Jumping around on sixteen legs. After a week of clocking time on all the 8-legged critter pairs, I started auditions from the top. This meant kit beyond what Fun's positioning suggests as typical. Before I'd use a laptop's 3.5mm output—sans USB, that couples two analog gain stages in series, the first your computer's opamp—I wanted a top-quality source signal to hear what Burson could do when not fed a lesser signal. That meant a nightstand setup of Soundaware D100 Pro SD card transport and COS Engineering H1 in volume-control bypass aka -0.0dB DAC mode. Headphones were Final's D8000 planars. At 10:30 fun, those took off in full swing.
Unlike the stout gold-plated pins of Burson's discrete V6 stacks, the JRC contacts were more flimsy. They needed to be handled with care to not bend out of shape from repeat plugging. Once you've compared them, you'll stop. They're perfectly respectable and particularly so for $299. They turn Fun into the Schiit of Oz. But sampling the Aussie opamps spotlights a metallic slightly rusty sheen and tone/imaging which are starker, thinner and edgier for the JRC. Whilst beginners might initially mistake the confluence of those crispier aspects as resolved or articulate, they'd quickly relate to them as the subliminal flickering of neon lights. Contrast is grainier, colours lack sunshine and below it all hides a subtly nervous unrest which vanishes with either Burson opamp.
In this photo, I deliberately over-sharpened the 5534D in Photoshop. It makes for a relatable equivalent of sonic crispness which is edgier and less natural.
The discrete alternates bulked out tone, beefed up gravitas, eliminated edge limning and relaxed/deepened the sensation of musical momentum. They removed some whitish grain and enhanced the colour palette's black values to enrich timbres. Whilst those gains came up in parallel, there was divergence too just as it should have been to validate two different tuning options.
Volume position representative of what I actually used on the Final planars.
Whilst cheap news would delight in outing a manufacturer's own claims as bunk, I heard nothing of the sort. To my ears, red's promise of "dynamic, transparent and exciting" versus orange's "intimate, exquisite and engaging" made perfect sense. Relative to my own aural triggers, I'd call out Vivid for more energetic attacks, hence a grippier, jumpier and subjectively quicker mien; Classic for doing it softer, heavier and more relaxed/settled. You'll appreciate how those descriptors slot themselves quite neatly into Burson's own vocabulary. Recalling Burson's sound from a few years ago—prior to this lower-priced new crowd-funded range—I flashed on warm, robust, dry not shiny/airy and of good not high resolution. As such, I understood why the orange group of attributes had been called 'classic'. The Classic reminded me of classic Burson sound. Those wishing for a bit more front-foot pep, more air, sheen, subjective 'speed' and incisive impact would go Vivid. With those personality profiles confirmed, I wanted a classic mano i mano with Kinki's Exicon lateral Mosfet amp. At twice the price delivered, it was my closest competitor to judge how far team Burson had pushed their budget proposition; and where a classic linear power supply and very specialized hifi transistors might still hold the advantage.