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Burson Supreme sound Dual opamp review

spirovious

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#1
Hi friends,
It has been a long time using SSP as a Preamp in my stereo setup.
http://www.hifivision.com/diy/27074-diy-super-simple-preamp.html

I used to read that changing an op-amp can improve sound quality to next step.
I read so many good things about a dedicated op-amp that it can outperform a chip based op-amp any day. So the very first name came to my mind was Burson audios Supreme sound discrete op-amps.
Burson Audio Supreme Sound Opamp

I just confirmed that I need a dual and not mono op-amp to run SSP and just managed to get it.

Packing-
It came well packed in aluminum cylinder. Shipping was in very good protective cover. Once opened, there was no sign of any damage.




Out of the box-
Before starting serious listening, it needs some burning in period. So kept it running for around 40hrs before testing it.
The very first impression before burning in was Big sound but little dry attitude. Background could have been darker to my expectations.
So no choice, but keep it running for some more hours.

Performance-
After the basic burn in time, I decided to test it with a stereo set up.

The setup used was-
Sony BDP 370 (coaxial out to DAC)
Subbu DAC V3
SSP
Rotel stereo poweramp
DAC Xtreme core speaker cables
Wharfedale 9.2 speaker.
Songs played were-
Allan Taylor - Hotels & Dreamers - 01 - Allan Taylor The Beat Hotel
Alanis Morissette- You oughta know
The Tree Of Rhythm- Tabala song
Chris Jones - No sanctuary Here
Taiwan Audio Show Demo -Musica Nuda
Rhythm and Romance- Sax-O-Loco
And few others.


So started spinning CD and up for testing.
The very first thing which strikes was Big and Bold soundstage. The difference was clear. Sound has changed positively with wider presentation. Vocals settled in the center. The sound has more punch and Rotels 70W power started to feel around 90W.This could be due to good gain by Burson opamp to Rotel. Sound was loud with mere 1/3 rd of volume control knob.
Bass was tight and punchy. Well controlled with power. There was no boominess at all or odd extension. Its has better timing too. You may not stop yourself from foot tapping.
It has open midrange. Vocals and instruments have full body. Male vocals are well rounded unlike thin character. Instrument separation was much better and has good feel. Fine details improved and background small effects can be heard easily.
Treble is crisp but not edgy. It is easy to follow and not that harsh. Guitar songs has good feel of strings.

Overall dynamics improved than earlier with good feel of power. Earlier dry sound(before burning in) changed with mere burning in time of 40 hrs. I have read in other reviews that it need around 100hrs.You need quality songs to enjoy Burson op-amps, else it will dig out the noise present in recordings.
Finally Burson opamps are certainly step up from stock op-amps which come with SSP kit.

Quick compassion with B1-
When compared with B1,we found Burson opamp has more attack and upfront sound. B1 is little laidback and relaxed with more dark background. B1 is for easy listing may be classical songs. Burson audio for party and punchy music better suited to Rock type songs.
One should note is that this op-amp is very famous with CD player mods.
Burson Audio Marantz CD72 CD player discrete Opamp upgrade with sample track
Burson Audio Naim CD5x CD Player with discrete opamp upgrade

May be in AVRs.
Burson Audio Marantz SR 8500 7.1 Channel Receiver discrete opamp upgrade by Edwin W.
http://cloudfront.bursonaudio.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/P1020429.jpg

I have tried it with my preamp. Still it did very well. Let me burn in it further to so that I can use its full merits.
Special thanks to forum members for joining this test audition.
Hope this short review helps.

Some photos to share (our R&D room ;))-








Thanks for reading,
Cheers.
 
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linuxguru

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#4
I've used my discrete opamps in CD player upgrades, like the one shown in the pic below (2x LF03d dual discrete opamp in a Marantz CD-63 CDP):



The above is a BJT-input, Class-A biased dual fully-discrete opamp in a DIP8 pinout. The topology is mine, but I have borrowed ideas (mainly the floating current-mirror in the VAS) from Scott Wurcer's AD797B monolithic single opamp.

I have also developed a JFET-input fully-discrete single opamp based on the JE990/FET990 (with some upgrades), called the LF06s which will fit in a DIP8 single-opamp socket. The topology and the parts matching is a bit more involved, but it offers lower distortion than the LF03d.

The latest one under development is the LF05c, which is a JFET-input Kaneda-topology Class-A opamp intended for upgrading SOIC8 dual opamps - it will be soldered perpendicularly to the board on the SOIC8 pads. Prototype PCBs should be here in 2 weeks, and the first prototypes should be ready for testing in about 3 weeks. Simulations indicate that it will approximately match the performance of the LF03d, but with a JFET input.

