Close this search box.
Single Post

Burson Audio V5i opamp


Burson Audio are a well-known manufacturer of outstanding amplifiers, but they also make some cables and accessories, including a range of opamps. If you’re not familiar with opamps, they’re the chips inside your amplifier that do the work of amplifying the signal. Not all amps have them, but many that do allow the ability to swap the original opamps out for alternate options. I own or have owned the Matrix M-Stage, Quattro and FiiO E12DIY amps that allow for opamp rolling and I can confirm that unlike some parts of the sound chain that may have subtle and debatable impact, there is no denying that opamps can have a very significant impact on the sound quality of your amplifier.

As this is a small item with limited features (you plug it in and it works), this will be a shorter review than usual. I hope you find it helpful!

Size & Compatibility

The V5i is a large opamp measuring in at 11mm x 11mm x 7.3mm (0.43 x 0.43 x 0.29 inches) excluding the height of the pins which will disappear inside the socket once installed. Because of its size, the V5i will generally suit desktop amps only due to the limited clearance in most portable amps. You can use it (like I do) in a portable amp left “naked” with its cover removed, but this essentially makes your portable amp non-portable so it’s a choice you need to consider.

Other than the physical size of the V5i, the other question of compatibility is the pin arrangement (which pins carry each signal / voltage). Burson Audio list the following op-amps as being interchangeable with the V5i:

Dual opamps: AD823, AD823AN, AD8066, AD8620, AD712, AD827, C4570, JRC4556AD, JRC4580, JRC5532, JRC5532D, JRC5534, LF353, LM4562, LME49860, LM833N, MUSES8920, NE5532, NEC4520, NEC4570, NJM2068D, NJM2114, NJM2214D, NJM4558, NJM4558D, NJM4560, NJM5532, NJM4558P, OP275, OPA1612, OPA2277PA, OPA2132, OPA2134, OPA2604, JRC4558, RC4558D, RC4558P, TL052, TL072, MUSES01, MUSES02, MUSES8820, MUSES8920, MUSES8832, BA15532

Single opamps: NE5534, LT1122, TL071, OPA134, OPA627, AD811,AD829, AD844, OPA604, AD8610, AD711, AD797, LME49990, LME49710

Based on that list, it should be a simple case of plug and play – if you currently use one of the ones in the list, the V5i should work for you… but here’s the catch… if you’re using an uncommon setup like I was it will pay you to double-check with Burson Audio before plugging in the V5i. Let me explain…

After much playing around, I had settled on an uncommon buffer chip (essentially the chip that interfaces the opamp with the headphones), the Intersil HA5002. Sadly, the HA5002 works just fine with many of the chips listed by Burson Audio, but not with the V5i and I soon ended up with smoking buffers – literally! With the destroyed HA5002s removed and replaced with the more standard LM49600 option, the V5i worked just fine so this was just a case of an unusual buffer behaving differently to expected. The moral of the story is that you should double-check with Burson Audio if you have any doubts about the compatibility of your system and the V5i – their technicians are very knowledgeable.

Sound Quality

With compatibility confirmed all you have to do is plug in the V5i, turn on some tunes and enjoy a spectacular opamp. For the following description I will be using the LM49600 buffer in the FiiO E12DIY and comparing the Burson Audio V5i, the NJR MUSES02 , and the Texas Instruments OPA627. In my mind these are three of the very best opamps available (without moving up the Burson Audio range to the V6 opamps which are much larger). My source is the Schiit Gungnir Multibit fed by a BNC coaxial input and at the other end are the AudioQuest NightHawk headphones.

The most striking aspect of the V5i’s sound is its midrange. The midrange is under the spotlight in a way I have never heard from an opamp before. Somehow, Burson’s engineers have achieved amazing midrange focus and detail-retrieval without sacrificing coherency or overall tonal balance. Yes, the midrange becomes the star, but I don’t feel like the sound loses treble or bass quality in any way. To my ears, the V5i is all about dynamics and clarity, but manages this without ever become hard-edged or forceful. In fact, the only complaint I can make about it is that the midrange emphasis makes the soundstage feel a little too close and claustrophobic on headphones / earphones that aren’t inherently spacious. I’ll share some direct comparisons to illustrate further.

V5i vs MUSES02

Switching from the (slightly hot) V5i to the MUSES02 reveals a sense of delicacy in the MUSES02 that the dynamic and powerful-sounding V5i admittedly lacks. The MUSES02 sounds like a classical guitar played by Tommy Emmanuel compared to the V5i sounding like an electric guitar in the hands of Eric Clapton. Obviously, both are amazing so it’s a question of preference. There’s a tiny bit more air with the MUSES02 which lends the sense of delicacy, particularly around the treble. On the other hand, there’s a sense of intimacy and warmth with the V5i that’s equally enjoyable. These first impressions came courtesy of “Sinking Stone” from the Paper Airplane album by Alison Krauss & Union Station (96kHz / 24-bit) so let’s mix it up with something a bit chunkier.

