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Old 09-17-2014, 03:38 PM   #1
prerich prerich is offline
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Default Burson Discreet Circuit Supreme Opamp Review

This is a place holder for my full review. I've had some time with the opamps and let them acclimate to the system for about 50-60 hours before the real listening began. To start off, I will state that my review is clearly subjective !!!! This is MHO of the product and what I heard. Will this apply for everyone? In one word....no. However - I could not help but recognize a change in character and resolution with the discreet op-amps. I will go into specifics a little later but until then - here's a few pics to whet your appetite! First a picture of the op-amps on my Xonar Essence ST sound card.
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Old 09-17-2014, 03:40 PM   #2
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Now a picture of the opamps by themselves.


Last edited by prerich; 09-17-2014 at 03:44 PM.
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Old 09-17-2014, 09:40 PM   #3
Badas Badas is offline
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Interesting.

I'm looking forward to your impressions.

So we get this right. Might I suggest you do a brief explanation on what you are doing to produce the music. I hope you don't take offense.

It might help others understand what you are doing and why it makes a difference.

This is what I understand you are doing:

1. You are taking digital music be it streaming or stored files. MP3 or Flac DCD etc... and then sending them to your superior sound card as a digital source.

2. From there the Burson is doing all the Digital to Analog conversion (DAC). The DAC is one of the most important things in the digital chain. It can colour the music, keep it neutral or do a crap conversion. Often great DAC's (your sound card) colour the music (deepen bass, bloat mid-range) to sound more natural. Not digital.

3. Analog signal is sent to speakers. Boom great sound.

Do I have that correct in lame terms?
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Old 09-18-2014, 01:57 PM   #4
prerich prerich is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Badas View Post
Interesting.

I'm looking forward to your impressions.

So we get this right. Might I suggest you do a brief explanation on what you are doing to produce the music. I hope you don't take offense.

It might help others understand what you are doing and why it makes a difference.

This is what I understand you are doing:

1. You are taking digital music be it streaming or stored files. MP3 or Flac DCD etc... and then sending them to your superior sound card as a digital source.

2. From there the Burson is doing all the Digital to Analog conversion (DAC). The DAC is one of the most important things in the digital chain. It can colour the music, keep it neutral or do a crap conversion. Often great DAC's (your sound card) colour the music (deepen bass, bloat mid-range) to sound more natural. Not digital.

3. Analog signal is sent to speakers. Boom great sound.

Do I have that correct in lame terms?
Yes you are correct! And I only use loss-less CD files in either .Flac, .Wav, or .Ape files. The dac used in my card is the TI PCM1792A (I think its the same one used in the V-Dac by Music Fidelity and quite a few other pieces of gear as well).


You are right, my sound doesn't sound "digital" . The 1792 is a very clean dac but the Op-amps play a major part in giving a sound card its sound "signature" . I find that what you attribute to the Dac (Coloring the music) is more or less really found in the opamp stage. Certain opamps seem to have better bass response or clearer highs - more open soundstage or better imaging (remember this is all subjective). I've listened to some opamps that I had high hopes for only to be disappointed in my application. That's a big part of DAC's and opamps - implementation trumps everything!
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Old 09-18-2014, 03:56 PM   #5
Johnny Vinyl Johnny Vinyl is offline
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When do you think you might have your review up?
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Old 09-18-2014, 06:15 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Vinyl View Post
When do you think you might have your review up?
This weekend, Saturday. Trying to do some comparisons between the different opamps and actually lost a supertweeter running test tones (Math Audio defaults to full volume and I forgot when I started the test...blew one of my fostex's).

The opamps that I'm primarily comparing are the Burson's to the Muses (02,8820,8920, and the disappointing 01's) - so far these are the ones that have set themselves apart from the other ones (LM4562, OPA2107, OPA2132P...but the P's are pretty nice).
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Old 09-18-2014, 06:16 PM   #7
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P.S.

The 01's were disappointing because I expected much more of them compared to the 8920's.
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Old 09-18-2014, 06:30 PM   #8
Johnny Vinyl Johnny Vinyl is offline
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Cool! Looking forward to your impressions and glad to read you're having a good time with them all.
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Old 09-18-2014, 09:35 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Vinyl View Post
Cool! Looking forward to your impressions and glad to read you're having a good time with them all.
Yeah fun times. It is doing a very similar thing to what I am doing.

I'm taking digital music in whatever format. Putting it into the Oppo HA-1 (very neutral DAC) and then sending it to the Woo WA22. The tubes are colouring the music. I have switched most of my tubes for old stock 40-60 years old. Sounds fantastic. Just have stock drive tubes left, however I have some 1952 NOS Sylvania's on the way.

