Review: Burson Fun – overwhelming the senses

Not only is Fun the first amp I’ve used that gets this loud, it’s the first super powerful amp that works a trick for sensitive earphones. Sure, hit hisses through Campfire Audio’s Comet and Atlas and Shure’s SE846and Ultrasone’s IQ. But it’s forgivable and hardly annoying.

There’s one problem with Fun that annoys whilst headphones are off, but not on. That is, there’s this strange PC speaker sort of signal mirror that comes from the circuitry of Fun when fed max volume from a powerful DAC and Fun’s attenuator is cranked near the top. It’s not as loud as some mirroring I’ve heard, but it’s loud enough to understand the words of loud ballads. This happened with the first Chord Mojo I borrowed. The one I settled on didn’t do this. Engineers, let’s figure this thing out.

Fun tears past 118dB dynamic range and noise floor, and, and more importantly, keeps signal sheers out of high-volume landed stress tests. Am I an idiot to test a pair of Earsonics SM2 at +18dBu? Yes. But it’s a testament to the SM2 that it’s survived the same tests year in year out, since 2010, at volumes which no human can listen and few amps can even drive. No headphone I paired with Fun sheered or sizzled at +18dBu. +24dBu was another story, but that sizzle didn’t show up in measurements so likely it was the drives burning up. At volumes both low and high, signal is crystal clear.

If you can’t make heads or tales of that, I’ll put it like this: Fun is probably as powerful as anything out there at any price. It will power your headphones and then some and then some more both for voltage/volume and current. It’s got everything you need to happily and eventually embrace deafness.

Fun’s isn’t a granular sound. It’s got a lush high range, wonderfully detailed lows and mids, and a very gentle fall off before 20kHz. It’s between dark and bright but edges closer toward bright. It best reminds me of Grace’s amazing m9xx, being both smoother and more powerful than Chord’s Mojoand even than Goldmund’s Telos HDA. Sony’s TA-ZH1ESis lusher sounding, but its single ended output, while powerful, is in no way a match for Burson’s Fun. And with the exception of unloaded m9xx and Mojo signals, not a one touches Fun. Loaded, this is THE amp. And it’s 299$. Crazy.

Earlier I said that I preferred Burson’s proprietary Classic op-amp to Vivid. It’s a bit softer in the highs and perhaps a touch more musically blurs hi hat and lower percussion attack edges. The sound isn’t night and day different from stock op-amps to Vivid or Classic. If it were my money, I’d stay with the stock op-amps. They are great. And, if you’re like me, they fit with the top closed where the others don’t.

Finally, Fun’s pre-amp is about as good as its headphone amp. If you’ve got a nice power amp, hook this bad boy up for hella fun.

End words

The freedom to pair Fun with a DAC of your choosing makes it my choice. Play is great. Especially for computers. But Fun proves that Burson know how to make low-noise circuits that perform like the Dickens. It makes me wonder what went wrong with Play. Why the noise? Fun is both more powerful and better on a software test bench than Play. It’s better than most amps I’ve tried at any price and way more powerful. I’d love that power with a crossfeed circuit, but I can live without it. Fun is amazing. I just keep wondering when Burson will release a super high-end balanced amp/DAC like the Sony TA-ZH1ES.


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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