New, Burson Conductor 3 Reference: Dual 9038 DAC, 7.5Wpc Head Amp, Preamp, Changeable Opamps
Apr 28, 2020 at 8:27 AM Post #451 of 589

EternalChampion

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Well, I judge everything through the headphone output, no speakers around for the time being.
You have nicely put out what I hear using the sophisticated technical approach :thumbsup: MP_FAST, because of that smooth analogue lightweight feel to it and the great instrument imaging through the headphones takes up most of the time. But I like the extra low bass heft without compromising much using the LP_FAST too.

I believe they chose AP_FAST to be the default because of its ability to stretch the soundstage a bit more compared to the others while adding a touch of immediacy to the sound. Also objectively speaking, it can reach lower in the sub-bass, which is something I never seem to get enough of for enjoyment. You are correct though, it doesn't image that well and distorts a bit also, add to this the aggression and there you have it why I put "audiophile" in quotes. :beerchug:
 
Apr 28, 2020 at 1:06 PM Post #452 of 589

JWahl

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I really love the sound of this AIO and its build, but the interface is just crude. It would be very much preferable if the volume for the different outputs would be decoupled and the headphone output gain choice definitely shouldn't influence preamp loudness. Also, the volume tends to jump back and forth when i try to slowly dial it up on my C3. Irritating and i'm not a fan of the choice of a rasterized volume dial in general. The much too bright blue standby LED and the stylish but functionally subpar remote (by the way, why did they have to choose the tiniest screw ever as a fastener? I am not going to buy a mini screwdiver especially for this.) don't help, either.

Add to this an inadequate manual as a bonus and i am really tempted to return the C3, despite being very happy with the core functionality. Did nobody care to critically assess the user experience before production? And why did none of the reviews i read deign to take this into consideration? A really weak showing in this regard from an otherwise superb product (i am in the end nevertheless not going to return it as i love the results i get with the Heddphone).

It's unfortunate to see this volume-control problem also exists in the higher end models. I've been evaluating the Burson Playmate for a review and have been impressed with it's sound for the price, but the volume control doesn't know which way it wants to go about 30% of the time when moving slow. It's really annoying and negatively impacts the user experience. In contrast, the RME ADI-2 DAC uses a similar notched rotary encoder for volume but the notches always match precisely with volume steps with no errors. The ramp up for quick changes also feels natural. The Burson's volume control is the only wart on an otherwise fantastic product.
 
Apr 29, 2020 at 4:32 AM Post #453 of 589

AnaKinDV8

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Update on my C3R, after all USB signal and power combinations, I've found that the best connection is USB straight into the Conductor, no iFi Purifier 3, no Uptone Regen. The signal is just surprisingly clean and the music is just more complete, no harshness in the highs, and the bass is fuller and more impactful. In terms of power, the amp is the same if not better without any voltage regulator, surge protection or line conditioning. Granted I isolated the outlet I plugged it into from my PC, fan or any other devices most notably phone chargers and other SMPS (this I think matters more). So there, no additional expenses to make it sound good, it just does. Go figure.
 
May 22, 2020 at 12:20 AM Post #455 of 589

GoodEnoughGear

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Now that I'm fully setup and familiar with the C3R, I'd like to hook up a tube amp. I understand that I cannot use just any XLR to RCA adaptors but rather a transformer type of interface, followed by a picture of Jensen's PC-2XR https://www.jensen-transformers.com/product/pc-2xr/ . At $300 MSR not pocket change.

Any helpful experiences and tips here on this or alternatives?
Conductor 3R is single-ended, no? Is the amp XLR/Balanced in only? Or are you referring to the 3XR?
 
May 22, 2020 at 9:08 AM Post #457 of 589

GoodEnoughGear

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My bad, yes, I'm talking about the the 3XR, of course (see page three of the manual Burson Conductor 3X References User Manual V1.1.pdf).
Yep you're going to need a transformer like the Jensen that can pad down the output. I don't see a spec for the output voltage on the line outs, but at worst if that's even too hot for the amp you can attenuate on the variable output.
 