Looking forward to your review / impressions.
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Old 09-21-2014, 04:53 AM   #10
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There's a song by the late great Luther Vandross (that was later covered by Kirk Whalum and Lalah Hathaway) called "Make Me A Believer". The opening line states "Superman, can fly way up high in the sky, because we believe he can. So what we choose to believe, can always work out fine....It's all in our mind". Well, with the Burson op-amps, I really wanted them to make me a believer - but I didn't want it to be just all in my mind...I wanted a recognizable difference - but I was also willing to tell on them if they didn't deliver. Let's see what they did do and ...what they didn't!

The Burson Supreme Op-amps came in a metal cylinder - very meticulously rapped. The Op-amps also come with a LIFE-TIME WARRANTY! In audio - that alone is enough to make someone a believer. The product was very simple to install. However in my application - these op-amps are rather large and can take up 2-3 slots in a PC. For those of you that have double slot video cards space is at a premium, and now a lot of HTPC cases come with the power supply installed to the right side (if you're looking at the rear of the PC) instead of the traditional left. For this review I had to remove my 2 slot video card and use a lesser video card. Eventually I transferred my HTPC to a new case in order to have the space I needed to host the Burson's and my dual slot video card.

Installation on the Asus Essence ST/STX also has a few other draw backs (as the op-amps may tilt a little unless you use what I call straw extensions - giving the opamps some room away from the card. I installed the opamps in the buffer and IV stages of the Essence ST sound card. I used my system for this review - equipment of note would be an Adcom 5503 power amp, HTPC with an Essence ST sound card, JRiver software, and Klipsch Cornwall speakers with Fostex T90A supertweeters. Speakers were EQ'd using Math Audio software, all music was .ape lossless format.

The Essence ST came with stock op-amps but I had rolled mine a few times. At the time of the review - I was using Muses 02 (buffer) and Muses 8920's (I/V). I was very impressed with the Muses combination and felt that the Burson's would have a hard time beating these out. The Muses added a sense of detail that I hadn't heard from the ST before, there was also an analog like warmth to the setup that kind of made you forget about everything and just listen to music. The day the Burson Supremes arrived - I was like - you've got a hard row to hoe!

My immediate impression wasn't per-say overwhelming - I did notice that the Burson's highs and upper mid-range sounded more articulate than the Muses, noticing things in the upper registers that I hadn't noticed before but I still liked the Muses...I wasn't a believer yet. So I decided to let the system run with noise and with music for about at total of 50 hours or so before I returned to serious listening. After that period...Superman showed up!

The articulation of the highs and upper mids was still there, but it seemed to mellow and smooth out (to a greater degree than the Muses). The sound stage also opened up. The Muses provided depth to my system, but the Burson Opamps provided much more than depth - instruments especially female voice and piano became "touchable".

The Burson's not only handled the highs well but could dig down deep while retaining their smoothness. I listened to a lot of music without my subs on (one time not realizing that they were not on). Most of the music I used would not be familiar with many people here but I will name the tracks just the same.

Kirk Franklin - So Incredible to me
Kirk Whalum - So far, So good!
Allen and Allen - What the world needs now
Ben Tankard - Church Picnic
Nora Jones - Painter's Song and Nightingale

I chose each piece because I was familiar with them and knew what to expect.

The first track I used for placement of percussion and the presence of a small vocal group and the Burson's didn't disappoint. Each conga, triangle and djembe was in its proper place! Quiet passages were just that...quiet! and the group was spread across the soundstage properly (as I know how this group stands in concert or in studio).

The Kirk Whalum track was a live recording - this was used to see if it could make me believe I'm at the concert....Supreme Burson's are still doing their thing, throwing a live image like Supes throws trucks! Very open and spacious - very believable (the late George Duke appears on this track as well). They handled the bite of Kirk's sax just as well as they handled George's keyboard. Tone was spot on and life like. They have passed the imaging test now for the bass test.

Booming bass is easy to reproduce I wanted to go after something more difficult, so I have a special track that features acapella bass voice and a stand-up string bass. This is on the Allen and Allen cover of What The World Needs Now. The slap and plucked string bass is very real in this track - you can actually hear the strings vibrate as the notes are played and the singers...its the well known group Take Six! The bass is punchy when needed - and never fake! The Burson's do a great job of resolving very deep bass but here's my rub - you will find it on the next track.

