The Burson Buffer

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sts9fan

The Burson Buffer
« on: 19 Nov 2007, 05:06 pm »
I have had the opportunity to borrow a Burson Buffer and I can say that after a pretty go listen in and out of my system that I am not a fan.  We used a few different amps with and without the buffer and both times the sound was better without the buffer.  The main difference I noticed was on the new Sigor Ros live disk the vocals seemed very forward and not well balanced with the rest of the recording.  Once the buffer was removed the vocals fit in wonderfully.  This pushing the midrange forward also seemed to cover up details that were revealed with the buffer out of the system.  My system needs very little gain so I would be interested in trying a 0db version to see if the impedance matching actually does some good on its own.  I guess I can see how with modded gear that has lowered output that the extra gain is adding something, but is the impenence matching really adding anything?  Isn't there a better way to get the extra gain like from a preamp or a amp with greater gain?  I had also demoed the Eastern Electric tube buffer which also gave meh results.  Has anyone tried a buffer with 0db gain?
Kris

DSK

Re: The Burson Buffer
« Reply #1 on: 19 Nov 2007, 09:54 pm »
Hi Kris ...I'm guessing your SB2 is stock? I haven't heard the buffer on a stock SB but on a Bolder modded SB2 (even with an easy to drive active pre-amp in circuit) the buffer provided significant improvements in dynamics, effortlessness, openness, slam, drive, and even inner detail. The sound overall is a little more "alive" and forward (providing greater sense of being there) but not in an unbalanced way like you mention and with no brightness.

brj

Re: The Burson Buffer
« Reply #2 on: 19 Nov 2007, 10:16 pm »
Hi Kris.

If you describe your system, room and audio preferences in greater detail, you might get greater, more useful feedback.  It would also help people better understand where you're coming from.

(The Critic's Circle Guidelines can be found here.)

Good luck!

zybar

Re: The Burson Buffer
« Reply #3 on: 19 Nov 2007, 10:18 pm »
I have had the opportunity to borrow a Burson Buffer and I can say that after a pretty go listen in and out of my system that I am not a fan.  We used a few different amps with and without the buffer and both times the sound was better without the buffer.  The main difference I noticed was on the new Sigor Ros live disk the vocals seemed very forward and not well balanced with the rest of the recording.  Once the buffer was removed the vocals fit in wonderfully.  This pushing the midrange forward also seemed to cover up details that were revealed with the buffer out of the system.  My system needs very little gain so I would be interested in trying a 0db version to see if the impedance matching actually does some good on its own.  I guess I can see how with modded gear that has lowered output that the extra gain is adding something, but is the impenence matching really adding anything?  Isn't there a better way to get the extra gain like from a preamp or a amp with greater gain?  I had also demoed the Eastern Electric tube buffer which also gave meh results.  Has anyone tried a buffer with 0db gain?
Kris

Kris,

If you want to come over, you can hear what a Bolder Cable modified Burson does in my system. 

As DSK said in his post, it certainly is a positive addition to my system and I miss it greatly every time it comes out.

George

jules

Re: The Burson Buffer
« Reply #4 on: 19 Nov 2007, 10:47 pm »
Could it be that with the T amps 15 Watt [? is that correct] output, a Burson Buffer just isn't suitable?

jules

sts9fan

Re: The Burson Buffer
« Reply #5 on: 20 Nov 2007, 02:04 pm »
Quote
Hi Kris.

If you describe your system, room and audio preferences in greater detail, you might get greater, more useful feedback.  It would also help people better understand where you're coming from.

(The Critic's Circle Guidelines can be found here.)

Good luck!

I am running a stock SB2 into a Modified Trends T-amp which is giving me about 6watts of power.  I have a very hard time describing the sound of my system but I do like it.  I also had on hand a SACThailand Minuet EL34 amp which is a neat little 6watt amp.  So we evaluated with a chip amp as well as a SE tube amp. 
Quote
Hi Kris ...I'm guessing your SB2 is stock? I haven't heard the buffer on a stock SB but on a Bolder modded SB2 (even with an easy to drive active pre-amp in circuit) the buffer provided significant improvements in dynamics, effortlessness, openness, slam, drive, and even inner detail. The sound overall is a little more "alive" and forward (providing greater sense of being there) but not in an unbalanced way like you mention and with no brightness

It is stock and I do have to wonder why the modified version would give such different results? Boosting in compensation of lost output?  Any thoughts?  What does a modified unit do differently that would allow this buffer to act differently? Questions not allegations.

