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Burson Conductor/Timekeeper System


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Finally the Timekeepers have arrived. 

 

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I don't know about anyone else but I've been waiting for them to see the light of day since I was first told about them back in November 2011, so it's been a long, long, wait.

 

However, they are here and now we can finally hear just how good they are.  I've only had them for about 30 hours now so I can't make any grand sweeping statements as yet.  However I can say that even straight out of the box they are very, very good.

 

The cymbal taps and slams on Dire Straits "On Every Street" are so clean and clear they may just the best I have ever heard.  The sound is big but not forward or upfront, it is more "seriously delicate and accurate with excellent definition" than it is anything else.  Bass is a little on the lean side but that should improve with run in.

 

I'll follow up with pics and more of an opinion tomorrow (still don't have the lights set up in the new pad yet) but the full on write up will have to wait at least a week for things to run in.

 

Cheers,

 

Cafad.

 

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Phew!  Two days for a post to show up!  Are the mods overworked at the moment?

 

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One very big advantage of having a pre and two monoblocks is that you can get more effective length out of the speaker cable by putting the monos 3/4s of a meter apart.  So my need for 4m speaker cables is temporarily postponed.

 

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Much better!

 

I also had a knock at the door this afternoon, it was a massive bloke, about 6'6" with the name "Bas" written on his shirt.  When I opened the door he head butted me out of the doorway, grunted "I'm Ere!" and walked over to the stereo.  It was only at that point that I could see the second "s" on the back of his shirt. 

You see Burson send the Bass in a separate package to the Timekeepers and it invariably arrives 2 or 3 days later than the initial package, but now that it has shown up I'm finding out that it was worth the wait.

 

There is a little bit of trouble with the room, I'm finding a bit of treble unhappiness, particularly with woodwind instruments but apart from that things are very listenable at the moment.  I'll have to order some more foam next week.

Edited by Cafad
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With my recent sound lounge renovations and relatives visiting I'm starting to go through some serious reviewing withdrawals, and that is not pretty!

Finally I have managed to find the time to give a Timekeeper a quick comparo with its older relative, the PP-160.  Both these amps were driven by the Burson Conductor and that was fed from my Consonance cd120 (which was also performing DAC duties as I am finding the Conductor just a bit too smooth for my liking).

 

The PP-160 comes across as an enthusiastic amp in my new room, a bit of front but a little hesitation in follow through and as I upped the volume it tended towards a slight brightness (it did stop short of sounding harsh).  It was confident in the highs and the lows but didn't pay quite as much love to the mids and the transition between them. 

The signature Burson air was present in the highs but it seems my new room doesn't present the crisp snapiness of sound that I have enjoyed so much from the Burson gear in the past.  :(   I'll have to do something about that, and I'll get right on to it just as soon as I figure out what that something should be.

 

The Timekeeper gives the love to the mids without sacrificing the highs at all, vocals came through very similar but they were a little easier to hear, as if they were more effectively separated from the rest of the performance.  The bass is a nice improvement, I would call it just a little deeper but much smoother and with better definition throughout each bass note.  I'm not sure if the Timekeeper has a slightly lower noise floor than the PP-160 or has better definition or better separation (or a small amount of all three) but it is, IMO, a nicer amp to listen to in pretty much every aspect.  It sounds a little more confident and a little more refined than its older relative, I guess that makes perfect sense since it is a third generation piece of gear.

 

if I had the room done and was back to using my grading system I'd say the Timekeeper would be a full 1 point ahead of the PP-160 in the mids due to its sweetness and definition, and the transient capability, probably a full point in the bass as well as that smoothness really rounds out the bottom end.  And one half a point for the superior vocals.  The highs I'm not so certain of, the unfinished room makes things difficult here, maybe half a point ;).

 

Now that may not sound like (pun intended!) much of a difference/improvement from one generation to the other, but a 3 point difference to me is a large step in the right direction.

 

Now, for the bad news, I am cursed!  Yep, that's right, cursed. 

First of all I manage to, somehow, short out the Redgum monos that I bought to compare to these new Burson offerings, and now I have (possibly by looking at it funny) managed to get one of the Timekeepers to drop a channel.  I got it up and running again just by taking the top off and wriggling the only three wires I could find that were wrigglable so I know it is only a loose connection but it came back and dropped out again today so I will likely have to send it back to home base for Burson to have a look at it.  Well, OK, maybe not so cursed, at least this time there were no frayed tempers, red raw nerves and speakers at risk.

