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New: Burson Audio Play Amp/DAC (2W@16Ohm) (op-amp rollers dream)

Discussion in 'Dedicated Source Components' started by ostewart, Sep 20, 2017.
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  1. raoultrifan
    I'm also waiting for a test-Play to be shipped, but until January this will not be happening; after all, it's Christmas so we should be all enjoying it. :)

    Oscar, what is the level when listening to IEMs, please? 10-15%? I do have a feeling that Play's internal gain is setup pretty high and perhaps this is why you're hearing some background noise (just my 2 cents).
  2. ostewart
    The gain is too high to use IEMs with it. You need an attenuator like the ifi earbuddy otherwise you get noise and also 1 volume is too loud.
  3. Burson Audio
    Hi Guys,

    Apologies for the recent delay in the delivery of PLAYs. We have resolved its production issues and they are finally rolling off our production line. This means the loaner program is back on track!

    Mshenay and Jimster480 from the US have kindly agreed to be the first to review the Play and each will soon receive their samples. Raoultrifan from Romania will also receive his review sample soon.

    We look forward to their evaluation and we also look forward to more Head-Fiers (around the world) expressing their interest in this loaner program.

    Thank you all for your incredible support for Burson and the Head-Fi community during 2017 and over the years. We will continue our contribution to this wonderful community and hobby in 2018.


    Team Burson

    Burson Audio Stay updated on Burson Audio at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
    https://www.facebook.com/BursonAudio https://twitter.com/bursonaudio http://www.bursonaudio.com/products/
    UntilThen, ostewart and Audio Addict like this.
  4. Wiljen
    I'd still love to get my hands on one to test out if/when one becomes available. I may have to go raid the Mshenay house. He has some cool toys coming between this one and the Aune B1s.
  5. newdoughboy

    A nice package came in the mail yesterday.
    20171220_154034.jpg 20171220_154458.jpg 20171220_154512.jpg 20171220_154541.jpg
    ostewart likes this.
  6. Asahi Templar
    Well I did indeed have a bad xmos card.

    After talking to Alex he had me swap out the card and it works great now! So I guess if anyone else has the same sort of problem, that is why!

    The sound quality even improved with the new XMOS card. It sounded slow with the old card at times in addition to the latency.

    After doing a bunch of testing with the Vivid V6s, I have determined that this is a incredible match for the Massdrop Hifiman 4XX. It sounds considerably better off the play than my schiit stack. Its got the best vocal clarity I have heard thus far, I can even understand mumbling singers with this combo.

    It is definitely not a neutral sounding DAC/AMp with the vivids. It sounds like a much better version of the Crystallizer function found on creative cards. It seems to be raising and lowering certain frequencies to make low DR music sound more dynamic. It also tend to drop the volume of background sounds like synthesizers and the like which gives the impression of other sounds being clearer. It is very effective with DR 8 or below music and games/movies. They all sound better IMO. However I think it hurts higher DR music a bit, it makes them sound artificial and a bit odd at times. It also has a very non-fatiguing sound, I dont get bothered by sibilance or anything else, even though the 4xx is a bit bright.

    The Vivid play is a terrible match for the new Sennheiser HD 660 s however, I do not care for this combo at all. The schiit multibit stack sounds FAR better with the HD 660s. The Vivid play tries to expand the soundstage and it does not work well with the 660. The 660 gives a very intimate exciting experience off the stack and it just comes across as boring and overly polite with the vivid play. Everything sounds like its had an overly aggressive filter run over it.

    I am not sure if the difference is due to the sound signature differences of the 660 versus the 4xx or if its dynamic/planar. I have a sense that the vivids are better for planars than dynamics, but dont have any other headphones atm to confirm this. All my other dynamics are 32ohms which would be bad with the play due to the output impedance.

    There is also a background hiss on the play which I dont care for, its barely audible on the Hifiman and its not on the 660 s, but my other 32ohm and super cheap KOSS 60 ohm headphones give quite a lot of hiss off it which combined with the output impedance makes them no gos.

