Burson Audio Cable + Pro Review

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djbnh

Re: Burson Audio Cable + Pro Review
« Reply #20 on: 13 Aug 2017, 10:25 am »
I've held off on posting this because I hoped others would bring it up first, but it's a big deal and needs to be said... anyways, this is 100% factual so here goes:

I'd just like to point out you need to level match to compare this device with anything else. There is, afaik, 6dB voltage gain going on so SPLs will be higher with this device vs a passive cable, and psychoacoustically we prefer the louder sound a huge majority of the time, over 90%.

The 6dB comes from the specs on their webpage: https://www.bursonaudio.com/products/cable-plus-pro/

If you have a stepped attenuator and know the attenuation level of the steps it will be easy to decrease the volume 6dB when the cable is in place, if not you'll need a calibrated microphone and software like REW or similar to do a fair comparison. If you have not level matched your review is confounded by this issue.

I'm curious if Burson has advised people they are paying to do these reviews that level matching is necessary? If not I think it's a bit deceptive to give people a "cable" with 6dB gain and have them compare it directly with a passive cable.

Finally, the claim of impedance matching is dubious at best. The buffer has set, non-adjustable input and output impedances just like any preamplifier.
Great point re: level  matching. I did level matching when testing the Cable +; the IC did not fare well in my testing with my gear.

Odal3

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Re: Burson Audio Cable + Pro Review
« Reply #21 on: 7 Sep 2017, 04:30 am »
So I finally been starting to do the actual review. Been busy so I haven't had a chance until now. I will write it up as soon as I have finalized the testing. My only problem is the cable I have is RCA to 3.5mm so I'm limited to what I can use it with (got the wrong cable).

Adydula and Odal3, is Burson providing the cables at a discount if you agree to post a review?

If so, we'd like to see that fact disclosed in the reviews.

Thanks!

Full disclosure is also important to me - I wouldn't do it any other way. Yes provided by Burson free of charge in the same way as the original Burson cable I reviewed. http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=149255.0
There were only two requirements: 1) Post a review online and say what you personally think about it and 2) take picture of the cable in your system.

I'd just like to point out you need to level match to compare this device with anything else. There is, afaik, 6dB voltage gain going on so SPLs will be higher with this device vs a passive cable, and psychoacoustically we prefer the louder sound a huge majority of the time, over 90%.

The 6dB comes from the specs on their webpage: https://www.bursonaudio.com/products/cable-plus-pro/

If you have a stepped attenuator and know the attenuation level of the steps it will be easy to decrease the volume 6dB when the cable is in place, if not you'll need a calibrated microphone and software like REW or similar to do a fair comparison. If you have not level matched your review is confounded by this issue.

Excellent point and it's something I also try to do when doing specific comparisons. I pulled out my calibrated Umik microphone tonight and did sweep tests with both Burson cable and passive cable so I now have it dialed in. I can confirm it is about 6db difference more or less across the spectrum. The plots followed each other fairly well. But here's the reason why I haven't had a chance to finalize the review - everytime I pull out the microphone I get distracted with also testing some DIY projects I am working on :D

I can also confirm that when level matched there is definite a difference in sound. With that said, I kind of wish there wasn't a 6db increase since it makes my volume control very sensitive.

More to come...

Odal3

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Re: Burson Audio Cable + Pro Review
« Reply #22 on: 21 Sep 2017, 04:14 am »
Here's my take on the Burson Cable+ Pro. I previously had a chance to review the Burson Cable+, and as last time, the cable was provided free of charge for my honest opinion. No affiliation.

Link to my Burson Cable+ review: http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=149255.0

Burson now offers two cables - Cable+ and the premium Cable+Pro. The pro version comes in black housing vs the brushed metal of the cable+. It's hard to tell in the pictures but it's kind of candy licorice color. The housing for the electronics is machined and looks and feel really solid. There's nothing cheap about it - it both feels and looks nice. 


The size of the housing is the same for both the the cable+ and the pro. However, the inside looks very different as you can see in the picture. The Cable+ is based on Burson's v5i opamp (silver square in the picture) and the cable+pro uses Burson's discrete V5 opamp circuit.



Another obvious difference is that the pro uses red Canare cables with better quality connectors. One minor issue I had with the cables was that the rubber bands to indicate left and right kept rolling off every time I moved the cables. It was easy to put them back but it would be nice if they could stick.



