Burson HA-160D Review

Australian manufacturer Burson has done well when they introduced themselves with the Burson HA-160 headphone amplifier last year. But the trend these days is to have a good source quality alongside a great amp, and so Burson took the HA-160 amplifier back to the design room, and out come the Burson HA-160D which is basically the HA-160 amplifier with a DAC in one box. It may seem like a trivial thing to add in a DAC circuitry, considering that you can buy DIY DAC kits on ebay for little money. But not for Burson. Five power supply circuits for clean and regulated power. Two transformers makes sure that the DAC and amplifier section will get all the power they need. Burr Brown’s PCM1793 D/A chip, coupled with fully discrete stages right from the DAC output section to the headphone jack generates the signal that will eventually be converted to sound waves by the headphone’s drivers. And knowing that everyone plays music out of a computer these days, Burson also added a USB digital input that supports up to 24/96 resolutions.

The HA-160D’s resume doesn’t stop there. Carrying on from the HA-160, the HA-160D also comes with the same amplifier circuitry and Burson’s signature 24-steps volume attenuator. Brand name components in every section. Input has now been expanded to three analog inputs, two digital inputs in coaxial and USB, and they even throw in a pre-amp out too! Relays are used selecting the inputs, a much classier way than the usual click-click mechanical selector. The enclosure gains size too, and since they retained the same thick panel made of pure solid aluminum, weight has gone up considerably. Of course, this is all good, as it gives you that high-end piece of an equipment feel. And you can plug and unplug headphones with confidence because the Burson will stay put in its place. Every single detail of the HA-160D brings out good feelings in me.

Looks good on the outside.

 

And looks good on the inside.

 

THE DAC SECTION

PCM1793 DAC section.

 

PCM1793 Datasheet

The DAC section is very good, and while it won’t be stealing customers from high end DAC companies, I truly enjoy the sound of the HA-160D DAC I’ve used it for pairing to different amplifiers through the pre-amp out: to the Zana Deux tube amp, the Beta22 balanced solid state amp, or the Kevin Gilmore Electrostatic Headphone amp. Burson adds roughly a $300 premium for the “D” model over the plain HA-160, and so I was mainly looking for DAC competitors in the $300 range. Well, everyone knows by know that I’ve been recommending the HRT Music Streamer II+ to everyone, and since it conveniently falls in the $300 price bracket, why not pitch it against the Burson DAC? The Grace m902 is also another DAC-Amp box that I’ve used very much, and so I’ll be sharing my impressions of the Burson HA-160D to the Grace m902.

If you’ve heard the Burson HA-160 amp before, then I can say that the Burson HA-160D section carries the same sound characteristics as the amplifier section. Perhaps it’s due to the similar discrete stages used on the amplifier, or perhaps it’s because the people at Burson tunes their gear to be carry the same Burson signature. Here is what I’d say about the Burson HA-160′s DAC:

  • The Burson HA-160D DAC section has no tubey sound or anything like that.
  • The DAC sounds very solid state, but not the harsh, dry, unmusical, treble happy, digital sounding, or any other nasty adjectives you normally associate with solid state. Like the Burson amp, the sound is generally full sounding without being fat or bloated, or slow or muddy. There is a good deal of transparency going on, but without nasty treble-boost tricks. The sound is full, but well controlled.
  • Fast transients makes for a superb articulation. Moderately short decay.
  • Awesome bass section. Very good articulation over the bass. Powerful punch with very good control. Excellent PRaT. Combined with the amplifier section, it’s No.1 recommendation for Rock and Electronica.

VS HRT MUSIC STREAMER II+
The Music Streamer II+ is a gear that I love to use very much. It does have two shortcomings for my use: the lack of an S/PDIF input for my Onkyo Ipod dock, and the lack of a headphone out on the output side. Well, I’m being a little unfair for the second one, as the HRT is a pure DAC and so I can’t blame it for a lack of headphone jack. Neverthless, one of the reason I enjoy the Burson a lot is since it pairs beautifully with the Onkyo ND-S1 which sends out digital data in the S/PDIF format. Between the Music Streamer and the Burson DAC, there are several win/lose deals that I’d probably end up rating both of them as equal but of different taste. However, depending on your music application, you’d probably prefer one of them over the other.

