Burson HA-160D Loaner Program

Just out of the blue, Burson threw me an offer to do this loaner program where they would let people borrow the amplifier to listen to for a period of two weeks, in exchange for some reports on how they find the HA-160D amplifier to work with their system.

The HA-160D is an all discrete solid state DAC/Amp box that is currently serving duty as the resident reference DAC/Amp box I use to evaluate headphones. Priced at $1,250, it is an excellent one box set up that gives you reference quality sound without much hassle. Just plug your computer to the USB digital input, plug your headphones out on the front panel, and you’re on to some high quality music listening. The bass punch remains unmatched till now, and the toe-tapping factor is higher than any other amps I’ve ever auditioned. If you like to Rock, this is the box to get for your set up.

If you want to read more about the HA-160D, you can do so on the Burson HA-160D review that I published a while ago: Burson HA-160D Review. I also did a review of the Burson HA-160 (same amplifier section but without the DAC): Burson HA-160 Review (vs AMB Beta22).

The participant will get a period of two weeks before the unit will be shipped out to the next guy. All shipping costs will be reimbursed by Burson, so you only pay for the gas to drive to the postal office.

We want to get a wide variety of set ups and music preferences, so we can see what headphones & music work well with the Burson. So, we’re probably not gonna choose three participants all with the same headphone and who listens to the same band. It would also be good if you happen to have another amp that is roughly comparable to the Burson to put a context into the evaluation.

If you are interested to jump in the program, send an email to burson.loaner@headfonia.com with these information:

  • Name
  • Location (City & Country)
  • Headphone that will be used with the Burson HA-160D
  • The rest of your gears (Headphone amps, Speakers, Power Amps, DACs)
  • Bands, Music
  • Pictures of your gear (the one you have listed) as a JPEG attachment.

Final notes:

This is not meant to be an extensive review conducted by professional reviewers. We are hoping to hear from real people telling us how they feel about the HA-160D. It can be subjective and informal, which will add a degree of relevance to the audiophiles. Some may have more experience with equipment, others may have more experience in certain types of music. In the latter case he can report on the performance of the HA-160D while reproducing those music. It’s all good.

– update –
The Burson HA-160D for this loaner program have been fitted with clear tops so you can take a look of what’s inside.

 

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91 Comments

  • Reply June 22, 2011

    Anonymous

    Instead of posting here, please send me an email to burson.loaner@headfonia.com with your data so we can protect your privacy better.

    • Reply June 22, 2011

      Windsor

      Just emailed you re. this Mike. 🙂

      • Reply June 24, 2011

        Mikee528

        Email sent! Hope I get picked.

  • Reply June 22, 2011

    Dende12

    Do you have to live in the US or is it possible to participate when you live in Europe (Germany) too? I’d love to hear the Burson with my HD 800 and LCD-2 but I could not find any possibility in Germany or even Europe.

    • Reply June 22, 2011

      Anonymous

      I think it’s open worldwide.

  • Reply June 22, 2011

    Charlo89

    Hello,
    I’m really interested in this program because I hesitate to buy this amp.
    I test it with my hifiman HE5-LE for the amp section.
    And the DAC on my Stax O2

    My complete equipment:
    Speaker: focal v716integrate amp: harman kardon hk 3390DAC: amb gamma 2Amp: AMB m3Headphone: hifiman he5-le, Stax O2, audio technica es10, audio technica esw9Electrostatic amp stax srm-252SI live in France, and I could not do the review in English, but only for the French. If I’ll remove to the program because it is complicated to send the amp in France, I understand perfectly 🙂

    • Reply June 23, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Charles,
      Please send an email instead of posting here, thanks.

  • Reply June 22, 2011

    Lieven V

    Email sent!

  • Reply June 23, 2011

    Donunus

    Email sent

  • Reply June 23, 2011

    Anonymous

    Thanks for the emails that has been sent. We are still keeping the application process open, and in the mean time we will start reviewing the applications and notifying the people who we decide to be eligible for the program. So it’s going to be a rolling thing.

  • Reply June 23, 2011

    Anonymous

    Sorry, I think I also need your Location. Country and City. Thanks.

  • Reply June 23, 2011

    Joe

    Hi Mike, email sent. Good luck to me. 🙂

  • Reply June 23, 2011

    Joe

    Hi Mike, email sent. Good luck to me. 🙂

    • Reply June 24, 2011

      Anonymous

      Thanks, Joe.

  • Email sent! 

  • Reply June 24, 2011

    Jacob

    “If you are interested to jump in the program, please make a post here detailing your current set up and your music preferences.”

    I won’t be selected but I’ll try anyway. 

    HRT Music Streamer II -> Matrix M-stage -> Sennheiser HD 650

    Rock/Electronic/Soundtracks

    Will send e-mail.

    • Reply June 25, 2011

      Anonymous

      Thanks for pointing that out. Edited the paragraph to avoid confusion.
       

  • Reply June 24, 2011

    P. J.

    I have applied as well
    Thanks

    • Reply June 25, 2011

      Anonymous

      Thanks, P. J.

  • Reply June 25, 2011

    Anonymous

    Thanks for the emails guys. The registration is still open.

  • Reply June 25, 2011

    eugenius

    Make it a  true preamp with analogue inputs, remote control and finer low level volume control (more steps on the attenuator), add 24/192 driverless usb  … and I’ll buy one.

    As it is now it’s not worth the extra money over the HA160.

    • Reply July 5, 2011

      Robert

      Email them and let them know..it is a nice idea. 

      • Reply July 6, 2011

        Anonymous

        Indeed. I will forward it to Burson.

  • Reply June 25, 2011

    Kelvin Ang

    Interesting! So…3 global winners only? I don’t think that’ll be enough to gather enough field reports, though. 😛

    (Drafting my own email right away)

    • Reply June 28, 2011

      Anonymous

      What? I don’t think the participants is limited to three.