As I pointed out in my other review, the Burson cable is more like a powered buffer than a regular cable. See Burson website for details. In other words, they require separate power supplies to work. In my experience it is often difficult to hear differences between similar quality level of cables, but this is not the case with the Burson cables. At least in the systems I tried it with, it is definitely easy to tell a difference in the sound

That's a bit how I evaluate audio equipment too. If I have to spend a long time of focused listening to determine if I can even tell a subtle difference, it is not an upgrade worth the money for me. If I can easily tell a difference, the question then becomes do I like it or not. I tend to prefer slightly warmer presentation for music with lots of soul and punch but still plenty of detail. When it becomes too analytical/clinical it often becomes too bright and fatiguing for me for longer listening sessions (it actually hurts my ears and even had to turn in the door at some rooms at the recent Axpona).

Back to the evaluation:

I received the 3.5mm stereo to RCA version so I was not able to test it with better DACs which I had really, really hoped for, but the good part is that I could instead easily do an A/B comparison between the cable+ and the pro.

So with a 3.5 mm cable I was restricted to my two identical chromecast audio streamers which allows for bit perfect streaming of Tidal Hifi. The chromecast audio is by no means a high-end device, but it includes a decent (budget) AKM 4430 dac chip for analog out, as well as optical out to connect to an external DAC.

Many including myself find the sound out from analogue (using the internal chromecast DAC) kind of flat and unengaging and only good enough for background listening but that the optical out to an external DAC could produce a pretty decent SQ as documented at computeraudiophile and other places. In my system, however, the optical out created a little bit of harshness. 

Since I haven't had a chance to try either cable with a more high-end DAC, my comments should be read accordingly.

System 1:
Yamaha Aventage A1060 receiver using two google chromecast audio as streamers.
DIY speakers and subs. Subs driven by a crown 2000 xls amp.

This turned out to be a really nice way to compare like for like since I could set-up Tidal to stream to both chromecasts at the same time. This allowed swapping back and forth between the inputs (which had the different cables) without having to unplug anything and the music was always in sync.

Before starting any tests I made sure I knew how to set the volume to account for the 6db differences between a normal cable and the Burson cables. I tested with Umik and REW.

Regular DIY Cable vs Cable+
As I said in my previous review, the Burson cable + takes the chromecast to a whole new level. The lifeless presentation is gone and the Burson electronics brings out better dynamics, soundstage, better defined bass and more details at the top without getting harsh. It is kind of like the signal gets "cleaned-up".

Cable+ vs Cable Pro
So what does the pro bring to the table? The answer is a lot. It is definitely a step-up - it does everything the cable+ does - only better: Better separation between instruments, imaging, darker background, details in bass comes out even more, more "airy". All of a sudden the cheap little google chromecast has become a better than good streaming device. It really sounds pretty good.



Optical vs Cable+ pro
The DAC in the Yamaha receiver is a SABRE 9006A so not the top end but by no means bad. The sound profile definitely has the typical SABRE sound when all DSP is turned off. The optical out with the Receiver DAC had better clarity and detail but, but the analogue with the Burson cable had more punch and "soul". As I like a slightly warmer presentation, I actually preferred the Burson and chromecast combo.

System 2
Moving on to my other system:
Folsom amp with diy speakers plus GR Research dual 12" OB sub.

At this time, I also swapped out the power supply to the ifi ipower. Somehow I forgot to do a comparison between the stock USB power supply and the ifi. In other comparisons that I have done with devices using USB power supplies and the ifi, it has always been an improvement (cleaner sound, less sibilance and harshness)

Sound in this system is much better than from my Yamaha receiver which is really set-up more for HT.
My conclusion from comparing the cable+ and the pro is still the same. The pro is a step-up in sound. The cable+ has a slightly brighter (not in a bad harsh way) sound compared to the pro. To clarify, I wouldn't call the cable+ bright sounding, it is just that the pro has a more natural wide sound.

One notable finding in this system is that the bass sounded really weak and lacking with the chromecast connected with a regular cable. Both Burson cables really helped get the punch and depth of the bass back without being bloated. I was even able to measure that there was a difference (after adjusting for volume difference)

One thing I want to stress is that I believe the benefits of the Burson cable are likely very system dependent. If you already have a good match between a premium DAC, preamp and amp, my guess is that you will not gain much or it may even be the opposite. If you don't or do not know, it is definitely worth a try.

Would a google chromecast with a burson cable beat high end DACs? No - not at all, but I have to say that the level of improvement the burson cable did resulted in the same feeling of just wanting to sit for hours going through favorite songs to see how they sound.

I'm curious to hear if anyone else has had the chance to test this combo and what they think of it.

If I get a chance later this fall/winter I will mod the cable and add RCAs on both sides so I can explore the cables further with better DACs. Really curious how it will do with some of the Dacs I have recently been reading about in the C&C circle especially since I normally have my main system setup without a preamp.

