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Burso 160 Combo


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Impressions with Burson combo pre160 & pp160,

Prior to purchasing Burson pre/pp160 I was using NAD 162/272 to drive Tony’s Andromeda modified speakers called Zarathustra. Modified NAD 542 cd player -burson discrete opamps and clock. Burson buffer with Burson interconnect cables and Project 6.2 turntable in addition. As you can see I am in touch with Burson's products for some time. I believe I was unbiased with my impressions.

For many months I was looking for a new pre/power combo or integrated amp. I was considering all options, DIY Triode Dick and Aqua blue valve preamps, ASR, Gryphon, Supratek, Magnat valve and many second hands on Audiogone and Audio-market.de.... I auditioned Classe, Music Fidelity, McIntosh-valve and solid state, Primare and M3 NAD.

The audition of the above amplifies never satisfied me.. Improvement was none or little. Considering the money that I have to spend would make it a non-worthwhile move in the end.

I had Burson on my mind as well and after an email contact I ended up purchasing a tested combo as an absolute bargain.

The combo was delivered in two boxes securely packed. After I opened the boxes a pleasant surprise. No picture on the Burson site does this combo justice. It is a very good looking hi-fi. I got an even better feeling when I opened the top plates which revealed an almost perfect inside with implementations that any DIY-er would be happy with. Only negative point was an unprofessionally used tape to insulate cables connecting a transformer with a back plate of the power amp. I could not figure out why they used this to insulate cables. Everywhere else, cables are finished professionally with a heat shrink. When powered on ,due to a bigger openings for the led light, pre160 light seemed much stronger than pp160.

I listened to all of my cd collection and some LPs through NAD phone preamp. Some band names: The doors, Dire straits, Steely Dan, Joan Armatrading, Talk Talk, Pink Floyd, Grace Jones …, M. Davis, Abdullah Ibrahim, Edin Bosnic Quartet, Sinan Alimanovic Quartet, Cassandra Wilson, Marcus Miller, Ali Akbar Kahn, Abou Kalil, ...,Tchaikovsky’s violin concert, Beethoven’s violin and piano concert…

I am not sure is it appropriate to compare NAD and Burson due to a difference in RRP. However the idea, that could not be fulfilled so far, was to get something clearly better than NAD and worth the money. ,

Burson combo presented without any doubt as a high end performer.

Full bodied and round bass with perfect finish. Mids clean, musical, transparent. High tones neutral, will never hurt your ears. Excellent dynamics.

Listeners used to a coloured sound will be surprised and initially get a feeling that the combo is more analytical than musical. Just closing eyes will turn you to the “reality†and an impression that a concert is going on and you are sitting close to the stage. No matter what type of music you are listening to if recorded well you will enjoy it.. It would not make some CDs sound "better" as NAD did. What comes in, you will get out “just†amplified. You can listen to it for hours, afterwards be refreshed and wanting more.

I audition NAD 162/272 again and tried Burson pre160/ NAD272. The sound was madded, bass unfinished and unclear, high tones fatiguing and “painfulâ€. It had more power but paradoxically less dynamics. Suddenly the way back was no option any more.

In addition and as above, I auditioned a many times more expensive amplifiers in a different environment. Non of them succeed to be clearly better than NAD in every aspect of the sound quality as did Burson pre/pp160 combo. It is definitely worth the asking price and more.

Highly recommended.

Negative points:

I would appreciate more power or flexibility to make it a mono block.

Some will appreciate a remote control, I do not.

There is a hiss/click when volume control is moved however when in position it does not effects the sound.

Although it is subjective, a darker colour, will make it look even better.

PS: two weeks after this letter above system delivered a magic while reproducing Wayne Shorter's "beyond the sound barrier".


Perth WA

Sept. 2009

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Nice pix, would love to hear your setup. I have a Burson buffer that goes in and out of my 2 systems. Solid piece of kit. It does improve the dynamics when in use. Have been checking their gear for a while & was thinking of a power amp that I can use with my Audio Analogue Puccini integrated as a pre amp. The puccini is sweet & musical but lacks a bit of punch. Good review, enjoy your music, especially the nice jazz stuff listed. Try some Aussie jazz, it's up there with the best both musically & sonically. Cheers.

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Guest henrythomas

The combo was delivered in two boxes securely packed.It is a very good looking hi-fi. When we opened the top plates which revealed an almost perfect inside with implementations that any DIY-er would be happy with. Only negative point was an unprofessionally used tape to insulate cables connecting a transformer with a back plate of the power amplilfier.

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hi can i ask about your speakers??

are they DIY or what brand/model are they??

looks like focal tweeter and scanspeak mid/woofers???

yes they are diy, based on Tony's Andromeda with focal t120 and Scanspeaks 18w and 25w.



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I am close to buying a Burson PI-160 integrated amp directly from their factory in Melbourne. : ) The Bursons seem like nice guys and they have offered me a discount that is pretty sweet : )

Has anyone tried their PI-160? It can perform as a power amp… Has anyone used it as a power amp? Also, this PI-160 is often paired with their audio buffer… Is that necessary?

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I use a Burson PI-160 in my study. I love the pairing with my Lenehan ML 1's, it makes them sing. The only issue with listening at lower volumes is that with the stepped attentuator you don't get as much ability to fine tune the volume. This is an issue I can live with as the sound is very tight with very low background noise (I can only just hear a little bit of hiss when at full volume, no source, and my ear almost up against the tweeter).

I do have the audio buffer as well. My dac is high output impedance - 875 ohm, whereas the input impendance on the PI-160 is 20kohm. In order to get it to the 100 times rule of thumb I have the buffer which has an ouput impedance of about 20 ohms.

If you have a more reasonable output impedance (< 200 ohm) dac or cd player then you probably wouldn't need the buffer. It does give a bit of extra gain as well which doesn't help me with my low volume issues.

I haven't tried it out as a powere amp yet, however will do so in the near future when I acquire a pre-amp that I want to test

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Thanks for that!

I have an old Arcam with a decent output stage...I think... I also have a passive preamp that I am planning to add to my system later. So, I will first pickup a PI-160 after Cup day. : ) And may be get an AB-160 buffer to match my passive preamp in the future.

Re that gain issue relating to their volume control, I’ve queried Burson about it and they said that they can fine tune the gain level to better match speakers and listening room sizes. And they can provide this option to pass customers free of charge. They seem like decent folks, why not drop them a line?

Thanks again.

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