BTW, an audiophile named Adam in Poland reviewed the LF03d about a year ago, and compared it with the Burson HD (both were auditioned in a Lovely Cube headphone amp). The review is in Polish on a Polish forum, but here's a translated version using Google Translate (there's some stuff I don't fully understand, but it seems to be a glowing positive review nevertheless):

*** Begin Review ***
How is the game?
The game at the highest level, ranks in the vicinity of opamp BURSON'a, and perhaps surpasses it.
LF03d burson'a has all the advantages and eliminates the disadvantages - that improves bass.
The LF03 bass are natural, deep, multidimensional - another advantage on his side.

I should note that this op-amp playing very neutral, very retail, very quickly (in the margin I might add that the op-amp Burson likes a little podkoloryzowa?). This fact should encourage potential buyers. LF03d does not create artificial environment, nothing by himself adds, does not transform, because given what was unchanged, only be enhanced. Another plus for the op-amp'a! and for this phenomenal holography, crystal mountain, well filled and placed center. Opamp game harder mountain, which does not mean that the mountain sell out the other bands.
Op-amp'a hard overdrive, correctly up to max volume gives sound under control, I could not override his on headphones, my ears got out.
You could write long, I dare say that this is the op-amp approaching the ideal.
Great separation, no unique, ahead of even fuels burson'a. Some of the songs I met again, because I did not expect it to contain a such subtle curiosity, a very pleasant surprise.
Please note! LF03d ruthlessly exposes the imperfections of the recordings, which sometimes is an unpleasant surprise, but the more it reflects well on the op-amp'ie.

Another advantage is its size. Layout very small and quietly hide in a standing position under the housing Lovely Cube, and this is a feat, because that's where housing is very low.

So many advantages, disadvantages are?
It's hard to say defects, because their absence, but say they are micro deficiencies that may arise out of the LF03, but the structure itself Lovely Cube. It's about the upper band, in which very gently at extreme values ??can rustle. Maybe for others it will be a plus not a minus? :)

To sum up.
If I wrote that LF03d is better than Burson'a and vice versa, then I'd gradation unfair. I believe that both opampy are the same - the best league!
Personally, I recommend this op-amp, it will be well spent $ 60.

ps of 05.18.2014
However LF03 power persists Burson fuels and lands in second place.

*** End Review ***

I think that the last reference is to the power consumption - possibly higher in the LF03d as compared to the Burson. I've since reduced the power consumption a bit with some minor biasing tweaks in the present version.
 

spirovious

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#5
Thanks linuxguru for nice info.
found some here too :)-LF03 discrete opamp - diyAudio

To update,after some more time,Burson opamp improved a bit and harshness is much less.I tried it(SSP) with DCB1 and results were much better.I tried it after arcam CDp and before DCB1, results were much better than direct CDp out.
Arcam directly sounded warm,but congested.After adding Burson opamp ssp,details improved and separation ,space between instruments much better.Voices were distinct.It was not clinical sound but musical,enjoyable.
 
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spirovious

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#7
Subbu DAC - I know what is is and about the GB. My question was about how you found it. Impressions?
'V3' version is quite impressive.For the price it sounds rich and not clinical. Sound stage is far better than chip Rs.5k DAC on amazon.Compared to Xonar D2X,it has bigger soundstage and treble is smooth.Over all warm sound with good details.Some FM has compared it with Arcam CDp (worth 50k+) and found it more enjoyable.
 

spirovious

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#9
Hi friends,

After I came to know that Burson Audio has developed a new dual opamp,I was just eager to know how much can a company improve further when they have already a very good solution(V4).
Burson Audio Supreme Sound Opamp V5

I was happy with Burson audio supreme dual V4 opamp in my SSP (Super simple preamp). Still need to see if V5 can improve my SSP further as hifi journey never ends. I was waiting to check some reviews too before I think to buy new. Finally I pulled the trigger and got the lattest V5 opamp in my SSP.I would like share my views here-

The First look-


The new opamp certainly has a different look than earlier and all circuit is hidden inside the red cover. I think its a good way that you wont touch the opamp parts while swapping it. Secondly its smaller and shorter in size which is again a better move. It simply fits to opamp socket and dont need extra space around. Also height is lesser than V4. Hence it can be used in CD/DVD/Bluray players which has short height. You can just take a look the next image-
V5 vs V4




First impression-
As soon as I received a well packed V5 opamp, I placed it in my SSP and just stared playing some song. The first impression was that it sounded warm out of the box. I felt Bass was little more and fine details in the treble were very less. Even I felt soundstage was smaller than V4.But as per the golden rule in hifi, I need to some time for burn-in and then listen seriously. So kept the the opamp running for more than 10 days and then started it to compare it.

After 10 days-
By this time, V5 has improved in better way. I listened it seriously and compared with some other opamps too.

