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Burson Audio Fun amplifier


Burson Audio is an Australian brand with a long history of producing fantastic audio products like the Soloist (amp) and Conductor (DAC / amp) so of course I was very interested when offered a chance to review their new entry-level amp, the Burson Audio Fun.


  • Input impedance:  38,000 ohms
  • Frequency response:  0 – 35,000 Hz (+/- 1dB)
  • Total harmonic distortion (THD):  <0.03%
  • Output impedance (headphone):  6 ohms
  • Output impedance (pre-amp):  25 ohms
  • Power output:  up to 2.1 Watts
  • Signal to noise ratio:  91 dB (or better)
  • Channel separation:  99% (or better)
  • Dimensions:  210 mm x 145 mm x 45 mm



  • 3.5mm microphone in
  • 1 pair of stereo RCA (2V RMS line level)


  • Variable level stereo RCA pre-amp out
  • 6.3mm headphone socket
  • 3.5mm microphone out


With a starting price of $299 (USD), the Fun is a very affordable amplifier with plenty of features and flexibility. Burson Audio have designed the Fun to have easily swappable op-amps for tuning and upgrading of the sound and have included a microphone input and output to optimise it for gaming use.

What’s extra unique about the Fun is the option to buy it with different op-amps as part of the purchase package, essentially creating 3 different amplifiers around the same chassis – the stock, V6 Vivid and V6 Classic versions. Of course, you can also swap out the op-amps for other models so the Fun can be so much more than just 3 options.

Design & Accessories

The Fun uses a very simple design, but it’s classic and clean so that’s a compliment. The black casing is all aluminium and uses a simple 4 piece design with the top and bottom of the case held in place by the screws through the end plates. This makes popping off the top of the case for op-amp swapping very easy. All of the sockets are well-placed and the smooth-turning ALPS volume pot is finished with a very nice knob with a polished accent. All-in-all, the Fun shows its heritage in its design which is classy and good quality despite its very affordable price tag. It doesn’t look out of place between a $3,000 DAC and $2,000 tube amp, it just looks smaller.

In terms of accessories, the Fun comes with an external power brick, a pair of decent quality RCA interconnects and a hex key to encourage you to open up the case and swap op-amps. Yep, you read that right – this is a company encouraging you to open up the gear and there are no “Warranty Void” stickers over key screws or case seems to prevent you from opening it up and having a play.

The included interconnects are actually quite good

I actually reached out to Burson Audio about the warranty conditions for the Fun given this unusual acceptance of end-user tinkering and their response really impressed me. They said that the Fun is designed so that if you happen to put in the op-amp the wrong way or use the wrong op-amp, the worst outcome will be a cooked op-amp, but the amp has protection circuits to ensure that the amp will be fine. In other words, experiment to your heart’s content with op-amps and enjoy knowing that you’ll be covered by warranty unless you do something more extreme like changing the soldered components on the circuit-board.

Sound Quality

Given that the Fun is available in a number of guises and that you can swap out op-amps I’m going to approach the sound on a number of levels. Firstly I’ll discuss the stock standard $299 version of the Fun and how it plays with various headphones and earphones. From there I’ll share some op-amp experiences with the Burson Audio V6 Classic and the Texas Instruments Burr Brown OPA627.

One of the pair of op-amp sockets designed for easy swapping of op-amps

Before I talk about the sound quality in detail, it’s important to note that there’s plenty of power for any headphone you can reasonably expect to plug into the Fun. In my case I tried it with the relatively easy-to-drive AudioQuest NightHawks and the less-easy Massdrop / Fostex T-X0 which are a fairly efficient planar driver, but still more challenging than a dynamic driver headphone. Even with the planars, the Fun volume control didn’t make it past 9 o’clock (starting from a bit below 7 o’clock) and there was an excellent sense of dynamics and control so I have no doubt that the Fun has plenty of guts for anything but the most unreasonably difficult headphones on the market (like an Abyss perhaps).

I was also silly enough to try my IEMs (specifically the Noble K10s) which should really not be what the Fun is designed for, but I was shocked to find a dead-silent output even with these much more sensitive ‘phones. Keep in mind though that the Fun has an output impedance of 6 ohms so it’s really not ideal for any headphones below about 30-40 ohm impedance due to the frequency response variations that this can cause. You might be lucky (like I was with the K10s) where it enhances the sound, but you might also find that it ruins the sound signature of your favourite IEMs so I’d recommend sticking to full-sized headphones with the Fun unless you have a chance to test your low-impedance IEMs before you buy the Fun to drive them.

