Our Favourite New DAC & Amp (And It's Not Chinese)
The Burson Audio Conductor 3X Reference has instantly become our new favourite DAC & Amp, and for a reason. It is by every measure a premium, all-in-one device with a lot to offer. Conductor 3X Reference delivers reference-grade audio quality, has a phenomenal amplification stage and even offers pre-amp functionalities. The team at Burson Audio have managed to present a device engineered with unmatched attention to detail that undoubtedly sounds every bit as good as it looks.
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Today we are going to be talking about Burson Audio's Conductor 3X Reference. So Burson Audio is an Australian brand-based out of Melbourne who make really high quality high-end Amps & DACs and Mono Blocks for speakers. So today let's do a deep dive into why the Conductor 3X Reference is such an amazing DAC & Amp, so let's get started!
All right so let's talk about build quality. Now the Conductor 3X Reference comes in this aluminium enclosure which I think is really sturdy but more importantly Burson Audio is using this Cool Case Technology which keeps temperatures low even when you're using it for extended periods of time which is really clever in my opinion. Also at the front you get to see this little LED screen which gives you a lot of information. Right from your inputs and outputs, as well as your high gain and the volume controls obviously. So talking about the controls a little bit in the front, you have a lot of buttons for controlling the inputs, outputs and other settings like high gain, low gain and also changing the screen angle and this amazing. The volume button on the front is so mesmerising to use, it's super smooth.
Under The Hood
All right so let's get under the hood and you have to listen up here because there's a lot going on! So at its core the Burson Conductor 3X Reference is a Class A headphone amplifier but it also has reference grade DAC chips and can be used as a pre-amp as well. So whether you just want to use the DAC or you want to pair it up with your headphone or use it as a preamplifier with your speaker setup, the Conductor 3X Reference can do it all. The Conductor 3X Reference packs dual ESS Sabre DAC chips so it can really decode upto 32bit/768kHz audio and talking about the amplification stage, man the amplification stage on this Class A Amp along with its V6 dual OP Amps sounds phenomenal. So you can swap the OP Amps out. Burson Audio makes a lot of OP-Amps for these as well as other products which you can get in the market. Talking about the power from the 6.35mm output you almost get 3.4 watts of power output at 16 ohms and almost double from the 4 pin XLR so whether you want to drive headphones, even hard to drive headphones this can do it all. Another neat trick from Burson Audio over here is providing this device with a unique power brick which is not ordinary power brick. It's Burson's own proprietary Max Current Power Supply and I think that's really important especially when you have a unit like this with so many moving parts having a good proper power line really helps bring out the best and make sure that everything's smooth and running. Yeah so I really think it's a great thing to talk about overall I love how it's integrated into this package and the main reason why I think it's amazing is keep the noise floor minimum. I have personally tried using it with IEMs because with IEMs you can definitely find out the noise floor. I still felt it noise floor wasn't as bad and with hard to drive headphones which have a higher impedance you cannot find any noise. Overall a solid power supply along with this device. I love it. Yeah I think that with a lot of DACs you have to go out of your way to get different power supplies to make sure everything is sounding good but it's really neat that Burson really supply this in. So you get everything you need right out of the box which we love.
So talking about the sound of the Conductor 3X Reference. The sound is really nice natural because of the classic amplifier, definitely the bass feels very nice deep and its got really nice depth to it. The vocals feel really nice natural and the Sound Stage is extremely wide and open. It feels like the vocalist is in front of you. In terms of the top of the line ESS implementation, a lot of DACs I feel are getting it a bit wrong, at least for me where the top end is a little bit too sibilant. I never had that issue with the Burson Conductor 3X Reference. Everything just sounded that perfect amount. I think case in point, I was listening to Sting's Shape of My Heart and there's just a few things in that song but the way it's laid out I think is just a masterpiece in itself so there's a guitar, there's a vocalist, there's this little bit of a string section so things the way they present themselves I think is is just beautiful and it'll take you to that next level but it'll never kind of get overwhelming or you know fatigue. So I think that's beautiful and this does it consistently regardless of what genre of music you’re really into. One more thing which I like about these Amp is the flexibility of modifying them. Burson Audio really take a different approach than a lot of other brands that don't want you to mess around with their products. These guys are like hey we are giving you the OP-Amps, mess around with it. They give you products to mess around with honestly like they give you adapters also where you can connect different OP-Amps to it, other than theirs. This is cool definitely and you should definitely mess around with this. They're very easy to modify I love that. I think on the model here we have the V6 Vivid ones but you can mess around with the classic ones. So we have four OP-Amps over here but you can do multiple permutations and combinations. So you can have two classics, two Vivids and that all of those really impact the sound and if you're an audio enthusiast really getting into all of these finer things, I think Burson has you covered with the Conductor 3X Reference and a range of their products.
All right so in conclusion what do we think of the Conductor 3X Reference. So we love the Conductor 3X Reference. We love the OLED screen in the front panel, very forward thinking where other brands are using LED, OLED amazing. Sadly you won't be getting this acrylic screen that you see on the screen because Burson made this especially for us. I love the Cool Case on these products as well as one other feature from this brand is the Type C input at the back as well as Bluetooth. We love when DACs have bluetooth, yeah it's not the best but for convenience it's awesome.Yeah so overall I guess you get this really strong Headphone Amplifier and Reference Grade DAC, which gives you this like sound to it and also having this functionality of just using it as a pre-amp I really think this ultimately makes it the one DAC and Amp you should definitely consider. All right so if you want to try out the Conductor 3X Reference for yourself you can head over here to our experience studio in Mumbai or catch us at one of our headphone connect events happening across India. That was all for today, we'll see you guys in the next one.