Quote
Kris,

If you want to come over, you can hear what a Bolder Cable modified Burson does in my system. 

As DSK said in his post, it certainly is a positive addition to my system and I miss it greatly every time it comes out.

George

Yeah that would be great.  The main issue will be that I will have zero chance of "hearing" your source with a setup and speakers that I have never heard before.  I guess if you have a stock unit to compare I would be very interested.  Also you have modded version so its not apples to apples.  I am also not sure how hearing an improvement in your system relates to the negative effect I have heard in my system?  I will reevaluate in my system just to double check.  I would love to give your stuff a listen some time regardless!

 
Quote
Could it be that with the T amps 15 Watt [? is that correct] output, a Burson Buffer just isn't suitable?

jules

I am actually only getting 6watts into my 12ohm load.  Other then that I don't understand your question.  What would make it unsuitable?  Will it not fix impedance issues?

Finally I am just reporting MY finding here and would never say you are not hearing what you say. 


randytsuch

Re: The Burson Buffer
« Reply #6 on: 20 Nov 2007, 06:20 pm »
Hi Kris
I will take a shot at answering your question.

Most modded SB's are bypassing the output opamps.  A pair of coupling caps are connected directly to the DAC, with the other side of the cap going to the RCA jack.  RWA added a small cap on to the RCA jack, to filter out HF noise.

In a standard SB, the DAC output goes to a surface mount electrolytic cap, which then goes to a op amp.  The op amp also has a filter circuit (an RC in the feedback loop).  The output of the  opamp goes through another cap, then a resistor, before the RCA jack.  There are also a cap, and resistor to ground in there after the op amp.

So, most modded SBs have a much simpler output, and that is probably why people prefer to mod them.  And the caps the slim deviced used in the signal path appear to be standard surface mount lytics.  I am sure the auricaps that are in my modded SB3 sound better than the lytics in a standard SB.

But, there is a drawback here.  With the opamp removed, the DAC is driving the output from the SB.  There is a little opamp in the DAC, but it can not drive as hard as a stand along opamp.

So, if you add the burson buffer to a modded sb, with a short IC between the SB and buffer, you get the drive benifits of the buffer.  In basic terms, the buffer is replacing the opamp in the SB.

The burson buffer appears to be a "discrete" op amp, that is an op amp made out of transistors.  This is an educated guess, as I have not seen a buffer schematic.  I would think it would outperform the opamp in the SB, as there are better opamps then the one in the SB.

In your case, since you still have the SB op amp in the signal path, you are just adding another op amp to the signal path.  Adding stuff to the signal path, unless there is a reason, is normally not a good thing.  This is probably why you heard a degradation in the sound.

Hope I managed to answer your question

Randy

sts9fan

Re: The Burson Buffer
« Reply #7 on: 20 Nov 2007, 06:57 pm »
That totally makes sense but is not how the buffer is advertised.  I would agree that with the modded units you are removing a part of the circuit and then replacing it with one of a higher quality.  I can see why that would be beneficial.  So what does that have to do with impedance issues?   
From Burson's website
Quote
Burson Audio buffer removes any impedance mismatching by acting as an isolation platform between any source components (CD, DVD, SACD player, Phono preamp, radio, or even IPod) and downstream amplification (preamp, intergraded amp,  etc). Burson Audio Buffer is designed to Increase signal transmission efficiency between all component and unlock the potential of any system.


I guess my question would be is this the best way to add gain?  Would not the chain be simpler to choose an amp or pre with more gain?  Also with most systems having plenty of gain why do you need it?  I am sure the modders would not say they are hindering the signal out of the SB so with plenty of gain in place why not just crank the volume a bit?  Now that would lead me to wonder that IF the gain is not what is causing the change in sound then why would my system without mods sound worse?  If the sound benifit was cauused my impedence matching it should not be modded or unmodded dependent.  Do you disagree?

stereocilia

Re: The Burson Buffer
« Reply #8 on: 20 Nov 2007, 07:52 pm »
I’ll chime in to back Kris up: I heard what he described in his system, too.  I also noticed a slightly decreased sense of spaciousness.  I preferred the sound of his system without it.

Obviously it’s an indispensable part of some systems, but it bears repeating that just like any component, it’s best to audition first.

randytsuch

Re: The Burson Buffer
« Reply #9 on: 20 Nov 2007, 09:23 pm »
Hi guys,
First, I believe that in your system, the buffer is hurting the sound, for the reason I gave before.

