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.
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.
(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!