New: Burson Audio Play Amp/DAC (2W@16Ohm) (op-amp rollers dream)
Jan 15, 2018 at 7:38 PM Post #181 of 1,255

Audio Addict

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I will definitely give it a try. I was going to ask you for the suggestion too. Thanks

I just did Blue Jeans Cable Ethernet cable test and did not find much of an improvement but they don't claim that. They basically use good quality cable with good termination. Given the prices of their USB, I presume that would be similar. The USB cable price is crazy at $1.50 for 3 foot and 2.00 for a 6 foot. I have been told by a Exogal (DAC manufacturer) not to exceed the 2 meter limit for a USB.
 
Jan 17, 2018 at 8:57 PM Post #184 of 1,255

Prabeer Patankar

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Don't know how PLAY sounds with NE5532/5534 (don't have 5534, sorry), but I'm sure LM4562 can be considered as a cheap upgrade for NE5532, though should not expect miracles. :)

I have the basic Play with the NE chips. Even with the 5532/34 combo the Play is quite resolving with decent separation. I swapped the fist only the IV Stage and then all 3 duals with LME49720 (same part as the LM4562) and there’s a definite jump in clarity, separation between instruments, imaging and soundstage. The LME49720 sounds analytical. I tried the LME49990 and didn’t like it, it kind of restricts the width which feels like listening between two walls, but the low end extension is slightly better than the 49720. The OPA1602 gives a very tube like sound signature, warm and punchy. OPA1642 warmest of the OPA SERIES I have heard, quite dark. I tried the LME49720, OPA1612 and OPA1622 in the IV and LP filter stage with the OPA1611 in the gain stage, as well with the stock Ne5534 too. The best combo is a close fight between the 49720+1611 and 1622+1611 depending how you want the sound. The 49720 combo is a neutral, analytical sound with a very slight edge in clarity and separation between instruments, while the 1622 is very lush and smooth with a wider and deeper presentation, the separation is also not bad. What I liked on the 1622 combo is the low end extension and resolving is better.
 
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Jan 17, 2018 at 10:23 PM Post #185 of 1,255

imran27

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I have the basic Play with the NE chips. Even with the 5532/34 combo the Play is quite resolving with decent separation. I swapped the fist only the IV Stage and then all 3 duals with LME49720 (same part as the LM4562) and there’s a definite jump in clarity, separation between instruments, imaging and soundstage. The LME49720 sounds analytical. I tried the LME49990 and didn’t like it, it kind of restricts the width which feels like listening between two walls, but the low end extension is slightly better than the 49720. The OPA1602 gives a very tube like sound signature, warm and punchy. OPA1642 warmest of the OPA SERIES I have heard, quite dark. I tried the LME49720, OPA1612 and OPA1622 in the IV and LP filter stage with the OPA1611 in the gain stage, as well with the stock Ne5534 too. The best combo is a close fight between the 49720+1611 and 1622+1611 depending how you want the sound. The 49720 combo is a neutral, analytical sound with a very slight edge in clarity and separation between instruments, while the 1622 is very lush and smooth with a wider and deeper presentation, the separation is also not bad. What I liked on the 1622 combo is the low end extension and resolving is better.
How was OPA1642 tried?

Only in I/V or in LP too?

OPA1642 being warm could come from the fact that it's a FET input opamp. FET has some input capacitance, 8pF to be precise in case of OPA1642.

I believe OPA1642 + LME49720 + LME49710 [I/V + LP + Gain] would be pretty good sounding. Slight warmth in I/V whereas other sections are transparent and neutral.
 
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Jan 18, 2018 at 7:05 PM Post #189 of 1,255

ngoshawk

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I would love to audition the Play. I have heard from a couple on here that the little critter is mighty fine!

  • Your city of residence and country. (please don't disclose your real name and full street address
Warrensburg, MO, USA
  • A list of your current audio equipment and headphones
Focal Elear
UM Maestro V2
Campfire Audio Jupiter
Vibro Aria
FLC8S
VModa Crossfade Wireless
(All with SE & Bal cables)

Shanling M3s/M5
Opus#2
MacBook Pro w/ iFi BL/iTubes2/iDAC2
Compared with iBasso PB3 & Aune B1s
  • A photo of your audio system
45579740-E7FD-4D65-9600-CF6CB1E3F30D.jpeg
036F7606-30CC-4065-8DFD-3F03B0B8DCB7.jpeg
D970D44E-A65B-4659-B3D1-903A6D7F01ED.jpeg
C6160EED-4495-4844-89A1-658EA1730E96.jpeg
 
Jan 19, 2018 at 2:00 AM Post #190 of 1,255

Burson B

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Hi Guys,
thank you all for your ongoing participation in this thread and your support for Head-fi. Nogshawk, you will receive your unit after Wiljen's home trail and review. : ).