 

I wanted to include the Timekeepers used as monoblock amps in this post but, well..., see the paragraph above for the details.  I can say that while I was running them in as monoblocks I liked them, a lot.  There's something about having that much wattage on tap that both makes your spine tingle and yet completely relaxes you at the same time.  :love   They certainly calm my inner beast.

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One short, sharp wriggle and both Timekeepers are up and running.  Hot damn!

 

I have to say, I can see why so many people just love their monoblocks.  Going from one to two Timekeepers just makes the music so much more effortless.  I wouldn't have called the Timekeeper in stereo mode stressed, but compared to monoblock mode, well, it is almost as if stereo mode is feeding power to the speakers through a 25mm pipe and monoblock mode is feeding power to the speakers through a 300mm pipe.  Even though the volume doesn't change the softer sounds are so much easier to hear against the background, the bass deepens, and the whole soundstage just gets about 25% bigger and is so much more relaxed (Ok, I was listening to Dire Straits here so YMMV on the relaxed bit).  I just love the ease with which the dBs swing from under 70 to over 95, like the amps just don't find it difficult at all. 

 

And why should they, with over 200 Watts on tap to feed each speaker what could be so difficult?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well I was just involved in an extended listening session that could not really be called extreme.  The SPLs in use were tolerable by most human beings for a fairly extended amount of time (by my estimation at any rate) but it seems that those little Eos of Greg Osborns are just a touch harder to drive than I thought. 

 

I drove one of the Burson Timekeepers (running in stereo mode) into protection.  I have to give credit where it is due though, the Timekeeper was back up and running within 60 seconds, and it was very, very warm to the touch.  Not quite class A warm but far warmer than most class A/B amps would go.

 

I was mostly disappointed by the fact that the music stopped, I was really enjoying that, I had only cranked up the volume to 12 o'clock 3 songs ago! 

The combination of Gregs Eos and Bursons Timekeeper and Conductor sounds nothing short of excellent.  I'll fire off a letter to the boys at Burson and let them know what happened, they probably need to get that fan to kick in a bit earlier.

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Hi Cafad

 

Really want to hear this against my Arion S-250 and Hughs NAKSA 80.

 

I have always liked Burson gear - I remember the Burson you bought to the amp GTG at the GC - very nice.

 

Owned two Burson DAC''s.  Both good for the money.

 

Thanks

Bill

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HI Bill, I'm a little disappointed with the sound of the DAC section of the Conductor, it seems a little artificially smooth in the mids and highs to me, but I have noticed that it is streets ahead of the DAC in my Samsung blue ray player so I now watch TV using the Conductor.  Excellent for movies and TV but needs a little more zing for music, unless it needs a longer break in than usual, its had 150 or so hours, I'll give it another chance to impress in a month or two.

 

That smoothness that the Conductor displays is a bit strange to me because the Timekeepers have a great mid range, very impressive it is as broad and open as an inland plain.  I love the way strings (violins and acoustic guitar in particular) hit, ring through and then decay, with enthusiasm and vigour (or zing, for short).

 

However this character is due wholly and solely to the DAC section, the Conductor as a pre is excellent, very transparent with a minimal sonic signature.

 

I don't have the PI-160 amp here to compare directly but from a quick comparison with the Pre/Pwr 160 combination the Conductor/Timekeeper is just as musical but with less of an obvious personality.  The airy highs of the 160 are more implied with the Timekeeper whereas they were obvious with the 160 series, the level of crispness has been dialled down by about 80% as well, from as crisp as a fresh, cool salad with the 160 series to a more subtle crispness.  Similar to the way a glass of apple juice reminds you of eating a nice, fresh apple.  And as far as 'musical enthusiasm' goes, the Timekeeper has quite a bit more than the 160 series, I almost feel like I can feel the love the designers had for the music.

 

I can't see them keeping up with the speed of those Arions (even though the Burson gear is nice and fast) but in the mid range they will certainly give those "mutant" class Ds you love so much a run for their money.