Compared to the HRT Music Streamer II+, the HRT is slightly warmer and has more midrange body, which is nice. It has less control over the bass, however, and it’s also less punchy than the Burson. The transients is also looser, less articulate and less precise with the HRT. The HRT’s soundstage, however, is quite a bit better in size, depth, and ambiance. Overall, the biggest difference that stands out during most of my listening is how the HRT is warmer, looser sounding and less precise, while the Burson is great in those sections and added with more punchy bass section. For slower music where transients and articulation is not as important, the HRT with its warmer tone and better soundstage presentation is a better fit. For fast paced music, I’d definitely go with the Burson DAC.

VS GRACE M902
I’ve also compared the Burson DAC section with the Grace m902 DAC (which I’ve upgraded using Burson HD opamps). Again, the character is quite different here. The Grace has a more audible low to mid treble while not being as full in the mids. Very mild V-shape curve on the Grace, while the Burson is quite the opposite. Low bass is more present on the Grace, and bass slam is also better on the Grace. However, the bass section is not as articulate as the Burson, and heavy bass passages sound better with the Burson. Soundstage is very wide on the Grace, but the Burson has better depth and imaging coherence. The Grace has a cleaner sound and is less grainy than the Burson or the HRT. I won’t say that the cleaner sound is always better. Sometimes the little bit of grain on the Burson creates a more analog sound than the Grace, and I definitely prefer listening to Rock with some of that grain in the sound. I would say that both DACs are quite comparable, with the Grace DAC with its very wide soundstage and tonal balance being better for classical orchestras, where the Burson is still the king for PRaT and impact.

OVERALL SOUND
The voicing of the DAC+amplifier combo stays loyal to the same Burson sound that I first heard in the HA-160 amplifier. The tonal balance is slightly mid-centric, which gives it a full and weighty mids in comparison to popular solid state amps like the Meier Concerto or the Grace m902. The treble is also not as emphasized as on the Concerto, Grace, or even Beta22. Nothing veiled or dark here, just slightly less pronounced treble. As a result, the Burson may not give you the wow effect on the treble as with the other amps, but it’s far more friendly with the majority of modern mainstream recordings that tends to be treble happy. The bass is very punchy and well controlled, but I wish I could’ve gotten more low bass presence like what I’m hearing on the Grace m902 or the Beta22. Among all the solid state headphone amps, however, nothing can match the PRaT factor that the Burson gives. And when I’m trying to listen to rock through the Sennheiser HD800, the Burson is the pairing that I’d go for.

Vocals performance is very good for solid state standards. Full and weighty mids always translate to good vocals, and the Burson’s soundstage image also put a good center focus on the vocal. I know that some people prefer vocal presentation with the mellow and romantic full-tube flavor, while some other prefer a more straightforward weighty vocal. The Burson will appeal to the second group, but not the first. Although I do think that the Zana Deux does midrange and vocal with more magic than the Burson, but I believe the comparison is rather unfair due to the price difference and the fact that the Burson is tuned to achieve a different kind of sound than the Zana. Compared to the Beta22 and the Grace m902, the Burson is definitely better than the Grace on the midrange, while the Beta22 still has a little more weight on the vocal which I like.

The awesome PRaT is mostly a function of the bass performance of the Burson. The bass is so good that it even translates to better thumps on piano listening. Every strike of the hammer is well felt, and the relatively fast transients gives a clear definition on each piano note. However, the decay is a bit on the short side, hence I often send the signal out through the preamp out to the Zana Deux tube amp, which gives a much more natural decay for instruments. For electronic bass and electronic music in general, however, the Burson’s fast transients and decay has a far better agility for resolving fast bass passages than the Zana.

OPERATIONAL
The amplifier behaved very well in many different situation/set ups that I used it with. Perhaps the two controls I use the most is the volume and the input selector. The Burson attenuator has always been on the stiff side, but paired with the big knob, I think the amount of force needed to make a turn is just right as it never felt too light to turn. I heard complaints about some noises in between clicks, and though I was able to simulate the situation, it doesn’t really happen on a day to day use. And since the highly rated DACT attenuator also behaves the same way, I’d sort of think that it’s just the case with the mechanical switch design of stepped attenuators.