Guys, if you are new to this thread then please don't be shy and register your interest to trail the Play for free.

Please find the registration conditions below.
Invitation to Play:
Burson is offering fellow head-fiers a chance to trail the Play in return for their evaluation and photos.
  • Each PLAY sample pack includes one set of V6-Vivid and one set of V6 Classic opamps.
  • Head-fiers will have a trial period of one week and then he/she must cover the cost of sending the sample pack to the next Head-fier in his region.
  • We do not encourage reviewers to fit the PLAY into their PC case as the installation process could damage the cosmetic of the sample unit. Also, installing it into a PC case will make it difficult to roll opamps.
  • The reviewer needs to commit to sharing his/her evaluation and photos with fellow Head-fiers in this discussion thread.
How to Play:
Please express your interest by posting the below information onto this thread.
  • Your city of residence and country. (please don't disclose your real name and full street address)
  • A list of your current audio equipment and headphones
  • A photo of your audio system
 
Burson Audio Stay updated on Burson Audio at their sponsor profile on Head-Fi.
 
https://www.facebook.com/BursonAudio https://twitter.com/bursonaudio http://www.bursonaudio.com/products/
Jan 19, 2018 at 3:20 AM Post #191 of 1,255

ostewart

Reviewer at Sound Perfection Reviews
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I would love to audition the Play. I have heard from a couple on here that the little critter is mighty fine!

  • Your city of residence and country. (please don't disclose your real name and full street address
Warrensburg, MO, USA
  • A list of your current audio equipment and headphones
Focal Elear
UM Maestro V2
Campfire Audio Jupiter
Vibro Aria
FLC8S
VModa Crossfade Wireless
(All with SE & Bal cables)

Shanling M3s/M5
Opus#2
MacBook Pro w/ iFi BL/iTubes2/iDAC2
Compared with iBasso PB3 & Aune B1s
  • A photo of your audio system

Just so you know, you'll need something like the iFi Earbuddy to use your IEMs with the Play. As there is some background noise and the gain is very high with sensitive IEMs.
 
Jan 19, 2018 at 6:43 AM Post #192 of 1,255

ngoshawk

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Just so you know, you'll need something like the iFi Earbuddy to use your IEMs with the Play. As there is some background noise and the gain is very high with sensitive IEMs.

Thanks for the heads up.
 
Jan 21, 2018 at 5:36 PM Post #193 of 1,255

raoultrifan

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BURSON PLAY

I received this wonderful DAC/headamp combo a couple of weeks ago from BURSON-Australia to give it a listen and write a detailed review here, many thanks to Charles for that. This is what I did actually, I gave it an over 200 hours of burn-in combined with intensive listening tests, mostly Jazz (oldies, but also contemporary), Blues, Rock, Classic music and Club hits as well, so I did covered most genres of music I usually listed to.

Burson-Play-S1.jpg
Photo: BURSON courtesy

For me, as a computer engineer, but also an electronics-hobbyist, it's very important what's "inside the box" and how the device measures, but also what kind of components manufacturer is using when building the final product.

Well, I was amazed that inside the PLAY Burson was using same high-quality components like in a high-end device: Dale resistors, ELNA Silmic II and ELNA Tonerex capacitors. Given the 5.25" form factor and Burson recommendation this DAC/headamp combo was designed with PC users and PC gamers in mind, so given the "target audience" I wasn't really expecting such audiophile-like components inside.


Inside components view

image005.jpg
Powerful Class-A transistors amplifier


Gold-plated plugs and protection circuitry


Backside view of the PCB (see the ground-plane)

Now I'm going to dig into this baby a little bit.

The USB module is connected to the mainboard through a 7-pin adapter, so it's easy to take it apart and swap it for another module, in case of RMA for example. Also, this modular design makes possible a future upgrade, in case BURSON might think there's place for improvement. Who knows, maybe an USB 3.0 card or a SPDIF or RIAA converter or perhaps a newer XMOS chip or...just my imagination? :) The inside firmware can be future upgradable via the 3 volts 4Mb 25P40VP serial flash memory: M25P40 Serial Flash Embedded Memory - Micron Technology, Inc.. Entire USB module is getting the +5V power from a dedicated LT1085 low-noise regulator, so no power noise & ripple should get injected from the PC's power supply.


