Review: Burson Fun – overwhelming the senses

Required reading:
RMAA Burson Fun 24-bit
Review: Burson Play
Review: Grace Design Massdrop M9xx
Review: Goldmund Telos HDA
Review: Sony NW-WM1Z, MDR-Z1R, TA-ZH1ES
Review: Vorzüge VorzAMP DUO II
RMAA: Vorzüge DUO II

Not sound

Let’s start with price. Sure, Play and Fun start at the same price, but Fun tops out at 399$ VS Play’s 549$. The leftover 150 bones could go to great performing USB DAC like NextDrive’s Spectra or Spectra X. It could go to a used DAP. It could go to part of the way to a good headphone or speaker set, or part of the way to Burson’s Bang. It could even go into the op-amp set you didn’t purchase and still leave you with 50 bones.

Savings aside, Fun’s biggest and baddest feature is its dual-mono design. It really, really packs a punch. In fact, it is the most powerful desktop-style headphone amp I’ve ever tested. Play, while more powerful than a lot of amps I’ve used, can’t hold a candle to it. And it’s the best sort of power: gobs of current, great dynamic range, and more. But, we’ll get into that later. It’s also got a quality pre-amp packed in. But, then again, so does Play. Both slave pre-amplification to the front-mounted attenuator. Again, I need to mention its addition of an auxiliary jack and RCA ins on the back, whereas Play’s only input is microphone. This makes it a great match for simple and cost-effective 2-channel compact home theatres, where – gasp! – the TV is the source.

Because Fun sports a small bevy of quality analogue inputs, isn’t limited to microphone and USB. Plug it into your SACD player, or TV, or iPod, and more. There still is room in the digital audiophile world for quality analogue-only parts.

The final but is Fun’s complete dominance over Play where it counts. It sounds better, and not a little. But (another one), we’ll get into that in the Sound section.

It has a couple of design problems. The first is its use of tiny, fiddly bolts whose shallow hex cap is prone to stripping. But again, that’s as much part of Play as it is of Fun. Then there’s the attenuator, which rotates smoothly, but rubs like its bearings are made of tracing paper. But again, that’s as much on Play as it is on Fun. Then there’s it channel imbalance, which really only hits at its smallest volume settings, but can make it tough to comfortably listen to through sensitive earphones and headphones. But again, that’s as much Play as it is Fun. Both units have a bit of trouble fitting Vivid and Classic op-amp sets under a closed top chassis lid.

Sound begins on the next page:


Back before he became the main photographer for bunches of audio magazines and stuff, Nathan was fiddling with pretty cool audio gear all day long at TouchMyApps. He loves Depeche Mode, trance, colonial hip-hop, and raisins. Sometimes, he gets to listening. Sometimes, he gets to shooting. Usually he's got a smile on his face. Always, he's got a whisky in his prehensile grip.


  • Reply November 29, 2018


    Thanks for a nice reading. Only one small correction: you can normally close the top of both the Fun and the Play with the V6 op-amps. In order to close the top, you have to remove DIP8 Sockets attached to the bottom of the V6 op-amps. Cheers.

  • Reply December 14, 2018


    Nice review as always, Lieven.
    Do you think I can use it in UK (220ishV)?
    Also, do you think it will perform well with hd800(s)?

    • Reply December 16, 2018

      ohm image

      Hey Wills,

      To my knowledge, Lieven hasn’t used this amp. Nathan reviewed it. Anyway, it has more than enough power and drive potential for any frequency for the HD800. More than enough. As I said, it is the most powerful amp I’ve ever used.

  • Reply December 22, 2018

    andrew doan

    Nice headphone amp and pre-amp from Burson Audio as other products from the land of down and under. “Fun is both more powerful and better on a software test bench than Play.”, indeed.

    Crocodile sings in my audio room. Pre-amp is clean and it sounds wonderful through my Adam Audio A7X .

    Thank you, Burson Audio.

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