A stepped-attenuator volume control is a mechanical switch with different resistor values. Hence the click-click sound it makes when you rotate the volume knob.

 

Having multiple inputs is a big plus. It may not seem like a big deal, but not many amplifiers actually come with multiple inputs. A light touch on the button toggles between inputs and lit up a blue LED to indicate the active input. Relays are used to switch between inputs, and it’s better in quality than regular switch-type input selector. One of our reader commented that he didn’t really like having to go through all the inputs choices as it rotates through I-II-III-C-U, but I don’t personally feel that to be a big problem as the relays have a fairly fast response time.

The small button will toggle through the different inputs in this order: Input 1, Input 2, Input 3, Coaxial, USB.

 

Left to right: Coaxial and USB digital inputs (C and U), three sets of analog out (III, II, and I), pre-amp out.

 

Low and High Gain Headphone outs. I only use the High Gain with Hifiman

 

There were some complaints on early versions of the HA-160 amp that the gain is too high for some headphones. Apparently some changes have been made to this version, as I get a solid, usable range of control with an IEM, a low-impedance headphone, to a big 300 Ohm full size. As I mentioned earlier, 10 O’clock with the ultra sensitive JH16Pro gives me about 8-9 clicks from zero volume to moderately loud listening volumes. And that’s with mainstream Rock recording, which gives me another 2-3 clicks for classical recordings. With the big Hifiman HE-6, I use the high gain headphone out, and my listening volume is roughly between 1 to 3 O’clock on the volume knob. Onwards from 3 O’clock, however, the volume increase is very slight, and with some classical recordings, I can’t get ear-shattering loudness at maximum volume.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS
I’ve used the Burson with so many different headphones that I really won’t give my comment on how the amplifier sounds with every one of these headphones. I particularly enjoy the Burson with the Audez’e LCD-2, as the Burson’s bass section complements the awesome bass of the LCD-2. With the HD800, the Burson is not quite as good compared to the pairing with the Beta22 or the Zana Deux, but the combination is definitely a good one. I also enjoyed using the Burson DAC section with the Stax O2 set up, as the signature of the DAC section helps add a good pace into the Omega2 headphone. I even enjoyed the Burson with the lower-tier headphones such as the Audio Technica M-50, AIAIAI’s TMA-1, or with custom IEM like the JH16Pro.

I think the main selling point of the Burson HA-160D is that it gives you an entry level-high end sound in a simple one box solution. The tuning of the Burson gear puts them in a very special position as I haven’t found quite another gear that does PRaT as well as the Burson. And looking at the majority of mainstream music, I think the Burson is an awesome combination with these music. Adding a built in DAC with 24/96 USB certainly has scored big points in my book because I value simplicity very much. No more external DACs and interconnects and additional power adapters. Yes, there is a certain fun in having multiple boxes set up that you can customize to make sure that every component is to your liking. However, often I just don’t have the space for all those big DACs and amps, and with the Burson HA-160D, one box is all I need to enjoy high quality DAC and amplification alongside my computer. There were many one box solutions other than the Burson, but so far, none has been able to match the Burson in terms of overall sonic performance.



Gears used for review:
Headphones: Hifiman HE-6, Audez’e LCD-2, Sennheiser HD800, HD650, Audio Technica M-50, AIAIAI TMA-1, V-Jays, JH160Pro
Amplifiers: Burson HA-160D, AMB Labs Beta22 (4 channel), Eddie Current Zana Deux, Grace m902
Source: Burson HA-160D, Grace m902, HRT Music Streamer II+, Onkyo ND-S1

  • Mod33

    Now I’m looking at getting a dedicated head amp to pair with my Yulong D100 for my office rig. After listening to the Burson, I’m kinda torn between discrete and non-discrete. What’s your take on this? I wished you had some forum going on here, your reviews are very clean and concise, straight to the point which I enjoy.