XMOS USB module

There's a low-power USB hub controller on the USB module, GL850G connected to onboard dedicated 12 MHz crystal. This has an 8-bit RISC processor inside that quickly responds to USB host requests. This USB hub should minimize PC's USB host ripple and noise and also to power the USB chip via the internal low-noise regulators.

The USB transporter is a XMOS XU-208 chip from the latest generation on the market, xCORE-200: XU208-256-TQ64. This is a 32-bit chip powered by 8 x real-time logical cores running at a frequency of 500 MHz. It gets the clock from the onboard 22 MHz and 24 MHz oscillators.

By the Digital-to-Analog conversion is taking good care the Reference DAC chip developed by ESS, ES9018K2M, getting the clock from the onboard 100 MHz oscillator. This is a high-performance 32-bit, 2-channel audio D/A converter able to natively decode both PCM and DSD formats with a dynamic noise up to 127dB and a THD+N of -120dB. It has also a digital volume control and an internal DSP with built-in "click-free" soft mute feature to suppress any possible popups when switching between PCM and DSD or vice-versa.


ESS DAC and the low-noise power regulators

The DAC chip is powered via the supplied +12V power source that is later lowered to +5V by a dedicated LT1085 low-dropout & low-noise regulator (different LDO than the one used to power the USB module), then gets lowered again to +3.3V by the ultra low-noise CMOS linear regulators ADP150 made by Analog Devices (9uV RMS across 10 Hz to 100 KHz).

Moving from the XMOS USB interface and ES9018K2M DAC further till headphones output plug, the PLAY version with SS V5/V6 opamps included is probably the only DAC/headamp combo designated for use inside a PC case that is using from head to tail only discrete components. Yes, transistors and high quality passive components, without any integrated chips in signal path, because the SS V5 and SS V6 operational amplifiers are 100% discrete and not regular IC chips! Also, I was unable to identify any capacitors in signal path either, by the DC output voltage is taking care an additional protection circuit that acts a relay on headphones 6.3 mm plus.

Microphone mono 3.5 mm jack is connected to the HS-100B chip which acts as Analog-to-Digital converter in this scenario. This is a 48K / 44.1KHz Sampling Rate Analog to Digital converter that convert signal getting from the microphone to digital PC format. It actually measures very well for a input source for microphone:


Microphone/IN frequency response


Microphone/IN signal response for 1 KHz signal

The output sound of the PLAY is having a pristine clarity, a very good soundstage, clear and upfront voices with extreme details in instrument reproduction. While listening to DSD Scott Hamilton - Ballads for Audiophiles I was able to detect on my headphones the correct positioning of every instrument on the scene, it's like being able to listen to all micro-details properly and to enjoy the music in a large soundstage. I was also amazed by how saxophone sounds while listening to more DSDs with Coleman Hawkins and Charles Lloyd; this is actually the best DSD DAC player I have at home at the moment and I really think the sound of the DSD format on the PLAY is awesome. I was specifically listening to jazz and sax because I'm very sensitive to this type of music and if doesn't sounds right then my ears are easily getting irritating (not the case with PLAY!).

PLAY measures very well too, perhaps a little bit better than the original specs; I've found no channel imbalance and a perfectly flat frequency response, combined with a neutral sound on both RCA and 6.3mm plugs:


Frequency response


Dynamic range & noise levels


1KHz frequency response


Jitter


Impulse response

The 2-Watts Class-A inside amplifier is able to easily drive both dynamic and planar headphones, from up to 600-ohms. As you can see from the below picture, I was able to push it to 7.4V RMS with 1KHz signal/30-ohms, meaning 1.825W/30-ohms of power on each channel. In case you're wondering how can it get about 2W/channel from a 12V PSU: no, it actually can't, so there are inside a couple of converters able to pump-up +/-15V to the opamps and to the transistors from the output stage.


