Excellent Headphone Amp – Looks Good Too
- Very strong output.
- Looks Great.
- Nice smooth volume control.
- Wonderful sound quality.
- Can be used as a pre-amp.
- Fits inside PC case if required.
- Very low noise floor.
- No remote control (nitpicking).
I have been an avid headphone user for many years now. I think it’s fair to say that I’ve got to the point where I would always prefer to listen to music through headphones than loudspeakers. In all fairness, perhaps one of the main reasons for this is because I don’t live alone and my family really don’t share my taste in music. Also, I do like to listen to my music fairly loud – far louder than I would through speakers.
Throughout the years I have had an incredible number of headphones and playback devices including various portable Minidisc, portable CD players and MP3 players galore but the key thing is that they were portable. Although I did have a full sized and rather excellent analog based hifi system, it’s been many years since that was my primary listening system.
I feel it’s only fair to point out that I don’t talky consider myself as a headphone snob – I have found myself enjoying some really inexpensive Bluetooth headphones costing less than 20 quid. One final piece of information about me is that I now listen to music mostly using my LG V20 phone and a combination of different headphones – many of which are Bluetooth.
I know, I know. The Flat-Earth brigade is wringing their hands right about now at the mention of using Bluetooth headphones but to be honest I feel that they are now good enough for more than simple casual portable listening. Don’t get me wrong though. I still do very much appreciate excellent sound quality.
Whilst I can honestly say that I will probably never spend thousands of pounds on high-end gear (perhaps more because of financial circumstances rather than a complete lack of desire). When I’m sat down at home, listening to music intently, portability and wireless features will always take a back seat to sound quality.
Burson Audio very kindly sent me their Fun headphone amplifier to review. Although I have used headphone amplifiers and external DAC’s before, they have always been portable units – with the limitations that all portable units have. The Fun is the first desktop-based amplifier I have used and wow – what a difference.
I won’t go into too much detail about the externals of the unit. Basically, this amplifier can act as both a headphone amplifier and pre-amp thanks to its outputs on the back of the unit. This makes it an ideal match for active loudspeakers or systems with power amps.
This makes it an ideal match for active loudspeakers or systems with power amps.
The unit is powered by a fairly small external power supply but is also designed to be inserted into a desktop computer system and can be powered from the PC itself. The Fun supports pass-through for microphone input so gamers shouldn’t have any problems.
Needless to say, the unit is pretty solid and very well made. When powered up, the only real giveaway that the unit is powered on is a small blue LED on the front – you certainly wouldn’t tell the unit was on by just listening through your headphones as there’s no noise floor on the Fun it’s completely and utterly silent – when when using fairly sensitive IEM’s.
To test the unit I tried a number of different headphones including:
- Sennheiser HD598SR
- Ultimate Ears Triple Fi 10 IEM’s
- Sony WH1000Xm2’s in active wired mode
- 1More Triple Driver IEM’s
Needless to say, the Fun powered all of them to extremely high levels without running out of steam or even a hint of distortion. Even when listening at low volume levels, the sense of power and scale definitely still comes across – far more so than directly from the LG V20 phone (which has a far more powerful headphone out than what you would find on most mobile phones).
Whilst this degree of power is pretty much overkill when using IEM’s, it’s still more than welcome and gives the music a real sense of powerful dynamics and impact. The lack of electronic noise floor really helps when using IEM’s with the amp.
Many purists feel that all an amplifier should be is a ‘wire with gain’. They should neither add nor subtract quality from the original signal – simply make it louder. In all fairness, the Fun does offer a degree of coloration to the sound in my opinion – but we are talking about such subtleties that it could simply be a side effect of having all that additional power at your disposal – in no way does it spoil the character of the music.
The amp is called Fun for a reason – it’s not pretentious, it hasn’t been made by magic pixies nor has it been breathed on by God. It’s simply a very well designed and made headphone amp/pre-amp which looks good and sounds great.
In conclusion, I personally feel that the Burson Audio Fun is an excellent headphone amplifier and has definitely brought all my wired headphones to a whole new level of musicality.