Having been a music lover for over fifty years it's fair to say that I have owned and listened to quite a variety of audio gear in my time. From the simple record player with built in speakers to my first Panasonic All-In-One system, to the vast variety of receivers, integrated and power amplifiers, loudspeakers, tape decks, turntables, etc., while my goal within the hobby has never wavered, I have simply wished to listen to music at the highest level of which I could afford. I have never considered myself the proverbial audiophile, but rather a music enthusiast. I don't know, I've witnessed a certain degree of snobbishness from some folks over the decades of which I want no part of. I don't care about certain things in this pursuit, such as physical media to hold in my hand, or liner notes from the days when I was buying LP's. I just want to listen to music on the best sounding system I can afford to own. To each his/her own and if you are different than me in that regard then that's fine.
Being a father of an autistic son has required me to make some changes in the way I listen to my music as he can easily become overloaded when the main system is turned on. It's for this reason that I began putting a desktop system together and using headphones instead of firing up my 300 wpc Emotiva XPA-2 which feeds some vintage KEF Reference floorstanders that can make the building shake even at a low volume level.
This Christmas I treated myself to a pair of Audeze LCD-X. I already owned the LCD-2 but had heard so many great things about the X. I just couldn't resist. WOW... they are really terrific! I was feeding them with either a Dragonfly Cobalt while away from my desk with my laptop, or through an Emotiva XDA-2 DAC/Headphone Amplifier, which while perfectly fine, I want to put it back in the loop with the main system. So I started looking at amplifiers. So did I want separates or an all-in-one solution? Much to think about!
You know, there sure are a LOT of new names in the audio world since I got into this hobby! And many of the old names have either gone out of business or sadly become irrelevant. I had to do a lot of research about these new brands at the same time keeping within my budget. I liked some Schiit products well enough to at least try them out but didn't care to wait 6-8 weeks before they shipped. And shipping charges were added to the cost. In the end I chose the Burson Conductor 3 Performance Headphone Amp/DAC/Preamp. And I just love it!
First off, I have mine standing upright on my desk using the optional "Cool Stand" which gives the amplifiers aesthetic a real kick in the pants. It doesn't look like any amplifier I am aware of. And the stand helps in dissipating heat. I can't speak to how much but I don't find the amplifier to be too HOT after three or four hours of listening. And it takes up far less desk space; the XPA-2 is a full 17 1/2 inches wide! I certainly appreciate that.
This particular amplifier doesn't feature a ton of inputs/outputs but does include all that I need. I can connect my Maranze CDP to it with the optical toslink connection if I want to. I appreciate the Pre-amp functionality as a means to use my powered M25's when I wish. I can't speak too much about the opamps as I have not tried any but the Vivid V6, but they sound darn fine. While not a master of definition what I'm hearing is an impressive audio display of both power and finess within the capability of the Conductor 3 Performance. Music is presented with a sense of power and authority, as if the amp is just cruising along, never breaking a sweat. It's ultra silent between tracks and during quiet passages; I hear no noise whatsoever. I was listening to Collective Soul's "See What You Started By Continuing" yesterday, the second disc is a Greatest Hits mash-up. I became enthralled just listening to the bass line in the song "Better Now". It came across as smooth, effortless and quite punchy. Nice. I like the synergy between this little amplifier and the LCD series. My system would seem to be more refined than it had been before. It sounds lush, the detail is impressive and I find nothing to be offensive. It's sweet and polite when listening to female vocalists but comes alive when the big boys want to rock. In a sentence, this is the best set-up I have ever owned.
This is a well built piece of gear that sounds great. I bought an open box which looks brand new and couldn't be happier.
This is my third Burson product so far, I still use the Funk for a bedroom set up, and upgraded from the Playmate 2 to the Conductor 3. If you haven’t tried Burson yet you are missing out. These things are extremely well built and sound great. They are also at a price that although not cheap is more than fair for what you get. I will probably always have a Burson option with my headset set ups going forward.