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Burson FUN Headphone Amp Review

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Burson FUN PC-100 headphone amplifier. It is on kind loan from a member. I believe the sample I have has the standard op-amps in it which then costs US $199.

Unique with Burson amplifier products is the standard PC desktop drive form factor allowing it to go into a tower PC:

Burson FUN PC-100 Headphone Amplifier PC Audio Review.jpg

The volume control feels good but he metal knob is slipper relative to the torque it takes to rotate it. I only tested it using the 1/4 inch headphone jack.

The unit can be powered with the no-name external laptop sized power supply or 12 volt PC drive power:

Burson FUN PC-100 Headphone Amplifier PC back panel inputs Audio Review.jpg

The industrial power switch is a touch touch. Usually these are used for mains disconnect and such.

In use, the FUN stayed quite cool despite using discrete class-A amplification architecture.

Headphone Amplifier Audio Measurements
As usual, we test headphone amplifiers by feeding the same voltage in and out to see what they do to the 1 kHz tone:

Burson FUN PC-100 Headphone Amplifier PC Audio Measurements.png


This is pretty good. Distortion is less than -115 dB which means it is absolutely not detectable with anyone's ear. Some amount of inevitable noise causes SINAD which combines noise and distortion to come down to 105 dB. A few years ago, this would have been great but we are now spoiled with a sea of state-of-the-art amplifiers which outrank the FUN:

best headphone amplifier 2020 review.png


Frequency response is good as a practical matter but has less bandwidth than what we are used to:
Burson FUN PC-100 Headphone Amplifier PC Frequency Response Audio Measurements.png


Signal to noise ratio at 2 volt output is very good:

Burson FUN PC-100 Headphone Amplifier PC SNR Audio Measurements.png


But not when we lower the output to 50 millivolts:
most quiet headphone amplifier hiss tested review.png


So careful with sensitive IEMs and headphones. Depending on playback level, you may hear some hiss.

Most important measurement is power versus distortion and noise. Let's start with common 300 ohm load:

Burson FUN PC-100 Headphone Amplifier PC Power into 300 ohm load Audio Measurements.png


I am impressed with the low level noise but then distortion sets in at 2 milliwatts and rises enough to not be competitive with best headphone amps. However, there is ample power which should make up for that, easily beating my standard of 100 milliwatts.

Switching to 33 ohm load shows problems with current delivery:
Burson FUN PC-100 Headphone Amplifier PC Power into 33 ohm load Audio Measurements.png


This is strange as the marketing material keeps talking about current delivery capability. Somewhat higher output impedance is partially responsible here:
lowest impedance headphone amplifier PC review.png


Throughout the measurements, I could see the nice channel matching and this was proven in measurements:
Burson FUN PC-100 Headphone Amplifier PC Channel Balance Audio Measurements.png


How typical this is, I don't know.

Headphone Listening Tests
As usual I start with my headphone amp killer, the 25 ohm Ether CX. Turning up the volume to max causes clear distortion. Admittedly the level was high but still, my Topping DX3 Pro had no problem driving them to the same loudness with no distortion.

The FUN brings what is in its name with both Sennheiser HD-650 and Hifiman HE400 headphones. You literally enjoy a subwoofer in your ear bringing joy and shortened hearing with it. :) The bass is thundering as is detail and resolution. Not much more to ask for really especially with the Sennheiser.

Conclusions
Companies still want to differentiate themselves with discrete designs and such when it comes to amplifier. I am relieved that the Burson version performs rather wall. Actually it works quite well with high impedance headphones. And if you have a desktop PC and want to stuff this in a case, there is no other option this good.

So overall, I am going to put the Burson FUN on my recommended list.

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

You see that little chip on the panther's ear? He wants that repaired. I don't know what it costs but it is likely to be expensive. So would you please help me out by donating what you can using : https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
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Jimster480

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#2
Interesting performance! I was honestly not expecting it to be this good.
As far as the OpAmps.... check on the box. I am not sure if it is really using the "standard" or the "upgraded" ones. I don't remember which one is in it.

I am glad though that my personal assessment matches with the measurements... at higher volumes there was definitely audible distortion and for that reason I thought the overall SINAD would be lower.
The thing was even worse with my 1More Triple Driver IEM's as things really sounded muddy there... however it sounded fine with my Oppo PM-2.

I really appreciate you reviewing this! Good to see products from everywhere on the charts these days.
 

LTig

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#4
Most important measurement is power versus distortion and noise. Let's start with common 300 ohm load:

View attachment 59979

I am impressed with the low level noise but then distortion sets in at 2 millivolts and rises enough to not be competitive with best headphone amps.
Just nitpicking: 2 milliwatts
 

wwenze

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#6
I was expecting worse when I saw "Burson" in the name. Turns out it is adequately designed.