      • Reply June 28, 2011

        Kelvin Ang

        Oh…misunderstood the sentence “So, we’re probably not gonna choose three participants all
        with the same headphone and who listens to the same band”.

        When will we know if we’re chosen?

        • Reply June 29, 2011

          Anonymous

          Hi Kelvin,
          We were still taking in applications, but this weekend we’ll start shortlisting them.

          Thanks for your patience.

  • Reply June 26, 2011

    Haja Randrianarison

    Just sent my mail 🙂 Should be a great match for my 1964-Q 🙂

    • Reply June 28, 2011

      Anonymous

      Nice. 🙂

  • Reply June 28, 2011

    Mikael

    I sent my mail a few days ago. /Mikael

  • Reply June 29, 2011

    Rajiv Murthy

    Email sent, but it bounced back.

  • Reply July 5, 2011

    Anonymous

    We hope to start with these two participants.  We’ll send them a unit each within one week.  

    1. Don Vittorio Sierra.  

    2. Lieven Vranken (with the hope that he will
    audition it with his friends Audez’e: LCD-2, Hifiman: HE-500, Denon:
    AH-D7000, Sony: MDR-Z1000, Ultrasone: Edition 8 LE (#081), Grado: HF-2
    (#1111), Beyerdynamic DT 770, AKG K240S

    Sennheiser HD)

    • Reply July 13, 2011

      Donunus

      I replied to your email just now 🙂

    • Reply July 23, 2011

      Donunus

      I got the Burson yesterday by the way and listened all afternoon and night.

      I’m trying the burson ha-160D right now with the hd600 and let’s just say that I don’t miss any of the smoothness that the hd650 gives me anymore when both are powered with the FiiO e7/e9 combo. The hd600 seems to just have been giving me what the e7/e9 was spitting out when I thought it was a little bright with remastered CDs. With the Burson, all my music is listenable again using the hd600s. The HD650 actually needs the extra zip of the e7/e9 for them to match with my taste because they get too smooth sounding for me with the Burson. I did get a new appreciation for the value of the e7/e9 combo after listening to the Burson though since the e9 punches as hard and snap the snares even harder (due to their inherent brightness). Listening to the mids of the hd600s through the Burson though makes switching to the e7/e9 is a little bit of a painful experience  🙂 The temptations of upgrading! My wallet doesn’t like it one bit.

      • Reply July 23, 2011

        Anonymous

        The E7/E9 is so in trouble it seems… LOL. 

        So I take it that the HD600 pairs very well with the Burson while the HD650 is not as much? I suppose the HD600 just gives a better pace and speed? 

        • Reply July 23, 2011

          Donunus

          Its a personal taste thing. The Burson is not slow, it’s a little rich in the midbass which just makes the bassy hd650 a little too rich for my taste. The hd650s relaxed lower treble also match/contrast well with the zippy low treble of the e9. The Burson is much cleaner sounding than the e7/e9 and doesn’t have a problem with the low treble. The e7/e9 is in trouble hehehe, no… I am in trouble!

          • Reply July 23, 2011

            Anonymous

            I think everything you said totally mimics my impression. I too prefer the HD600 on the Burson. 

            I do love how the Burson presents details without trying too hard to push it out.

        • Reply July 23, 2011

          Donunus

          The hd600s relative neutrality vs the 650 like the Bursons lack of brightness in the sound. If I were to nitpick though, I would still want less warmth and a longer more tubelike decay for my hd600s though. 

  • Reply July 7, 2011

    paconavarro

    Too bad I dont have that much equipment to evaluate this amp… 🙁

  • Reply July 7, 2011

    P. J.

    Gratz to Don Vittorio and Lieven. Hopefully I get in too. Have been accepted for HE-500 loaner too but I guess its too much to hope I get both at the same time if I do get the loaner amp.

    • Reply July 8, 2011

      Anonymous

      Well, you did submit an email right? I don’t think it’s too much to hope. 🙂

      • Reply July 9, 2011

        P. J.

        I have submitted it, yes. 🙂

  • Reply July 9, 2011

    Kelvin Ang

    Congrats to Don Vittorio and Lieven too! Any hint as to when we’ll get wind of the next round of results? Hope I’ll get it too. 😛

    • Reply July 11, 2011

      Anonymous

      Not so sure when the next results will be on. Will update it here when
      the results are in?

  • Reply July 19, 2011

    Windsor

    The glass-top HA-160D sure looks interesting. 🙂

  • Reply July 22, 2011

    Lieven V

    Guess what…
     

    • Reply July 23, 2011

      Anonymous

      NICE!!

      Let’s hear some impressions when you’re ready!

  • Reply July 24, 2011

    Donunus

    By the way, I am also going to be making the Burson go head to head with an adcom preamp when used as a preamp for a system consisting of magnepan MMGs driven by an adcom power amp. I will also compare the Bursons dac with the pioneer Elite CD player being used on that system. I will do that this tuesday when my friend with the system has the free time to spend a day doing this 🙂 Both of us will take notes of our observations to make sure that some of the differences aren’t just imagined

    • Reply July 26, 2011

      Donunus

      Update on the Burson… My friend and I just tested it with the magnepan system and replaced the adcom preamp with it. What can I say? This is a serious preamp! It slaughters the adcom preamp across the board. There is no contest at all whatsoever. The ha-160D just sounds like a high end piece of equipment where all the music feels like it is alive with more punch, less congestion, more coherence, more accuracy, and more realism. It makes the adcom preamp sound thin, lacking in dynamics and slightly nasal.  The magnepan mmgs sounded spooky in its portrayal of instruments with the burson as a dac/preamp in the chain. Pianos weren’t hollow anymore, voices were bold and natural and bigger than life on the maggies, It was unbelievable how an all in one device like the burson can slaughter a dedicated preamp from a well known manufacturer like adcom.