    Do you know of a better sounding dedicated head amp than the Bursons, within the same tonal range and bass performance? Slightly warmer sounding is fine as well but definitely not any more “harsher”in the trebles. This is a probably an upcoming purchase a few more months down the road.

    Thanks!

    • Mod33

      Oh I forgot to mention , I have a preference for solid state amps over tubes. Thanks!

      • Anonymous

        Hi,
        You mentioned being torn between discrete and non-discrete? Can you
        elaborate more?

  • Mod33

    I guess I need to be clearer.It’s very subjective, like how some people think discrete solutions sound better in terms of SQ because of the absence of opamps. That said, I’m torn because of how much cheaper non-discrete solutions but yet they provide performance close enough.

    • Anonymous

      Nice!
      I haven’t yet fully investigated into the discrete or non-discrete realm, but I think some of the points raised by the proponents of chip-amps are quite valid. I suppose op-amps can be quite limited in power output, but a good chip-amp should have enough power for most headphones, and in a sense, having all the circuitry in one small package does lead to its own benefits. The Grace m902 can be considered to be a chip-amp, I suppose.

      I am trying to build a minimalist LM3875 chip amp (the amplifier circuit only consists of three resistors and the LM3875 — nothing else, power supply only consists of MUR860 diodes and two capacitors) to see how it would compare to say the Beta22.

      Now, as for your question. The only other headphone amp that I’ve felt to be close to the Burson’s bass is the Beta22, which is another discrete design (but DIY). The Beta22′s bass hits deeper and the impact is better, but the upper and mid bass punch is not quite as snappy as the Burson. So even then it’s slightly different. In this case I haven’t seen any other amp that can rival the bass of those two discrete solid states. The Grace m902 is quite awesome in the bass as well, but still a tad below the Burson and the Beta22. So, I think you just have to go with the Burson to get that awesome bass.

      I don’t think you need to worry about the treble in the Burson. It has one of the most unoffensive treble I’ve seen on solid state amps. Any less treble would give a muffled sound.

      • Mod33

        Thanks for the reply. I already got the burson and I’m looking for another amp for my office space that is like the burson and better. Not a diy guy, never soldered anything in my life before. Thanks for the advice on the beta22.

        • Anonymous

          Nice, but yes, I can’t think of anything to match the Burson for now.

          • Mohit Datta

            How would you compare this with Graham Slee’s amps? (Solo/Novo)?

  • Mohit Datta

    How would you compare this to Graham Slee’s amps (Solo/Novo) and with the Headroom Micro amp ?

    • Anonymous

      The sound is very different.

      The Graham Slee amps are very relaxed, mellow, very slow paced. The
      Burson is fast paced, impactful, high PRaT. If you listen to slow music,
      then the Graham Slee would work well. If you listen to music with strong
      beats, then the Burson is the better choice.

      The Headroom Micro amp is somehow in between the two in terms of
      character. It’s relatively more dynamic and lively than the Graham Slee,
      but not quite at the Burson level.

      Hope that helps.

      • James

        How would you compare the soundstage of the HA-160 (not the D version) to the solo? I listen mainly to orchestral music so I like a large soundstage. Will be pairing the amp with a HRT Music Streamer II and denon d5000.

        • James

          Woops, will be using Beyerdynamic T1, not D5000.

          • Anonymous

            James,
            T1 and Woo6 would be a sweet combination.

        • Anonymous

          I am not too familiar with the Solo amp, but I wouldn’t place a strong
          mark on its soundstage nor the Burson’s. They’re not bad soundstage
          performers, but they’re not stellar at it either — mainly because I’ve
          heard so many other amps that does better soundstage than both of them.

          Something good at that price range that you can consider is the Woo
          Audio 6. I think it will be a better amplifier for orchestra, as I also
          listen to a lot of orchestra music.

          • James

            Oh. I was hoping for something that can be found locally, as I can’t order online. AFAIK Woo Audio products can only be acquired of you order from their site.

            • Anonymous

              Well, what else is avaliable locally?

