Burson has always been an advocate of discrete amps. As a reviewer, I don’t always agree that discrete is superior to op-amps or chip-amps. While discrete designs are usually better in instrument articulation and low bass extension, they don’t have the coherence that chip-based amps have which. Burson argued that while an op-amp based amplifier would ultimately yield a shorter signal path (which is good), their Soloist design actually wins in terms of components count (21 components in the signal path vs 50+ in a typical op-amp). Having listened to the Soloist, I can confirm that they have indeed succeeded in getting that coherence factor right with the discrete-based Soloist. I can hear the music plays together better, whereas with the HA-160D, the superior instrument articulation tends to break the recordings apart to many different pieces.
Sometimes in the middle of this review period, I asked Burson to why I hadn’t notice any burn-in difference throughout the time I spent with the amp. Usually one of the things that you can expect with burning in your amp is improvement on bass texture (Though I don’t believe, nor have I encountered any case where an amp requires hundreds-hours of burn in to finally mature). Apparently Burson have took the time to run the amplifier that it already had enough burn in time by the time they sent it to me. Ah, so that explains it.
I left the Soloist on the local Jaben store for a few days, and the impressions so far is that we all agree that the Soloist is the best amplifier that we’ve heard the HE-6 with so far. The application however is not limited to the HE-6, as the tonality, the power, and the musicality of the Soloist makes it the best sounding solid state amplifier I’ve listened to.
Gear used for review:
Burson Soloist, Burson HA-160D, RSA Dark Star, HRT iStreamer, KingRex UPower, Hifiman HE-6 and HE-500, Audez’e LCD-2, Sennheiser