      We also found my friends hd595 just lying around and put them in the low gain jack and lo and behold… The best sound I have ever heard out of hd595s ever! HD595s have always annoyed me with some part of the upper midrange feeling very congested and grating. With the burson, the 595s were balanced like I’ve never heard them before. WOW! I then tried the 595s out of the high gain jack and said What? wheres the beautiful sound? It sounds too forward now, grating, and less coherent. I think I just found the reason why I felt my hd600s weren’t anything special on the Burson’s. I don’t like the sound of the High Gain Jack! 

      I’ll try the 600s again but this time on the low gain jack. It is either that or the fact that I was using usb instead of coax with my earlier impressions. With the magnepans and the hd595s, I was using the coaxial digital input since we were playing CDs on a CD player instead of files on the computer. 

      I’ll pinpoint whether the usb vs coax makes a huge difference and compare the low vs high gain jack on the hd600s later tonight.

      • Reply July 26, 2011

        Anonymous

        Thanks Donunus,
        That sounds like a very solid impression indeed. I think the mids of the
        Burson and the punchy bass really complements the signature of the
        Magnepan very well.

        • Reply July 26, 2011

          Donunus

          even with the hd600s now that I’ve learned to use the low gain plug is awesome!!! There are a few recordings like Clair Marlo’s  “Let It Go” that don’t have enough volume with the hd600 at the low gain plug though but these CDs are rare. Even the first pressing of Michael Jackson’s thriller which was pressed in the early 80s is plenty loud enough. If I had the money to buy them right now, I would instantly go for it. The internal lights of the demo unit is awesome too!

    • Reply July 26, 2011

      Anonymous

      Thanks Donunus,
      Enjoyed reading your impressions so far. Sorry I haven’t been around to
      reply to your comments.

  • Reply July 24, 2011

    Donunus

    Hi Mike, Did your ha-160D change quite a bit with burn in? I am asking this because I am not sure If it would be accurate to evaluate this amp with less than 24 hours total running time on them.

    As for now connected as a dac/amp via USB, the ha-160D to me is detailed and clean with a touch of upper bass/lower midrange bloom and lack harshness and brightness in the lower highs typical in some other desktop amps I have tried. Battery powered amps seem to be better than desktop amps a lot of the time Ive noticed when it comes to the lower highs I’m not sure why that is. Bass slam and impact is of course typically better on the desktop amps. 

    The burson portrays the sound in a slightly forward fashion with nicely present mids and have good transient response and a realistic portrayal of instrumental timbre. The only thing so far that I can complain about is the lack of the fun factor I am used to in my inexpensive fiio e7/e9 combo during snare drum attacks. The fiio might be more unnaturally bright in this area making them snappier than real but it is a good thing for headphones with a softer than real sound like the senns that I’m using (HD600, HD650). I feel them to be a better match with the hd600 though than they are the hd650. 

    I can recommend this amp to people into a composed sound with good control and balance without any extra glare in the highs. Don’t get me wrong, the highs are extended but never shrill. Shrillness is more of a fuction of lower treble brightness than top end extension. Although the sound is warm, I can’t call it tubelike because the attack is faster and the decay is shorter than what we would expect typical in tubes. I myself would wan’t a longer decay for the semi-dry sounding senns but this is more nitpicking about synergy and taste than talking about the quality of this grainless sounding amp.

    • Reply July 24, 2011

      Donunus

      Funny thing though is that after listening all day, the sound signature here gets addictive and going back to the e9 becomes evil. 

      Also, the crossfeed (headfit) i’m using although subtle in its added coloration does add unwanted upper mids to the mix which work for the e9 but isn’t welcome when listening to the ha-160D. Listening to a pure signal using foobar/asio4all is addictive on the Burson.

    • Reply July 25, 2011

      Donunus

      And I also realized that the Burson isn’t really less bright than the fiios if you count the entire spectrum in the balance. The Fiio’s mids are just more recessed compared to the rest of the spectrum. I tend to turn up the volume on them more because of the recessed mids. 

      The Burson is far more balanced resulting in the better mids. I should get another higher end amp here to compare with them though because this comparison is very predictable since were comparing two products in totally different price ranges LOL

      • Reply July 26, 2011

        Anonymous

        Don,
        Another x2 on everything you said above.

        • Reply July 26, 2011

          Donunus

          I’d like to add that this comment was made while listening to both in high gain. When Both amps are at low gain, the differences in their tonality gets smaller meaning they are both approaching neutrality more IMO. The Burson is still smoother and more 3D against the FiiO which is more sterile and lifeless in direct comparison. The FiiO is a really good amp for the price though when you consider the power and decently neutral tonality but competition against the Burson? NOT! I just wished I used the low gain jack in the first place and I wouldn’t have gotten annoyed by the aggressive mids of the high gain jack.

          • Reply July 27, 2011

            Anonymous

            Yes the high gain is always more aggressive, and I find that to be the
            case on almost every amp. Sometimes it’s nice though.

    • Reply July 26, 2011

      Anonymous

      Don,
      I think the burn-in was very slight to perhaps almost non-existant.

      As I read through your impressions I was like “x2 to every word he
      said”. The tonality, the forward sound, the transients, the timbre, the
      comment on the snare drum (likewise I think your comment on the Fiio is
      spot on), and also the synergy with the HD600. The stuff you said on the
      last paragraph was also quite spot on, except that I think the Burson
      does have a little bit of grain.

      • Reply July 26, 2011

        Donunus

        Yes I found it had some grain later on especially when I discovered that the low gain was much cleaner sounding. If I had another high end amp to compare, I might have heard the fine grain sooner. Still it doesn’t bother me at all when listening to the Low gain jack. The music is flowing and I am just having a good time with it now.