Ben Tankard made a song call Church Picnic - and this song has a lot of layers in it. I used to use this song as a demo piece when I worked in the business years ago! I've heard this track on all kinds of speakers - some that I'll never be able to afford - but the thing is - I know this song! Toward the end there is a conga slide that I first noticed when listening to this song through Snell speakers. Since then I use that experience to evaluate lower mid-range. The Burson's had handled everything well...even lower mids that are in the fore-front of the mix- but on this song the conga slide is beneath a xylophone, it takes some doing to flesh this out. The Muses handled this very well, were as the Burson's seemed veiled - buried it just a little- however - the Burson's overall, out performed the Muses in every other facet - I may be able to let this one pass. I also considered turning of my room correction - because I also realized that every other time I listened to that song - room correction was off. That's the only rub I have with the Burson's and it may not even be a rub

The Nora Jones tracks were stupendous - Guitar to the right in Painters song was an excellent set up for Nora's seductive voice to come out right at you from the middle of the soundstage. She was about 5'6" high in my system - I wonder if that's her real height?

Conclusion: The Burson op-amps IMHO are worth the price if you want an easy upgrade path without buying new gear. People have used them in high end disc players, sound cards, anywhere an op-amp can be used. Burson has a detailed report on how Discreet op-amps are better than IC's. We in the audiophile world love to discuss or flat out argue about things we can't or won't measure. Today I'm here just to share what my ears have heard. Hey I even had 2 sound cards and still preferred the Burson's - liked them so much I went and bought two more. I believe when it comes to op-amps, implementation is key, and whatever Burson did - sure sounds right to me. Is it all in my mind? Maybe....but I don't think so - songs that I'm too familiar with, sounding different (not only to me but others in my house as well - trained my boys how to listen using "Church Picnic"), new detail and that increased depth - Burson - time to come out of the telephone booth and fly....because you made me a believer.

Last edited by prerich; 09-22-2014 at 01:30 PM.
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Old 09-21-2014, 04:57 AM   #11
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Next up is four Burson Supreme Op-amps on the HTOmega Claro Halo!!!! Oh and i have news from them too - they are introducing a PCI-E version of the Claro Halo that can use the XT board. I don't know if they are going to change the DAC - but I'll find out!
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Old 09-22-2014, 01:26 PM   #12
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Part 2 is coming soon! Burson Op-amps in the HTOmega (my other ones get here tomorrow)!!!! My Nora Jones question...she's 5'1 in flats - but in shoes, closer to 5'4" - 5'5"... not that bad!!!!
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Old 09-23-2014, 03:23 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prerich View Post

The Nora Jones tracks were stupendous - Guitar to the right in Painters song was an excellent set up for Nora's seductive voice to come out right at you from the middle of the soundstage. She was about 5'6" high in my system - I wonder if that's her real height?
That is Gold. Ya can guessed her height. Amazing.

What an effort. It sounds corny however this is one of the best member reviews I have ever read. Itemized all equipment, how the install went and conclusions even how you came to those conclusions. Well done. I hope others read and appreciate the effort in this fabulous review.
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Old 09-24-2014, 01:38 PM   #14
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Review update: Based on this review, Burson is working on an extension connector so the opamps can be installed on the side...taking up less space!!!!! They will send me samples when they are ready!
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Old 09-24-2014, 01:59 PM   #15
Johnny Vinyl Johnny Vinyl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prerich View Post
Review update: Based on this review, Burson is working on an extension connector so the opamps can be installed on the side...taking up less space!!!!! They will send me samples when they are ready!
Excellent review buddy!

prerich - Burson beta tester!

Outstanding!
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Old 09-24-2014, 07:28 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Vinyl View Post
Excellent review buddy!

prerich - Burson beta tester!

Outstanding!
Lovin' it!!!!
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Old 09-25-2014, 01:33 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Vinyl View Post
Excellent review buddy!

prerich - Burson beta tester!

Outstanding!
Yes absolutely with a review like that.

Maybe he can get a few of their outstanding stand alone headphone amps as well.
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Old 09-25-2014, 04:24 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Badas View Post
Yes absolutely with a review like that.

Maybe he can get a few of their outstanding stand alone headphone amps as well.
Wouldn't mind if they did! I'll talk to them about you maybe reviewing a headphone amp or 2 ! Besides - you don't live far from them!
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Old 09-25-2014, 05:00 PM   #19
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Nice review and you take computer audio to the next level. I did hear about the Burson and know some have applied them to CD players.
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Old 09-25-2014, 07:41 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solo man View Post
Nice review and you take computer audio to the next level. I did hear about the Burson and know some have applied them to CD players.
Thanks! I'm humbled by your statement...for real!!!!

There are some out there that have this computer audio thing down better than I (Mojave, Nyal Mellor, Vincent Kars to name a few). I do appreciate the comments though. I would just like people to see the possibilities (especially if they are techy - there are a few new products coming down the pike that may just change the game altogether).
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