I am using Ibasso DC04 PRO portable dac/amp and I was looking for a compact desktop dac/amp combo. Hence I have auditioned few products that included FIIO K7, HiFiMan EF400, Shanling H5, Burson Playmate 2, etc. K7 and H5 equipped with AKM chips were good, they did have strong low end/bass frequency articulation with laid back character along with good mid and upper frequency reproduction. I use a DT 700 PRO X (I know the journey should be from audiophile grade headphones to studio monitoring headphones, but I started other way around) has surprisingly powerful bass thump and impact for a Beyerdynamic headphone, paired with K7 and H5 there was laid back musical fuller/rounded bass but it was bleeding into the mids which was overpowering the vocals especially the male vocals.
I was already used Ibasso DC 04 PRO’s neutral tuning with a balance between commendable technicalities and analog musicality with DT 700 PRO X. When I paired DT 700 PRO X with EF400 and Playmate 2 I was greeted with the similar neutral tuning that I was hearing with Ibasso DC04 PRO but with better reproduction of music across all the frequencies. I realised the magic of a desktop amp, with EF 400 being R2R dac the technicalities were great but the amplification was lean which was missing something.
After doing an extensive A-B testing of HE400 and Playmate 2, I understood what was missing. Playmate 2 displayed a notch better technicalities, it has a wider soundstage with a precise placement of instruments and the amplification is top notch. ESS dacs are know for their ultra neutral sound signature in other sense lean sounding analytical reproduction. Burson engineers have taken that signal and put it through their phenomenal amplification. Burson’s amplification shows you all the technicalities and subtle instruments with strong imaging, placement and separation for analytical listening and somehow at the same time is organic, analog, musical bliss. Playmate 2 being a 3W amp there is a plenty of power through all the frequencies. It’s brilliant especially the synergy with DT 700 PRO X. I know that is a crazy amount of power to drive a 48 ohm headphone, I was on low gain mode and was get very loud distortion free audio around 40 volume steps, but listening around 30 volume step should be good for the healthy and long lasting hearing [ what is the point of hobby if the hearing diminishes before it is supposed to :) ].