  • Reply July 26, 2011

    Donunus

    Last thing I wan’t to add here is the value of this product. It may be expensive for people just starting out in the hobby looking for a headphone amp but if you think about it, It is hard to find very nice preamps for under $1000. If one has a speaker based audio system, the great preamp is already worth at least that much plus the DAC and Headphone amp functions also being top notch makes this a product I can Highly Recommend! 

    • Reply July 27, 2011

      Anonymous

      Precisely.
      It may look like a big figure at first — but when you count in the cost
      of a decent amp, a decent DAC, and a decent pre-amp, you’ll probably be
      spending at roughly the ~$1,500 figure (assuming $500 for each box).

  • Reply July 27, 2011

    Donunus

    I posted a sort of mini compilation of my impressions here on headfi. Here is the link… 
    http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/564443/burson-ha-160d-impressions-from-the-burson-loaner-program-at-headfonia#post_7635373

    I was thinking that maybe the others who get to try out the Burson could also post their comments here as well as the thread I made on headfi. Burson said it would be great if it were in headfi too so that some peoples questions about the ha-160d can be answered by all of us that have tried it.

    • Reply July 28, 2011

      Anonymous

      Thanks Donunus,
      Certainly the exposure would be greater in Head-Fi.

      • Reply July 28, 2011

        Donunus

        Thanks to you Mike for making me a part of this program! It is pure pleasure to be able to audition new equipment especially if it is as nice a unit as this Burson.

        • Reply July 28, 2011

          Anonymous

          Yep, you have to thank Burson for that though. 😉

          • Reply July 29, 2011

            Donunus

            I thanked Burson via email too 🙂

  • Reply July 29, 2011

    Lieven V

    Unpacking and first
    look

     

    A week or two ago Mike and Burson gave me the
    opportunity to test their HA-160-D unit. The amp/DAC combo was shipped to me on
    Monday and it arrived at my place, the other side of the world in only 4 days
    via TNT, tracking was always up to date.
    Burson takes care of packaging and so the unit was delivered without any
    scratches or dents, it was perfectly packed.

     

    Inside the package I found a manual and a cleaning cloth on
    top of the double packed amp (plastic bag + some soft scratch free bag for the
    unit) and 3 closed bags of cables: 1 RCA, 1 coaxial and one USB
    cable. All cables look good, the connectors are a bit cheap looking but fit
    great. Small note: The usb cable isn’t mentioned in the manual and no AC cable
    was supplied because of this being a loaner and “every” country uses different
    plugs. (pic 1 + 2)

     

    The HA-160-D is perfectly built, it looks and feels very
    solid and weighs 7kg. On the back all in- and outputs except for the coaxial
    input are protected by plastic caps. This review model has been fitted with a
    clear top and led lightning (switch on the back). Inside the board looks very
    well made and the led lightning seems like a great mod to do. (pic 3)

     

     When I unpacked the unit, the volume control was set at 10 o’clock, so I’m pretty sure this unit has
    been burned in to sound top from the beginning.

     

    General impressions/notes

     

    The HA-160-D has one transformer to
    power the DAC, while the other purely supplies power to the amplification
    circuitry.  “It ensures that the DAC
    stage and the headphone amp stage are working independently and at an optimum
    level, while still in complete synergy” according to Burson, and I have to
    agree on that.

     

    The volume control is reasonably heavy and it has a lot of
    steps, setting the volume just like you want is no problem at all. When
    changing the volume you can hear soft clicks, but they’re not really annoying.
    When the volume is set to zero, you can still hear the music playing very
    silently.

     

    Installing the drivers for the USB~DAC
    was no problem at all, my XP pro Dell Lattitude laptop recognized it
    immediately. When using the USB input for
    the DAC you can hear a clicking sound when switching tracks, but this isn’t the
    first DAC I have heard that does this.

     

    Having multiple RCA inputs is definitely a positive point, I
    wish more amp manufacturers did this. It takes about 20 minutes for it to sound
    at its best. The unit doesn’t really run hot, you can touch it without any
    problem after a few hours of usage, even with the see through top cover.

    The amp section (Audio
    GD NFB3 DAC)

     

    The Burson has a high gain and low gain headphone out which
    I really like. I mostly used all 300+ ohm headphones with the high gain, all
    the rest with the low gain one. I’ve especially enjoyed the Sennheiser HD650 and
    my IEMs with it. Compared to my tube amps, where my IEMs give a lot of hum (so
    I don’t use them), the low gain setting here was perfect for them.

     

    This is a very solid state sounding amplifier, it’s fast and
    it has lots power, driving 600 ohm headphones was no problem at all. I didn’t
    really expect the amp to make the 600 ohm Beyers to sound this good, but I
    really liked the sound. Focus of the amp is on the mids, mid bass is great
    (lots of punch and well rounded) but deep bass isn’t one of the Burson’s strongest
    points. Treble is good and it’s not sharp sounding at all but like I said
    before the emphasis is really on the mids and the deep bass and highs are less
    pronounced & clear.

     

    Overall impression: A good nice sounding, and powerful amp. Forward, well rounded punchy bass, very focused on the mids (great vocals)

     

    (pic 4)

    The DAC section (Lafigaro
    339 amp + Burson amp)

     

     

    First of all I strongly advise to use the coaxial input for
    the DAC in stead of the USB connection, the
    difference is very audible.

     

    The Burson DAC focuses on the mids, like the amp. Mid bass
    is strongly present and tight how I expected it to be but deep bass seems to be
    harder for the Burson. (Especially noticeable on a speaker system) Treble is
    good, but I’d like it to be a little clearer. I find the DAC section to be rather
    aggressive sounding in general. It’s very fast but controlled. The overall
    balance is good and musical separation is well defined, but I have heard better.
    It’s not as exciting/musical/ a life sounding and precise as other DACs I’ve auditioned.
    I’m missing the musicality here. The Burson HA-160-D doesn’t have an optical in
    which is surprising but then again, doesn’t everyone use a 75ohm coax nowadays?

