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Burson Soloist 3XP Review (Headphone Amp)

Rate this headphone amplifier:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 150 65.5%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 65 28.4%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther

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

    Votes: 9 3.9%

  • Total voters
    229

Garrincha

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What do you mean by "The subjectivists won't like it?" I genuinely don't know what you're referencing there.
Many subjectivist revel about this headphone amplifier and hold it in high esteem. It is powerful yes, but of very questionable engineering, with a lot of distortion, which may not yet be audible, but is too high to be cool. Adding channel imbalances, they will not like to hear that about their darling. But on the other hand, they don't care about measurements anyway, so maybe they will like it!
 
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amirm

amirm

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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.
That's because in everyday use, I don't crank up the volume. I need my hearing for at least a few more years. :) The RME ADI-2 DAC I use to drive will get it loud but runs out of steam at the limit. Topping A90 is able to drive with just a bit of headroom left (for max tolerable volume).
 
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amirm

amirm

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But Amir did not hear distortion.
I had no frame of reference to detect small levels of distortions as I do in AB tests. Here, I only listen for gross distortion which I did not hear. Such distortion sets in very early in tube amps but here, it is far enough up the power level which I did not dare to go.
 

edahl

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Many subjectivist revel about this headphone amplifier and hold it in high esteem. It is powerful yes, but of very questionable engineering, with a lot of distortion, which may not yet be audible, but is too high to be cool. Adding channel imbalances, they will not like to hear that about their darling. But on the other hand, they don't care about measurements anyway, so maybe they will like it!
Can confirm, this is a subjectivist darling of the kind they get quite defensive about
 

Wegi76

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Yes. You can't change the gain setting either (stuck in high).

Cannot confirm that btw, Amir... I can set low and medium also in bypass mode here.

As a benefit, the DC offset went down to -3mV and -26mV in this mode :-o So, no "plop" when connecting the headphones at all on the right earcup and just a little bit on the left channel. RMEs outputlevel @ normal listening levels is now in the -25dB area. Think this is a good compromise and I guess headphones would survive if someone cranks up the volume on the DAC.
bypass_medium.jpg
 
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PeteL

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I had no frame of reference to detect small levels of distortions as I do in AB tests. Here, I only listen for gross distortion which I did not hear. Such distortion sets in very early in tube amps but here, it is far enough up the power level which I did not dare to go.
May we translate that with let's say: "The degradation is subtle enough to not significantly impact the listening experience"? Small enough to not matter perhaps? I don't know, detecting tiny difference can be a fun hobby, but in the end it is about musical enjoyment. I would not care much about "I am able to spot differences if I AB" I would care about, this sounds off, this amp don't do justice to the mix, this sounds a bit muddy, lacks the Dynamics, I'm losing the small details and reverb tails, all that make an Hi Fidelity listening experience. And no those are not just subjective terms, there got to be an audible benefit to transparency if not we are doing this for nothing.By Benefit, I don’t mean possibly perceivable differencces, I mean it should sound better.
 
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Garrincha

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That's because in everyday use, I don't crank up the volume. I need my hearing for at least a few more years. :) The RME ADI-2 DAC I use to drive will get it loud but runs out of steam at the limit. Topping A90 is able to drive with just a bit of headroom left (for max tolerable volume).
Mabe you can get hold of a unit of the Ferrum OOR, it has 1.600 mW into 300 Ω and 8 W into 60 Ω, that should be sufficient for the Stealth and to get it loud. Would also very much like to see a review of it!
 

solderdude

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When we consider distortion of -60dB (when playing at loud levels say 100dB peak) to just barely get audible and even in that case is mostly 2nd order we have reached 70mW in 300ohm and 600mW in 32ohm at medium gain (intended for normal over-ear headphones) and would be already well above the 110dB SPL peaks.
I consider this inaudible in practice when playing music.
For insensitive planars used in high gain we can go up to 5W in 32ohm and 2W in 300ohm.