 

Hey Bill, I recall you said something about getting hold of a Conductor at one point to try out the DAC, (and said that it wasn't really for you) did you try out the pre section as well?

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Mate, your having way too much fun ....again! Did the amps go into protection mode with voltage or clipping?

 

I'm not sure how to tell with respect to voltage.  I didn't hear any warning signals, no obvious clipping, the music just stopped and I assumed thermal cut out due to the temperature.  I had been running it for about 8 hours beforehand, but only about 15 minutes at 85 to 90db.

 

Oh, and yes you are 100% correct.  Guilty as charged! :cool:

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Hey Bill, I recall you said something about getting hold of a Conductor at one point to try out the DAC, (and said that it wasn't really for you) did you try out the pre section as well?

 

Cant recall that one.

 

I was being kind to the Burson DAC's I owned.  It is good for the money, and maybe even the best in its price class, but some reviewers like 6 moons went ga ga over them claiming it was oh so close to much more expensive stuff..  I got them both and to be blunt the hype was not justified - when compared to better stuff it was MURDERED (yea - I will use that word here) - simple as that.  The Chord, for example, is in a different league to my ears, but of course twice the price.

 

And to my ears they were a bit slow as well - it had this sort of 'metallic' smoothness that was slightly strange.

 

Thanks

Bill

Edited by bhobba
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I can't see them keeping up with the speed of those Arions (even though the Burson gear is nice and fast) but in the mid range they will certainly give those "mutant" class Ds you love so much a run for their money.

 

That's the exact problem with comparing amps on the Limited - they are really quick and fast amps like the Arions shine.  On my speakers I had a slight preference for my NAKSA over the S-250 - it was more musical with foot tapping Prat.  It's not a slow amp but the Arion has SOTA speed to my ears that may lift it above the NAKSA on the Limited's. I know Mike is really impressed with the S-250 on the Limited saying they are way ahead of the Mac's.  Anyway with both Acg and Doggie with me while we check it out we should get to the bottom of it.

 

Man this is fun.

 

Thanks

Bill

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Well ladies and gents it appears that I owe all the people at Burson a rather large apology.  It seems that there is nothing wrong with the second Timekeeper at all

 

In an effort to uncover what the problem was I changed speaker cables from a special pair to just some standard old bare wire and cranked up the Conductor.  Well the Timekeeper went louder for longer alright, last time it came unstuck after just 15 minutes at 12 o'clock on the volume dial, this time I went to 2 o'clock for almost 40 minutes and it gave every impression that it was lapping it up.  The Timekeeper case was at least 5 degrees hotter than previously (still no fan kicking in either!) so it could easily have been used as a pie warmer, and it gave no trouble at all. 

 

This seems to indicate, rather blatantly, that the problem was the speaker cables.

 

And this leads me to ask myself the question, if there is nothing wrong with the second Timekeeper then was there ever anything wrong with the first?  I guess I'd better get my butt into gear and find out.

 

Edit:  Removed the first Timekeeper from its box (it was all ready to be sent back to base for repairs) and hooked it up.  No left channel at all, so I am guessing that yes, there was/is something wrong with the first one.

 

Second Edit:  My replacement for the first Timekeeper has arrived and is being run in, it should be run in by the time my GTG is upon us.

Edited by Cafad
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  • 4 weeks later...

Thought I'd just chip in a little to the conversation regarding the Timekeeper amps.

 

I bought two Timekeepers to put into bridged mode to run my Lenehan ML2 Reference speakers.

 

Previously I was using a pair of Wyred4Sound SX-1000 amps.  That combo sounded pretty good I was happy.

 

But I love Burson gear. I already have a Conductor and the old PP160 stereo amp (this combo I am using as my computer desk setup with Fostex TH900 headphones and a pair of ATC SCM7 speakers).

 

Using the Timekeepers with my ML2 Reference speakers has really been a true pleasure.  People have come over who are not Audiophile's at all and have commented on how awesome the sound is.

 

They say things like the music and bass coming through the speakers has a real solid thick feel to it and playing blu-ray movies the dialogue is so clear whilst still hearing what seems to be every detail in the scene.

 

For me I think I have finally ... finally satisfied my upgrade itch because the sound signature is exactly what I've always tried to achieve.

Edited by bigbuddha
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Yeah, they are really good aren't they?  :)  

 

Glad to hear you've found your little slice of heaven at home there bigbuddha!