    Would like to try the classics but not sure that I will keeping the play, depends on if I keep the HD 660 s or just cheap out and use the HIfiman.
    cskippy and raoultrifan like this.
  7. Voxata
    I did not have any issues with a modded 650 and the Play Vivid. Honestly, it sounded pretty good. The 660S is a whole different driver though. I'll be posting a follow up review on the Play soon with Classics and will include some comparisons with a stock 6XX as well.
    Asahi Templar and ostewart like this.
  8. john57
    The Play Vivid op-amps are exactly what I am looking for sound design and composing. Great detail on low level sounds better than my Audio GD NFB-29H. That is very important for hearing details in a mix using DAW software. The Vivid does not hype the high treble either. The Vivid works very well for dense music. Great power for planner headphones as well. Even high impedance headphones work well with the Burson Play. I prefer the Vivid more for high quality music playback . The Play classic is a bit more laid back and not as super detailed as compared to the Vivid. The Classic is more toward the sound of my Audio GD Reference 5 DAC which uses the PCM1704U-K DAC chip, an older but still good chip. The Classic shares in sound more with my IFI audio micro and Nano battery DAC units. I am perfectly happy with the Vivid unit and I planning to explore more with the Classic play by rolling the single Op-amps. This short write up is overdue but much music work that I need to get back to. I try to answer any questions.

    By the way I ordered and paid for both the Play Vivid and the Classic with my own funds.

    Last edited: Dec 22, 2017
    UntilThen, raoultrifan and ostewart like this.
  9. john57
    Since Play does not have a native ASIO driver which is a Steinberg term. I use ASIO4ALL v2.14 and turning on the Hardware buffers option seems to work better for the Burson Play unit.

    WASAPI is windows version of ASIO which also works in some of my sound plugins but ASIO4ALL seems to work with most of them. I use a sampling rate of 48,000 not 44,000 which gives me lower latency which is crucial for music composing on the computer. When browsing video on the web like YouTube, Netflix and Amazon on Microsoft Windows we are using direct Sound which works quite well.
    Asahi Templar likes this.
  10. newdoughboy
    I have just about 50 hours of Burn in.
    Time for initial impressions of the Play with V6 Classics compared to the Chord Mojo. My Vivids will be arriving sometime after the holidays.
    FLAC - Foobar - Dac/Amp - K702

    MIA - Paper Planes
    The bass is tighter and deeper in the Play
    The details are very similar. Both dacs/amps present the gun shots, finger snaps, cash register noise etc. very realistically.
    The soundstage/presentation is definitely better coming from the Play. Much more defined locations, even though this song has a intimate/close presentation. The play removes a veil that is present on the Mojo.

    Evanescence - Tourniquet
    Same observations as Paper Planes

    At least with these 2 songs, the Play seems to do a decent margin better than the Mojo. I remember when I compared the Conductor Air to the Mojo, I thought the Mojo had a little more sparkle which suited my preference. I'm looking forward to comparing the Play to the Conductor Air. I will do a few more songs to see if my findings are consistent across more genres.
    ostewart and raoultrifan like this.
  11. StAnToN2110
    My Play arrived just over a week now so I’ve had a bit of time to play with it, so just sharing my own impressions of this little beast.

    I ordered mine with the V6 Vivids over the V6 classics but I’m planning to also get a set of the V6 classics to see how they compare.

    I primarily use it for steaming from tidal and for gaming, installation wise it was a breeze on windows 10 and it identified it straight away and downloaded driver without any hitches.

    I’ve been using it with a set of Sennheiser HD700 and also the Focal Elear, with the V6 vivids on both of these it feels that this is so much more detail and soundstage compared to the chord Mojo that I was running so much so that the Chord Mojo went up for sale.

    I have found the vivids seem to be great with electronica like Vangelis and Carbon based lifeforms, it seems to bring out really lush mids and highs not sibilant at all and with the Focal Elears it also seems to bring female vocals more to the front which have been slightly veiled on the mojo.

    I’ve heard that the V6 classics are a bit more laid back so im really interested to see how these compare.

    I think Burson are on to a winner with the play and its great to finally have a amp/dac that has a microphone options for gaming as well.
    newdoughboy likes this.
  12. newdoughboy
    I'm glad to hear that you have similar findings to me. Everybody talk about how the chord Mojo is such a profound product. And has great value. Based on that analysis, the Burson play if used in the same application has even better value.

    If all goes well, the Burson play will be replacing the chord mojo as my daily driver.

    I just don't know how much I'll get for the chord Mojo, cuz I probably would put it on sale as well.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2017
    StAnToN2110 likes this.
  13. Asahi Templar
    Well I have to eat my words.... my HD 660 s impression was totally wrong. I totally botched the volume matching making the schiit stack considerably louder than the Play. I quite idiotically matched the volume of the peaks rather than matching them with a tone generator.I usually do this to save my hearing from getting damaged by excessively loud peaks but it was a mistake in this case. I had the Play too quiet in general taking the volume from 8 to 12 made a world of difference.