Fittingly, after the Eric Clapton reference, the two opamps are now singing John Mayer’s “Moving On and Getting Over” from his album, The Search For Everything. Starting off with the V5i, the sound is rich and delivers a tactile sense of rhythm and groove – I think the V5i was made for music like this. Switching to the MUSES02 brings a less rich and analogue sound. I wouldn’t go as far as saying it sounds sterile, but it definitely lacks the sense of soul that defines the V5i sound. That said, I am very aware that I now have a greater sense of the overall musical landscape. With the V5i, the midrange is the star and you have to deliberately listen for other details (they’re all there, but the midrange is SO good it’s distracting). With the MUSES02, the whole musical picture is laid out for you to take in equally across the frequency range. There’s also a slight greater sense of size and space in the soundstage as a result.

Now, the NightHawks are a headphone with a fairly signature sound so I’ll also share some impressions with the insanely good (and much more neutral) Campfire Audio Andromeda IEMs. With the Andromedas delivering the music to my eardrums I still have a difficult time judging which opamp I prefer. The V5i’s extra midrange weight really suits the Andromeda’s sound signature, but the MUSES02 still has the edge for clarity and transparency thanks to its more balanced approach to the full frequency range.

V5i vs MUSES02 Verdict

Which would I choose if I could only have one? Probably the MUSES02, but this is a function of my collection of gear. All of my headphones and earphones are deliberately chosen for their musicality and warmth so I don’t really need what the MUSES02 is best at. If my setup was just slightly more neutral, I believe I’d be much more inclined to the V5i. As it is, the decision is something like 55% towards the MUSES02 and 45% towards the V5i so it’s a very close call – both of these opamps are outstanding!

V5i vs OPA627

The OPA627 has long been by favourite opamp. I’ve always loved its realistic sound, sense of space and layering, and overall dynamics. I’m excited to see how it will stack up next to the V5i…

Switching from the V5i to the OPA627 is really interesting because both place a degree of emphasis on the midrange, but they manage the overall balance of the sound quite differently. The OPA627’s sound is intimate, once again quite close to the listener in terms of soundstage placement, but the sound stretches out further to the left and right with musical details flying from every angle – it’s an engaging and exciting listen. The V5i responds with a bigger kick in the bass and a greater emphasis on the centre of the soundstage. Front-and-centre mids are more tactile on the V5i, but the details off to the sides aren’t quite as present and obvious. Both deliveries are fantastic once again and choosing a favourite is equally difficult. Switching tracks sheds no further clarity on the decision and merely serves to confirm my description above. These two opamps deliver a very similar overall sound signature, but the presentation is significantly different. The OPA627 creates a flat soundstage that stretches further to the left and right, but all quite close to the listener. The V5i has an equally intimate sound (close to the listener), but it’s shaped like a triangle with the sounds at the centre closest to the listener and then sounds to each side drifting further away. This serves to put a stronger spotlight on the vocals and main solo instruments, but comes at the expense of some of the more subtle sounds.

V5i vs OPA627 Verdict

If you’re a lover of vocals or instrumentals and like to hone in on the main performance, the V5i would be a better choice than the OPA627, but if you prefer to explore all of the music, including all the backing details, the OPA627 has a slight edge. Both are still stellar opamps and either decision would yield outstanding results.

Overall Verdict

The Burson Audio V5i opamp is a brilliant piece of gear. For $49 USD, it’s one of the cheapest significant upgrades you can make to your amplifier and will give you much more impact than cables or other accessories which do help, but not to this degree. You’d pay a very similar amount (or a little more) for a MUSES02 or OPA627 so price is really not an issue in deciding between these three fantastic options. It’s important to consider compatibility in terms of both space and circuitry, but if you’re running a desktop amp with standard buffers you should be pretty safe and you can always check with Burson before taking the plunge. So, let’s talk about who should take that plunge:

  1. Anyone who like to roll opamps – seriously, you’ve got to check out the sound of the V5i, it’s unique and marvellous
  2. Anyone who has a fairly neutral setup and is looking to add a bit of soul and groove – the V5i will set you right in no time with its solid, tactile midrange and rhythmic, groovy bass
  3. Anyone who enjoys focussing on vocals and instrumental solos – while I was writing this I’ve enjoyed some Miles Davis and now some George Benson in a way that I’ve never heard before. Taking comparisons out of it for a moment, the V5i is just a captivating opamp for lovers of midrange and while the other opamps I have compared have their own strengths, neither one can beat the V5i outright – all three sit side-by-side on the top shelf of opamps in my opinion.

I’d like to send a big thanks to Burson Audio for arranging the demo opamp (and helping me out in understanding why my HA5002s went up in a puff of smoke) and am excited to buy their Play amplifier in the near future to continue enjoying the wonders of opamp rolling. If you’d like to buy the V5i or any other Burson products, you can purchase directly from their website ( or from Amazon using the links below (which also helps to support this website).