I used following setup-

DIY Subbu DAC-


DIY SSP- preamp-


Power amp- Rotel RB 890


Energy CB-5




Energy RC-50



Source player- Pioneer Bluray player
DAC- DIY Subbu DAC V3
DIY Preamp- SSP (Super Simple preamp)
Power amp- Rotel RB 890
Bookshelf speakers- Energy CB5
Tower speakers- Energy RC50
DAC Xtreme core speaker cables
ICs- VDH, DAC
Songs played-
Keith Don't Go
Alanis Morissette- You oughta know
Antonio forcione - Tears Of Joy
Dire Straits- You And Your Friend
Hotel California
Nils_Lofgren_-_Bass_&_Drum_Intro
Taufiq - The Tree of Rhythm
Bozzio cut Levin Stevens - Duende
And few others.


Listening impression-

Initially we played songs with bookshelf speakers then towers.
After burning in for few days,the magic did happen.The sound signature did change in positive way.
As I said earlier,first impression was not that great over V4 as sound was not open. Mids and vocals were recessed. After 10 days of use, mids opened far better. Infact they sound much natural. Some systems may struggle to maintain natural tonality of vocals,but bot in case of V5.
While playing Dire straits, I could easily follow his vocal texture. It sounded like typical male vocals. Not to thin or sharp.
When played You oughta know, Alanis Morissette did not sound lean or edgy.Vocals were smooth and natural in tone. One will enjoy the mids very well. Indian classical songs with vocal can be enjoyed easily.

Coming to Bass, yes there is certain improvement.Comparing to V4, Bass sounds deeper and fuller. V4 has enough Bass punch,but V5 adds extra depth.Mid bass is not bad at all.

Listening to Nils_Lofgren_-_Bass_&_Drum_Intro, one can easily feel the thump coming out of speakers easily. Bass is tight enough to express well. Drums again sounded natural and powerful.Listening to Bass guitar was a pleasure.
While listening to Taufiq - The Tree of Rhythm, Tabla had near perfect tone.Vocals in recording popped up in natural way.One can get the feel of live performance.

Treble seems to get little rolled off,but not much.If one needs to listen music for long, very high frequencies can cause ear fatigue which V5 does not. Treble is very easy on ears.Rounded treble is joy to listen. If I said, highs are rolled off,that doesnt mean that you loose much. Listening to Keith Don't Go, strings never pierce your ears.The louder note did not forced us to lower volume. Infact you can enjoy them even at higher volumes. Guitar strings have certain energy and presence. Treble is sweet in nature than V4.

Bozzio cut Levin Stevens Duende has all together, Instruments with Bass and trebles. It was joy to enjoy pure music.I did not felt any of frequencies was dominating rest of spectrum. Thats the great achievement over V4 I guess. Dynamic range is better than V4. I can hear vocals in center and overall involving sound.

After listening for few hours,I can say that Burson audio supreme dual opamp is easy on ears and pure musical toy in my ssp. It can cause addiction to all types of music.:) Audiophiles should like this op-amp for the level of performance V5 delivers.

If I want to compare with V4 opamp, I can say that V4 has marginally better and more gap between instruments in my setup. V4 also sounds more lively than V5 with some recording.But V5 has overall balanced and musical sound. Infact V4 can sound sharp with some songs, which is not with V5. You can enjoy hifi sound for longer. V5 background is also darker than V4. Better and deep bass is big plus with V5. More over V5 is near analog sounding opamp.

Comparing with other op-amps-

I have BB-OPA2134, , LM1458N, LME49990 to compare with and results are as follow.
BB-OPA2134 is a reputed budget opamp which has a warm character. When compared to Bursons V5, it sounded 2 dimensional. V5 sounded more dynamic and clear than it.Instrument separation was much better with V5. Attack was not that great with some songs with 2134.Bass was better in V5. V5 sounded spacious as deep.Though there was no fatigu, OPA-2134 did sound little digital.Not to mentioned I enjoyed V5 more than 2134.

LM1458N is just a low-fi opamp which sounded smaller in soundstage and weight. Infact it sounded open and transparent than OPA-2134, but not better than V5. Bass was much lesser than V5.Overall presentation was noway near to V5.

LME-49990 is dual mono in my setup. I must admit that it has the darkest background than any other opamp I used to compare. Even it gave better gain to my poweramp. I felt my bookshelf turned into little bigger speakers. But it failed to give natural sound. One can easily know that it has its own colored sound signature. It even struggled to get vocals in dead center. Again I preferred V5 sound as it sounded natural and balanced.

Final thought-
Overall sound from Bursons supreme dual opamp is clean,well balanced and natural to most of the recordings. It delivers smooth musical sound in my setup which I am enjoying much. Its much better than other IC-based op-amps. There is certainly more improvement over V4 as said earlier, still V4 has it own plus. I will prefer V5 in musical setups (like in CD player) and V4 in homethereater devices like AVR, Bluray players due to little more attack. I am sure that V5 will improve further with more burn-in time.Finally I congratulate Burson Audio team for developing successful new supreme opamp.

Cheers.

Other opamp pics-

BB


 
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