BURSON Soloist 3X Performance - Class A Headphone/Pre Amplifier


I was curious about the Burson Soloist so I tried it out for myself since they have a 30-day return policy if you’re not satisfied with it. Happy to say based on my few days with it, that it’s a pretty great headphone amp! I was looking for an upgrade to my THX AAA789 in the sound, build, and aesthetics department. The Soloist definitely delivers on that.

BUILD

This thing is built really well and it looks even more gorgeous in person (kind of has an apple-aesthetic to it as well). My main complaint lies within the LEDs that are in the unit. When on standby, the little blue LED light is pretty bright and distracting. Similarly, the display is also a tad bright for my liking. It is brighter than the RME on its lowest setting, although the RME has the auto dark feature. Overall, this is the sexiest looking solid-state amplifier in my opinion. Just a side-note, the locking mechanism on the balanced port is great. I thought I would dislike it, but plugging headphones into it is very seamless and smooth compared to balanced ports on amps like the 789.

SOUND IMPRESSIONS

(I am feeding the soloist with the RME ADI-2 DAC via balanced). If I had to describe the sound in a few words, I’d classify it as incredibly dynamic and transparent without being harsh. I did my initial listening with the Senn 6XX, and although I do not have much experience with many relatively high-end amplifiers, my goodness I’ve never heard the 6XX sound this phenomenal; the soloist makes these sing! Bass is well-controlled, defined, and tight whilst being incredibly precise. Mids are so transparent, clean, and natural. Highs are very detailed but not harsh, making it non-fatiguing overall (Sennheiser veil completely gone). Next, I tried my Focal Clears on these, although briefly. Because the Soloist is very powerful, I could hear some hiss on medium gain via balanced. To mitigate this, I set the Soloist to low gain and increased the reference level on the RME to +1dBu or +7 dBu. Low gain is really meant for IEMs but it had no problem driving the Clears after increasing it and to me, sounds the best with the Clears. The Clears, however, did not improve as significantly as the 6XX for example. It still sounded great and it is definitely a better pairing than the Clear/789 combo. Very natural, dynamic, and clear. Yes, I know many have raved about Clear/tube amp pairing but no tubes for me yet! Soon, soon! #feliks

Overall, the Burson Soloist is fantastic based on my experience so far, and it sits at a price-point where not many solid-state amplifiers fill. You have Topping under $1000. SPL, Violectric, Focal Arche, etc… all above $1500. The Soloist sits in the middle, and to me, offers a lavish musical experience. #s3xysoloist

Update: As I spend more time with this amp, I’m even more convinced that this is a keeper! So much detail, control, and “dimensionality” while being smooth and non-fatiguing. I highly recommend you give this thing a listen!

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Excellent write up!

I’m very interested in this unit. It sounds like it’s a winner.

Congratulations.

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Nice write up. I think the OP Amps that comes in the model you have are V6’s but not sure if its the Classic or Vivid. . . As OP Amp rolling in their devices can have an impact on sound/texture.

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Thank you!

There’s not much content out there for burson amps used for headphones but I’m glad I took the risk.

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Thank you!

The op amps are the vivid…the ability to roll op amps is a neat feature but the soloist comes with their latest and greatest one so I didn’t bother testing out other op amps.

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Thanks, great write up. Mine is scheduled for delivery Tuesday.

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Appreciate it! Would love to hear your thoughts on it as well.

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Great writeup. A very interesting read.

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Thank you, thank you! I hope this amp gets more attention. It’s pretty great.

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Burson makes a great amp.

I bought their original Soloist 13 years ago when I was new to headphone stereo, upgrading from my first amp which was the Schiit Asgard. At the time the Soloist cost $1000, I think, and at 4 watts had the most power of anything on the market. I bought it for my LCD2-Rev2 with Moon Audio Silver Dragon cables and absolutely fell in love with the sound–I’ve never personally heard or read of a better amp-headphone-cable pairing. After the Soloist is on for 2-3 hours and its discrete components heat up fully, the sound becomes magical.

Over the years my collection of amps has grown to 11 and the Soloist is still one of my favorites…especially with Orthos that need lots of juice to be driven to their complete potential. These days I too am using the Soloist with RME ADI-2 and couldn’t be happier with the pairing.

In that connection, another great combination is Soloist/RME/HD 650 with Cardas Clear cables. I know it sounds stupid to spend $600 for cables on a $350 headphone, but the HD 650 scales as well or better than anything around, and of course their “musicality” is legendary. The clarity from the RME and Cardas Clears lift the “veil” of the 650 and delivers wonderful sound that’s both fun and pristine. When I was buying the Clears from Music Direct, the sales rep agreed it was stupid but added “those 650’s will never sound better.” He was right.

The Burson story is interesting. As I recall it goes back 2 or 3 decades to a bunch of guys in Australia and the Pacific Rim who were really into headphone music. The only problem was there wasn’t enough high quality hardware around at the time to suit them. So they started building their own stuff. And because several of them were electrical engineers and physicists, their components turned out to be top notch. Over time other people in the hobby heard about their equipment and wanted to buy it. Eventually the demand got so big that they incorporated Burson and got into the business. Glad they did.

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Yeah, I noticed it takes quite some time to warm up.

I have no doubt those 650s will sound phenomenal, but for me personally, I’d save that $600 for a “better” headphone. Of course, I’d still be willing to try that cardas cable if I had the opportunity. With the new soloist however, I honestly think the “veil” is already gone, at least to my ears.

Yeah, their story is interesting. Too bad I don’t see many audiophiles with burson amps, at least from what I’ve seen. Many probably do but maybe not enough exposure? Regardless, my experience so far has been great, and they’re pretty responsive with emails. Not to mention you can get up to 3yrs warranty and lifetime warranty for their opamps! Anyway, glad I took the plunge. Thanks for sharing!

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Congratulations…you own a world-class amp!!

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Any desire to upgrade your old soloist to the new one?

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Not really. My original Soloist has the manual attenuator, which results in exceedingly low distortion. Plus I have other amps with balanced inputs and outputs. Everything considered I’m about 98% happy with my current rig. Although I wouldn’t mind having the remote control.

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I see. The remote control is fairly well-built. However, I rarely find a use for it since the amp is pretty close to me. I do wish it has more controls like gain and output switching.

I really want to test out the preamp section of the soloist. But, I have no active speakers yet, unfortunately.

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It arrived early. Gave it an hour to warm up. I was planning to just sample it and then let it break in overnight. That was an hour ago.Still listening and enjoying.

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Niiice! Two hours of warm-up was all it needed to start enjoying I found.

Which cans are you using and what dac?

Oh, and if you don’t mind, could you check if your unit suddenly jumps in volume between volume level 51 and 52 on medium gain? I’m wondering if it was maybe designed that way or if it is just my unit.

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Still listening. :grinning: :headphones:
Yes there is a slightly more than normal jump in volume between 51-52 on mine too. Ether 2 & Schiit Yggy.

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Ok, that’s a relief. Thanks for checking!

Enjoy, and come back with more impressions.

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Quick assessment. Sat down to do a quick listen before giving it an overnight break in. Still doing the quick listen over 3 hours later.

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