     

    The characteristics of the DAC do well for Classical music.
    Violins sound nice and piano music is a pleasure to listen to. Same goes for
    dance music: Great speed and punchy bass. Deep bass as said before isn’t a
    strong point but its aggressive sounding here suites the dance music unless the
    recordings are sharp themselves originally. (pic 5)

     

    Overall an ok DAC, but not mind blowing, I’d like it to be
    more exciting, precise and clear and involve me more in the music. It doesn’t make me enjoy
    the music as much as I‘m used to. I don’t fully understand why the DAC doesn’t
    have the same quality as the amp (what I expected it to be). Then again for
    this price you get a good 3-in-1-box solution. For those who don’t like a
    having different components or lack the room to place them, this is a good combo
    (but I feel it could have been better)

     

    Overall impression: A forward sounding DAC that is ok overall
    but it could be improved in all sections. It’s a bit aggressive sounding to my
    taste and I miss the musicality.

     

     

    Pre Amp

     

    Using this unit as a pre amp was a joy as I was coming from
    a Mav-Audio D1 pre amp. I hardly ever use my B&W speaker system because of
    my neighbors. The same characteristics of the amp come out of course but it
    sounds genuinely good and I enjoyed it very much. There’s plenty of power
    available.

     

    Only thing I was missing was a “direct”/volume pot bypass,
    but the volume pot isn’t noisy for that matter, so it’s no big deal. (pic 6)

     

    Final Conclusion

     

    The amp section definitely has the right price/quality
    ratio. It has its own characteristics, but I enjoyed it very much and would
    seriously consider this as a SS amp.

    The DAC section unfortunately isn’t at the same level as the
    amplifier. If you don’t mind having multiple components I would recommend
    getting an external DAC or wait for the upcoming Burson DAC. I can certainly
    recommend using it as a pre amp for a speaker system. (pic 7)

     

     

     

     

     

    • Reply July 29, 2011

      Anonymous

      Thanks for the impressions Lieven.

      I think you and Donunus did a superb job on these impressions and I actually agree with a lot of things that you said. I think it’s a very good, accurate, straight honest impression.

  • Reply August 3, 2011

    Windsor

    I found out that I’ve been selected for the HA-160D loaner program – thank you, Mike and Burson!

  • Reply August 26, 2011

    mike

    Where do I post my review of the unit?

    • Reply August 27, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Mike,
      You can post it here and/or Head-Fi is fine too.

  • Reply September 18, 2011

    Kenneth

    Is the loaner program still ongoing?

    • Reply September 19, 2011

      Anonymous

      I think it is. Please submit your entry to the email address specified.

  • Reply September 21, 2011

    hifinut

    I’m a newbie here and the latest to be part
    of the loaner program. I’ve had the unit for a week now. My very first
    impression when lifting the unit out of the box was how solidly built it is. It
    is quite hefty for its size and definitely very well built. I’m very new to
    headphones but not to audio. I’ve been an audiophile for nearly 30 years (I
    started before I was a teenager), and have never owned a set of headphones until
    now. I decided to purchase a set of headphones when I found myself rarely
    turning on my system because I didin’t want to disturb my two little boys.
    Initially, I got a set of AKG 702. Unfortunately, I sold those off a day before
    I received the Burson unit. I replaced the AKG’s with a set of Audeze LCD2
    r.2. The rest of my system consist of an Accuphase E307 integrated, Accuphase
    DC61 DAC, Genesis Digitial Lens, Sony dvd player as transport, VPI Aries
    turntable, JMW tonearm, Benf Ref Silver cartridge, Ensemble Fonovivo phono
    preamp, Martin Logan Vantage speakers, PS Audio P600 power conditioner, and
    Cardas wiring through out.

    I don’t have much experience with other head
    amps, so I can only compare the Burson with the head amp section of my Accuphase
    integrated. The most impressive area of reproduction from the Burson is its
    bass. There’s extension, definition, and slam. This was apparent driving the
    LCD’s and using the unit as a dac through my main system. The unit is very
    neutral sounding and a great deal for its asking price. Without repeating
    others, I agree with all the other positive impressions of the unit that I’ve
    read on Head-fi. I do want to point three important areas that fell short of the
    Accuphase. The first is this zing in the upper mid/lower treble that accentuated
    siblance and anything else in that range. This was apparent through the LCD’s
    and through the ML Vantages. The second issue was a general flatness in the
    images. The unit presented a large soundstage, but the individual images were a
    little vague and lacking in reach-out-and-touch dimensionality. This was only
    apparent through the ML Vantages because I still find it a bit difficult to
    assess image quality through headphones. The third and most important area was a
    general lack of color. I’m not refering to bad coloration but the good kind that
    makes music involving and exciting. When I listen to a good violin recording I
    want to hear not only the sound of the strings but the reverberation of the
    wood. It’s a little lacking through the Burson.

    These are my initial observations. I will add
    to this thread when appropriate.

    • Reply September 21, 2011

      Anonymous

      Very good review there, hifinut. The bass is definitely awesome on the burson. The upper mid/lower treble, I think those may become an issue but I personally don’t feel the Burson to be too glaring on those areas. I also agree on your comments on the dimensionality and things like wood reverbs on violin playback. 

