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Burson Soloist 3XP Review (Headphone Amp)

Rate this headphone amplifier:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 151 65.4%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 65 28.1%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther

    Votes: 5 2.2%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 10 4.3%

  • Total voters
    231

Snoopy

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In theory the PA5 as about the same power delivery as this Burson, but it was not designed for headphones. Off the bat it won't work with regular unbalanced headphone cables, you will need two negative leads.
DC offset considerations have to be checked too. All agreed that more power can be delivered with less noise and distortion, but why compare Apples and Oranges?
Or you just buy the Topping A90. Should be plenty powerful for nearly everything
 

PeteL

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Problem with power amp is that if you make a mistake and feed it too high output resulting in catastrophic power you might break a headphone. But other than that it you're careful you should be able to use a power amp for extremely needy headphones.
Yes, looks like you could damage headphones with this Burson too tough.
 

PeteL

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Or you just buy the Topping A90. Should be plenty powerful for nearly everything
Sure, I am not saying that anybody should buy the Burson. I see it as an exercise in delivering unlimited power to headphones, in the same vein as Topping is working at delivering ultra low SINAD numbers, neither are necessary but measured performance enthusiasts, not necessarily numbers that can have any benefit in use, have something to brag about in both case. Not sure which have more value, but in both case, added benefits of going to these extremes is close to null. 1.9 Watts into 300 ohm is certainly more impressive than the 196 mW in 300 ohms of the A90. Does that matter? Probably not. It would have been great if Amir had it's Stealth on hand for the A90 test, which seems to be the absolute Power torture test but Agreed that A90 will probably be OK. Wondering how Amir's driving the Stealth everyday because It seams to be the absolute best in is view and yet pretty much every amps review end with something of the sort: I was able to get decent volume but trying to push it the amp was struggling.
 

sarumbear

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You mean modifying your headphones and connect them to the speaker posts? Has it been measured in 300 ohms and such?
A power amplifier is a voltage source, it will work at any load from open to its minimum specified load, which is almost always lower than a headphone.
 

sarumbear

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Problem with power amp is that if you make a mistake and feed it too high output resulting in catastrophic power you might break a headphone. But other than that it you're careful you should be able to use a power amp for extremely needy headphones.
Correct but a 5W headphone amplifier will do the same easily.
 

PeteL

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A power amplifier is a voltage source, it will work at any load from open to its minimum specified load, which is almost always lower than a headphone.
Sure, but based on that, the PA5 would deliver 12W into 32 Ohms, and 1.28W into 300 ohms. The Burson delivers 5.3W into 32 Ohms and 2.3 W into 300 ohms. Doesn't that tells you that one of the two is optimized with headphones in mind? (not that 1.26W is insufficient of course, but they don't have the same design goal is the point.). Bottom line, if Topping wanted the PA5 to be driving headphones, they would have equipped it with a jack.
 
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Wegi76

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Note the 4 pin XLR does not have a ground so use pin 1 from one of the XLR-3 pin connectors.
within +/-10mV is good enough when fully warmed up b.t.w. no need to adjust it within a few mV.
Just to confirm if I understood you correctly:

I have a XLR -> 2x 3,5mm jack headphone cable and the correct way to setup the measurement is to connect the black measurement cable of my multimeter to pin1 of a random 3-pin XLR Out on the back and to attach the other cable to the tips (L+/R+) and to the sleeves of the 3,5mm jacks (L-/R-) on the headphhone cable. Then I find the correct pot and bring it as close to 0 as possible. Correct?

edit...

So... I did that. Results:

L+30mV (sleeve left channel on the hp cable)
L--36 mV (tip left channel on the hp cable)
R+14mV (sleeve right channel on the hp cable)
R--15mV (tip right channel on the hp cable)
I was surprised that the L/R+ channels are actually connected to the sleeve of the 3,5mm jacks. Measurements were "open case". They will drift further apart, once the case is closed and more heat is involved.

These are the best case results when I turned the pots all the way in one direction until it "clicked" as you forecasted correctly.

@solderdude You have been a great help to me. MANY, MANY THANKS! :)
 
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sarumbear

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Sure, but based on that, the PA5 would deliver 12W into 32 Ohms, and 1.28W into 300 ohms. The Burson delivers 5.3W into 32 Ohms and 2.3 W into 300 ohms. Doesn't that tells you that one of the two is optimized with headphones in mind? (not that 1.26W is insufficient of course, but they don't have the same design goal is the point.). Bottom line, if Topping wanted the PA5 to be driving headphones, they would have equipped it with a jack.
No. It tells me that they have overdone the specs! Which headphone will need more than 26V to operate, can you enlighten me?
 

