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Writer: Orazio Massafra

First I want to say that it was a real pleasure to be one of the lucky participants in this European version of The People's Review. I want to thank all the people at Burson, Audez'e and 6moons for a wonderful opportunity. Music is very important to me. It's like medicine to cure my soul. I love Jazz and Blues but during the day listen to various musical genres depending on my mood. For this review I chose CDs and songs that seemed more significant than others to highlight the qualities of the combo and obviously still feed my heart:
• Dire Straits – On Every Street
• Diana Krall – Live From Paris
• Peter Cincotti – On The Moon
• Tsuyoshi Yamamoto – Autumn in Seattle
• Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard – Soundtrack from The Gladiator. I love this CD. It reminds me of scenes of the movie and makes me claim "Hispanic, Hispanic..." in my listening room.

Back to Burson/Audez'e. In short I'll say that this was a winning high-level combo which sounded so exciting and involving as to make one forget the small troubles of life. In more detail I tried the DAC section of the HA160D against the one of my Arcam Diva CD 92, a well-regarded player equipped with a ring DAC from dCS priced  at roughly €2.000. In a direct A/B comparison in my bigger system the Burson not only performed on the same overall level as the Arcam on frequency response, soundstaging and dynamics but went slightly beyond it with resolution of microdynamics and clarity of details.

Then I wanted to test the performance of the Burson as preamplifier/DAC against the KRK Ergo, a Firewire external sound card that works as a pre/DAC plus room correction device up to 450Hz. I connected each unit to a different analog input of my integrated tube amplifier, a Copland CTA 401, and both I and my wife—who has a keen ear—found that the HA160D had well-extended bass a little tighter and more focused than that of the KRK although it lacked the latter's room correction facility! Moreover we found that voices were cleaner and more open. These were small differences to be sure, not day and night, but this still was a remarkable result! The high frequencies were well represented but non-fatiguing and not harsh. The soundstage extended quite outside my speakers and there was the right depth of field, with every instrument having its own space and air around it. Summing up, the greatest quality was how the Burson let me concentrate only on the music and forget about it and the rest of the gear in my hifi system.

Finally using it as desktop headphone amplifier with my notebook and ripped WAV files or my preferred internet radio stations—one for all,—I can report that it was very powerful and drove my Beyerdynamic DT990 (250 ohms, 2005 home edition) with ease. It showed a rich full-bodied sound with a bit of warmth on the mids and the right clarity on highs without being edgy or clinical. And this despite the DT 990's being slight biased in the treble. In a few words, it sounded so exciting and non-fatiguing that one won't miss big expensive speakers. I didn't know if I wanted to return this machine because I feared that I'd miss it.

With the Audez'e LCD-3 a strange thing happened. As soon as they arrived, I connected them to the Burson. The sound was nice but did not impress. The first impression was one of less top extension compared to my Beyers (see earlier comment). Then with every passing day and CD I no longer thought about bass, mids and highs to find it very natural and satisfying how the LCD-3 sounded. After listening for over an hour to the LCD-3, I then returned to my DT990. To my great surprise they suddenly seemed broken - thin, with poor bass, cold mids and excessive highs! What had happened?

I probably adjusted or settled into the captivating sound of the Audez'e. They are not exactly linear (bass and mids are slightly enhanced relative to the highs) but sound like the sirens bewitching Ulysses (Audez'e, excuse my pun). When you take the Audez'e off there's a sense of abstinence. This is not a headphone for sound engineers but music lovers and audiophiles who don't seek maximum response linearity but accept an interpretation of reality similar to how an impressionist painting differs from a photograph.

How did it sound then? The Audez'e LCD-3 was very dynamic with plenty of detail. It had very full-bodied always focused bass joined to a midband that was clear and transparent with a touch of warmth. Voices and instruments like sax or guitar were mellow but well-defined. The treble was well represented but just a little recessed versus the other bands. This was not a dark-sounding headphone per se but did require about an hour of acclimation. After that one is recalibrated. The Audez'e did not produce listening fatigue, the physical weight was well distributed over my head and the ear pads were comfortable and soft. Damn, it was time to return them and get used again to my own headphones.