              • James

                Well, just to name a few, darkvoice, schitt, little dot, meier audio, graham slee, burson, rudistor, millet tube

                • Anonymous

                  Mmmmm…
                  I can’t think of anything specific at the moment. The Little Dot Mk4 is quite a good amp for orchestra. Clean sound and good highs and lows.
                  Graham Slees are known for their mellow sound.
                  The Burson has been reviewed above.
                  No experience with the Schiit, DV, and Rudistor and Millet.

                  • James

                    WIll the mk4 drive the T1s well? I’ve read somewhere that the Mk4 lacks power. Not too sure is that is true though

                    • Anonymous

                      James,
                      I’m probably not the best guy to ask, but I did use the Mk4 with the
                      HD800 and it drives it just fine. Anyway I didn’t spend too much time
                      with the Mk4, just tried it at one of the meets.

  • Pigvomit82

    Fogive me asking a noob question: What is “PRaT”?

    • Anonymous

      PRaT is the toe tapping factor.

      It is most noticeable with music that has a fast pace and strong beats. That means Rock, Progeessive, Electronics, but not so much on Slow Jazz, Chamber music, etc. Normally a system with good PRaT has a good/fast pace, strong punchy tight bass, and a forward & engaging character. The opposite is mellow, slow paced, laid back stuff.

      Think of bands like Muse. Then compare it to stuff like Enya. That should give a pretty good illustration.

      • Pigvomit82

        Well explained. Thanks a lot~

        • Anonymous

          You’re welcome. :)

  • http://twitter.com/lengbebe Zheng Yu

    hey nice review! i’m currently using lehmann audio bcl and asus essence stx with hd800, would you suggest i upgrade to just this dac?

    i like warm vocals, bass doesnt have to be plenty, but clear enough to hear every detail.

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  • Tommyderaad

    Very nice review. I have now ordered the HA 160D and am thinking about which headphones to get. How do you think the Hifiman HE-500 would sound with the Burson?

    • Anonymous

      I’ve used the Burson to drive the HE-500 and the result is good. But I
      think the LCD-2 and the Burson is an even better pairing.

  • Anonymous

    I am looking for the perfect setup including my hp envy, the Denon AH D7000, and possibly this amp/dac/preamp combo (or another if it wouldn’t sound good)….my question is are the D7000 too bass heavy for such an amp, because I’ve been told it also has somewhat of a focus on bass or do you think that that can be adjusted, controlled, or isn’t a big deal at all?

    • Anonymous

      The Burson is good with the bass punch but it is not “thick” in bass body. I think the D7000 (I’ve never listened to it, but from what I hear..) is “thick” in the bass body. Hence I actually think the Burson and the D7000 would give you an even better bass than what you’re hearing now. 

      You’re not going to get more bass presence/quantity, but each bass notes will be clearer/more articulate, and the punch is going to be awesome. 

  • Noneya

    Mike, let me apologize up front for my question, as I am a total noob but aspiring audiophile. From what I gathered from your review, the Burson HA-160D does not have an upsampling DAC. But do any of the others used for comparison have one? And is there a difference in sound quality, irrespective of output sample rates, between upsampling and bit-perfect amp/DAC combos? It seems that the more high-end DACs I’ve read about tend to be non-sampling. I’m looking for a good combo  such as the HA-160D or Grace m903, but also want the best sound quality for the price.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Noneya,
      You are correct that the HA-160D doesn’t have any upsampling feature. I don’t think there is a definite math that dictates upsampling DACs to be better than non upsampling or vica-versa. At the end of the day what counts is the overall package of the DAC. Even between DACs of roughly the same technicalities, there comes a question of tonal balance and sound signature, and sometimes these things are like buying a pair of jeans, you know.

      For instance I’m currently comparing the Bryston BDA-1 DAC to the Audio-Gd Ref7.1 DAC. Both are approximately $2k. The Bryston comes with upsampling, the Ref7.1 doesn’t. Technically the soundstage of the Ref7.1 is better, but the Bryston has a better midrange and vocal. So it becomes a case of preference. What sort of a sound do you prefer, et cetera.