Second, I don't pay that much attention to words on websites, it tends to be marketing BS.  I have seen many examples of this on audio websites, so I usually just gloss of it.  So I can't answer your question about impedance matching, the source (transmitter) always should have a lower impedance than the receiver end.

There is an informative thread here
http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=22922&highlight=

that discusses the merits of passive versus active preamps, but I think some of the information could be applied to this situation.  It also talks about output impedance versus input impedance.

You also asked about gain.  I think of gain as voltage, how high the voltage is.  If your system can provide enough voltage to the speakers, then it has enough gain.

But then there is current.  Current is the flow of electrons.  A system might have enough gain, but if one of the outputs in the system cannot provide enough instantaneous current to drive it’s corresponding input, then the sound will suffer.  Your system would eventually hit the same voltage, but it would not be able to do it immediately.

With a modded SB, I think the buffer allows to modded SB to provide more current, to drive the input that it is connected to.  If you have an stock SB, and it can already provide enough current to drive it’s input, then you are just adding something else in the audio path, which is normally bad.

Randy


DSK

Re: The Burson Buffer
« Reply #10 on: 20 Nov 2007, 09:32 pm »
That totally makes sense but is not how the buffer is advertised.  I would agree that with the modded units you are removing a part of the circuit and then replacing it with one of a higher quality.  I can see why that would be beneficial.  So what does that have to do with impedance issues?   
From Burson's website
Quote
Burson Audio buffer removes any impedance mismatching by acting as an isolation platform between any source components (CD, DVD, SACD player, Phono preamp, radio, or even IPod) and downstream amplification (preamp, intergraded amp,  etc). Burson Audio Buffer is designed to Increase signal transmission efficiency between all component and unlock the potential of any system.


I guess my question would be is this the best way to add gain?  Would not the chain be simpler to choose an amp or pre with more gain?  Also with most systems having plenty of gain why do you need it?  I am sure the modders would not say they are hindering the signal out of the SB so with plenty of gain in place why not just crank the volume a bit?  Now that would lead me to wonder that IF the gain is not what is causing the change in sound then why would my system without mods sound worse?  If the sound benifit was cauused my impedence matching it should not be modded or unmodded dependent.  Do you disagree?

The fact that a modded SB outperforms a stock SB overall is great for those people choosing to go down that path. However, the fact that the modded unit sounds better overall DESPITE its output dropping to a max of 1.1V suggests that the modded unit would surpass the stock unit by an even larger margin IF the mods did not involve the loss of output. The (apparently) decent quality parts in the Buffer, and its discrete design, allow it to remain quite transparent while adding back the lost output so the real performance benefit of the mods can be heard. The Buffer is far easier for a modded SB to drive than a pre-amp. A typical pre-amp has an input impedance of 45K+, the Buffer's is approx 550K.

It is not so much a matter of how much total gain each component in the chain has (my system had enough gain to go louder than what I would ever need even without the Buffer) but how well each component can drive the next. Even with no pre-amp or Buffer in the system, the modded SB could directly drive my amp to volumes louder than what I would ever need, BUT .... it lacked dynamics, slam, inner detail, life, emotion ....it must have been straining somewhat to do the job. Re-inserting my active pre-amp significantly improved all these areas with no loss of transparency or anything else. Installing the Buffer between modded SB and active pre-amp provided even more of the same things with no downs sides that I'm yet aware of.

I'm no EE but I suspect there is more to it than just the impedance issues that Burson mention. Others have suggested that it is more to do with current and voltage swing etc. It's a bit like comparing a 4 cylinder engine to a V8 for high speed cruising ... the V8 will do it at lower revs and with more in reserve if needed.

kyrill

Re: The Burson Buffer
« Reply #11 on: 16 Sep 2008, 10:50 am »
hmm a non modded SB is not really worth as a source for serious music listening
it is like a moderate Philips home theater receiver quality at its very best.

The burson buffer on the other hand is a serious contender and may show as a kind of magnifying glass the
digital nasties ( internal switching supplies, screen, cheap electrolytes and so on) of the source if there is any and the stock SB has really many  many "cheap" solutions to make it sound nicely mediocre and not at all a worthy reference to judge a high end set up...  8)
« Last Edit: 23 Jan 2009, 11:27 pm by kyrill »