Thanks to Burson for letting me try it out.


Test music
Fink - Perfect darkness
Mahler symphony No.2 in C minor - Paavoo Jarvi
Esbjorn Svensson Trio
Nils Frahm
misc modern, jazz and classical piano
and some modern pop, rock and alternative

Odal3

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Re: Burson Audio Cable + Pro Review
« Reply #23 on: 21 Sep 2017, 04:37 am »

bacobits1

Re: Burson Audio Cable + Pro Review
« Reply #24 on: 21 Sep 2017, 01:00 pm »
Sorry about that. I did not see the separate thread for the "Cable + Pro" specifically.
I can move it?

As far as level matching I did not approach it that way with just swapping cables.
Here, if anything heard on the volume I get a 1 or 2 db boost in gain.
Not drastic at all. I went at it thinking if I got a real difference in sound quality. I did and not because of any gain. All systems are different for sure.

It happened after a day . Things sounded a bit too warm before some hours on the cable. I always test by taking an item out and going back to what was originally used. Not needed in this case as it was apparent what I was hearing after a few hours.

Too many cases as in USB especially swapping different cables and having to listen so closely you get a hernia ain't worth the purchase. It happened that way with the Uptone Regen, I had 2 of them on the DACs a Chord Qute HD and The Yiggy. Did not get an improvement until I went with the Itona and Yggdrasil.

The representation of these cables is not like that. It was immediate and improved , very involving on my Phono.

I will throw it back on the Yggdrail again too.
 
And If you have a Vista 2 what a treat.


As I said, it stays!
 
« Last Edit: 22 Sep 2017, 07:08 pm by bacobits1 »

MttBsh

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Re: Burson Audio Cable + Pro Review
« Reply #25 on: 4 Nov 2017, 04:27 am »
I posted a review of Burson's Cable+ Pro a few months ago and stated that it is the best sounding interconnect I have had in my system. It seems crazy that they sell for $150.00 a pair, beating cables I've bought that retail for almost 10 times that price. Put between my Schiit Yggdrasil DAC and Tortuga passive preamp, the air around instruments, bass, soundstage width and depth are all the best I've heard with the Burson.

About a month ago, Burson contacted me and asked if I would like a pair to review, free if I write up my review. My first thought was, I already have pair and have already written a review. My second thought was "Since I like the pair I already have so much, why not get another pair - this time on Burson - and write a review of how two pair work together in my system?" The new pair arrived a few days ago and I hooked them up between my passive Tortuga and my Job 225 amp, replacing a pair of excellent interconnects I use there.

This pair of Burson Cable+ Pros in that position produced no sound at all! I tested them between my DAC and preamp and they sounded great, identical to the pair I was already using in that position - there's nothing wrong with the cables - so why didn't they work between my passive and my power amp? I had read somewhere that these cables are designed to work between the source and amp. I have to think that because these are powered "impedance matching' interconnects, the reason they produce no sound between my preamp and amp is because my preamp is passive. Does that make sense? I can't come up with any other explanation.

Stercom

Re: Burson Audio Cable + Pro Review
« Reply #26 on: 4 Nov 2017, 11:27 am »
Hi All - There are now multiple reviews of the Burson cables on AudioCircle. I thought I'd link to my review I did back in May.  I essentially came to the same conclusion as stated in this thread. Excellent cables for sources but not so much between my preamp and amp. Thanks.


From my review:

"I contacted Burson about this and they indicated the interconnect should be used with sources. So that's a fairly significant piece of information any buyer should be aware of. Burson's website makes passing reference to that requirement but it should be more explicit in my opinion."

http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=150237.0

33na3rd

Re: Burson Audio Cable + Pro Review
« Reply #27 on: 4 Nov 2017, 06:50 pm »

This pair of Burson Cable+ Pros in that position produced no sound at all! I tested them between my DAC and preamp and they sounded great, identical to the pair I was already using in that position - there's nothing wrong with the cables - so why didn't they work between my passive and my power amp? I had read somewhere that these cables are designed to work between the source and amp. I have to think that because these are powered "impedance matching' interconnects, the reason they produce no sound between my preamp and amp is because my preamp is passive. Does that make sense? I can't come up with any other explanation.

That does seem odd. Thanks for the heads up. I have a Tortuga also, and was thinking about trying the Burson between the Tortuga and my power amp. I hope you'll post more if you figure out what's going on with the Burson in this position.