      • Noneya

        Thanks, Mike; your reply helped a  lot. I assumed that upsampling DACs delivered a fuller, more 3D sound than bit-perfect ones. Didn’t consider the other factors you mentioned. I’m looking for an amp/DAC combo that takes various analog and digital inputs, and that is the best all-rounder, preferably for around $1k, but no more than $2k.. I’ve read your reviews on the Burson  combo, the Schiit and others separates, as well as others. Your site’s quickly become one of my all-time favs; got  any suggestions…?

        • Anonymous

          Well the Burson has three pairs of analog but only USB and coax digital inputs.

          The Grace m903 is perhaps the most versatile box I can think of — it has just about any input you can think of, both digital and analog. I’ve had the m902 and loved it. The m903 raises the bar with a better and improved USB DAC that does 24/192 async over USB, but I haven’t had the chance to listen to it, actually.

          http://www.gracedesign.com/products/m903/m903.htm

  • NeoDiNardo

    Question, I want to get this amp, its between the 160D reviewed here and the DACmini, yet I need a way to get the PS3 to work with that Coax input. Is there any way to convert Optical to Coax? They are the same standard, yes? Stands to reason they could be converted easy. Otherwise, even though I really like the sonic character of this amp more, I may have to go with the DACmini as it has Optical input.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Neo,
      No it’s not possible to convert optical to coax.

      • NeoDiNardo

        I decided to simply buy a Blu Ray Player that has Coax, and use the PS3 for games only with analog, or if I can get it to work, some sort of USB out to my HA-160 I decided to get. Thanks for the advice.

      • BFWIAT

        Actually, you can get a box to convert optical to coax here : http://www.jaycar.com.au/productView.asp?ID=AC1601&keywords=coax+optical&form=KEYWORD
        :)

        • Anonymous

          Thanks. I didn’t think you can do that. Thanks for the info.

  • NeoDiNardo

    Also considering the Grace M903

    • NeoDiNardo

      Ah, forget the Grace, its just too dam expensive for me. And I read it pops across speakers when you turn off the unit. I wonder if the HA-160 does this if you have it connected to a powered on PowerAmp and speakers…

      • BFWIAT

        I own the Burson, and it does NOT click if you turn it off while connected to amp/speakers  :)

        • Anonymous

          Nice, thanks for that, Bfwiat.

  • NeoDiNardo

    OK, I’ve since settled on the HA-160D, and was considering pairing it with the Power Amp 160 and some speakers for a fully realized system, my other choice was the Musical Fidelity M3i or a simular Creek integrated amp. Any thoughts on this?

    • NeoDiNardo

      The Power Amp 160 is also by Burson… Same style… So it will look great stacked up, even with uneven dimensions. 

  • Julius_angkawijaya

    With HD 650, what u think better matched pair between Burson HA 160D and Peachtree Nova?

    I’m listening live concert and jazz fusion.

    Tq Mike 

    • BFWIAT

      I own the Burson and the HD650 – I am enjoying it a lot now, as I do every day. It makes the HD650 sound more dynamic and really gives quite a meaty sound with delicacy and poise too – it’s like my headphones have woken up, and are happy to sing about it.  :)

      • http://www.facebook.com/destroysall Chris Allen

        I heard one member on Head-Fi (who owns the HA-160DS and the HD650) and he says the combo does almost any genre really good.  Can anyone comment on that?

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          Well if you want me to comment, yes it almost does any genre good, almost.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Julius,
      Sadly I’ve never listened to the Peachtree Nova so I can’t say. The Burson HA-160D and the HD650 would make a pretty good Jazz set up, but I’d probably prefer a tube based set up.

  • Anonymous

    Hi I ordered a Burson Audio HA160D since I could have a demo model at a good price and it seemed like a very good choice. I am looking for a great headphone (preferable not more than 1200 dollars) to pair with it (for now I use the BW P5 on Ipod but I want something better for my Naim system and preferably an (semi)open headphone). I listen to vocal music (Marc Cohn) and pop/rock (Coldplay, U2, Grace Jones) but also to Jazz and Classical music (piano, cello, violin, guitar).I do not listen to Techno, Dance, Hardrock. At first I was thinking about the Audeze LCD-2, but heard it was somewhat dark. Upgrading to silver cables helps but at a price (which cables are to recommended?). I was thinking about the following options:- Hifiman-HE500- a Beyerdynamic (which one I do not know)- a Grado GS1000i (the small earpads of the cheaper ones do not fit me well) – a Sennheiser 650 (or maybe 800)- a Ultrasone edition 8 I would appreciate any advice. However here in Belgium it is impossible for me to really compare everything. Some brands are simply not available here and other are only available when you place your order. It is almost impossible to find a shop who has more than one of those brands to compare. In a few weeks I will be travelling to Los Angeles so I could buy it in the US.Thanks a lot!Peter

    • http://twitter.com/Lieven_V Lieven V

      Hi Peter. It’s your lucky day! I have almost all the headphones you talk about (except for the HD800, ultrasone and Grado) and I’m Belgian ;) Shoot me an email: lieven[at]headfonia_dot_com. if you’re really lucky and live close by I just might hop over or try to help you in a way :)

      • Anonymous

        Sounds good!

  • Mikael

    I’m also interested in how the Hifimans sound, specifically the HE-500, on the HA160D? Anyone with input?

  • van41

    Hey Mike, I just need an advice as I am looking for an amp dac at the moment. Im tossing between the HA160D or the Schitt Asgard and Bifrost combo. I have a pair of ultrasone pro 900 and will be getting a HD 650 soon. Which one will be better? Thanks in for advance.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Van,
      I can’t comment on the Bifrost as I’ve never heard it, but the HA-160D box is an excellent one-box set up that’ll pair well with the Pro900 and the HD650.

      • van41

         Hey Mike,

        Thanks for the advice, I received the Burson Ha160D and it sounds great. You were absolutely right in the review how you mention there is excellent PRaT and power  :).

        However, I was wondering if the Burson can tame the sharp treble and highs of the Ultrasone Pro 900 after the burn in? and also is there any other positive things I can expect after the burn in too?

        Thank you

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          Van,
          The Burson is not that aggressive on the treble, I’m afraid it’s the Pro900 that happens to highlight the treble.
          Burn in changes? Not much.

  • Apogee

    I was wondering which do you think would sound better, the HA160D or the HA160 with a schiit bifrost/other extrenal DAC. and do you know how the HA160/HA160D sounds with the Sennheiser HD700 and the AKG Q701

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Apogee,
      I don’t know how the bifrost sounds. The DAC on the HA-160D is great and match the signature of the amplifier very well. Personally I would look for a tube amp for the HD700. As for the Q701, I can’t say, I’ve never tried it with the Burson.

      • Apogee

        I was interested in the HD160D for its bass impact and PRaT. Is there a tube amplifier that has good bass impact and is cheaper than the HD160D so i have money left over for a DAC. would a HD160D be good and then
        Ater buy something like the Woo Audio 6 and connect the WA6 to the HA160D and use that as a DAC. Then i can have the bass impact when i want it but also a tube amp for when i want it.

        • Apogee

          Do you know what the WA6 bass impact is like with the HD700. And what DACs do you recomend to pair with the WA6.

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          Yes if you want the bass the Burson is awesome for that, but I don’t think you should be forcing the HD700 and the Q701 to be bass masters cause they’re not. That’s not the right approach. It’s like buying a BMW 7 series, installing some off road tires, and expecting it to do well on off road tracks.

          • Apogee

            If I was to swap the HD700 for a pair of LCD-2 what would be a better system? the LCD2 with HD160D, LCD2 with a Woo Audio amp or the LCD2 with the Schiit Lyr. the Woo and Schiit would both be paired with a DAC, likely to be the Schiit Bifrost(but i know you don’t have that DAC).
            Thanks for the help and the replies, its really appreciated.

            • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

              Yes if you’re looking for a solid bass performance, start with the LCD-2. The Burson is a better pairing for the LCD-2 than either the Lyr or the Woo, IMO.

  • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

    Berger,
    The Burson, it doesn’t push the treble but it doesn’t tone it down either. I enjoyed the Burson – T1 pairing, but if you want less treble perhaps look into a darker sounding amp.

  • kuchumovn