Am also curious about this too - you may want to look at 6moons site
They reviewed the 2006/2005? Benchmark Dac1, Wyred4sound Dac, Burson 160D and the Belcanto Dac3.
I ordered the Burson HA160D and it is supposed to arrive sometime next week
I think I'll pick up a Benchmark and compare them and post my thoughts here.
There does not seem to be much feedback from actual consumers on the Burson DAC version.
A few head-fi (head phone) forums have good feedback on the Burson headphone amp so this does bode well.
Just got my Burson HA 160D!
Beautiful build quality. The stock cords are nothing to write home about.
Wish they put in some mogami or belden low capacitance RCA...
Beautiful sound. Did not get more than a few minutes of listening but will post a more in depth review later.
One hitch, the USB input does not do 24/96 - only 16/48. This is a known issue on early units. Guess I was (un)lucky. I have emailed them and will post progress on this. Others who had this issue were taken care of quickly so I am hopeful.
Burson answered the email promptly with solution.
Great customer service.
However, I noticed another issue which I emailed them about.
When running the Burson directly to my Bryston 4BSST, there is a barely audible music signal that can still be heard from the right channel when the volume pot is turned to zero.
Will report back.
I've had my 160D for a few days and it's very good. My sonic memory isn't the greatest, but I'd give the resolution edge to the Benchmark. There may not be a more resolving dac at anywhere near it's price point. The Burson is also very strong! It may not have the last bit of the Benchmark's resolution, but it's more musical and it clearly has a better headphone amp.
This is what I'm looking for. However how do they compare going straight into an amp, as a pre amp/dac, as this is how I would use them (at least initially).
I am just beginning to listen to the HA160D Burson critically.
Unfortunately, only able to comment on the coaxial feed. The USB receiver is not
Using an OPPO 981HD feeding the Burson via coaxial silver digital cable.
Direct to Bryston 4b SST via LC1 interconnects. Canare 411 biwire to Aerial 10Ts
Raw and PCM output (using PCM)
LPCM set at 192kHz
"downmix" set at "Stereo" (Oppo unit offers several "Down Mix" options, "Left / Right", "Stereo", "virtual surround" etc.)
Burson freaks out when fed Raw bitstream from video DVD.
Sounds like high frequency clipping tone. Glad I had the unit on low volume at the time.
I had to switch to PCM for DVDs. Does ok on redbook CD audio though. Not sure what is going on there. Will be using PCM output from now on.
Soundstage seems a bit small at low volumes. Very good neutral presentation.
One can hear the bodies of instruments. Voices seem natural on good recordings.
Bad recordings are revealed. Good recordings are revealed.
Looking forward to comparing Benchmark vs Burson HA160-D
Either dac would be a great choice. The Benchmark has unbelievable resolution and I've always considered it a great value. But I'm really starting to like the 160D. It may have a touch less resolution, but it sounds more like music to me. There is more weight and more emotional impact. I know this is hard to quantify, but it gets me more in touch with the soul of the music.
I can't speak to how transport dependent the Burson is, and I haven't used the USB at all. But I think the headphone amp in the Burson is clearly superior to the Benchmark.
Again, both are strong, but the 160D should be perfect for my second system, and is the winner to my ears. Your milage may vary.
You should also consider a Matrix mini-i. It sounds great, built well and extremely flexable. And, it cost about 1/4 of the other units.
2nd hiccup noticed on the Burson HA 160-D
with the volume pot at zero, there is still a very low level signal that can be heard from the Aerial 10T's mid/tweeter unit. It is definitely the music signal.
I was told by Burson that there should be none of this going on.
I contacted Sound Earphones and they are going to take care of this issue.
Great service and great people - so far.
However, I'll have to wait til they get their new shipment. Should be another week.
I'll report back again after getting the unit that is performing as it should.
I would add that the dynamic range with the Burson directly driving my Bryston 4B SST is huge. Watching DVD's with Oppo driving the Burson via coaxial, no compression or strain is noticed. Dynamic effects can be truly startling via the Aerial 10T's.
I also have both- the Burson - just breaking in- and the Benchmark. Agree completely with above- the Burson has a richer sonic signature, a more tactile, alive presentation, and more "startling" dynamics compared to the Benchmark. That said, the Benchmark's leaner midbass creates a sense a greater detail- on movie soundtracks I notice that it is a little harder to hear the dialogue with the Burson (the Benchmark is a dialogue champion).
Like others, my Burson is only accepting 16/44 via USB right now with a "fix on the way."
I do not have the Burson but as a stand alone DAC/PRE, the Benchmark is as detailed yet has better dynamic and body / weight than my extremely good Alps blue velvet passive volume control set up of umpteen years.
has anyone experienced more with the Burson? I'm between that and the Benchmark to run a Primare A30.2 power amp (has balanced inputs). My source will be a Logitech Squeezebox Duet. I'm not too much into headphones, but I might get more interested if the headphone amp is as good as people say.
I just sold my Benchmark DAC1 USB and purchased a Burson HA-160d to replace it. All I can say is "wow".
I used the USB connected to a PC running Foobar 2000 with ASIO player FLAC files with both DACs and the Burson does not make me miss the Benchmark at all. So much easier to picture myself still listening to in 5 years.
I have not noticed any loss of detail. The most apparent things that I have lost are the harshness and cringe factor of the Benchmark. The Burson just presents the music in a more musical way that makes me want to listen more.
Kinda torn between the Dac 1 and a Grace M902b for Recording studio use, monitoring and headphones.
Starting to wonder if the Burson should be considered as well.
I tend to lean toward the Grace, but ? Hmmmmm...
Just received the replacement Burson HA-160d unit.
1) transformers have a center wrap that looks like copper foil.
Previous unit has paper sticker.
2) Build quality slipped a notch. Several frame screws were not fully seated.
3) source LED is now a yellow/amber. Previous unit had bright blue LED.
The blue LEDs were actually piercingly bright on the previous unit.
Have not been able to do a great deal of critical listening as it is the work week. Good news- the USB receiver in the Burson registers in the macbook pro Audio Midi control. Now 96kHz is selectable and 2ch/16bit, 2ch/24bit and "encoded digital" show in the other pull down.
HOWEVER - when playing 24/96 files, the audio is muted for 24/96 but plays for 16/96. This is using the AyreWave player 1.0b (9).
If I select 24/96 in the Audio Midi control and then launch the AyreWave player with a 24/96 file - the output has no sound.
If I select 16/96 and launch the AyreWave to play 24/96 file - the output has sound.
Then during the playing of the 24/96 file - one can "select" 2ch/24bit in the pull down of the Audio Midi control but I don't hear any difference.
In other words, it seems for this particular set of circumstances, 24/96 plays only at 16/96 which seems odd to me and less than promised.
I will try other configurations this weekend and report back.
If anyone has a successful method for playing back 24/96 files via USB on the Burson HA-160D I would love to hear about it.
Tried other configurations and was able to get 24/96 files to play back.
Using the newly renamed "Decibel" Hi-rez player
Set audio midi input to 44/16, output to 96/24
Incredible sound! Most noticeable is the tremendous dynamic range.
Will post more detailed review later.
No need to mess with the midi settings if you are using decibel. It will automatically switch them for you unlike iTunes.