So I’ve had my burson HA160 for exactly 1 week now and I’d just like to write my impressions down, as much for my own benefit as anyone else’s.
In a few weeks time I will revisit my impressions and see how they have changed, if at all.The first thing that I liked about the burson amp was that it had no frills. Just the volume knob and the two headphone outputs on the front, and on the back just 1 set of RCA inputs and the power source.
I’m a big fan of the simple design and the amp still manages to look like an elegant piece of audio furniture (even if I do have it crammed into my tiny little study room)
Along with the amp comes a user manual which makes the reader feel like they have just bought something special, something which represents the pinnacle of a group of enthusiast audiophile’s journey.
The next thing I wanted to test is if there was any background noise or ground loop hum. I connected the burson to my musiland 02 USB Dac and then plugged in my AD1000PRM
Which is my most sensitive headphone. I gradually turned the volume up to the maximum and then back down (with no music playing) and was relieved to hear the sound of pitch black silence at each volume phase.
After leaving it on to warm up for an hour it was finally time to listen to a few songs and straight away I was impressed with what I heard. I wasn’t listening critically, but just to see if I liked what I heard.
My new Pro750 headphones had less than 30 hours on them so I figured I would burn in the headphones and the amp at the same time.
I’m not a believer in burning in a solid state amp but what the heck, they burned in for 50 hours.
With my Pro750 I really wanted to test out the bass of this amp. So I loaded up a lot of rap, hip hop and some electronica. first thing I should say is that with the Pro750 I liked the sound a lot better out of the left output.
It was just much more powerfull and dynamic. The Pro750 really shines with this amp. I wouldn’t ever call myself a basshead but this combination might just convert me :) Seriously the bass is just that good.
Some of the artists I listened to were: Tiesto, Robert Miles, Armin Van Buuren, Tech N9ne, Twista, and Ice Cube. “Childhood” by Robert Miles is one of my most often listened to tracks but the HA160 helped me to fall in love with it all over again. The rumbling bass never sounded so good and it never made the other frequencies sound recessed. The bass in the rap songs was tight and hard hitting – just like I want it with rap music.
With my AD1000PRM I listened to Dido and then Alison Krauss to see how it was for female vocals. This is definitely a very strong point of this combination. “Life For Rent” sounded more intimate and engaging than I had ever heard it before. Dido’s voice literally gave me goosebumps. It was a similar experience with “Whiskey Lullaby” by Alison Krauss. Each guitar pluck and strum felt like it was being examinedunder a microscope as it had so much weight, timbre and decay that I had not heard previously. I also listened to some ACDC and Overkill albums to test how much grunt the HA160 really had. Let me just saythat it didn’t break a sweat. It presents the songs in a very authoritative way – no shortage of PRaT or slam. Everything sounded very tight and carried lots of impact.
The aggressiveness and speed of the AD1000PRM really lends itself well to rock and heavy metal music, and I felt that the HA160 only added to this. The bass was very well articulated and very punchy – particularly the mid bass. The highs were very extended and detailed but this could be fatiguing for listening to some songs which are quite bright. This wasn’t a big issue for me but every now and then I did find a song for which I had to do some slight EQ adjustment of the treble. Finally to test the resolving power of the HA160 I listened to some classical. My choice was Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” which I am very familiar with. Honestly the violins and string quartet have never sounded so gorgeous as they did with this combo. Light, airy and sparkling highs that never sounded harsh or bright.
If I had to sum up the HA160 in 1 word it would be transparent. It allows the headphones to do what they do best. So far it has made my fun headphones like the Pro750 really shine and at the same time ithas also made my detailed headphones like the AD1000RM really do their thing. It’s like it just provided the right platform for the headphones signature to shine to the fullest. It never colors the sound in any way.It has allowed me to fully appreciate what my headphones are capable of. The 1 area I would deduct marks for is the volume pot. Adjusting the volume mid track with the HA160 is pretty bad IMO so I find myself usingmy windows volume settings instead.