Stock Fun

In its stock form, the Fun comes with the JRC 5534 op-amps installed. These are a very affordable op-amp. I won’t say cheap because there’s nothing wrong with them, but they’re also not a premium offering like Burson Audio’s own op-amps or the MUSES 01 / 02 and OPA627 that I use in some of my other gear.

The sound from the stock Fun is nice. It’s not amazing, but at $299 it sounds very good. There is a good sense of rhythm and drive from the amp and nice extension at both ends. Perhaps the only knock I would have on the stock Fun is that it lacks some dynamics and sounds a bit flat in terms of soundstage depth. I wouldn’t go as far as suggesting that it sounds congested, but there’s not the sense of space that I look for in a truly excellent amp. That said, I also wouldn’t look for a truly excellent amp for $299. For the price you pay, the stock Fun is a solid performer and it has the huge bonus of being highly upgradeable with the easy-to-swap op-amps.

Up against the Bottlehead Mainline (not a fair comparison, used for a benchmark only), the Fun offers better punch in the bass, but it comes at the expense of the openness and clarity I just mentioned. Keep all this in mind though because I’ve setup the Mainline as the reference to use with each of the upcoming op-amp swaps…

Fun with V6 Classic

Changing to the V6 Classic version of the Fun reveals a noticeably better version of the Fun’s stock sound. We’re now listening to a $399 USD amplifier so it’s fair to expect improvements from the JRC 5534 version and the upgrade certainly doesn’t disappoint.

The V6 Classic op-amp is

“intimate, exquisite and very engaging. With the V6 Classic, Norah is asking you to come closer. She wrote the song for you and she is singing it to you. It was time to stop analyzing and start living in the moment.”

Burson Audio

That’s according to Burson Audio and directly copied from their website. I can only tell you that the Fun fully allows these qualities to shine through from the V6 Classic. Interestingly, these characteristics aren’t a vast departure from the stock Fun’s sound which is more about engagement than transparency, but the V6 Classic brings all kinds of clarity to the presentation that is lacking from the base model Fun.

Burson Audio’s V6 Classic op-amps installed in the Fun amplifier

With the V6 Classics, the Fun sounds very ‘analog’ – it’s like listening to a great stereo system being fed by a quality turntable. There’s an intrinsic smoothness and warmth to the sound that makes everything highly enjoyable, but it doesn’t smooth over the details. The mid-range in particular is replete with textures and there’s space between each instrument that really allows you to explore the music without it fragmenting the overall performance into incoherence. No, everything here is produced as a perfectly coherent musical tapestry that’s intimate and soulful.

All this does mean that the soundstage isn’t as big as other amps I’ve listened to, but that’s exactly the brief for the V6 Classic and it’s not a negative, just a question of preference. For headphones, I might choose a slightly more open sound if I had the ability to split hairs and keep all the other wonderful features of the V6 Classic, but it works so well with my active speakers that I’m not sure I’d want to make any kind of trade-off. I think only the most soundstage-addicted listeners would find anything to complain about with this combo, particularly given how clean and accurate the positioning of all sounds within the soundstage is. There’s no sense of congestion or overlap. Everything is perfectly spaced and perfectly placed, it’s just done intimately.

Once again using the (still much more expensive) Mainline as a benchmark more so than reasonable comparison, it’s revealed that the Fun is still a little more lush-sounding than some might like and while I’ve just said that the soundstage is very well-spaced, the Mainline proves to me that the Fun with V6 Classic isn’t the last word in transparency, but nor is it meant to be if you read Burson Audio’s own blurb and graphs about the V6 Classic presentation. Where the two amps differ is that the Mainline provides a subtlety and nuance to the musical textures that the Fun with V6 Classic can’t match. It comes fairly close, but there’s still a gap. That said, the Fun brings the midrange forward a bit and helps you to really focus in on the vocals and instruments if you want to.