May 25, 2020 at 2:19 AM Post #458 of 589

AnaKinDV8

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Two months on, here's how I've come to know the C3R:
  • Clean power is important, as with any equipment, but more so as this has digital/front end built in and is largely controlling the amp sound (directly controlling attenuation);
  • USB receiver is quite good and direct connection without the purifiers and regenerators is optimal. Silver USB cable (Lavricable) more easily distinguishes itself from copper and silver plated copper cables with this DAC-amp and is the best I've used so far with it;
  • C3R DAC is slightly better than my Liberty DAC in terms of transparency and detail, but the Mytek is more capable in dealing with MQA, DSD and has better connectivity with Roon;
  • As with power, source quality improves its sound. Using a network streamer like the SOTM SMS200 is better than directly plugging into my PC - quieter, cleaner sound.
  • So far the only big issue is its Roon compatibility which I think needs to be improved. DSD playback is not the best in my case, while PCM is quite stellar. Also connectivity with SOTM SMS200 is not as automatic as with the Liberty. The USB Type C input is limiting in terms of usb cable choices unless a connector or a series of them is used to connect.
In my setup, I've placed the C3R on Vibracones not for isolation (which I hope does a bit too) but more to let the heat dissipate better as the amp gets a bit warm especially underneath and I don't want to position it vertically. The remote is quite fancy but I've never had to use it yet. The stock SMPS looks like it is really meant to be hidden away, I was able to use a C17 adaptor and attach a nice power cable to it, I doubt it had any effect except make me feel a little bit better about it. Looking forward to driver updates sometime soon from Burson for DSD and Roon.

20200525_131853.jpg
 
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May 25, 2020 at 7:47 PM Post #459 of 589

ladavid

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great note AnaK. Curious about what power supply you are using - is it just stock into some kind of power conditioner or are you using an upgraded power supply. Am exploring an improved USB cable and after that thinking of an Uptone LPS.

But would it make a difference and if it does then what kind of improvement over the stock. Not sure if any others have tried this because Burson talks quite a bit about how great their Max Power supply is in this unit.
 
May 26, 2020 at 1:45 AM Post #460 of 589

AnaKinDV8

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great note AnaK. Curious about what power supply you are using - is it just stock into some kind of power conditioner or are you using an upgraded power supply. Am exploring an improved USB cable and after that thinking of an Uptone LPS.

But would it make a difference and if it does then what kind of improvement over the stock. Not sure if any others have tried this because Burson talks quite a bit about how great their Max Power supply is in this unit.

Using the stock SMPS with an Acoustic Zen El Nino power cord straight into the wall outlet. I'm tempted to say there is some effect to it but I never got to swap the stock cord back to be sure. I was thinking of ordering a Teddy Pardo or a Farad Super 3 LPS, but Burson discourages it due to their MPS being designed to be quiet with SMPS. Might still try a Li-Ion battery supply instead though just to see how far the performance of the amp goes. Try isolating the line where you plug in from other wall warts and household appliances or maybe a line conditioner if you can't. Also I think the USB cable swapping and upgrading works best when the power and source are both taken care of first.
 
May 31, 2020 at 5:16 PM Post #461 of 589

DjBobby

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Went through some Decca recordings of the Richard Strauss operas, which I usually avoid listening through the headphones. Too much spatial information and stage movements for in-head listening. The opera sounds often too congested and lifeless through the headphones.
Now for the first time, I have to revise my opinion. I have managed to listen and enjoy the entire operas through the Conductor 3, paired with either the HD650 or the T90. Tons of spatial information, incredible instrument localisation and holographic sound stage. Even some older, digitally mastered analogue recordings, sound incredibly vivid and life-like.
 
Jun 3, 2020 at 5:08 AM Post #462 of 589

Swisshead

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I am interested in the C3XP. For me the small one would be completely sufficient in terms of performance. Is it worth the extra charge for the XR?