If you can, give them a run with a slightly more dynamic DAC than the Conductor, you'll find the highs go even further up!

 

I've been dragging my feet on this one, I'll see if I can get the review done and up by the end of the weekend.

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Cafad, have you heard the Naksa80 in your system yet? I've got Bills here and I also had his Arion S250 for a while. Was wondering about the qualities of the Bursons compared to the Naksa 80. You see I have a little problem in that I have become addicted to the speed and dynamics of the Arion when paired with my Phasure dac and ML1's and while I enjoyed the Naksa for a while I am now of the opinion that it can't keep up with the analogue stage of the Phasure and sounds like it is playing catch up, never fully resolving the detail. Anyway, was wondering if you thought the Timekeeper might be worth a trial for me?

Cheers,

Anthony

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Unfortunately Anthony I haven't heard either the Naksa 80 or the Arion S250 (but I want to, so very badly!) so I can't draw any direct comparisons.  If and when I get down for this Amp GTG I'll be bringing the Bursons along so I guess we'll just have to wait a bit and find out then.

 

I assume you are keeping your calendar flexible to allow you to attend this little GTG?

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Cafad, have you heard the Naksa80 in your system yet? I've got Bills here and I also had his Arion S250 for a while. Was wondering about the qualities of the Bursons compared to the Naksa 80. You see I have a little problem in that I have become addicted to the speed and dynamics of the Arion when paired with my Phasure dac and ML1's and while I enjoyed the Naksa for a while I am now of the opinion that it can't keep up with the analogue stage of the Phasure and sounds like it is playing catch up, never fully resolving the detail. Anyway, was wondering if you thought the Timekeeper might be worth a trial for me?

 

You noticed that to?

 

The speed of the Arions is simply addictive.

 

But with the Naksa you have to judge it on its terms.  Simply go with the flow with that amp - you will find you involuntarily start tapping your feet and smiling as you get carried away with what it does.  But if you try to pull it to pieces and its not quite as good.

 

Like I say I prefer the Arions for HT and the Naksa for music - but we will need to see what the go is with the limited.  

 

Already when I tried the Naksa compared to the Arion on my limited the midrange was pretty impressive on the Naksa - the people there thought it had the edge on the Arion in that area - as I did - but speed, bass grip and treble sparkle easily goes to the Arion.  As always horses for courses.

 

Thanks

Bill

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No probs Cafad. Bills Arion HS500's are still delayed so I guess the GTG will be a while yet but I will be there.

 

Sigh.

 

Unfortunately too true.

 

Still waiting - but I really want them there for the GTG and with a few hours on them as well.

 

But once they arrive plans are in train for them to be on constant burn in and will be quickly up to speed for the GTG.

 

Thanks

Bill

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Unfortunately Anthony I haven't heard either the Naksa 80 or the Arion S250 (but I want to, so very badly!) so I can't draw any direct comparisons.

 

Hi Cafad

 

Don't worry mate as our amp guy I will, one way or another, get them up to you for a direct comparison and/or for you to hear them at the GTG - although I personally would like you to do both ie check them out at the GTG and have them at your place.

 

The NAKSA Arion comparison is a very interesting one as Acg found out - and not necessarily what you expect with all the words written about digital amps.

 

Thanks

Bill

Edited by bhobba
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Hi Cafad

 

Don't worry mate as our amp guy I will, one way or another, get them up to you for a direct comparison and/or for you to hear them at the GTG - although I personally would like you to do both ie check them out at the GTG and have them at your place.

 

The NAKSA Arion comparison is a very interesting one as Acg found out - and not necessarily what you expect with all the words written about digital amps.

 

Thanks

Bill

 

Sounds pretty-damn-good to me Bill.  I can leave the Timekeepers with you (after the GTG) for a while too, if you so desire.

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Sounds pretty-damn-good to me Bill.  I can leave the Timekeepers with you (after the GTG) for a while too, if you so desire.

 

Sounds like a plan.

 

You can take the NAKSA and Arion away and do a direct comparison.

 

The la\test on the Arion 500 is Mike K, the guy that builds them in the US, is still moving but has promised to ship them soon.

 

Fingers crossed it wont be too long now.

 

Thanks

Bill

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