With a well-spaced mix like the tracks on Ella Fitzgerald’s “Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie!” shows that the Fun with V6 Classic has all of the agility required for an articulate jazz rendition so it’s not overly thick by any means, but it’s more intimate and lush than it is neutral and transparent

Shifting to a more dynamic track like Morningside by Sara Bareilles reveals a nice groove from the Fun with V6 Classic that’s more enjoyable than the lighter-weight Mainline presentation. This is where that extra emphasis on the midrange and the more intimate presentation adds to the Fun’s presentation. What I’m taking from all this is that the Fun with V6 Classic will be a great match for those seeking a good rock and blues focussed amplifier. It’s still very capable with other genres, but is extremely well suited to guitars, vocals and a bit of groove in the music.

Fun with OPA627

No matter how many op-amps I try, the OPA627 always brings me back. There are other op-amps on a similar level like the MUSES 01 & 02 and Burson Audio’s own V5i, but I just have a soft spot for the signature of the OPA627. I was excited to see how it performed in the Fun and in comparison to the V6 Classic op-amps from Burson.

Switching from the V6 Classic to the OPA627 revealed a level of clarity and transparency that’s immediately in contrast to the V6 Classic. The Fun now performs much closer to the superior and more expensive Mainline amp. The biggest difference now is a centralised focus on the mid-range which creates a kind of triangular emphasis in the soundstage, bringing everything in to the centre right up close to the listener before spreading out as sounds become further away. The Mainline has a more holographic presentation that’s wider and more consistently spaced. Both are very enjoyable, but the Mainline still holds an edge (as it should).

Compared to the V6 Classic, the sound is much leaner which is nice for transparency, but comes at the cost of that analogue style sound and the groove imparted by the additional weight of the sound. Fans of neutrality and transparency might prefer the OPA627, but I can’t help lean back towards the V6 Classic in order to really embrace the Fun’s own signature at its very best – warm, engaging and foot-tappingly groovy. I know this is meant to be the part about the OPA627, but what draws me back to the V6 Classic is its ability to have plenty of clarity and detail despite having a full and rich sound, often the antithesis of detail and clarity. I don’t feel like I’m lacking anything compared to the OPA627, but I feel I am getting extra in other ways. The only argument for the OPA627 is if you happen to prefer the slightly leaner sound as a general presentation.

Summary & Conclusions

So, the Fun is a $299 amp that can be quickly, easily and cheaply modified to scale it up to almost match larger and more expensive amps. With its compact footprint, tuning versatility, pre-amp functionality, and ability to pass-through a mic signal for gaming or communications use, the Fun is an incredibly versatile offering for its price and crazy good value.

In its stock JRC 5534 setup I don’t expect the Fun to clearly outperform other amps in its starting price-range, but what separates the Fun is its feature set and ability to start as a comparable amp in the <$300 range, but to then really stretch its legs and separate from the pack when granted a pair of upgraded op-amps. The potential to tune and upgrade the Fun is a massive feature – I can’t overstate that. In my time with the Fun I’ve tried the stock op-amps, the OPA627 and AD843 op-amps (which were very similar to the V6 Classic, but a bit thicker in the mid-range and overall not quite as good), and of course Burson Audio’s own V6 Classic op-amps. Each and every op-amp noticeably influenced the Fun’s overall signature, never totally departing from the initial sound of the amp, but each improving on the stock sound in various ways.

If you’re in the market for an amp right now I have to urge you to really consider the Fun. If your budget is $300 there may be better starting amps, but will you be able to upgrade them in the future like you can with the Fun? If your budget is higher (say $399), the Fun with Burson’s own op-amps will provide you with a uniquely enjoyable sound that’s dynamic and enjoyable, particularly when you start looking at the V6 options. In fact, the only people I would recommend away from the Fun are those looking for absolute transparency – that’s not what the Fun is about. It will reward those looking for a balance between musicality and transparency and those looking for flat-out musicality, but I can’t see it every really appealing to lovers of neutral, uncoloured transparency.

As for me, the Fun with V6 Classic has immediately earned a place driving my headphones when I’m not wanting to chew up tube-life and, more importantly for me, acting as pre-amp for my B&O BeoLab 3 speakers. The Fun with V6 Classic combined with the diminutive, but incredibly potent BeoLab 3s makes for a truly stellar desktop audio system.

If the Fun sounds like an amp you might enjoy (that should be most people reading this) and you’d like to support this blog, please consider making your purchase using the links below. I take no money from suppliers in order to keep all reviews as honest and transparent as possible so the use of affiliate links like the ones below really help to fund future reviews. Thank you and happy listening!