At comfortable loud listening levels distortion even remains below -70dB. When using by pass mode distortion even remains below -100dB so not even audible when blasting music with 120dB peaks.

This is why the subjective crowd finds it to sound fine and Amir could not detect audible distortion using music. Simply because distortion levels are too low to be audible when the amp is used as intended (correct volume control range selected per headphone) while measurements may not be 'attractive' to SINAD chasers.
 
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nyxnyxnyx

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usually when I see people report amplifiers getting noisy it's usually a ground loop problem.
if you folks look back you will see he tested several OTL amplifiers which scored pretty low but he had a hard time picking the littledot mk3 from our objective marvel (at that time) JDS Atom
so I can totally understand if people use this amp and it sounds fine with their headphones.
 

PeteL

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This is why the subjective crowd finds it to sound fine and Amir could not detect audible distortion using music. Simply because distortion levels are too low to be audible when the amp is used as intended (correct volume control range selected per headphone) while measurements may not be 'attractive' to SINAD chasers.
If distortion is too low to be audible, who is the "subjective crowd"? Those who feels it sounds fine or those who would dismiss the amp for mesurments "not being attractive"?
 

solderdude

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Subjective crowd are those that couldn't care less about measurements and buy because of recommendations/auditions/reading reviews by 'noted reviewers' they trust.
 

edahl

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Subjective crowd are those that couldn't care less about measurements and buy because of recommendations/auditions/reading reviews by 'noted reviewers' they trust.
They have a tendency of not caring about measurements until somebody points out their favourite measures poorly. You'd think if they truly believed their ears were the best judge they wouldn't get so defensive, but that's neither here nor there.
 

AudioSceptic

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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.
Actually, I tend to think of a headphone amp as more like a preamp, but without multiple inputs. Wouldn't the power/voltage a preamp puts out be enough for most ear/headphones?
 

AudioSceptic

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Mabe you can get hold of a unit of the Ferrum OOR, it has 1.600 mW into 300 Ω and 8 W into 60 Ω, that should be sufficient for the Stealth and to get it loud. Would also very much like to see a review of it!
That looks very promising, but at €/$2k it had better measure close to perfection!
 

Jimbob54

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solderdude

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Wouldn't the power/voltage a preamp puts out be enough for most ear/headphones?

Most pre-amps have an R-out between 50 and 100 ohm or so.
 

Neddy

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I have used a ton of these but never seen them mate so poorly. They are flat out too loose. The pins on the supplied JRC opamps were also very flimsy (much more so than normal) making this task even more difficult.
I have a recollection of having recieved a batch of 'special' MT sockets that were garbage.
They normally have a slight funnel shape at the bottom of the 'pit', which helps guide the pins into the sockets.
But these were flat bottomed,so the pins frequently bounced out or bent over instead of sliding in.
Wonder if they used that type, or similarly have a 'bargain betty' purchasing rep to cause such poor contact/insertion.
(Insert comment about 'race to the bottom' in mfg specs/build quality here.)
I never did figure out whether it was the hideously 'el cheapie' purchasing person we had at the time, or if they were indeed made that way for some (odd) purpose.
We did spend a fair amount of time 'evaluating' 'special deals' she got on some parts, IIRC.
 

muslhead

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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.
Look no further than the Schiit Ragnarok2. An amp that can redirect all of its power to its front headphone out. No special cables, adapters and gobs of power. So it works for audiophiles and non-audiophiles alike.
 

sarumbear

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Actually, I tend to think of a headphone amp as more like a preamp, but without multiple inputs. Wouldn't the power/voltage a preamp puts out be enough for most ear/headphones?
Not enough for almost all headphones.
 

sarumbear

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Look no further than the Schiit Ragnarok2. An amp that can redirect all of its power to its front headphone out. No special cables, adapters and gobs of power. So it works for audiophiles and non-audiophiles alike.
Thank you showing proof that I wasn’t making an odd suggestion.
 
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