Burson Funk amplifier

Burson Funk Review | Funking Oath

TESTED AT $544
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The Burson Funk is a versatile integrated Class-A headphone amplifier and Class-AB speaker amplifier. It’s available in either a $544 Basic package that includes 2 x Texas Instruments NE5532 opamps or the $744 Deluxe package that adds 2 x V6 Vivid dual opamps and a matching aluminium stand.

Disclaimer: This sample was provided by Burson Audio for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.

Pros
  • Excellent build quality
  • Great aesthetics
  • Swappable opamps
  • Bold, transparent sound
  • Output power
Cons
  • No balanced headphone output

Burson Funk

Burson Funk front panel

Design

It’s hard to not be impressed by the Funk’s thick aluminium chassis. Not only does it look superb, but it also acts as a giant heatsink. Those channels carved into the body passively dissipate heat, which is just as well because being a Class-A/AB amplifier, the Funk gets quite warm.

Although the outer design is fairly simplistic, those long vertical lines add a premium element to the amp’s aesthetic. I think visually it would match well with any system, even a high-end one. But it doesn’t just look nice: it feels fantastic in the hand too. This is some seriously chunky aluminium that makes the unit feel extremely robust and heavy-duty.

On the front panel are 3 buttons: power, headphone/speaker output selector and hi/low gain. The buttons on the front panel have a crisp tactile click and clear labels. In the centre, the beautiful knurled volume pot is nicely weighted with just the right amount of resistance for accurate control, even when using sensitive IEMs.

On the left side are the 6.35mm and 3.5mm headphone outputs. Over on the rear panel are the RCA inputs, mic input passthrough, speaker binding posts and the 24v power input.

Rear panel of the Burson Funk

Features and Functionality

While it might seem simple enough, the Funk has some extra features that set it apart from other amplifiers. For instance, the opamps are swappable: hardly surprising since Burson is known not only for their amplifiers and DACs but also for their excellent opamps such as the V6 Classic and V6 Vivid.

In addition, Funk adopts Burson’s MCPS (Max Current Power Supply) power delivery system. This allows them to forego the traditional toroidal transformer which reduces system noise and resistance, resulting in higher perceived driving power and more dynamic range. Furthermore, this allows for the size of the unit to be much smaller and take up less precious desk real estate.

Burson Funk with iBasso SR2 headphone

Headphone Amplifier

With an impressive 3W of output power, Funk’s headphone amplifier can drive pretty much any headphone you plug into it. The headphone amp is Class-A, giving you the best audio fidelity. From inefficient headphones to demanding planars Funk has enough grunt to make them sing.

IEM users are catered for too. With an output impedance less than 2 Ohm, Funk is suitable for any type of earphones or in-ear monitors. I don’t hear any noise floor or background hiss whatsoever, even with sensitive multi-BA IEMs.

Speaker Amplifier

In addition to its excellent headphone amp, Funk is also a 45Watts per channel Class-AB speaker amplifier. That makes it particularly ideal for desktop and near field setups. However, it’s perfectly capable of being part of any HiFi system, assuming the speakers aren’t too demanding in terms of driving power.

Mic Input Bypass

One limitation of most DACs and headphone amplifiers on the desktop is the lack of a microphone jack. That means that you can’t use your headset mic for gaming or conference calls etc. This used to frustrate me since I would need to plug in directly to my PC’s inferior onboard soundcard in order to use the mic.

But with Burson Funk’s mic input bypass, you can enjoy superior audio quality and use your headset’s microphone at the same time. Gamers rejoice!

Bird's eye view of the internals

Gear used for testing includes:

V6 Vivid opamps

Let me preface the sound section by talking about the difference the V6 Vivid opamps make to the sound. With the V6 Vivid in place of the NE5532, the bass extension is greater and the level of control is enhanced. Leading edges of bass notes gain extra definition and density. The Funk’s transparency is elevated even more which in turn increases the detail retrieval.

The V6 Vivid also makes the treble crisper and more precise, increasing the overall dynamics as well as enlarging the soundstage. It creates a sound that’s more energetic but at the same time, cleaner with better spacing between instruments.

Burson Funk internals with case top removed

Sound

One of the first things you notice about the Burson Funk is its muscularity. Whether you’re listening to headphones or speakers, you immediately get an appreciation for the power of this small unit. I haven’t gone past the halfway mark on the potentiometer for either headphones or speakers: admittedly, none of the gear I tested with is too demanding but regardless, that should give you some indication of the unit’s output potential.

The Funk presents itself with confidence, whether it’s the attack of a snare drum, belting vocals or a meaty bass. Play Aes Dana’s “Alep Offset” and the Funk expresses itself with power and enthusiasm. Those deep bass notes can be formidable but the Burson controls them with aplomb and fluidity.

Funk’s dynamics are also showcased here. From the static-laden percussion to the rhythmic rolling bass, it’s a spirited performance with underlying tranquillity. The sound is energetic but never boisterous.

Following up with The Pineapple Thief’s “Part Zero” – Live @ Islington Assembly Hall, you get a sense of being right there in the audience. Vocals, instruments and the applause from the audience sound clear and uncoloured.

The centre image is focused and the spacing between instruments is highlighted to a great degree. Paired with some capable speakers or headphones, the Funk has fantastic transparency and instrument separation, both of which result in precise imaging and a holographic soundstage.

The Funk’s vivid, transparent character is wonderfully coherent between both speaker and headphone outputs. It’s obvious that Burson has taken great care to keep the sound consistent regardless of which output you’re listening to.

Funk with desktop setup

Conclusion

Finally, an amplifier that caters for both headphones and passive near field speakers! The Burson Funk is a perfect candidate for a desktop setup, although it’s certainly not restricted to that specific use. It has a bold, transparent sound and gobs of controlled power for such a small amp. Its swappable opamps mean you can tweak the sound character too, making it even more versatile.

The amplifier has exceptional build quality, making it not only very stout but a real treat for the eyes too. With its tactile buttons and gorgeous knurled potentiometer, it’s also a pleasure to interact with. Needless to say, the Burson Funk is definitely worthy of our recommended award.

Recommended award
Specifications
Weight3 kg
Dimensions25 × 35 × 15 cm
Power PlugUS, UK, EU, AUS
Input impedance38 KOhms
Frequency response
± 1 dB 0 – 35Khz
THD<0.03%
Output impedance (Head Amp)<2 Ohm
InputsRCA Left / Right
OutputsHeadphone / Speakers
Impedance (Headphone), Power, Signal to Noise Ratio, Separation16 Ohm 3.5W 96db 99%
32 Ohm 2.5W 97db 99%
100 Ohm 600mW 98db 99%
150 Ohm 400mW 96db 99%
300 Ohm 150mW 95db
Impedance (Speaker), Power, Signal to Noise Ratio, Separation4 Ohm / 8 Ohm
45W / 35W
92.5db
98.50%
Founder of Prime Audio
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