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New, Burson Playmate 9038 DAC, 2Wpc HeadAmp, Preamp, Changeable opamps.

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by raoultrifan, Dec 3, 2018.
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  1. alota
    thank a lot. you´re portuguese???nice. i´m italian but i live in portugal from 2003. now i´m in algarve with cold water. 10º less compared to sicily:ksc75smile:. muito obrigado pela tua ajuda:smile_phones:
  2. Compton
    Happy user with Burson Playmate Vivid and new purchase Fostex TH610 (AKG K7XX earlier). Massive explosion, great bass response, dynamic and soundstage. :)
    raoultrifan likes this.
  3. deenoo
    alota likes this.
  4. Mouseman
    I finally got around to doing the opamp switch with the units I got from Burson when they were on sale. I'm trying the Everest configuration first. Holy cow - what a difference from the stock basic units (which were kind of a pain to get out without mangling the pins). Soundstage is deeper and wider, without any burn-in. Dead black silent background, much greater detail overall. I'm thing to give this some time and then switch in the Classics for the Vivids and see what I get.

    Definitely worth the expense. This makes my Senns and AKGs absolutely sing. I just heard some horns in a Steely Dan song that made me jump.

    Two questions - has anyone else found the back USB jack to be jumpy? I have to turn the unit off and on if I move my source a bit (particularly my iPhone). Also, has there ever been a fix for the front USB-C port? I haven't tried mine since I got the Playmate and it didn't work.
  5. alota
    now playmate basic includes remote. Honestly i don´t like this policy
  6. Mouseman
    Hmmmm.....I bought mine separately. It wasn't cheap. :triportsad:
    deenoo and alota like this.
  7. escalibur
    It seems that Burson has upgraded their website as well. No more different V6 editions of the products but single price and suggestions regarding the V6s. To me this is much better as the bigger prices are not scaring off some visitors. Basic versions are suitable for 99% of the listeners anyways so wise move by Burson in my optinion.
  8. escalibur
    Burson Playmate Everest review


    The Package


    Apart from Playmate Everest the package contains remote control, two USB cables (internal and external), RCA cables, PCI bracket for the Line Out, ¼” headphone adapter, allen key, a replacement fuse and the 5 year warranty card.


    The Device


    I have to admit I wasn’t expecting Playmate Everest to look this good. It really looks like much, much more expensive device than what it really is. The finishing is very high quality. Every time I was about to sit in front of my computer it caught my eye. By being 100% honest with my reviews I have to admit that no audio device has had such effect on me.

    Metallic color really fits well and it reminds me a lot of old school audio devices from the ‘70s and the ‘80s. It looks different in it’s own way. In my previous reviews I have sent my wishes to Burson to consider expanding color options and I’m very happy that they really do care about our reviews and feedback.

    Front panel has ¼” headphone jack, microphone input, USB-C input port, OLED display, volume knob which works as a selecting button and on it’s right side there is small ‘menu’ button.

    Playmate’s OLED display is one of the most noticeable physical differences compared to it’s predecessor Play. Unfortunately, display’s brightness cannot be adjusted. Gladly it’s not as bright as at some other devices and that is a good thing due to that it can be very distractive with ambient light. I’m glad Burson has set the display to relatively low brightness level.

    Back panel has USB input, optical input, power plug, molex plug, power switch and RCA Line Out.


    The Sound

    The most important part of an audio device. How does it sound?

    The settings used:

    HP output: low
    Filter: MP Slow
    DSD: HI
    PCM: HI
    Emphasis: OFF

    In short it sounds tight, polite, very well controlled and a tiny bit bright. Please notice that I was using Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro headphones with analytical pads which definitely play a part regarding the bright sound. I have quickly tested the filters and the difference between the filters was very minor. Everest being a mixture of Burson Audio’s best opamps (2x Classic Dual & 2x Vivid Dual) I have to admit that I can easily see someone at Burson saying ‘let’s go all in with this edition’. Does it put Playmate Basic to shame? I had to find it out by myself.

