Operational amplifiers (op-amps) are often referred to as the workhorse of analogue electronics. In this review, I’m testing the Burson Audio V6 Classic op-amp. The V6 Classic is a discrete op-amp and is the result of 12 years of research by Burson Audio.
Disclaimer: This sample was provided for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
Muscular, energetic sound
Holographic 3D soundstage
Increased dynamics and texture
Burson Audio V6 Classic Op-amp
Op-amp model: V6 Classic
Design: fully discrete
Min voltage: ±3.5V/ 7 VDC
Max voltage: ± 16.5V / 33VDC
Current consumption: Single 7mA | Dual 14mA
Unity gain stable: Yes
Reverse-voltage protection: Yes
The Burson V6 op-amps are the 6th generation of their designs, are the smallest discrete op-amps in the world and according to the company, are the only op-amps in the world to have reverse-voltage protection. What does that mean? Basically, it means the op-amps won’t die if you accidentally insert them in reverse.
Burson claims that their op-amps are “specifically designed to optimize audio performance”. We’ll find out soon how that turns out. The company certainly seems to be confident in the quality of its products, since every Burson op-amp is covered by a lifetime warranty.
My first impression of the V6 Classic was that it’s big (12.4mm X 14.5mm X 29mm), at least compared to something like the LME49720 or MUSES8920. It has an orange-coloured plastic enclosure that surrounds the 2 parallel printed circuit boards inside for improved temperature tolerance. There’s a groove on one side of the enclosure which helps to indicate the correct alignment for the op-amp.
The pins on the V6 feel much more robust than the ones on the LME49720 that can bend and break easily. I feel much more confident handling the V6 which feels as though it will survive endless swaps and system changes. Overall, the build quality feels reassuring and also goes a long way towards justifying the higher cost.
For this test, I swapped out the Texas Instruments LME49720 op-amps from the headphone path of my Topping DX7 Pro and replaced them with the V6 Classics dual op-amps. The process was simple although there wasn’t much room to move around. Unfortunately, due to the size of the V6 Classics, I need to keep the chassis open but I will most likely get their 35mm Extension Lead x 2 in the near future.
To my surprise, the difference in sound is quite dramatic and immediately apparent. Suddenly the DX7 Pro sounds more muscular and slightly warmer with better bass extension. It sounds more analogue, almost akin to a tube amplifier.
Also, the sense of depth is heightened plus the lower frequencies have added texture and body. But it’s not only the depth that improves. The entire soundstage feels more expansive and open. It seems that the treble is also more extended but at the same time slightly warmer.
The only negative thing I would say about the V6 Classic is that heavy bass notes sometimes sound a little looser. But for me, that is a perfectly acceptable trade-off for all the other improvements it brings.
Perhaps the most startling change is the increase in overall resolution. Suddenly every sound sounds like it’s floating in its own space. The level of transparency is intensified and instrument separation is improved. With the V6 Classics in place, the imagery intensifies and the soundstage takes on a more holographic nature.
There is a greater sense of layering now too and all these things seem to be in contradiction to the added colour the V6 Classics bring. Normally, an increase in warmth and body will shrink the soundstage and create a more intimate space but with the V6 it’s just the opposite: somehow these little blocks increase the dynamics and resolution while at the same time making the stage more expansive.
In many cases, upgrading or customizing the sound of your expensive audio gear means buying new components or an entirely new system. But sometimes it’s possible to simply change the op-amps which can bring significant improvements or at the least change the character of your system’s sound. The Burson Audio V6 Classic is a fantastic choice, especially if you want some additional warmth or colour to your sound. I wasn’t sure what to expect at first but I’m a true believer now and the V6 gets my recommendation.