  • Reply October 25, 2011

    Mikael

    I received the 160D today, as part of the loaner program. My god is it a solid piece of gear! After a first listen with PC/FLAC/USB/160D HD650/600/Grado RS2i I do not think the sound is $700 better than iBasso PB1/DB1 or PB2/DB2. I normally use the PB2/DB1 so that’s my main comparision. Although I have never heard my recently aquired RS2i sound as good as they do from the low gain hp out of the 160D. I will post more impressions later on. In the meantime, thanks Burson and Headfonia for this opportunity 🙂

    • Reply October 28, 2011

      Mikaeljons

      Overall, the HA160D provides better and slammier bass when compared to my PB2, there’s no doubt about this 🙂
      Oh, and this is with the HD650.
      I really enjoy the HA160D. A bit disappointed that the upcoming 160DS only have one hp out, I like to be able to quickly change hp, it’s great when one has hp’s wih different impendance.

  • Reply November 17, 2011

    Alexey Belozerov

    Is program still working? Cannot send email to loader program address 🙁

    • Reply November 17, 2011

      Lieven V

      I think the program is closed by now. But you can always contact Burson.
      Have you seen our competition to win one?

      • Reply November 18, 2011

        Aceydawg

        Isn’t the competition for the amp …not the all in one 160D?

  • Reply November 21, 2011

    Haja Randrianarison

    Ok, I’ve pusblished my review in french on french forum (Master of the obvious),

    here is the text version, without photos : (yes it’s google translate, sorry guys, I’ll polish it later)

    Go a little test for TN Blog, plus it’s great stuff!Indeed, the Burson HA 160D is an amp / DAC fairly high-end design “full-discrete”, which is

    meet the challenge of a high quality preamp, a DAC of the same ilk and all for less than € 1100.

    So is it the combo DAC / Amp perfect in less than 1500 €?PresentationBurson, a brand that resonates (almost) into the unknown in France, yet it managed to Australians

    make a real place in the audio world. To tell the truth, before and Burson Headfonia contact me to test it, I had never heard myself

    speak … Shame on me!The HA-160D is a headphone amp pejorative, pejorative because its range is much wider.

    Like
    the Fiio E7, it will replace your sound card and be able to recover the
    raw signal decoding from your CD player or other devicewith a coaxial output.
    To
    satisfy the greatest number, Burson has also equipped its HA-160D to a
    multitude of audio inputs, digital as analog, two headphone outputs, a
    “HighGain “and” Low-Gain “, and even height of luxury, an output” pre-out “to enjoy only the part DAC.

    DesignUpon unpacking, we are surprised by the quality and class projects the object, it is heavy, cold, dense. It’s not size that matters, but once on a desk it seems

    win, of course, like a true piece of modern art.
    Made entirely of brushed aluminum, the 160D weighs its weight 7kg. The choice of material was done according to precise specifications, and allows this amp to be free of any

    ventilation thanks to the thermal conduction of heat is removed by lesparois aluminum. In addition, the Burson is completely insensitive to the airwaves:

    “Aluminum is fantastic.”
    The finish is excellent, no games, no trace polishing awkward. The input / output are firm and there will not be afraid of (un) plugging his helmet several thousand times.

    Top Plexiglas box, class!Burson is the top of Plexiglas, and can admire the work of craftsmanship achieved.

    The welds are perfect, and less space was used. And yet we sentque it breathes, that everything has been designed by audiophiles for audiophiles. The

    HA-160D is not unlike the Denon deck by its simplicity.I say Bravo.
    The front is the minimum volume selector (notched), 2 Jack 6.5mm, and a tiny button to select the source.

    The rear panel is him, provided enough:
    – 3x RCA-in,- 1X COAX-in,- 1X USB-in,

    – 1X pre-out.
    There are still two diodes on the Burson. A yellow indicates which source is selected, a blue and informs us that the Burson is on.

    It’s raw, no frills, solid without being brutal, yet it’s perfect.Bundle

    A word on the bundle, as Fiio, I was pleasantly surprised by the profusion of accessories

    provided.
    A coaxial cable, a USB cable, an RCA cable, a cleaning cloth ..
    Finally,
    the real question is no longer “How can they provide all this?” But
    rather, “How can you omit this kind of accessories?”It’s
    exactly this kind of attention that makes you recommend the product to
    friends for example, or we will have the impression that the
    manufacturer thinks about his future clients.USB, RCA, CoaxCharacteristicBurson has put his art in the HA-160D. The HA-160D is a pre-amp “solid-state discrete-Full,” said like that, it does not speak

    immediately, and for those who speak it, it can be a little scary.
    For solid-state, understand that the HA-160D uses only resistors and capacitors, no tube or lamp.

    Everyone has their preference, and the debate is elsewhere, each technology has its advantages.

    For full-discrete, we must oppose the said IC design. Of an amplifier IC, all of the functions is lying on a single PCB.

    On the contrary in a configuration “discrete”, use almost abusively solid components.

    Here we have a floor dedicated to the pure amplification and another floor that is part DAC.

    The DACThe
    DAC can decode effortlessly 192kHz/24bit in coaxial signal and a signal
    96kHz/24bits via USB (with a particularly low jitter).The chip used is a Burr Brown PCM1796, a chip chosen for its balance and natural. Moreover, it is the creed of this amp, the natural and transparent sound.

    Want more detail? Ok!
    – 5 fuel systems homemade, to minimize noise;


    Two transformers, one for the amplification stage and one for the DAC,
    as it not jealous and everyone can give the best of himself;
    – It is a class A amplifier, but it is mainly dedicated for use with a helmet;

    – The volume control is notched, also from solid, and has 24 notches, (in fact it is an attenuator)

    Double TransformerEven more detail?
    Specifications:
    Input impedance: 47 kOhms

    Frequency Response: 5 Hz (-0.3dB) to 35 kHz (-1dB)
    Signal / noise ratio (SNR):> 98dB at 0dB gain

    THD: 70dB/10kHz
    Output power: 650mW/300 Ohms, Ohms 800mW/60

    Output Impedance: 60 Ohms line out, phones out 5 Ohms
    Heat dissipation: <25W, internal, Regulated power supply

    Dimensions: 265 mm x 250 mm x 80 mm
    Inputs:1x USB Connection (support up to 24bit @ 96Khz with low jitter clock 10ppm)

    1x Coaxial RCA (support up to 24bit @ 192kHz)
    3x gold plated RCA (line level input)

    Outputs:2x headphone jacks 6.35mm1x pre-out with 10db gain
    Weight: app. 7 kg

    Color: silver anodized aluminumLeft to right: Coaxial, USB, RCA Pre-out

     Test Setup

    A nice DAC, it is a great DAC / headphone amp is better, but then a DAC / headphone amp / preamp is a panacea.