MttBsh

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Re: Burson Audio Cable + Pro Review
« Reply #28 on: 5 Nov 2017, 07:04 am »
I find it odd too. I'll post more when I can figure out why the cables pass no signal from my preamp to my amp while sounding great between my DAC and preamp.

adydula

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Re: Burson Audio Cable + Pro Review
« Reply #29 on: 5 Nov 2017, 03:42 pm »
One thing I found with the Cable + Pro using it between the dac and amp for headphones....the volume control on the amp is considerably lower for the same SPL.

We all pretty much know when cranking up the volume often leads us to think things are better....depending on other things etc.

The output of the Burson cable seems to be driving the amp harder than passive cables...so make sure when comparing you set the
levels to match.

Alex

Russell Dawkins

Re: Burson Audio Cable + Pro Review
« Reply #30 on: 30 Nov 2017, 01:31 am »
Here's my overdue review of the Burson Cable + Pro, prompted by Bhav's urging. The delay (I got the device a few months ago) might be partly a function of the fact that this is not entirely positive.

The good first.

The presentation is excellent—well packaged and apparently very well built, with premium grade parts in evidence everywhere, including Canare cable and really nice Canare RCA plugs—beautifully soldered, too.

My set up is near ideal for this test:
an ADCOM GFP 750 preamp with double RCA unbalanced outputs and selectable passive or active modes. I always run passive for the finer detail
my standard analog interconnects, made by me when I set up my studio 25 years ago—"Monster Cable-Prolink-Series 3 Professional Standard High Resolution Microphone Cable with MicroFiber" it says on the jacket. It consists of 3 gauges of conductor inside, the smallest gauge also being of litz construction. In addition, there is braided shielding surrounded by foil shielding and a drain wire. It took me nearly 1/2 an hour to WBT solder each end - to XLRs, anyway. I spent a lot of money back in the day, especially by the standards of the day, on microphone cables. My 35' main stereo pair cost me $700 1992 vintage USD. People thought I was nuts.
So, my power amp, chosen for colourlessness and real power is the VFET Yamaha B-2 which has the convenience of two RCA inputs (switchable) and two sets of speaker outputs. It has a switch to delete coupling capacitors at will. One pair of outputs drives a set of Yamaha NS1000s and the other ste drives a pair of AKG K-1000 headpphones. All of these devices were chosen for detail retrieval, which is imprtant for me in both my recording and my mastering work. I need to hear the recording with the least possible contribution from the playback system—the closest I can get to wire with gain.

Conveniently, the B-2 amp, being old fashioned has an AC receptical on the back, so I used that to power the supply for the Burson. The Burson went from the second pair of RCA outs of the preamp to the second set of RCA ins on the power amp. I could select one or the other signal path with the push of a button, as well as selecting the NS1000s or the AKG 1000s with another button push. Additionally, the outputs of the power amp have separate gain controls, so levels between transducers can be matched by the hyper-accurate output level meters (accurate to ±2% with only two cycles of a 10 kHz signal).

My findings?  I can hear the contribution of the Burson as a slight blurring of detail, as if the rise time has been slowed. I can hear this with either the speakers or the headphones. I also hear a pleasant seeming very slight boost in bass level and apparent increase downwards of extension—as if half an octave of extension was added. This sounded great with my Yamaha NS1000s, but I had become sceptical as to whether this was legitimate of some form of euphonic coloration. In the end, though, I valued the silky fine detail I was missing too much to prefer the Burson version. The difference was similar, though not nearly as extreme, as going from active to passive mode in my preamp. This manifests as a very slight coarsening of the texture, whereas going from passive to active on the preamp produces much coarser textures, and I never run active because of that.

So, in summary, very slight coarsening and blurring of detail and enhansement of deep bass.

I genuinely think that in many a consumer grade playback aystem the blurring and coarsening would not be detectable, but the bass improvement would be welcome, especially with speakers a little shy in that department.

Finally, the insertion gain of the Burson measured around 5.7 dB in my set up.

I am not sure if the device is wanted back by Bhav but this review was not motivated by the prospect of keeping it.

Here are a few photos of the test setup.




front of preamp and amp



back of amp



back of preamp



my K1000s holder






Stercom

Re: Burson Audio Cable + Pro Review
« Reply #31 on: 30 Nov 2017, 05:09 am »
As has been stated a number of times these interconnects are for SOURCES. Not pre to amp.

OzarkTom

Re: Burson Audio Cable + Pro Review
« Reply #32 on: 30 Nov 2017, 02:59 pm »
As has been stated a number of times these interconnects are for SOURCES. Not pre to amp.

+1

I tried pre to amp and did not work nearly as good.