Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: 27" iMac with 5K Retina display, 4GHz quad-core engine with 4.4GHz turbo boost, 3TB Fusion Drive, 16GB SDRAM, OSX Yosemite, PureMusic 2.04, Tidal & Qobuz lossless streaming, COS Engineering D1, Metrum Hex, AURALiC Vega, Aqua Hifi La Scala MkII, Vinnie Rossi Lio, Apple iPod Classic 160GB (AIFF), Astell& Kern AK100 modified by Red Wine Audio, Cambridge Audio iD100, Pro-Ject Dock Box S Digital, Pure i20
Preamplifiers: Nagra Jazz, Esoteric C-03, COS Engineering D1, Vinnie Rossi Lio (TVC passive), Clones Audio AP1 & AP2 [on review]
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8, FirstWatt S1, F6; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; Goldmund Job 225; Gato Audio DIA-250; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; April Music Stello S100 MkII, Vinnie Rossi Lio, AURALiC Merak [on loan], Clones Audio 55pm [on loan], SST Audio Son of Ampzilla II [on review]
Loudspeakers: EnigmAcoustics M1, Albedo Audio Aptica, soundkaos Wave 40, Boenicke Audio W5se, Zu Audio Submission; German Physiks HRS-120, Eversound Essence, Gallo Strada II w. TR-3D subwoofer, Sounddeco Sigma 2, Voxativ 9.87 system [on review], Auris Audio Poison 3 & 5 [on review]
Headphones: Forza Audio Works recabled Audeze LCD-2/LCD-XC, Sennheiser HD800, MrSpeakers™ Alpha Prime; ALO-Audio recabled Beyerdynamic T1/T5p; HifiMan HE1000; Aëdle VK1; Focal Spirit One
Headphone amps: Bakoon AMP-12R, Eximus DP1, Stello HA100MkII, Questyle CMA800R (x2), Vinnie Rossi Lio, Burson Audio Soloist
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Event; KingRex uArt double-header USB; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Arkana Research XLR/RCA and speaker cables [on loan]
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all components
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Krion amp shelf
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators
Room: Irregularly shaped 9.5 x 10m open floor plan with additional 2nd-floor loft; wood-paneled sloping ceiling; parquet flooring; lots of non-parallel surfaces (pictorial tour here)
Review component retail: $249 - 299

Divide & conquer.
Toyota did it with Lexus, Raidho with Scansonic. The latest hifi firm to spin off and multiply are the Bursonists from Down Under. Say howdy to new brand Supreme Sound Audio. Burson's roots in DIY are well known. So are their discrete op-amps. They're used by solder jockeys, mod men and OEMs alike. Burson dealer products came much later. Now Supreme Sound serves just the DIY/OEM crowd whilst Burson Audio continue offering proper retail therapy. SSA's first product is the wickedly named Lycan. Unlike its immortal adversary the vampire, popular fiction's most popular shape shifter morphs back and forth (on occasion, a full moon seems to be optional). That shifty morphology is key. Like Burson's Soloist platform, the Lycan is a powerful headfi/preamp combo. But unlike the Soloist, its op-amps are meant to be rolled. Shape-shift the sound to your fancy.

That feature is called the opamp test bench. The Lycan's open assembly of nude circuit board with opaque cover floating on standoffs but cut out for easy access to the jugular not only saves coin over Burson's signature vault constructions. It makes swapping those parts easy game, no screwing around involved. It's true plug'n'play. Where the DIY line blurs just a bit? The Lycan is available fully assembled too. It's not just a kit. Just so it sells direct, maintaining strict apartheid with Burson's traditional dealer products. Like Goldmund in Geneva do with their 'based-on' budget line under the Job Sys brand, Burson Audio now get to—werewolf alert!—"cannibalize" their costlier models. Simplify circuits, eliminate features, go easier on the chassis, eliminate distribution markups. Voilà, one appeals to a new crowd at much lower price points without poisoning the dear dealer well. After all, don't shit where you eat is good advice even for werewolves.

Devise & compare. This is how the press release put it. "Melbourne, Australia | August, 2015 | Burson Audio, manufacturer of fine USB DAC/headphone amplifier/preamplifiers, headphone amplifiers and stereo amplifiers, are pleased to announce a new division, Supreme Sound Audio. Whilst built to the same exacting standards as all Burson Audio products, Supreme Sound Audio focuses on providing components for DIYers and OEM audio manufacturers. 

"Burson’s iconic all-discrete op-amps are the first products shifted to the SSA site. Marking the launch of SSA, we’re offering for sale the Lycan. As a headphone amp, it delivers over 2wpc@16Ω, driving any headphone with ease. It's also the perfect preamp for any power amplifier and active speakers. Furthermore, the Lycan test bench includes an input section allowing you to roll op-amps. Try our SSA op-amps as well as other brands. The Lycan is a stethoscope into the actual sound of op-amps and discrete circuits which are easily auditioned right in your own components. SSA will continue development of the Lycan and add-ons will be released in the future. The Lycan is shipping early September at $249 American with a basic dual IC op-amp; and at $299 with SSA op-amps."

In a follow-up email, Alex added, "we're building a few Lycan units right now. Would you be interested in reviewing this kit once available? Supreme Sound Audio are different from Burson. SSA are hoping to reignite the fun factor which is sometimes hidden by the polished image and refinement of our Burson approach." Having all of six moons under which to rearrange my bones and hormones, my inner Lycanthrope was in dire need of coming out. Hence my response was quite predetermined. "Bite me!" So they did. "Included in your package will be the Lycan, a 24V/60W power supply, a Euro power cord and dual opamps from Supreme Sound Gen 4, NE5532 (widely used in CDP, DAC, even high-end sound-cards), LM833 (a popular op-amp used in many DIY audio projects) and OPA2134 (a selling point for many high-end audio designs). Since they are all dual opamps, please use the middle socket on the Lycan to evaluate them." If you replace dual with stereo, it all makes sense. These were stereo/dual opamps. Thus the two outer 8-pin mono/single sockets would remain unused.