bloated below the midrange, so this makes sense.
Hey JWahl, about the stock cable you replaced, are you referring to the power cable? Also, what were the treble issues you were having?

I ask because in my case, compared to the Topping A90 the Soloist replaced, I feel like the mids, especially upper mids, seem to be much more forward. A bit too much. It can become fatiguing. At least when paired with my Verite Closed, which are not bright headphones by any means. Right now I'm using all Vivid opamps so I'm hoping that playing around with the V6 Classics and the Sparkos will remedy this. I have a pair of each of the opamps on the way.

Currently I'm using a Modius to feed the Soloist but it'll soon be replaced by a Composer 3XP.
 
Mar 2, 2021 at 4:29 PM Post #698 of 1,274

JWahl

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Hey JWahl, about the stock cable you replaced, are you referring to the power cable? Also, what were the treble issues you were having?

I ask because in my case, compared to the Topping A90 the Soloist replaced, I feel like the mids, especially upper mids, seem to be much more forward. A bit too much. It can become fatiguing. At least when paired with my Verite Closed, which are not bright headphones by any means. Right now I'm using all Vivid opamps so I'm hoping that playing around with the V6 Classics and the Sparkos will remedy this. I have a pair of each of the opamps on the way.

Currently I'm using a Modius to feed the Soloist but it'll soon be replaced by a Composer 3XP.
Sorry, I should have clarified. I was referring to the headphone cable for the HE6-SE V2. With the stock cable, the upper treble sounded a little metallic and hashy, or just less natural. I think the stock cable is either inadequately specified, or maybe it had some poor connections or solder joints. Usually I don't find cables to make difference if at all unless there is some other problem with them. The HE-6SE can still be a touch bright at the very top, but the quality of it sounds more natural now.

For your experience, It may be because true mids on the Soloist are a little laid back, which may make the upper mids seem perceptually more present. That's part of why I ended up sticking with the Modius for now, because the Neo iDSD exaggerated that quality a bit. Definitely experiment with the op-amps when you get them. As I mentioned, I think I've settled on the V6 Vivid in the volume-stage, and SparkoS in the input buffer.

I'll swap some more once the replacement Bifrost 2 arrives (hopefully tomorrow), just to make sure the synergy stays the same. I'm kind of curious about the Classics also. I'll probably put up a trade-ad in the next few days to see if anyone wants to swap a pair of Classics for a pair of SparkoS. The Classics were my least preferred in the Fun (with the HD-650), but that could very well change with the Soloist and HE-6SE. It (the Soloist) does seem to respond to the op-amp changes a little differently than the Fun did.
 
Mar 2, 2021 at 5:19 PM Post #699 of 1,274

MakubexGB

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Sorry, I should have clarified. I was referring to the headphone cable for the HE6-SE V2. With the stock cable, the upper treble sounded a little metallic and hashy, or just less natural. I think the stock cable is either inadequately specified, or maybe it had some poor connections or solder joints. Usually I don't find cables to make difference if at all unless there is some other problem with them. The HE-6SE can still be a touch bright at the very top, but the quality of it sounds more natural now.

For your experience, It may be because true mids on the Soloist are a little laid back, which may make the upper mids seem perceptually more present. That's part of why I ended up sticking with the Modius for now, because the Neo iDSD exaggerated that quality a bit. Definitely experiment with the op-amps when you get them. As I mentioned, I think I've settled on the V6 Vivid in the volume-stage, and SparkoS in the input buffer.

I'll swap some more once the replacement Bifrost 2 arrives (hopefully tomorrow), just to make sure the synergy stays the same. I'm kind of curious about the Classics also. I'll probably put up a trade-ad in the next few days to see if anyone wants to swap a pair of Classics for a pair of SparkoS. The Classics were my least preferred in the Fun (with the HD-650), but that could very well change with the Soloist and HE-6SE. It (the Soloist) does seem to respond to the op-amp changes a little differently than the Fun did.
Gotcha, that makes more sense. :smile:

If I decide not to use the Classics and you haven't found someone to trade with by the time I'm done, I'll hit you up. It'll be a little while since I just placed my order yesterday.
 
Mar 3, 2021 at 6:54 AM Post #700 of 1,274

Sam Spade

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I'd really like to hear one of those TDA1541A designs some more one day. I'm pretty sure I already have at a meet in one of the AMR CD players. Probably the best sounding overall setup I've heard at a meet (twice), but it was also paired high-end Eddie Current DHT tube amps both times. I thought it sounded much better than the Chord Dave (without m-scaler) at the same meet, but that was only out of the headphone output of the Dave, so it's not really a fair comparison.

The M-Scaler is super interesting in theory, but I feel like for the price I could probably design my own similar device, and add some other useful DSP features into it as well and save a big chunk of money. Granted, it would be my own filter designs, and not Rob Watts' filters. Or for even less money, I could build a dedicated embedded streamer using (paid) HQPlayer software, which has a large selection of custom digital filters, including 1 and 2 million tap Sinc filters. There's several on another forum that have compared the HQPlayer filters favorably to the M-Scaler. Either would really have to wait until well after I graduate and have some significant free time on my hands once again. The latter (a processing streamer) is also a lot more time-realistic than trying to design a high-end DSP box from the ground up. I think the HQPlayer software is around $250, but when you compare it to the price of an M-Scaler, it seems like a bargain, assuming the hardware is up to the processing task of the high-tap filters.
so I have an intel core i5 7400 CPU@3GHz 64 bit, 8 gig of ram in a lenovo box, with the OEM 2 terabyte seagate ripped out with a 2nd doubled up clone in a USB caddy gradually ripping all my CDs to FLAC. internal 250 gig solid state HDD. I may be able to upgrade the RAM, SSD and CPU if essential, or a sound card if required, I think mines integrated on the motherboard along with the graphics.

any advice on a HQplayer that I can run on my PC into my chord Qutest? Happy to pay for something quality. It's gotta be cheaper than a m-scaler and It won't be an extra box I have to explain to my wife :) This is completely new territory for me. CD Ripping started so I could put all my CDs lossless onto my Astell and Kern SP1000M for portable and car use, but now in my home office I could use my PC as the source via USB to the Qutest/sparko Aries/LCD4s

point me in the right direction experts, noting I really want something plug and play, and while between 1990 and 2010 I was building/assembling my own PC's I'm now way out of touch.

@JWahl , I'll post some more on the TDA stuff later with pics
 
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Mar 3, 2021 at 8:13 AM Post #701 of 1,274

JWahl

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so I have an intel core i5 7400 CPU@3GHz 64 bit, 8 gig of ram in a lenovo box, with the OEM 2 terabyte seagate ripped out with a 2nd doubled up clone in a USB caddy gradually ripping all my CDs to FLAC. internal 250 gig solid state HDD. I may be able to upgrade the RAM, SSD and CPU if essential, or a sound card if required, I think mines integrated on the motherboard along with the graphics.

any advice on a HQplayer that I can run on my PC into my chord Qutest? Happy to pay for something quality. It's gotta be cheaper than a m-scaler and It won't be an extra box I have to explain to my wife :) This is completely new territory for me. CD Ripping started so I could put all my CDs lossless onto my Astell and Kern SP1000M for portable and car use, but now in my home office I could use my PC as the source via USB to the Qutest/sparko Aries/LCD4s

point me in the right direction experts, noting I really want something plug and play, and while between 1990 and 2010 I was building/assembling my own PC's I'm now way out of touch.

@JWahl , I'll post some more on the TDA stuff later with pics

The main thing you'd probably want if you're running the high-tap filters is a dedicated GPU (graphics). The GPU processes similarly to an FPGA in the sense that they can process a lot of mathematical operations in parallel (matrix math) which is helpful for filter computation. The creator and the bulk of the user base are active on the Audiophile Style forum (formerly Computer Audiophile), so they might be a better source for more specific questions. Or the site for the software itself. Any other questions, just PM me so we're not getting too off topic here. FWIW, you can download a free trial to test it out and see how it runs. The trial is limited to 30 minutes of run-time at a time.

Also, It ran fine on my 3 year old 17" Lenovo workstation laptop, but that has a dedicated NVidia Quadro GPU, which is specifically geared toward numerical computations. I've tried to run it on my new M1 Mac Mini, but I haven't been able to get it to work right yet.

https://audiophilestyle.com/forums/topic/19715-hq-player/

https://www.signalyst.com/consumer.html
 
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Mar 3, 2021 at 4:50 PM Post #703 of 1,274

MakubexGB

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Another raving review of the new Soloist:
Can't wait to listen to it. The local dealer is bringing a unit soon so it's show time within a week or so!
One thing I'd like to point out is that at least with my Dunu SA6 on low gain, even though the noise floor is very low and IEMs are totally viable, it's still there. So at least from my limited experience (since I only have the one IEM), there is a very easy to hear low volume white noise floor a low to moderate volumes on low gain.
 
Mar 3, 2021 at 4:55 PM Post #704 of 1,274

sabloke

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One thing I'd like to point out is that at least with my Dunu SA6 on low gain, even though the noise floor is very low and IEMs are totally viable, it's still there. So at least from my limited experience (since I only have the one IEM), there is a very easy to hear low volume white noise floor a low to moderate volumes on low gain.

My IER-Z1R is not sensitive at all and I can always listen to it straight from the RME DAC, which is stupid quiet, especially on the IEM port. I just feel that the large Z1R is not giving its best from the RME and that's why I'm looking at getting the Soloist.
 
Mar 3, 2021 at 7:08 PM Post #705 of 1,274

MakubexGB

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My IER-Z1R is not sensitive at all and I can always listen to it straight from the RME DAC, which is stupid quiet, especially on the IEM port. I just feel that the large Z1R is not giving its best from the RME and that's why I'm looking at getting the Soloist.
The Soloist is still good for IEM. I just want to set expectations because in the review the guy made it seem like it was so hard to hear at first he didn't even noticed it. At least with my unit and my IEMs, I can easily notice it but it's a very quiet white noise sound, not an issue, but it's there.
 

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