As I have seen, the DAC is identical, only the amplifier is stronger and is 2-channel, the P only 1-channel.

Has anyone heard and compared both? For me it would replace the iFi micro iDSD. Is it worth the upgrade here? I don't really need Bluetooth because it's permanently connected to the MacBook Pro 16.

I would be interested in comparing the iFi and the C3 Reference.

The reason for switching from iFi to Burson would be the XLR connector. Unfortunately the iFi does not have this. In terms of performance, the iFi is good enough; the question is whether you can hear a difference in sound.

Thank you in advance for a short report!
 
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Jul 1, 2020 at 5:01 AM Post #463 of 589

kebcy

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DjBobby

Hello!

First of all, pardon for my lack of English!:)

Cause of the 20% discount I already sent a letter to Alex that I would love to buy the Conductor 3 REF with V6 Vivids. I do have a Swing/FUN combo with V6 Vivids. I saw your detailed review about the Conductor 3 Ref and I saw you tested the Conductor 3 REF with the Beyerdynamic T1 2nd gen as I remember. My questions would be the following.

- It really makes a big difference in soundstage - depth, and overally in sound changing from Swing/FUN to the Conductor 3 REF?
- If there is a big difference in soundstage - depth, how should I imagine it? The Vocals and the drums, feels much more "alive" and "crisp" and the bass is punchier, tho a bit more "airy" the overall sound?
- The T1 2nd gen have similar sound quality like the Amiron Home. I mostly listen Rock, Ambient, some NewRetroWave stuff (so electronic basically) what do you think, how it gonna perform? Should I except a big impact on sound?
- You did not mentioned anything about games, but well.. Anyone tried out this DAC/AMP under games? How it performs?
- Did you used any kind of FIR filter, or tweaks for your listenings? I saw you fiddled with the High-Low gains. I guess I do have to use the "High" gain for the Amiron, right?
- You only tested the Conductor 3 REF under MAC, or maybe under Windows as well? If no, someone can share his/her opinions about drivers? I mean, it's a simple plug "n" play and ready to go?

Pardon for the lot of question, I hope I am not driving you crazy, just I became pretty surprised, and also happy that someone have and had a similar build like me, and he (you) wrote a review about, how the Conductor 3 REF outperform the Swing/FUN combo..

Cheers ~
kebcy
 
Jul 1, 2020 at 6:03 PM Post #464 of 589

DjBobby

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DjBobby

Hello!

First of all, pardon for my lack of English!:)

Cause of the 20% discount I already sent a letter to Alex that I would love to buy the Conductor 3 REF with V6 Vivids. I do have a Swing/FUN combo with V6 Vivids. I saw your detailed review about the Conductor 3 Ref and I saw you tested the Conductor 3 REF with the Beyerdynamic T1 2nd gen as I remember. My questions would be the following.

- It really makes a big difference in soundstage - depth, and overally in sound changing from Swing/FUN to the Conductor 3 REF?
- If there is a big difference in soundstage - depth, how should I imagine it? The Vocals and the drums, feels much more "alive" and "crisp" and the bass is punchier, tho a bit more "airy" the overall sound?
- The T1 2nd gen have similar sound quality like the Amiron Home. I mostly listen Rock, Ambient, some NewRetroWave stuff (so electronic basically) what do you think, how it gonna perform? Should I except a big impact on sound?
- You did not mentioned anything about games, but well.. Anyone tried out this DAC/AMP under games? How it performs?
- Did you used any kind of FIR filter, or tweaks for your listenings? I saw you fiddled with the High-Low gains. I guess I do have to use the "High" gain for the Amiron, right?
- You only tested the Conductor 3 REF under MAC, or maybe under Windows as well? If no, someone can share his/her opinions about drivers? I mean, it's a simple plug "n" play and ready to go?

Pardon for the lot of question, I hope I am not driving you crazy, just I became pretty surprised, and also happy that someone have and had a similar build like me, and he (you) wrote a review about, how the Conductor 3 REF outperform the Swing/FUN combo..

