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BURSON CONDUCTOR 3X PERFORMANCE
BURSON CONDUCTOR 3X PERFORMANCE
BURSON CONDUCTOR 3X PERFORMANCE

Burson Conductor 3X Performance: Advanced headphone amplifier

The Burson Conductor 3 comes in four distinct editions, each offering premium quality. While none of them come cheap, the sound quality justifies the price tag. This equipment truly stands out in its class.

The Burson Conductor 3X Performance is an upgraded version of the base model, providing increased power and support for balanced headphones.

Designed for digital audio sources, this headphone amplifier includes a built-in digital converter but lacks analog inputs. You can connect your headphones to it, utilize the RCA outputs for preamp functionality, or use the XLR output for DAC purposes.

BURSON AUDIO CONDUCTOR 3X PERFORMANCE
BURSON AUDIO CONDUCTOR 3X PERFORMANCE

The analog section is crafted using classic methods with discrete components and class A output stages, features typically found in high-end integrated amplifiers. Despite being a headphone amplifier, it can deliver a robust 6 watts at a 16 ohm load, sufficient to drive speakers.

Equipped with both a standard 6.3mm headphone output and a balanced XLR headphone output, the Burson Conductor 3X Performance boasts two identical amplifier stages per channel for balanced operation, resulting in double the output power compared to the non-balanced version.

The digital section is state-of-the-art, featuring handpicked components from ESS, renowned for producing top-tier DACs.

Burson has meticulously designed the USB input of the Conductor series, incorporating a powerful XMOS chip to maximize the digital circuitry’s capabilities. Supporting signals up to 32-bit/768 kHz and even DSD 512 files, the USB input ensures exceptional performance.

BURSON AUDIO CONDUCTOR 3X PERFORMANCE FRONT
BURSON AUDIO CONDUCTOR 3X PERFORMANCE FRONT

Burson Audio stands out from the crowd by taking a different approach. They are firm opponents of operational amplifiers commonly used in analog hi-fi equipment. While op amps are convenient for building preamplifiers or analog sections of CD players, Burson believes they compromise on quality due to the limited space for components on the silicon chip. Instead, Burson constructs headphone amplifiers using high-quality discrete components in the same format as integrated circuits, allowing for easy replacement and upgrades. Additionally, Burson has focused on class A amplifiers, known for superior sound quality despite higher power consumption compared to class D amplifiers.

Burson Audio has chosen to invest in class A amplifiers, which are known for good sound and musicality – but also for high power consumption. Where a class D amplifier converts at least nine tenths of the supplied power into output power, it is the other way around with class A amplifiers: Here nine tenths of the power is emitted as heat in the heat sinks and only one tenth comes out as sound.

In order for the task not to be too easy, Burson audio has chosen to squeeze a class A amplifier into a cabinet that is as compact as a modern class D amplifier. This can only be done because the 6 mm thick aluminum case acts as one large cooling plate. The grooved surface is not for decoration, but simply the most effective way of dissipating the heat.

SABER32 DAC

The sky-high quality in the amplifier is wasted if the signal entering it is so-so. Burson’s headphone amplifiers all have a built-in digital converter. And they have chosen what they consider to be the best of its kind, the ESS SABER32 9038. Compared to other good DACs, such as the Burr Brown PCM1793, the ESS 9038 delivers higher resolution and transparency, as well as better dynamics and clarity.

BURSON AUDIO CONDUCTOR 3X PERFORMANCE BACK PANEL
BURSON AUDIO CONDUCTOR 3X PERFORMANCE BACK PANEL

WIRELESS QUALITY

Bluetooth is both popular and loved, and both for good reason. Bluetooth is an easy and convenient way to transfer sound wirelessly, and all mobile phones and laptops support it.

Unfortunately, the standard Bluetooth protocol is limited in terms of quality, since the signal is heavily compressed before it is sent out. This gives a quality that is closer to MP3 files than to CD quality.

The solution to this problem is the aptX protocol, which provides a significantly better sound quality than the basic A2DP protocol, although the sound is still compressed. Burson’s headphone amplifiers use the latest version, which is called aptX HD. This supports high-resolution audio and at the same time has a much higher bandwidth. Compression is still used, but the sound quality is very close to CD quality. So close that you can afford to listen wirelessly without being afraid of sacrificing quality.

CURRENT WITHOUT RESISTANCE

Some manufacturers swear by old-fashioned, linear power supplies, where a massive transformer converts 230 volts from the mains to the lower voltages to be used in the amplifier. However, due to the internal resistance of the transformer, it is difficult to deliver current quickly enough to follow the variation in the music.

Burson’s Max Current Power Supply (MCPS) avoids the heavy transformer and batteries of large charging capacitors by first reclocking the mains frequency to 170 kHz. In this way, noise and disturbances are moved far outside the audible frequency range.

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