    I’ve replaced Everest’s V6s with 4x NE5532s and did some listening sessions using the same songs in the same quality. I would be lying by saying that there is a HUGE difference in sound between the opamps. V6s do sound a bit better but we shouldn’t underestimate NE5532s’ performance neither. V6s have a bit more detail, more separation and maybe slightly deeper bass. Depending on your personal preferences and headphones this can be a good and a bad thing. Some listeners are suffering from audio fatigue due to too detailed music when the brain tries to concentrate to every instrument and sound at the same time. Over the time this can generate fatigue, stress and even a headache. Even at the opamps we can say ‘sometimes less can be more’.

    Going back to the sound I couldn’t hear any hissing nor noise regardless of the volume lever or the opamps I was using. DT1990 Pros aren’t the most sensitive headphones but we are still talking about headphones designed for audio engineering professionals. Burson really did a great job in terms of low noise. For example the acoustic songs sounded very natural and raw. Compared to JDS Labs Atom with Khadas Tone Board the soundstage was smaller and a bit ‘packed’ or should I say a bit more intimate. It’s like comparing the same artist playing acoustic in a big and a much smaller room. To me that’s more of a preference instead of one is always better than the other. Other than that the sound was very clean and well balanced.

    I haven’t tested all the possible opamp and filter combinations because otherwise writing this review would take months to complete. That could easily be a topic on it’s own.

    As a source I’ve used recently released Amazon Music Unlimited Ultra HD (what a name indeed) streaming service. I did play some games as well. Unfortunately, I have lost my faith in games’ audio due to quite poor sounds in general. Game studios aren’t caring that much about audio quality due to that most gamers are using onboard sound cards with very cheap headphones.

    Some of the songs I've listened during my testing sessions:





    Playmate's ESS3038 DAC can be used up to 32bit @ 384kHz natively in Windows 10 without additional drivers installed.


    I’m glad that Burson is (sadly) one of very, very few audio companies who still believes in opamp swapping. Because of that final product’s price doesn’t always have to be the very expensive one just because the company has decided to use expensive opamps. Swapping the opamps according to personal preferences without going ‘all or nothing’ can benefit both sides. More sound options depending on your own preferences and probably cheaper price meaning more sold units as not everyone can afford the most expensive models.


    It’s hard to recommend V6s for those who are just entering the party and buying their first DAC & AMP combo. My personal preference would be Playmate Basic for the starters and V6s for the dessert. I’m not sure is Burson doing this on purpose or by mistake by making Basic version this good that it makes our lives much harder recommending V6s editions over the basic ones. Either way V6s are the way to go if you are ready to pay the full price with no compromises. You would be set for years to come without any need for an upgrade. The only ‘upgrade’ I can think of would be a hunger for not any better but rather different sound.


    The Verdict

    It has been a while when I’ve reviewed Burson Play. The device which has introduced me to what is Burson capable of. To me Playmate feels like natural step into the right direction. On the one side we could think of Playmate being something Play should have been in the first place but on the other such development takes so much time, energy and investments that if you wait for too long your final product might never be released. ‘Better done than perfect’ right?


    Playmate is a very solid device especially for Basic’s price. I’m not afraid to compare it to majority of other popular audio devices. Many of them are just amps with no internal DACs. In fact, we don’t have that many DAC & AMP combos with the qualities of Playmate like 2W amp, ESS3038 DAC, swappable opamps, 5 year warranty, audio filters, USB & optical inputs and the list goes on… I can easily see some advantages in combos over DAC & AMP stacks. In combos they both are designed to work together. This means the implementation of both sides to work together on the optimal level. With separate devices you can only hope for the best especially if two devices are designed by different companies.

    If there is something, I could hope for is the casing. Personally, I think it’s a good time to move on from ‘DVD’ cases especially with the models designed with gamers in mind. Being a PC enthusiast and gamer myself I can’t remember when was the last time I saw a relatively new gaming case with the 5,25” slot. My personal preference would be black / silver coloring with a bit shorter and wider case for desktop use.

    I really wish that Burson continues to conquer the the world past Everest to the new heights. The Universe is full of names waiting to be chosen.

    And as always, I’m very curious what is Burson planning to release next. Until then all I can say is great job guys, great job indeed!:clap::beyersmile:
    deenoo, alota and Dobrescu George like this.
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