To audiophiles, music is like a religion! Through music we rise above the daily confines of our lives. Music enables us to travel through time and space, to see life through the eyes of others and to fall in love all over again.
Listening to music is a very personal adventure that lasts for a life time.
However in our ever increasingly cramped society with its accelerated lifestyle, this very personal experience is all too often rudely interrupted. From the sporadic mobile ring tones, the neighbor's dog, the Harley Davidson starting up, or the microwave that just keeps on beeping to remind us we have uncollected food waiting for us, all of these things interrupt our fellow audiophile from their pilgrimage of music.
At times like this, we need an uncompromising Head-Fi system.
Uncompromising is the only word worthy of our Head-phone amp - HA-160. The HA-100 employs an advance discrete power supply and power filtration network, and, for the very first time, the Burson opamp technology has been channeled into a head phone amplifier. True to our design philosophy it is completely free of ICs.
Well, listening to an IC based machine is like listening to a grand concert through a key-hole! With ICs you are missing out on the micro detail that makes music musical and the macro dynamic that thumbs our hearts with excitement. There is only one reason for an IC to appear in audio gear, and that is cost saving at the expense of music!
IC Opamps are bad for audio!!!
There is a common misconception among audiophiles: That is an Integrated Operational Amplifier (IC Opamp) is equivalent or even superior to a discrete design. Nothing can be further from the truth!
Restricted by the fabrication process and technological limitation an IC Opamp is an inferior substitute for a proper discrete design. An IC Opamp is entirely constructed on a single dice of silicon waver, which is smaller than a grain of rice. Limited by its size and heat dispersion, it is impossible to incorporate a top quality audio transistor like the A970, or K170 which feature in the Burson Audio discrete design. During the construction of a discrete transistor a chemical optimization process take place for each pieces of silicon according to there application (NPN or PNP). This optimisation process is critical to the performance of the final product. Some of the benefit included:
Optimized for breakdown voltage and performance.
Optimized for near-true complementary.
But this process can not take place on an intergraded circuit since all transistors is fabricated on the same piece of silicon. This is one of the major drawn back of an intergraded circuit compare to a discrete circuit. All components on the silicone dice are formed by droplet of chemical. This fabrication process can not create quality parts like the 1% tolerant metal film resistor, or the super stable silver mica capacitor. Since they are all connected (hence integrated) they can not be individually tested and matched. In an IC opamp the conductor layer that connects all the parts is formed by a layer of aluminum vapor that is thinner than the water vapor left on foggy windscreen. This poor conductor is the silent killer to musical texture.
The close proximity of components also poses a problem for audio signals, where that delicate signal that music lovers pursue, will be masked by EMI noise. In the end, the consumer is getting an opamp that is built with a bunch of second grade parts that is unable to yield the best results, connected via a thin layer of aluminum foil.
An IC opamp is nothing more than a cost cutting substitute in audio application which we hate with a passion!
Some say, “You have to match the right head-phone amp to the right head-phone.” We say , “That’s only true if the head-phone amp is not good enough!” Burson Audio never beats around the bush. We believe that if our amp can drive the best then it will drive the rest.
As to-date, the Sennheiser- HD650 is widely regarded as one of the long time references. However, Its open back design and 300ohm load also makes it one of the most difficult to drive headphones on the planet. True to our design methods, the HA-100 is built with a differential input stage. Neutralizing our Burson Opamp technology it has no decoupling capacitor on its signal path. This has removed the fundamental bottleneck that is often associated with lesser designs. Powered by 2 pairs of top quality Toshiba transistors delivering up to 700mW of driving power into 300ohm! (That is more than 2W of driving power to a typical 50ohm headphone.) The entire head amp is configured in Class-A operation to remove any cross over distortion that may otherwise occur..
As a result, we’ve ended up with a head phone amp that can drive a small book shelf speaker. Is it over kill? Probably. Is it worthy of the Burson badge? Without a shadow of doubt.
Headphone amps are often criticized for their lack of sense of space. While most manufactures are keen to tell you that this is the norm for headphone amps, the truth of the matter is that it is an unpleasant form of distortion.
Once you have listened with the HA-100 you will be taken by the sense of space. In addition, the delicacy and transparency of the high-frequencies are beyond reproach. Teamed with the HD650, one can hear all the vibrations transpired on the recording microphone. The good the bad and the ugly. Listening to Norah Jones’s Come away with me, one can hear the variation in recording quality from track to track. One can also tell that the earlier tracks such as “Don’t know why” and the sensual, plaintive sounds of “Come away with me” were recorded in less than ideal conditions, while the latter tracks were greatly improved. But most importantly one can hear Norah’s un-surpassing love for music and those moments when “the handsome band” was having so much fun. When the last note falls in “The long day is over”, you know that your soul has been cleansed once again.
The function of Opamps at the output stage is as important as the lens on a cinema projector. Regardless of the analytical capability of the audio gear, an inferior opamp will halve a machine’s performance, and distort every dB of sonic imagery.
Just like our acclaimed P-160 amplifiers, the HA-160 features our Burson HD audio opamp. It enables the HA-160 to reproduce music in superior resolution and accuracy.
Low Noise Power Supply (LNPS)
Just like an athlete needs clean air to perform at an optimum standard – audio equipment needs clean power to reproduce transparent and natural music. Utilizing the Burson Audio discrete (IC free) low noise regulator technology we have ensured that only the cleanest power is running through every component of our HA-160.
A performance focused volume control
At the time when an audio signal is passing through the volume control, it is still at its weakest. At this stage, the audio signal is very vulnerable to noise pollution and interference. A major source of such distortion is the commonly used remote volume control adopted by most manufactures.
Burson Audio recognized the drawbacks associated with remote volume controls and deemed them unacceptable. Instead, we developed a 24 stepped attenuator, constructed with the best quality components available. Our Burson stepped attenuator ensures preservation of even the weakest audio signal; The air between instruments, the decay after an attack and all micro details that makes music enjoyable.
Resonance Free Aluminum (RFA) Enclosure
The HA-160 is housed in a 6mm case, constructed from high precision machined aluminum. This enclosure allows the AB-160, to achieve a very high mechanical damping factor, which reduces any microphonic effects, that may degrade the clarity of sonic performance.
The enclosure was also constructed to act as a giant heat-sink, which allows the Class-A headamp to run cooler, and remain optimized at all times.
Input impedance: 47 KOhms
Frequency response: 5Hz (-0.3dB) to 35 kHz (-1dB)
Signal to noise ratio: >98dB at 0dB gain
THD: <0.001% at 6mW/300 Ohms
Channel separation: >70dB/10kHz
Output power: 650mW/300 Ohms, 800mW/60 Ohms
Output impedance: line out 60 Ohms, phones out 5 Ohms
Power dissipation: <10W, internal, regulated power supply
Dimensions: 280 x 110 x 44mm3 (case only)
Connectors (audio): 2 x phone jacks 6.35mm
- 1x parallel to line out
- 1x line out muting
- gold plated RCA connectors with Teflon isolation
Weight: app. 6 kg
Color: silver anodized aluminum