1 KHz perfect sinewave

Nevertheless, this is one of the best Hi-Fi equipment for PC's where opamp rollers can successfully test their preferred opamps in I/V, LPF and Voltage Amplification stages. I've successfully tested myself lot of opamps without issues: BURSON SS V6 Classic & Vivid, BURSON SS V5, BURSON V5i, NE5532, LM4562, LME49720, NJM2114, OPA2132, OPA1652, OPA1602, AD8599, AD8672, MUSES8820, MUSES8920 etc. However, you need to take very good care of opamp "polarity" (pin1 should connected correctly) and try not mixing single with dual opamps or vice-versa (respect Burson's included schematic).

Variable volume control makes possible interconnection with active monitors/speakers, so I've took the opportunity to connect my Mackie MR6mk3 monitors and the MR10Smk3 subwoofer. Besides the volume potentiometer no other adjustments were needed, just plug and play and output sound was perfect into my ears, no EQ or DSP filters needed...it just sounded right from the 1st second. However, volume level was setup around 42% to get the desired 2V RMS on PLAY's RCA outputs, so I can correctly feed my Mackie speakers.

Using SS V6 Vivid in all DIP8 sockets sound gets more upfront, especially women vocals, but also the cymbals. If low-bitrate MP3 are going to be listen then prepare to hear every little encoding imperfection, because these opamps are more crispy and detailed oriented, but without harshness.

The SS V6 Classic are a bit more laid-back, with a detailed and a bit larger scene, totally neutral and very good for monitoring. The SS V6 Classic I liked most in the pre-amplification stage, so I intend to use them from now on all my devices on voltage amplification stage (already using with success it in my Matrix M-Stage HPA-3B).

Remote control is slim and fits nicely in my hands and the battery is easy to replace, based on the backplate that is kept in place by the 4 small magnets:


Remote control

There are accessories to connect the PLAY inside the PC case with ease, just unmount your PC, mount the below bracket, connect the included USB cable to your motherboard USB port. The included RCA-RCA cables are short and meant for use inside your PC to connect the RCA plugs of the PLAY to the RCA output bracket.

PC connection kit


Included gold-plated RCA cables

PLAY has a very good instrument separation, very neutral and with a good soundstage, not huge but also not very intimate. The final sound can easily get changed by swapping the opamps, so feel free to add your own flavor here.

PRO:
  • able to play WAV, APE, MP3, FLAC etc. but also DSD x64, x128, x256 formats natively, without any clicks when switching between source format
  • need no drivers for OS Sierra nor for Windows 10 (though Burson is providing drivers for Windows 10)
  • very good, detailed and neutral sound, especially when using audiophile headphones
  • latest generation USB transporter chip followed by a very detailed Reference DAC connected to a very powerful Class-A amplifier makes it easy to use most headphones out there, even planars
  • one of the best DAC/headamp combo for opamp rollers
  • headphones protection circuit with relay (for DC-output, but also if you connect dual instead of single opamps in the pre-amplification stage)
  • able to get the power either from included PSU, either from the PC's PSU (only the +12V)

CON:
  • not recommended for use with sensitive IEM
  • volume gain is a bit higher when pairing with very sensitive 16-32 ohms headphones
  • a bit on the pricey side perhaps

CONCLUSION: Probably the best and the only DAC/headamp combo designed to fit inside a PC case that is using a XMOS chip for USB transport and a fully discrete Class-A amplifier. At least I'm not aware of any other manufacturer providing such a powerful amplifier for a PC soundcard/combo. Most manufacturers are relying on integrated opamp output buffers, which is fine, of course, but under no circumstances would compete with a 2W Class-A transistors output stage.

Note: I don't have a perfect tool to do the noise measurements, but my good old ASUS U7 has a really low-noise ADC (around -110dB).
 

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Jan 21, 2018 at 9:51 PM Post #194 of 1,255

Gradius

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I have the basic Play with the NE chips. Even with the 5532/34 combo the Play is quite resolving with decent separation. I swapped the fist only the IV Stage and then all 3 duals with LME49720 (same part as the LM4562) and there’s a definite jump in clarity, separation between instruments, imaging and soundstage. The LME49720 sounds analytical. I tried the LME49990 and didn’t like it, it kind of restricts the width which feels like listening between two walls, but the low end extension is slightly better than the 49720. The OPA1602 gives a very tube like sound signature, warm and punchy. OPA1642 warmest of the OPA SERIES I have heard, quite dark. I tried the LME49720, OPA1612 and OPA1622 in the IV and LP filter stage with the OPA1611 in the gain stage, as well with the stock Ne5534 too.

Forget every OPA and LME or whatever, they are all (bad) TOYS.
 

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