PeteL

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No. It tells me that they have overdone the specs! Which headphone will need more than 26V to operate, can you enlighten me?
I don't know, but anyway, There is enough options out there to not have to cut out the plugs of your headphones. You are allowed to use a power amp for your headphones, I wouldn't want that personally. The PA5 don't even have a gain switch, I don't get that you don't feel that they are not designed with the same use case in mind.
 
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FeddyLost

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If all these issues with gains and different distortion levels are not mentioned in user manual, this unit is effectively broken.
I can't imagine any typical user that will not put line-level signal from DAC/CDP into headamp. So, typical signal at balanced input will be high as good as resulting distortion...
 

PeteL

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If all these issues with gains and different distortion levels are not mentioned in user manual, this unit is effectively broken.
I can't imagine any typical user that will not put line-level signal from DAC/CDP into headamp. So, typical signal at balanced input will be high as good as resulting distortion...
But Amir did not hear distortion. And he demonstrated before that he is quite sensitive in that regard, passing listening tests. What would make it broken if distortion is not audible by humans?
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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May I ask what tool is showing you that chart?

Thank you.
Sure. Website is called similarweb.com. unfortunately you need an account now to create that kind of comparison graph. You used to be able to do so without one.
 

FeddyLost

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What would make it broken if distortion is not audible by humans?
IMO distortion that is not very obvious is a "colouration" for sound.
And IMO it shall be at least constant with different possible use cases. Otherwise customer will have non-stable sound signature with different partnering equipment.
Maybe this is nice for some audiophiles, who like tinkering "complemental" gear and swap it back and forth, but personally i prefer less supsceptible equipment, or at least good extensive manual with recommendations of setup. Especially for such a price.
It's like having a TV that will add slight colour shift to all material depending on source. It's funny, but weird.
 

solderdude

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I was surprised that the L/R+ channels are actually connected to the sleeve of the 3,5mm jacks. Measurements were "open case". They will drift further apart, once the case is closed and more heat is involved.

For XLR-4 pin the proper connection is
pin1 = L+
pin2 = L-
pin3 = R+
pin4 = R-

One would expect pin1 to be connected to tip L and pin2 to be connected to sleeve L and pin3 to be connected to tip R and pin4to be connected to sleeve R
When this is reversed the headphone could be (depending on which headphone it is) in reverse polarity. (there is a thread about this) but for the HE400SE such a reversed cable connection would actually work to get that headphone in the correct phase.

For balanced you thus have 66mV on L and 30mV on R.
A bit on the high side but somewhat acceptable.

When connections aren't as shown above you could re-wire the 4-pin cable connector if you wanted.
 
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AudioSceptic

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Problem with power amp is that if you make a mistake and feed it too high output resulting in catastrophic power you might break a headphone. But other than that it you're careful you should be able to use a power amp for extremely needy headphones.
IIRC in the 70s the Wharfedale Orthodynamic were so inefficient that it was *recommended* that you connect them to the speaker outputs of an amp (most amps then had built-in headphone outputs and dedicated headphone amps were rare). I can't think of any others where that was the case.
 

sarumbear

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Sure. Website is called similarweb.com. unfortunately you need an account now to create that kind of comparison graph. You used to be able to do so without one.
Thank you.
 

sarumbear

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IIRC in the 70s the Wharfedale Orthodynamic were so inefficient that it was *recommended* that you connect them to the speaker outputs of an amp (most amps then had built-in headphone outputs and dedicated headphone amps were rare). I can't think of any others where that was the case.
If you live long enough, you won’t be shocked at odd suggestions :)

A headphone amp is a low power, power amp. If your headphones are inefficient it is logical to buy a good quality power amplifier and make a cable instead of buying a powerful headphone amplifier with bad specs.

Living with adapters or custom cables is part of being an audiophile.
 
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PeteL

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IMO distortion that is not very obvious is a "colouration" for sound.
And IMO it shall be at least constant with different possible use cases. Otherwise customer will have non-stable sound signature with different partnering equipment.
Maybe this is nice for some audiophiles, who like tinkering "complemental" gear and swap it back and forth, but personally i prefer less supsceptible equipment, or at least good extensive manual with recommendations of setup. Especially for such a price.
It's like having a TV that will add slight colour shift to all material depending on source. It's funny, but weird.
Most TVs do that tough except professional monitors and people seems not as critical.
 
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