    But to get the very best one, we need the following input material, so, again, I thank the Odeon Fnac

    and especially the friendly audio responsible for allowing me to use the material that I lack in domestic use.

    So to feed this large cube of aluminum we have:
    – An ASUS P8P67 EVO-connected in Coaxial,

    – The same motherboard but this time, plugged in USB (3),- A CD player Denon PMA 1510AE connected by coaxial;

    – Denon PMA 1510AE amplifier, connected to the output pre-out of Burson,
    To listen we will:

    -A pair of speakers PMC FB1i Walnut;
    A pair of IEM-1964-Q;
    And that's it, no helmet this time (!)

    A small comparison will be made with the iDecco, which has also a special headphone.

     Top to bottom: Burson HA-160D, Denon 1510AE (Platinum), Denon 1510AE (amp)For more information or

    more detailed description of this material:http://www.ampowerhead.com/2011/09/feedback-ampli-1200-1400-le-idecco-de.html

    http://www.ampowerhead.com/2011/05/1964-q-les-moules-de-portland.html

    First Plays
    Little
    ritual, you plug the coax DAC to PC is configured to release the AIMP3
    wasapi 24/192 watts (a CD is how it's 16/44?), One branch of the QuadsOutput Low Gain and selecting a track not too complicated, catchy, and untied.

    In short, it takes Metronomy (and little hop stunt).
    From the first notes of The Look, we are surprised by the transparency of the DAC / Amp, the joint is really excellent.

    The
    sound is really the opposite of iDecco is the antithesis of the Tube,
    no excessive heat, sharp transition and a very musical experience.
    Over the tracks, the flow continues, and no special color is to be noted. Neutral, honest, and yet never boring, a nice surprise once again.

    The bass is outstanding, really.Dry, fast, tight, deep, I think I have never heard bass and also mastered with so much on my chest before Quads. The transition

    between the phrasing is impeccable, listening is a real delight.
    As with any material a little high end, there is ruthless with the sources and to submit an MP3 encoded

    in a hurry or a CD by sloppy sound engineers quickly turns into a long and painful punishment.

    Two headphone outputs, high and low gain.After three weeksAfter several weeks of constant listening the Burson has not dismantled the contrary.

    Mature sound was confirmed, the synergy that operates within it is exceptional.
    Its range is that of a rock singer, said although a serious, powerful, the keystone of a building. Whatever type of music, the bass is a narrowly

    and a wonderful clarity, you know it's an amp that does not tire, but on the contrary will charm us again and again.

    The signature sound is still very special.
    To test only the DAC, the Burson interposed between the plate and the Denon amp of the same brand. It should be noted that all visually

    three is quite smooth, brushed metal confusing.
    The DAC is neutral. It does not improve the sound, but do not degrade either. No veil, no excessive heat or cold aggressive stamp is one such model.

    I might even advance to say that sounds very "musical".On the live tracks or Master dynamics is excellent, it sounds full.

    Definitely the number one choice for rock / electro, in fact all the music a little bit dynamic.

    On the classical or jazz, it's a bit less impressive, the fault of an acute back with the rest of the spectrum. Wow no effect, but after a few minutes we find the

    inherent qualities of the product, one grave impeccable and fast transitions.
    Herbie Hancock has everything to gain, and the piano becomes more solid, more real. For classical, speed is not a priority, the 160D is no better than iDecco example.

    The Burson connected pre-out

     I repeat myself, but the bass are on time or I write this, the best I've heard. Each instrument gains, the guitars are more mature, the battery is

    frank, even the piano and harp are found sublimated.One can almost feel the touch of buttons and strings.

    The width of the scene is not huge, but the depth that emerges and consistency of positionnementsonore impressive.

    Put simply, you are the conductor, you know every moment where each instrument and you have behind you the echo of the music.

    Although the treble are in the background, it is not dark for as much as for the Quads, I consider

    there is just enough but then it is a very personal account.Always with the Quads, the symbiosis works brilliantly. The signature of each complementing, serious amateur and said set, you'll cry!

    Another thing, this amp has the potato, the big potato. To develop, either with the release or High gain Low gain, everyone gets their money, and I think even

    the least sensitive headphones will achieve a significantly higher volume and a powerful dynamic. The induced power is controlled, the attenuator Burson did a great job

    remarkable. The sound is not muffled, his power is simply reduced, even at low volume yet we perceive the subtleties of each song

    cymbals and the touch of the vote.

    Mechanical attenuatorDigress on the attenuator, mechanical type, you need a little strength to succeed in turn. The notches are well marked and a "click" will sound good.

    "Click" of course, completely absent in the headset or headphones. The huge wheel with better grip obviously, etaprès several weeks, he has not lost its bite and always proves

    as accurate.The range offered is fair and everyone should be able ajusterle volume at its convenience.

    Between the notch and a notch 10 was therefore 10 different levels of volume and not "false" 2/2.5/2.75 notches.

    End up with my impressions on different tracks, why the HA-160D is connected to my PC in coaxial and

    I would use my 1964 on the exit-Q Low-Gain.Over theNewlands – AudioVideoDisco – Justice

    FLAC 96kHz/24bits Electro / Rock
    Definitely a track on the album rock of Justice, almost vintage.

