Today we look at the Burson Audio Conductor 3XP amplifier, selling for $1.344 USD.
Disclaimer: Burson Audio sent us the 3XP for the purpose of this review, in exchange for our honest opinion.
The first amplifier I ever reviewed was the Burson Audio HA-160D and that was back in 2011 already. Since then we reviewed practically all of Burson Audio’s units, and most of our readers will know Burson very well. For those who are new to the scene, here’s a small intro.
Burson Audio is a Melbourne based manufacturer of D/A Converters, Amplifiers and DAC/Amps. They have been active for over 20 years (since 1996) now, and are probably best known for their good price to performance products. We have covered many of them on our web space in the past, and if you want to check out previous reviews you can do so here: www.headfonia.com/tags/burson
Burson works on a couple of different technologies. Their most popular one might be their discrete op-amps for which they give a life-time warranty. Burson also introduced a so-called max current power-supply and their cool case. You can dig deeper into what these exactly are on their website.
Their product range goes from the $199 USD Fun all the way up to the $2,144 USD Conductor 3X. Burson has something for every wallet-size in their portfolio and even offers upgrade components for those that want to tinker a little.
Another good thing about Burson is, that they have a wide-spread dealer network all around the globe. So, if you want a try-out session you can check their dealer-list online and go to the nearest available one. Why do I mention this? Because it isn’t always guaranteed that there is a retailer nearby in our hobby.
I can hear you think “Hey, didn’t you review this one already?”, but no that’s not the case. Burson Audio just has a couple of different versions of the Conductor, being the Conductor 3 Reference, the Conductor 3X Reference, the Conductor 3 Performance and the Conductor 3X Performance.
It’s this last one we’re looking at today in this review, but as there’s a relationship with the other Conductor models, I suggest o read Matty’s and Linus’ reviews of those first. You can find these here:
In short, the difference between the regular and the X-series is that the latter has a fully balanced topology. And now there are 2 more versions of these DAC/AMPs: the Performance Series. This overview by Burson gives a clear overview of the four models.
3XP – Conductor 3X Performance
Burson describes the Conductor 3X Performance (from now on the 3XP) as follows:
While our Conductor Reference is like Huge Jackman in Kate and Leopold, the completed package, the Conductor Performance is the shredded Wolverine. It’s still him but stripped down! Power and total control of that power will be the overwhelming first impression. It energises every note and space in between, bringing accuracy and micro-details. The C3 performance is for the perfectionist who works hard and plays harder.
Of course Burson Audio has a dedicated web page for the 3XP and you can find that here: https://www.bursonaudio.com/products/conductor-3x-performance/
The Conductor series use the SABRE32/ESS9038Q2M DAC and XMOS USB receiver chips. Its Customised USB driver by Thesycon Germany ensures low latency bit-perfect audio playback. The result is incredible processing power, accurately playing back DSD512 and 38bit/786khz audio. It also features a Qualcomm/CSR8675 Bluetooth 5.0 receiver. Playing back at 24bit/96khz with aptX HD audio codec.
So in short, the 3XP is a trimmed down version of the 3XR unit, with less power, a different power supply and no analogue inputs. Just like the other Conductor models, the 3XP comes with Burson’s special Cool Case technology. Burson likes to turn Class-A amplifiers from monsters with heat-fins into elegant, desktop-friendly machines. The case is made from high-density aluminium and electroplated to space-grey and the Cool Case basically is a unified heat-sink keeping the Class-A Conductor cool and optimized. That means the unit will feel warm, but it’s all normal.
The DAC-input offers 4 options: Bluetooth, Optical, Coaxial and USB. For this test I have used a mix of these, but mostly the cables ones, even thought the 3XP’s BT uses aptX HD.
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