Burson Audio HA-160D Headphone Amplifier Details
When something is designed with ideals and custom made the old school way, the end result will always surpass anything that is mass produced and profit driven. This simple rule applies to all things, from carpentry, and masonry to automobiles, and it is certainly the rule for the world of music and audio design. Burson Audio's HA-160 headphone amplifier was painstakingly hand built, with each component exhaustively matched. It was based on a design with only sonic purity in mind and free from the constraints and downfalls of standard production building blocks such as ICs and 3 pin power regulators. The end result has been applauded by many audio critics around the world and more importantly appreciated by fellow headphone audiophiles who share our passion for music. Through the HA-160D, Burson Audio hopes to deliver even more of their idealism and understanding through a single machine that is unmistakably Burson.
The HA-160D took over 18 months to realize. Apart from the DAC chip, the entire machine was meticulously hand assembled with top grade, perfectly matched discrete components. It is powered by 5 sets of custom built low noise power supplies to eliminate noise pollution. Burson Audio has also employed two custom built transformers to ensure the job was done properly. One transformer is used to power the Burson Audio HD Audio DAC, while the other purely supplies power to the hungry Class-A amplification circuitry. It ensures that the DAC stage and the headphone amp stage are working independently and at an optimum level, while still in complete synergy. The result is a high definition DAC, headphone amp, preamp 3 in 1 machine that is entirely uncompromised.
To better serve the growing popularity of PC based audio systems, the HA-160D also features a USB input function which is compatible with both Mac and PCs.
Burson HD Audio DAC
While most of the marketing spin centres on the DAC chip, the output stage is in fact one of the critical stage in any audio DAC design. It is not getting the air time that it deserves because a properly designed ouput stage is not simple, and the concept is harder to sell to a customer compared to a DAC chip model number.
After the digital signal (0s and 1s) is converted by the DAC chip into stereo signals, an important LP (low pass) stage is need to reconstruct the analog signal from the rectangular pulses from the DAC output Any distortion and signal loss during this conversion stage is irreversible. Unfortunately, due to the lack of customer awareness of the output stage, this is where most audio companies cut their costs, and it is common to see a output stage designed around a cheap IC opamp.
The HA-160D has a fully discrete output stage that is independently powered. It has a high slew rate and fast recovery time operate in pure Class A the HD Audio DAC ensures the highest level of signal preservation. The result is higher resolution audio playback, with a completely transparent sonic signature consistent with Burson Audio's ideals.
The function of Opamps at the output stage is as important as the lens on a cinema projector. Regardless of the analytical capability of the audio gear, an inferior opamp will halve a machine's performance, and distort every dB of sonic imagery.
Just like Burson's acclaimed HA160, the 160D features the Burson HD audio opamp. It enables the 160D to reproduce music in superior resolution and accuracy.
A Performance Focused Volume Control
At the time when an audio signal is passing through the volume control, it is still at its weakest. At this stage, the audio signal is very vulnerable to noise pollution and interference. A major source of such distortion is the commonly used remote volume control adopted by most manufactures.
Burson Audio recognized the drawbacks associated with remote volume controls and deemed them unacceptable. Instead, they developed a 24 stepped attenuator, constructed with the best quality components available. The Burson stepped attenuator ensures preservation of even the weakest audio signal; The air between instruments, the decay after an attack and all micro details that makes music enjoyable.
Just like an athlete needs clean air to perform at an optimum standard, audio equipment needs clean power to reproduce transparent and natural music. Utilizing the Burson Audio discrete (IC free) low noise regulator technology Burson has ensured that only the cleanest power is running through every component of the 160D.
Resonance Free Aluminium (RFA) Enclosure
The 160D is housed in a 6mm case, constructed from high precision machined aluminium. This enclosure allows the 160D to achieve a very high mechanical damping factor, which reduces any microphonic effects, that may degrade the clarity of sonic performance. The enclosure was also constructed to act as a giant heat-sink, which allows the Class-A headamp to run cooler, and remain optimized at all times
Burson Audio HA-160D Headphone Amplifier Specifications
- Input impedance: 47 KOhms
- Frequency response: 5Hz (-0.3dB) to 35 kHz (-1dB)
- Signal to noise ratio: >98dB at 0dB gain
- THD: <0.001% at 6mW/300 Ohms
- Channel separation: >70dB/10kHz
- Output power: 650mW/300 Ohms, 800mW/60 Ohms
- Output impedance: line out 60 Ohms, phones out 5 Ohms
- Power dissipation: <25W, internal, regulated power supply
- Dimensions: 265 mm x 250 mm x 80 mm
- 1 x USB Connection (Support up to 24bit @ 96Khz with 10ppm low jitter clock)
- 1 x Coaxial RCA (Support up to 24bit @ 192Khz)
- 3 x gold plated RCA (line level input)
- 2 x headphone jacks 6.35mm
- 1 x pre -out with 10Db gain
- Weight: app. 7 kg
- Color: silver anodized aluminium
What We Think - Burson Audio HA-160D Review
"The Burson Audio HA-160D... I'm seriously in love with this thing! Everything that I loved about the HA-160 is delivered up in spades once again, but also incorporates ALL of the features that I could have wanted. Now with the HA-160D you have input switching as well as a great sounding DA converter AND a USB input that is a snap to install: just plug it into the computer and follow the regular install prompts. But, the sound! Wow! The thing about the Burson Audio design is that fatigue just doesn't exist. I can listen for hours since my ears aren't constantly being needled with distortions layered upon distortions. Discrete Op-Amps are the key here - no IC chips anywhere inside. So, if you're after the ultimate listening experience, be sure to put one of the Burson Audio HA-160D headphone amps in your studio, on your desk, or simply next to your easy-chair."
Alan Moon - Front End Audio
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