Prior to purchasing Burson pre/pp160 I was using NAD 162/272 to drive Tony’s Andromeda modified speakers called Zarathustra. Modified NAD 542 cd player -burson discrete opamps and clock. Burson buffer with Burson interconnect cables and Project 6.2 turntable in addition. As you can see I am in touch with Burson’s products for some time. I believe I was unbiased with my impressions.

For many months I was looking for a new pre/power combo or integrated amp. I was considering all options, DIY Triode Dick and Aqua blue valve preamps, ASR, Gryphon, Supratek, Magnat valve and many second hands on Audiogone and…. I auditioned Classe, Music Fidelity, McIntosh-valve and solid state, Primare and M3 NAD.
The audition of the above amplifies never satisfied me.. Improvement was none or little. Considering the money that I have to spend would make it a non-worthwhile move in the end.

I had Burson on my mind as well and after an email contact I ended up purchasing a tested combo as an absolute bargain.

The combo was delivered in two boxes securely packed. After I opened the boxes a pleasant surprise. No picture on the Burson site does this combo justice. It is a very good looking hi-fi. I got an even better feeling when I opened the top plates which revealed an almost perfect inside with implementations that any DIY-er would be happy with. Only negative point was an unprofessionally used tape to insulate cables connecting a transformer with a back plate of the power amp. I could not figure out why they used this to insulate cables. Everywhere else, cables are finished professionally with a heat shrink. When powered on ,due to a bigger openings for the led light, pre160 light seemed much stronger than pp160.

I listened to all of my cd collection and some LPs through NAD phone preamp. Some band names: The doors, Dire straits, Steely Dan, Joan Armatrading, Talk Talk, Pink Floyd, Grace Jones …, M. Davis, Abdullah Ibrahim, Edin Bosnic Quartet, Sinan Alimanovic Quartet, Cassandra Wilson, Marcus Miller, Ali Akbar Kahn, Abou Kalil, …,Tchaikovsky’s violin concert, Beethoven’s violin and piano concert…

I am not sure is it appropriate to compare NAD and Burson due to a difference in RRP. However the idea, that could not be fulfilled so far, was to get something clearly better than NAD and worth the money. ,

Burson combo presented without any doubt as a high end performer.
Full bodied and round bass with perfect finish. Mids clean, musical, transparent. High tones neutral, will never hurt your ears. Excellent dynamics.

Listeners used to a coloured sound will be surprised and initially get a feeling that the combo is more analytical than musical. Just closing eyes will turn you to the “reality” and an impression that a concert is going on and you are sitting close to the stage. No matter what type of music you are listening to if recorded well you will enjoy it.. It would not make some CDs sound “better” as NAD did. What comes in, you will get out “just” amplified. You can listen to it for hours, afterwards be refreshed and wanting more.

I audition NAD 162/272 again and tried Burson pre160/ NAD272. The sound was madded, bass unfinished and unclear, high tones fatiguing and “painful”. It had more power but paradoxically less dynamics. Suddenly the way back was no option any more.

In addition and as above, I auditioned a many times more expensive amplifiers in a different environment. Non of them succeed to be clearly better than NAD in every aspect of the sound quality as did Burson pre/pp160 combo. It is definitely worth the asking price and more.

Highly recommended.

Negative points:
I would appreciate more power or flexibility to make it a mono block.
Some will appreciate a remote control, I do not.
There is a hiss/click when volume control is moved however when in position it does not effects the sound.
Although it is subjective, a darker colour, will make it look even better.

PS: two weeks after this letter above system delivered a magic while reproducing Wayne Shorter’s “beyond the sound barrier”.


Perth WA

Original Post: