HA-160D review by Joe Elliott (WHAS radio host)

Several things strike me about the 160D. The build is first rate. It's obvious that a lot of attention was paid to choosing the right components for the product. The power supply and the dacs analog section are particularly impressive to me. Things are built to a price point, so it must be tempting for manufacturers to contain costs in these areas, but Sonics suffer. My ears easily confirmed that the Burson team made the right choices when building the 160D.The 160 headphone amp is impressive, so I was curious to see if the 160D would be as good. Surprisingly, it's a bit better to my ears. I found it slightly richer, but it's very close to the HA-160. The stand alone headphone amp has received lots of deserved praise, but I'm confident in saying that the headphone section of the 160D is as good or better.The dac section shines most for me. There are other dacs with more slam, or an exaggerated sparkling top end, or an artificially warm midrange, etc. But the 160D souds very natural--closer to real music. There is lots of information with plenty of macro and micro dynamics, and instruments have their own space.My favorite $1000 dac does a great job extracting tons of information off the cd, but somehow in the process, the music gets lost. Many after market companies have tried to modify this dac to make it more involving. It does lots of things right, but with all of it's strengths, it's too sterile, and the soul of the music is gone.I smiled when I read the 6Moons review of the 160D calling it a new "benchmark" in this component and price class. I agree.I use the dac with an inexpensive Oppo DV-980 universal player as a transport with good results. It will be fun to try other transports and use the USB feature sometime in the future, but I'm in no hurry.Congrats to the Burson team for another great product. There are lots of dac choices at this price point, but the 160D offers great added value with a first class headphone amp and multiple inputs in addition to a top of the line dac.The 160D is dynamic and transparent. The pre-amp section sounds good and is a great convenience, and the headphone amp is outstanding. But most of all, the 160D has a natural sound that connects me to the music on an emotional level. Joe ElliottMore about Joe Elliott Joe works for a news/talk AM station in Louisville Kentucky. www.whas.comThere he hosted the evening talk program for about 15 years. He now hosts the Sunday Morning talk program for the station and fill in for other vacationing hosts. He has recently launched a podcast with features and interviews, hoping to attract some local sponsors for his station.