About the Company
Found by a small team of audio engineers over 20 years ago, Burson Audio is based in Melbourne, Australia. We design benchmark setting audio equipment and premium quality audio design building blocks for fellow audio enthusiasts and manufacturing partners.
Our philosophy is simple; the less our components interfere with the audio signal the more complete your musical experience. This is our core design philosophy since we began in 1996. If our equipment is designed well and transparent enough — and it is — then the pace, rhythm, timing dynamics and tonality becomes a natural expression of the music. We feel this can never be achieved with standard circuit building blocks like IC chip op-amps, IC regulators, or even standard transformers. Instead we research and develop customized discrete circuits specifically to suit their applications. Only then does each and every component in the signal path perform at its peak. And only then will the end result match our expectations.
The Burson discrete opamps are considered around the world as the gold standard of audio opamps. They are widely adopted and universally loved by audio enthusiasts, recording studios and manufacturers alike.
We would like to thank Burson Audio for sending us a review sample of the Swing in exchange of our honest review. This however, doesn’t affect the honesty and integrity of the review.
The Burson Swing is a DAC/Pre-amp that is op-amp rollable, which means that the user can tinker the sound into his/her preference.
Input impedance: 38 KOhms
Frequency response: ± 1 dB 0 – 35Khz
Output impedance (Head Amp): < 2 ohm
Output impedance (Pre Out): 15 Ohm
Inputs: USB, Toslink, Coaxial
Ouputs: RCA Pre – Amp / RCA – DAC output
Channel separation: 132 dB @ 1KHz, 121 dB @ 20KHz
THD + N: 0.0018% @ 1KHz, 0dBFS
The Swing ships in a glossy black box with red and white accents. Inside is the Swing, with two small boxes alongside where the accessories are kept. One box contains the power supplies, connectors and an Allen wrench for opening up the unit, in case you want to change the op-amps. You also get a USB cable, a set of RCA cables, a set of PC connection cables, and a 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter.
The Swing sports a black anodized aluminum chassis that is very robust and has an industrial feel to it. It is cut in a rectangular shape with screw on plates to the front and rear, the finish has a matte texture and it measures 210mm x 145mm x 45mm and weights approximately 2 kilograms.
At front, the Swing has a digital display, a USB-C port, and volume knob. On the rear we have a Optical and Coax input, USB input, 12V Molex PC peripheral connector, 12V Barrel connector, Power Switch, DAC output RCAs, Pre-amp output RCAs and 3.5mm microphone input.
The Swing utilizes the ESS Sabre ESS9038 DAC which is the flagship series of ESS. Specifically, it uses the ESS Sabre ES9038Q2M which is the 2 channel mobile version of the ESS9038 series.
It has an Xmos USB receiver that supports up to 32bit/768khz PCM and DSD512. It features the Burson Max Current Power Supply which is Burson’s solution to the shortcomings of the traditional AC to DC design. Burson sorted this out by looking at the flaws of existing converters. The result is a cleaner and more powerful sound. For more info about this interesting tech you may visit: https://www.bursonaudio.com/about-us/max-current-power-supply/
Testing is done primarily with my Sennheiser HD 800 S which is a good analytical headphone. I find that it is so resolving that the characteristics of equipments whenever good or bad is revealed to my ears right away. The Burson Swing is hooked up to the JDS Labs Atom which is also known to be transparent.
The stock version of the Swing, which utilizes JRC opamps, provides a clean and neutral sound, which is easy on the ears. The JRC opamps delivers a good amount of detail, and I also liked how accurate the imaging is with a good sense of staging. Resolution overall is great, but I find that these opamps could sound a bit cold at times.
V6 Vivid Set
I find that this configuration is more aggressive that the stock, but not in a bad way. I find that the Vivid set sounds more alive and engaging. Decay is more natural, the midrange is cleaner and the treble is a bit more energetic, but still well-controlled. Staging is opened up quite a bit on my HD 800 S, and the sound became more transparent.
At the moment, I only have a Chord Hugo for comparison which is a lot more expensive than the Swing. I’m not expecting the Swing to outmatch the Hugo, given the price gap. But this is only to give an idea of how the Swing holds itself against more expensive offerings. This comparison is done with the Swing in Vivid configuration. What I did for this testing was connect the Hugo to the Atom amp which is also what I used with the Swing. So that I will have a more accurate comparison of their DAC section, and this is what I found:
The Hugo is more extended on both ends of the spectrum, with a touch more musicality. I find it to be “colored” while the Swing has a more neutral approach, which I believe renders recordings more accurately. In terms of resolution and dynamics, it is isn’t really far behind. Which is quite impressive given that the Hugo officially retailed for $2495 while the Swing with the Vivid set is $699. Surprisingly, I’m not missing much of the Hugo with the Swing around.
The Burson Swing is a really compelling DAC. It offers a wide range of connectivity and support, it is built like a tank, and it offers a very transparent sound while also being opamp rollable. How could you go wrong?