    The positive of this is that it led me to the discovery that the Vivid Play actually measurably increases the dynamic range of songs. Once I got them matched at 500hz, I recorded the highest peaks of various songs and found that the play peaks 1-2 db higher than the schiit multibit stack. I had one outlier where it was 3db(!) higher. It also goes quieter I think but that is harder for me to measure consistently, looking at the sound level meter though the play is all over the place in volume, whereas the schiit stack changes less and less dramatically when it does. It sounds louder, even though they are the same volume due to the dynamics which is why I didnt notice the difference by ear.

    Doing a properly matched AB test revealed the hd 660 s/Vivid play make for an absolutely killer combo. The HD 660 S already has outstanding dynamics and the play just makes it even more so. The details on this combo are simply stunning, now that I have it at the correct volume, its better than the Hifiman for everything other than female vocals/soundstage, which I just really enjoy for some reason on the hifiman, probably that planar clarity or slight brightness to it. It strikes the perfect balance between detail and harshness, I did the purple Lamborghini test with it and it would come right to the edge of where I would rip my headphones off and scream obscenities at Skrillex and stop right before the cursing began. Perfect. All the details there and none of the swearing.

    The only advantage the Schiit stack had over the play is that the bass is slightly punchier, though the deep bass is pretty much the same. The tonality is also slightly darker and warmer on the Schiit Multibit stack, which may be a positive for some, it is not for me. The Play sounds neutral to me in its tonality though the frequency response is not I think, its a very well done effect its got going on. Instrument separation is simply stellar on the play and blows the schiit stack out of the water, a side effect of the increased dynamic range. The soundstage will also sound wider, again a effect of the DR.

    I am really impressed by the 660 S/Play combos ability to make badly mastered albums enjoyable, I listened to the mastered for itunes version of Kiss Crazy Crazy Nights known for its plasticky/ overly clean sounding instruments and was really impressed at how much improved it sounded. THe original version of that album still sounds pretty poor even with this combo (bass guitars apparently werent worth hearing in the 80s) but the remaster did a lot to clean it up and the play finished the job. Bruce Kulicks guitar work really pops.

    It even managed to make Iron Maidens No Prayer for the Dying sound surprisingly decent. It was literally recorded in Steve Harris' barn and....you can tell. The play makes it so you can dislike the album for the songs being bad rather than the mastering. Fear of the Dark sounds damn good, which is really surprising. Fear of the Dark was the first time they used digital recording and mastering rather than analog and...you can tell. It sounds like you are listening to a proper remaster off of this combo. The titular song gets almost as good as the live version is. If the bass guitar were mixed louder, it might even have been better than the live version, alas twas not to be.

    I would absolutely recommend the Vivid Play to someone who is looking to make their lower DR music sound slightly more dynamic. I also bought a IFI earbuddy to try out the play with some of my lower impedance more sensitive gear and it seems to work great. I am surprised the impedance mismatch is not having much effect on them. I expected them to turn into overly warm boomy messes, but surprisingly they are not and the hiss is gone. Definitely a great investment for use with the play.
    WilliamLeonhart likes this.
  14. newdoughboy
    Day 2,
    2 more songs to compare the Play to the Mojo

    Fleetwood Mac - Dreams (Alternate Mix)
    Burson Play is significantly blacker backdrop, which contributes to a clearer soundstage.
    Mojo makes Stevie sound a little softer. It sounds a little more vulnerable, which is my favourite part of her voice.

    Andrew Lloyd Webber - The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall - Wishing you were here again
    The quieter backdrop really give it a better presentation. One thing I noticed on the Play and not the Chord as much/at first was that I can hear the singer take her breathe before every strong part.

    Needless to say, I will retire the Chord Mojo as my daily driver.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2017
  15. john57
    I used to own schiit equipment and they tend to compress music a bit. Like I told Alex at Burson the Vivid is outstanding for my needs and it has great detail and not glaring at high frequencies. The play is remarkable in bringing out the the room or hall acoustics. I enjoy the details in my composing music using Cinesamples libraries, OT Metropolis Ark libraries, EastWest from soundsonline.com and others. I have both the Vivid and the classic hookup to my Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum II as one of the two audio systems I use for composing music.
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