As opposed to "the other brand that is also famous for their discrete op amp in a similar form-factor"
 

bunkbail

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#7
As opposed to "the other brand that is also famous for their discrete op amp in a similar form-factor"
I mean, you can still do op-amp rolling with the FUN amplifier. I own one and I hear clear differences in sound quality with Sparkos discreet op-amps in them as opposed to the stock NE5534. Could be that my mind is just playing tricks with me and I have no way to prove otherwise since I don't own a second unit to do blind tests with.
 

wwenze

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#9
I mean, you can still do op-amp rolling with the FUN amplifier. I own one and I hear clear differences in sound quality with Sparkos discreet op-amps in them as opposed to the stock NE5534. Could be that my mind is just playing tricks with me and I have no way to prove otherwise since I don't own a second unit to do blind tests with.
I would measure just to see if the swap hasn't worsen anything yet. Sometimes it worsens noise if the rest of the circuit was built just for the old op-amp. Some op-amps are more susceptible to noise than others.
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...pecially-of-the-lm4562-lme497x0-family.10687/

Or sometimes people just don't read the manual, like using OPA637 (stable in Gain ≥ 5) in a circuit with a gain of 1 :oops:

Same goes for bypassing op-amps that purists like to do. Less stuff more pure, right. Pure until I only got 90dB worth of SNR left when I learnt how to measure it.
 
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#10
I mean, you can still do op-amp rolling with the FUN amplifier. I own one and I hear clear differences in sound quality with Sparkos discreet op-amps in them as opposed to the stock NE5534. Could be that my mind is just playing tricks with me and I have no way to prove otherwise since I don't own a second unit to do blind tests with.
I can hear a clear difference between both my silver and black Topping A50, one with stock buffer opamps and the other with OPA2107 buffer opamps, one plugged behind the other and switching between them. I guess the difference doesn't come from the different color of the case :cool: so it must be opamps?
 

wwenze

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#11
I actually like products like this, I mean which other amplifier can you slot into your PC case? Pretty cool in my opinion :).
I'm highly impressed by that. Power supply noise is a big problem in audio. Many Realteks are rated >100dB SNR (ALC1220 is 120dB :eek:) but rarely come close in practice. Plus you get a ground loop via the signal cable ground plus the ATX PSU's ground.

Makes me wonder by how much the performance would degrade when computer-powered. But they included that option means they are confident. (I tried DIYing a computer-powered headphone amp and it failed terribly. Speaker amps seem cool with computer power tho.)
 

Tks

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#12
Mic I/O ? Is that some sort of weird pass-through or? How's this supposed to work.
 

MZKM

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Jimbob54

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Interesting performance! I was honestly not expecting it to be this good.
As far as the OpAmps.... check on the box. I am not sure if it is really using the "standard" or the "upgraded" ones. I don't remember which one is in it.

I am glad though that my personal assessment matches with the measurements... at higher volumes there was definitely audible distortion and for that reason I thought the overall SINAD would be lower.
The thing was even worse with my 1More Triple Driver IEM's as things really sounded muddy there... however it sounded fine with my Oppo PM-2.

I really appreciate you reviewing this! Good to see products from everywhere on the charts these days.
I got mine with the Classic opamps, think there is a Vivid also upgraded (red and orange IIRC). I got the Classic- be intrigued if the extra $50 or so buys better or worse measurements. Think we all have a suspicion what the results would be. If you open the lid you wont miss which ones they are.

In my defence , I bought before joining ASR so believed the fluff. However, now realise whilst "better" opamps may well change the sound, they probably dont make it measure better (not opening the worm can as to whether measure better equals sound better)
 

Matias

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#16
What opamps were used? This is the selling point of the Fun.
 

Veri

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#18
What opamps were used? This is the selling point of the Fun.
stock, looks like.

I can hear a clear difference between both my silver and black Topping A50
Well~ A-B testing is quite difficult so it is pretty simple to convince yourself of differences. Objective differences tend to be minute:




Also, swapping op-amps in an amplifier circuit can easily make things unstable... AD797 are known to oscillate quite easily. Without an oscilloscope or measurement instrument you're basically listening to a malfunctioning amp. Does it change the sound? maybe, yes. Are you listening to a broken device? also yes.
 
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617

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#20
Might be nice to see if use in a pc case degrades performance. Also, how is that supposed to work? You route rca from an internal DAC to the unit on the inside of a PC?
 
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