    From the first second, and Burson laguitare file shows a joint Surprisingly, each agreement is

    clear off the other although it is running the same sample.The battery is monstrous, neither more nor less. Symbiosis HA-160D +1964- Q is perfect, the bass is finely controlled and the medium becomes almost

    organic, closer to reality.
    Above all, the factor of training is at its worst, impossible to be nailed to his chair,

    the explosive cocktail rises ears and we are surprised to mimic the batteryand bass lines.

    The
    voice is acute, and unfortunately for fans of acute spinning top, the
    mixture may disappoint some, personally it's more than enough for me,
    but no acute prefer going up again and again.
    Overall it's a major success story is cheerful, efficient, and above all it is dynamic.

    The Look – The Riviera Français – MetronomyFLAC 96khz/16bits Electro Pop
    Ok I'm repeating myself, but for me, The Riviera française is quite simply the best album of electro / pop jamaissorti.

    Pleasant surprise, the width of scene is very well made, we hear the piano subtly moving toward us.

    The first shots are masterful snare, it's dry and hard knocks, the pace stands rock bass. The HA-160D for him leading to a power

    Exceptionally, the owner of headphones and music fan that move, you are warned: invest in an extension!

    We are always in electro (pop but this time) so hard to take if the agreements are on the organ

    beautiful, bass and guitar loosens also fun.Encore!No Other Way – Sunny Side Up – Paolo Nutini

    Flac 48kHz/16bitsPop
    "Wow that slap", the first riffs of No Other Way is a real boost.

    The range is perfect fit for Paolo at 160-D, the mid-bass of his voice gaining in depthand width smaller scene immerses us in closer.

    A beautiful walk with a favorite for its Charleston, realistic, and a hoarse voice

    really powerful. It may lack a little bit more subtlety to accentuate the romance of the song, but the

    momentum is still very valuable.The atmosphere remains, and that's all that matters.

     
    96/24 USB ConverterFinally …Converted try for Burson, this combo Amp / DAC is a great success.

    The
    all-aluminum finish, compactness and simplicity make the HA-160D an
    excellent all-in-one headset for all owners of or intra premium.One button to select the source, an attenuator solid and robust, has everything to get to the point: music.

    The grave is beautiful, the sentences are clear thanks to the speed and articulation of the amplifying portion.

    The
    DAC delivers a neutral, neither too hot nor too cold, but always with
    that little grain to accompany pleasantly vintage albums.The ability to choose an output on the fly Low and High Gain without complex manipulation is a nice touch.

    In
    short, it will not replace Burson may not be your ultra high-end DAC,
    or your amp to 4 digits, but as a product a while, it seems hard to
    beat, even more expensive.It's just a box-of-joy, we ask, we branch and savored.Oh sorry, this is THE box-of-joy.

    Again thank you to Headfonia and Burson (Mike, Alex, John, you rock)Small pub to finish, go to my blog, it does not eat bread: D

    : Lol: http://www.ampowerhead.com/: lol:

     
    Questions? Ask here http://forum.tellementnomade.com/viewtopic.php?f=64&t=1620

  • Reply December 30, 2011

    Mind The Headphone

    Hey everyone,

    I was the last person to get the HA-160D as part of the loaner program. In short, I was really impressed by it.

    First of all, the build quality is second to none. It’s built like a tank and aesthetically very pleasing. In person the brushed metal face looks fantastic. It’s also pretty straightforward to use, and setting it up took no more than 5 minutes.

    Sonically, I was very impressed by it. First of all, against all odds, it was surprisingly capable of driving the AKG K1000s, which, at least on paper, shouldn’t be the case. I listen at pretty normal levels, and it could reach them. Didn’t go past it, but that’s not something I would do in a normal listening session anyway. It made them perform just as well as with every other good piece of kit I’ve used with it, and that was something I was definitely not expecting. It paired really well with the K702 as well.

    I had a Little Dot MKVI and a Meier Audio Eartube with a DacMagic to compare with the Burson’s amp sectiom, and somehow it was halfway between them in warmth. The LD seemed colder and more sterile, and the Meier more romantic. I guess, between them, it comes down to preference. I’d choose it over the LD because I prefer a warmer tone and it wasn’t less transparent and detailed at all. In fact, it seemed much more correct.

    The same can be said to when I paired the Little Dot with the DacMagic and left the Burson to its own DAC. By the way, the real surprise came when I compared the Burson to an EMM Labs CDSA CD player. Tonally, I couldn’t tell the difference. They both seemed to have the very same tonal balanced, which is impressive. The CDSA took the lead in the presentation of instruments, as the Burson sounded flatter, less dynamic and with less instrument separation. But taking into account that the CDSA costs 8K dollars (it wasn’t mine, btw), the Burson boasted an extremely good performance, because if I wasn’t comparing them side-by-side, I probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

    The best of all is the fact that it’s a really good amplifier with a really good DAC section in one box. I do like one box solutions because there’s not much to worry about. You just plug it in and be happy. Burson made a really impressive product and I’m happy to wholeheartedly recommend it.

  • Reply January 13, 2012

    Tyler Bayles

    i bought an HD 160 and sold it after a month. i found it overly bright and thought my ears were going to bleed. was using it with lector cdp and vpi super scoutmaster with a shelter 90x… not exactly a bright system. i ran the burson 24/7 for 2 weeks before returning it. 

  • Reply January 13, 2012

    kata

    Hi,
    I own one of these and I really like it with my HD650.
    Now I’m looking at the new HE500 but I wonder if the Burson has enough power to drive these.
    I tried also the HE5LE but I think the amp failed to deliver enough power to make them sing.
    Thanks

    • Reply January 14, 2012

      Mike

      Kata,
      I think the HE-500 pairs better with the Graham Slee Solo SRG II rather than the Burson.

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