Cheers ~
kebcy
Hi Kebcy

I am at the moment away from home and away from my gear, so I can try to answer your questions based on my aural memory.

i have tried all possible combinations of Vivids and Classics both on my Swing ans the Fun and settled at the end for the „Everest“ combo in the Swing and all Classics in the Fun. The Everest combo in the Swing has in the IV the V6 Classics and in the LPF/Gain there are SS V6 Vivids.
The Conductor has by default all Vivids.
The Conductor is definitely more spacious and more airy. The soundstage is bigger. I wouldnˋt say it is punchier and crisper but there is more body and the “muscles“ to the sound. The Conductor sounds also more relaxed and less fatiguing in the treble.
Unfortunately I canˋt tell how it is for gaming, as I am not using it for the gaming purpose, but I can imagine that the Conductor is truly a gaming beast. It has explosive dynamics and powerful outbursts of sound peaks.
I have extensively tested all digital filters and could elaborate quite long about that. Generally I can say, the default AP fast is the allrounder which will suit most of the listeners. For the classical I reccomend the LP fast and for the Rock and electronic the MP fast. The low/high gain is done in the digital domain, on the Sabre chip itself, since the noise level stays absolutely the same in both settings. All Sennheisers prefer low gain, all Beyerdynamics prefer high gain.
I have tried only with Macs which is plug and play. For the Windows you will need to install the drivers.

It is difficult to say to what degree is the Conductor better than the Swing/Fun combo. What I can tell you is, that since I got the Conductor, I havenˋt come back to the Swing/Fun combo not a single time.
I hope this helps a little.
 
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Jul 3, 2020 at 9:02 AM Post #465 of 589

kebcy

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Hi Kebcy

I am at the moment away from home and away from my gear, so I can try to answer your questions based on my aural memory.

i have tried all possible combinations of Vivids and Classics both on my Swing ans the Fun and settled at the end for the „Everest“ combo in the Swing and all Classics in the Fun. The Everest combo in the Swing has in the IV the V6 Classics and in the LPF/Gain there are SS V6 Vivids.
The Conductor has by default all Vivids.
The Conductor is definitely more spacious and more airy. The soundstage is bigger. I wouldnˋt say it is punchier and crisper but there is more body and the “muscles“ to the sound. The Conductor sounds also more relaxed and less fatiguing in the treble.
Unfortunately I canˋt tell how it is for gaming, as I am not using it for the gaming purpose, but I can imagine that the Conductor is truly a gaming beast. It has explosive dynamics and powerful outbursts of sound peaks.
I have extensively tested all digital filters and could elaborate quite long about that. Generally I can say, the default AP fast is the allrounder which will suit most of the listeners. For the classical I reccomend the LP fast and for the Rock and electronic the MP fast. The low/high gain is done in the digital domain, on the Sabre chip itself, since the noise level stays absolutely the same in both settings. All Sennheisers prefer low gain, all Beyerdynamics prefer high gain.
I have tried only with Macs which is plug and play. For the Windows you will need to install the drivers.

It is difficult to say to what degree is the Conductor better than the Swing/Fun combo. What I can tell you is, that since I got the Conductor, I havenˋt come back to the Swing/Fun combo not a single time.
I hope this helps a little.

Hello DjBobby!

Thank you the detailed answer, of course it helps a lot! I already talked with Alex, and my Conductor 3REF is already on the way towards me (Hungary).

So basically it's like a SWING/Fun with much more power, and muscle, right?

The Dual ESS9038 DAC chip improves the overall sound quality, or this serves other purposes, like for streaming or dual music listening in two totally different headphones? For your listening sessions, you used FooBar, right? I do have some .mkv files, and .aac as well, but actually I am not sure if I am better with the simple VLC or with the FooBar..

I am sure, I am not gonna change back to the "old" SWING/Fun combo!:)
 

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