Roughly two months ago I auditioned the Burson HA-160 amplifier from Audio Basic and was very impressed with the sound. It has such an Impact and PRaT that I seem to not get from the Beta22. It is dynamic, lively, punchy, and overall I would describe it as a very energetic amp. In terms of clarity, detail, extension, and soundstage, the Burson has it all. I thought that for the price that it was selling for, the HA-160 is quite undervalued as it would easily compete with $1,000 amplifiers.
A few days after the audition, I wrote a short impression of the amplifier, along with the CEC HD53N and the Lehmann Black Cube Linear review. While the HD53N and the Lehmann articles are already online, I never did publish the Burson article. I knew that the Burson’s sound is perfect for me, and eventually I will go and buy one. Then I can write a proper review of the amplifier.
That day has finally come. I’ve been listening to the amplifier throughout the entire afternoon with the Sennheiser HD800 and the Beyerdynamic T1. Just the way I remembered the sound to be. I think the Burson is a proper amp for people looking for impact, PRaT, and aggressiveness. It has the energy and the grunt needed for Hard Rock (and perhaps others like Rap and Electronica). It’s also awesome for Clasical music, as Symphonies need a lot of energy and impact to make the music alive.
The Burson is a Class A, all discrete amplifier with an output of 800mW at 60 Ohms. It is able to power all my big full size cans including the Sennheiser HD800, Beyerdynamic T1, and Hifiman HE5LE. You can even plug two at the same time and never feel the power to drop.
Burson recommended 200 hours of burn-in time for the amplifier, although I think it’s already great sounding out of the box.
Along with the amplifier also come some Burson attenuators and Burson HD Op-amps. The attenuator is big and uses metal film resistors, instead of the SMD resistors on the DACT CT-2 attenuator. How I can use a stereo attenuator that only comes with three pins is still a mystery to me, as it doesn’t seem to follow the conventional method of using 6-pins. But the Burson attenuator feels great as the same unit is used on the HA-160 amplifier.
The Burson requires more force to turn when compared to the DACT CT-2, but with big volume knobs like the one on the HA-160, overall the feel is perfect. In comparison, the DACT CT-2 has a little play between clicks, and is less precise than the Burson attenuator.
I’ve also been playing around with installing the Burson HD op-amps on the Audiotrak ImAmp, and the sound is clearly superior than all the previous chip op-amps I’ve been using on it.
For now, I’m just going to show some pictures: