đź”· Burson Playmate 2

This is the official thread for the Burson Playmate 2

This thread is for discussion and reviews.

  • USB or Toslink in, RCA pre out, 1/4 inch headphone out with 3.5mm mic in
  • ESS 9038Q2M, MIC input via usb:
  • 2.5 wpc @ 32 ohm, swappable opamps, remote

:red_circle: Burson Link


Z Reviews…


It uses a class a amp, but note it can’t be used stand alone (which is a damn shame imo)

Edit: priced at $550 it seems

fighting the urge to buy this but as a standalone would be better in most every way.

I mean, no doubt, but its also 2x the price…

Yep… I only linked it because you were concerned about being kneecapped by the AIO DAC… The Soloist bypasses that and gives you a superior amp stage to what is in their Conductor 3XR ($2k+ AIO).

Pretty much a rule of thumb is that if you want to step up in class in Hifi you need to double the price which sucks. At just under $1k the Soloist hangs in there amongst the others at the price range.

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Nah, I get that the solist hangs well within its class. My only real point is, given the lack decent class As in the $500 price range (and the what seems like good amp performance from this thing), I feel like they would have had a much better sale pitch if the playmate allowed analog input to use exclusively as an amp. My guess is they didnt do that so that they own higher end products would be more appealing, but it feels like a weird feature to exclude when it would make them one of literally just 2-3 options for a class a amp in that range (even if it costed 50 more to implement that)

Phew, a bit poor in terms of features for the price.
No XLR connector, Usb c bäh as input.
Could have been done better.

Otherwise I find the Opamp exchange interesting that you still remain on the way.that’s okay,design is also okay.processing also looks good.

Would max 300-250$ pay for it.

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I think it’s main appeal is the fact that it’s a very simple all in one with a microphone input, honestly I don’t see much to complain about on this for what they are positioning it for. It prob sounds great but I would say it is priced a bit high for the target market they are most likely going for but if it can deliver for that price it’s not that bad

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My notes and impressions after having a loaner from Burson for a few weeks:

Burson Playmate 2 Review

For a few months now, I’ve had the pleasure of listening to the Burson V6 Classic and Vivid opamps in my Music Hall 25.2 DAC which is connected to a Music Hall PH25.2 Headphone Amplifier. Having the option to change around opamps to modify the sound signature has really made it so much better to tweak the sound signature to the headphones I’m using at the time. Quick example, I recently purchased a pair of Audeze LCD2 Classics and found that too much warmth wasn’t the best match so swapping the V6 Vivids in place of the Classics fixed that right up. Fast forward a few months and Burson contacted me to see if I would be interested in trying the Playmate 2 through their loaner program. This is the first standalone Burson product I have auditioned. I’ve only previously used/owned their opamps. My usual DAC and Headphone amp stack are close enough that it makes it very easy to compare them to the PM2. I believe their combined MSRP is about double that of the PM2. A better comparison would be between the Music Hall 25.2 DAC to the PM2 since they are very similar in both function and price but honestly, the headphone amp in the 25.2 is really just an afterthought and is not in the same league as the PM2 so I will continue to use the ph25.2 for my comparison. To keep them on a somewhat level playing field, I have reinstalled the stock opamps in the Music Hall DAC. The Music Hall uses 2 X OPA2134 and a single OPA2604 compared to 2 x JRC5532D and 2 X JRC5534D in the Burson.

Quick shipping directly from China and the package arrived at my doorstep safe and sound. Opening the package, my expectations were exceeded when I picked up the Playmate 2 (PM2 from now on). It’s a very solid and substantial case. Also supplied is the optional stand made from the same material as the case/heatsink. In the box is an allen wrench to open the case and a USB-C cable. This is where I hit a snag and my excitement had to wait, as I was going to be using this with my WFH setup which is an older MacBook Pro which only has a USB-A plug. I’d suggest that Burson include a USB-A to USB-C adapter in the box. I was able to finally find a USB-C to USB-A cable that came with another device I owned thankfully. There is also an optional remote control, but it was not provided with my loaner.

The front faceplate feels solid and the volume/function provides a nice tactile feel when turning and pushing. The ¼” jack also feels substantial when plugging in. I have used both the ¼” and the 3.5mm jacks, but I did not test the TRRS mic input as I only use headphones and not headsets. The display is easy to read and provides the right amount of information, volume, input, output, and sampling rate information.

Finally, showtime! My MacBook Pro connected to it immediately and didn’t require any configuration. I made the mistake of plugging right in and starting to listen. Initially it sounded a bit flat and harsh. Knowing it was a Class A amp, experience told me to let it play and come back in an hour or so. Had I read the instructions first, it explains this “The sound of the Burson Playmate 2 improves steadily within minutes after powered-up. Depending on the resolution of the system and the attentiveness of the listener, you may find that the sound continues to improve over the first several weeks of operation.” Next Time RTFM!
I’m happy to report, this is the case and after the unit warmed up for a bit, so did the sound! My tube headphone amp is very similar in this regard.

For the next week, I have spent my time listening to all my favorite albums on Tidal and Spotify. I’ve tried to do most of my evaluation with Tidal Master quality tracks whenever possible. Pre-Pandemic most of my listening was vinyl except when commuting to work and I predominantly used Spotify for finding new music to purchase. I decided that to really give a worthy evaluation of the PM2 I need to feed it something better than a compressed 44k stream, so I subscribed to Tidal. As much as I appreciate how years of being a Spotify subscriber has allowed them to learn my preferences and recommend some great music I would have never found, I feel that I can definitely appreciate the difference in the HiFi 44K lossless and higher resolution Master quality streams. Some of my favorite albums just sound better on Tidal. Had I not spent the time with the PM2, I honestly don’t think I would have ever noticed or appreciated the difference.

There have been a few things that have stood out to me about the PM2. It is very quiet compared to my tube DAC/AMP stack. Listening to my familiar playlists, I find that the quiet background had improved the soundstage. Sounds seem just a little farther away or even some things I never noticed before. The whole “Black Background” cliché is at work here. Tubes are usually known for their holographic soundstage or at least to add some air to the music but at least in my case, the solid-state PM2 seems to be better at both attributes than my tube setup. Based on the information Burson provides, I would have to attribute this to their Max Current Power Supply (MCPS). If you want silence, you really need to provide a quiet and stable power supply. Burson also claims this provides much better power and dynamics and I can say that the PM2 provides more power to drive my LCD-2 Classics than I would ever need. It never seemed to be strained, even at volumes that would damage one’s hearing. Crank the juice up and you’ll be treated to dynamics that will gut-punch you. At volumes higher than I would normally listen to, I found the PM2 able to give a visceral impact out of my headphones normally reserved for speakers.

The second and probably most important attribute of the PM2 is what it doesn’t do. It is not particularly warm, bright, aggressive, sibilant, aggressive, or laid back, it’s just pretty neutral and very easy to listen to. It’s not missing detail or rolled off, nor is it adding anything. It seems to just present what is there, nothing more, nothing less. While I have no real experience or background with the stock opamps, I think Burson made a good choice as they are very nice sounding. Now if you want to change the presentation, Burson has made it super easy to swap opamps. I briefly swapped out both V6 Classic and Vivid opamps and immediately noticed the benefits of each, more detail, more color, etc. I could write an entirely separate review extolling the virtues of each but what I’ll say briefly is both versions of the V6 had slightly better detail and separation than the stock opamps. The Classic a bit richer and warmer and the Vivid extended and more impactful. The majority of my evaluation was with the stock opamps. I find them a great match with my LCD-2 Classics.

The biggest compliment I can give the Playmate 2 is after a week of listening to it with my LCD-2 Classics, I prefer the combo over my full size two-channel stereo system.

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TLDR version on YouTube: TDLR - Burson Audio Playmate 2

The Playmate 2 has been sent to me directly by Burson for me to try it out and to share my opinions in this review. Burson have not made any requests or comments and, as always, I will do my very best to be as unbiased and sincere as humanly possible.

You can find the official page for the Playmate 2 here: https://www.bursonaudio.com/products/playmate-2/

As usual, this link is non-affiliate and I do not benefit from clicks or purchases in any way.

To avoid being repetetive in my reviews, you can find all the info about how I create the reviews, equipment used, how I receive the products and how to interpret my reviews by visiting: About my reviews


While Burson products have always drawn my attention, I have never had a chance to try any of them. Therefore, when Burson unexpectedly reached out and offered to send the Playmate 2 for review, I was obviously very happy to accept.

For those who haven’t come across Burson audio, or haven’t really paid any attention to them, they are an Australian company, based in Melbourne, who were established in 2001. This means that they are by no means a newcomer into the audio world and, while they do have quite a selection of DACs and Amplifiers, they are also very well known and respected for their OP Amps.

This is something that they are happy to use in their favour, as they build their products to make it easy to swap Op Amps, allowing users to tailor their products to their own tastes.

In the case of the Playmate 2 which I am reviewing today, it is again built to allow users to swap out OP Amps (with Burson offering different options) but I am focusing on this device in its stock form.


Burson are happy to let you know on their web that they do not advertise, buy reviews or attend trade-shows in order to not increase the price of their products. In the case of the packaging, it seems that a similar “no-frills” approach is maintained.

A simple white box with basic information on the outside opens to reveal the device sitting in simple packing foam and a smaller white box containing the accessories.

Inside the accessories box we get the power supply, an adapter to split the mic input/headphone output (more on that in a second), a spare fuse, an allen key for disassembling the device (to swap OP amps), a fabric covered USB A to USB C cable and an RCA to RCA cable.

In general it is a very simple presentation but everything is well packed and protected and I applaud the saving on packaging where possible, especially if those savings go into the product itself.

Build and aesthetics…

The Playmate 2 is completely made of metal, aluminium to be more specific, which tends towards a slightly industrial look while still maintaining elegance. I had seen plenty of photos of the device and while I liked the look, I have to say that it looks much better in person than it does in photos.

With a brushed aluminium faceplate and back plate, the rest of the device is ridged, sort of like a heat sink, and while very simple, I must say I like the design. It has spent the past few weeks sitting on my desk at the side of a Mac Mini and while the Playmate 2 is of a darker finish, they look at home together.


Starting off with the rear panel, there is not a huge amount of connectivity but enough from my personal use. From left to right we have the USB-C connection followed by a optical input, an RCA unbalanced output and finally the connection for the power supply (which is a 3A 24VDC).

Moving around to the front, again from left to right, we have the power button, a 6.35mm unbalanced headphone output, a 3.5mm TRRS output (for use with headsets that have microphones), a small screen with white digits, a large (and very nice) knurled digital potentiometer (which is also a push button) and finally the menu button.

On the screen we get the volume displayed in large digits to the left and just to the right we get smaller text that shows the selected input, the selected output and the current file rate. Turning the control obviously raises and decreases volume and pressing the same control mutes the device (with the volume display flashing to show it is muted).

When I first received the unit, I found that the volume wheel had a tendency to skip when turning it, it would do things like 20,21,22,23,19,20,21 etc. As I have used the device, this skipping became less frequent and is now something that only occurs very rarely. I think that maybe it is that the digital control needed some use to settle in (who says burn in doesn’t exist? :slightly_smiling_face:).

By pressing the menu button we access the menu of the device, then we can use the wheel to scroll and press to access the parameter we want to change (with the device reverting back to the main screen after 30 seconds of no interaction or by pressing the menu button again).

The options in the menu are:

INPUT: USB/Toslink

OUTPUT: Headphone/Pre Out

PRE LV: Low/High

FIRFILTER: Brickwall/CMFR/Reserved/AP Fast/MP Slow/MP Fast/LP Slow/ LP Fast/

DPLL(DSD): DPLL Off/Low/Mid/High

DPLL(PCM): DPLL Off/Low/Mid/High




The first two options are pretty straight forwards, the PRE LV is the gain and the FIRFILTER are the typical filter options you find on most DACs. The DPLL options are something that I haven’t come across before and searching the internet led me to discovering it stands for Digital Phase-Locked Loop filters but I didn’t investigate much further. You have the option to change them for DSD or for PCM independently but, in my subjective testing, I didn’t really notice a difference and opted for leaving them both on High (which is how they come out of the box).

EMPHASIS is a bit of a strange one as it basically reduces most of the high end of the sound. According to the manual, which actually lists it as “DE-EMPHASIS”, you should only turn this on if your source is a cassette player, which makes sense for reducing the hiss of cassettes but… the Playmate 2 only has digital inputs, so I can’t see how (or why) anyone would attempt to connect a cassette player to it.

The last two settings are RESET SET, which is to restore the factory defaults, and AUTO OFF which allows the unit to turn off automatically after not receiving a signal for a while.

Something that deserves mentioning again is the fact that the 3.5mm output is also an input for a microphone, allowing you to use either the typical 4 pole TRRS (such as those used on smartphones) or the included splitter and use a separate set of headphones/IEMs and microphone. This is something that is not found often on devices that focus on audio quality and should make it a very interesting unit for those who either game or do a lot of conference calls (like in my case) and don’t want to compromise on power or audio quality.

As far as power goes, the Playmate 2 is specified as having 3W per channel and I have to say that I had absolutely no issue with it powering anything that I plugged into it, be it high impedance DD or current hungry planars. IEMs are a bit more of a problem. The biggest issue with IEMs is that 1/100 on the dial is already at what I would consider an acceptable listening level for some, so there will be no really quiet listening sessions with IEMs on the Playmate 2. There is a hint of background noise with sensitive IEMs but at the same time it is less apparent than on some other devices that have been specifically designed with IEMs in mind.


I don’t know why but I expected the Playmate 2 to be a bit of a harsh DAC/Amp. I guess that preconceived opinions were at play but I was surprised to find that it is actually quite a relaxed amplifier. It doesn’t portray the warmth of some other alternatives but it is certainly a long way from being harsh and analytical.

I have plugged in many sets of headphones and IEMs into the Playmate 2 over the weeks that I have been using it and I have to say, I found myself using it more and more, without swapping over to other options even when I found time to have a dedicated listening session.

As always, my subjective opinions of a DAC/Amp are a mixture of things that I really hear and things that my brain tells me I am hearing, but in the case of the Burson, I really enjoy the result.

For quite some time, my main set up was the SMSL SU-8 paired with the Schiit Asgard and the Playmate 2 is, to my ears, like a refined version of that set up. I tried going back and forth between the SU-8 and the Playmate 2 while feeding the Asgard 3 and I found that the outcome was very similar but, again, seeming just a little more refined on the Burson unit. Moving back to the Playmate 2, I have to say that I prefer the pairing with its own internal amp over feeding the Asgard.

With my planars, the result is very good, although I did find that on some occasions, the higher mids of the planar options could come across as slightly more harsh than usual, but that could also be due to the fact that I am used to the EF400 which is more of a warmer and smoother option.

With the HD6XX, the Playmate 2 does a very good job and I would be very happy to have it be my source for them if it wasn’t for having a tube amp on my desk. While talking about tubes, I also used the Burson to feed the Echo Mk2 and have absolutely no complaints there either. The result is slightly more focused than when fed by the EF400 which makes for a very enjoyable listen.

With IEMs I actually really like the presentation of the Playmate 2, the only issue being the fact that the amp is already loud enough at 1/100, so not really much room for adjustment. In fact, with some of the more sensitive options, they were already above my usual listening levels before I even got above 1.


I feel that the Burson Playmate 2 is a very competent and well thought out device that is simple enough for those that just want plug and play but at the same time has enough options for those who want to tinker, both with the onboard filters and the option to swap out OP amps.

As far as performance, I have no complaints. I wouldn’t suggest that you pick this device up if you are mainly an IEM user, but for headphones it is a great option, no matter how much power they need. It is not an overly analytical amp and manages to have a slightly relaxed presentation but without getting to the warmer side like some other alternatives. I honestly do find it to be like having a more refined version of the SU-8 + Asgard 3.

Some people will complain about the lack of balanced connectivity on the Playmate 2 but that is not something I find an issue for me personally. I do opt for balanced connectivity over longer runs to my DSP and speakers etc. but my headphone set up is mostly unbalanced and it is something I have no complaints with.

However, there is one thing that sets this apart from almost all other options (at least from other brands) and that is the fact that it has a microphone input. Both for the gamers and for those who spend their days in an office with multiple calls, this is something that makes it stand out above the competition, allowing you to use headphones of your choice, with a mic of your choice, and not compromise on audio quality.

I guess the next step is to play around with some OP amp swaps and see what that brings to the table with this, very competent, DAC/Amp.

As always, this review is also available in Spanish both on my blog (www.achoreviews.com) and on YouTube (Acho Reviews - YouTube)

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Swapping OP Amps on the Burson Playmate 2 (& a nice remote)

As you can see in the previous post above, not long ago I reviewed the Burson Playmate 2, a very interesting all in one DAC/Amp by the Australian brand, Burson Audio, which is built to accept the swapping of OP Amps.
A couple of weeks ago I received a surprise package in the mail that contained a set of Burson Vivid Op Amps, along with a remote control for the unit.

I have spent some time testing these OP amps (and the remote), comparing them to the stock ones, and am going to share my opinions on whether or not it is a worthy upgrade to the unit.

There are 4 OP amps in the unit in total, in two different stages, and Burson offer two different models, the Classic and the Vivid. The ones I have received are the Vivid, as I just said, and these retail for $145 for the pair of duals plus $85 for the singles.

The official page can be found here: https://www.bursonaudio.com/products/supreme-sound-opamp-v6/

As always, the above link is non-affiliate.

Price & Remote Control…

Before getting into the OP Amps, I just want to mention briefly the remote control. The basic option of the Burson Playmate 2 retails for $544 and doesn’t include the remote. If you opt for the V6 Vivid option, the remote is included, along with the OP Amps that I am testing today, and comes in at $744. I can’t find the remote control available separately on their site but if you do the math, you are paying $200 more for $230 in OP Amps plus a nice little remote.

And the remote is nice. It’s simple but it is elegant and compact.

Built completely from metal, including the buttons, the remote only offers vol+, vol-, mute and source select (cycling between Optical and USB inputs), but honestly, what more do you need? I tested it from one end of my living room to the other (about 6m) and it works fine, so it is plenty for you to kick back in your chair and not have to move to make changes.

So, in short, I like the remote, so let’s get on to the OP Amps.

Changing the OP Amps…

The procedure to swap out the OP Amps really couldn’t be any easier. You remove the top two screws of the face plate, the top two screws of the back plate, then the cover of the unit lifts of with ease. You obviously do this with the unit disconnected from the power supply, both for your own safety and the safety of the unit.

Inside you will find the 4 basic OP Amps which look like 4 little black squares with feet, all in a row. There are single channel OP Amps and Dual Channel OP Amps in the unit, it is important that you replace the singles with singles and duals with duals.

The basic OP Amps are identified by the number, with the 5534D being single and the 5532D being dual. You will also see that the ones on the right have the text legible from the front of the unit, while the ones on the left are legible from the back. The replacement OP Amps (in my case the Vivid V6, but the classic also) have text on one side of them, this text should face the same way as the orientation of the stock (basic) OP Amps.

To remove the OP Amps, just grip them (with an antistatic tool, like ESD long nose pliers or even plastic tweezers) and gently pull them up. Once removed, line up the feet of the replacement OP Amps (with the text facing the way mentioned above) and push them into the slots.

It really is that easy.

Sound changes…

I am not going to go through the sound of the stock unit, as I already did that in the full review (just read the post above), so I will just focus on the changes I noticed after the change. For this test I focused on keeping it simple, using the Hifiman Arya Stealth and the Sennheiser HD6XX, along with Foobar and music I have hear a million times (although not my usual test list, just a selection of music from one of my most listened to “random” playlists. The list contains everything from rap to rock, opera to EDM, pop to acoustic and just about everything in between.

The most noticeable difference straight off the bat was an improvement in the quality of bass. While there is no difference in quantity (which is a good thing), there does seem to be more clarity and definition in those lower ranges, with bass hits seeming to have more punch and authority.

While not night and day, there is also an improvement in detail. In its stock form, the Playmate 2 was already very good at presenting clear and coherent details, yet, swapping from one set of OP Amps to the other, there seems to be a little bit more focus on them. It’s not that there are more details, just that they seem to be presented with less effort.

With the stock OP Amps, I found that planars could sometimes come across slightly harsher in the upper mids than on other sources. This is something that is eliminated with the Vivid OP Amps. I no longer get that sensation of harshness on occasions (obviously depending on the music) and things are a little smoother in those upper mid ranges on the Arya Stealth.

Treble seems to be untouched, although my brain does tell me that there is a slight improvement in detail here also. While I am not sure that I would be able to tell the difference in treble without knowing which OP Amps were in place, overall the details seems to be improved, treble included.


While it is always possible that my brain is the one telling me it is better and not really my ears, I come away with the sensation that the Vivid OP Amps really do offer an improvement over the stock ones.

We are talking about investing another $230 into a $544 DAC/Amp that already sounds pretty good in its stock form but, as with anything in this audiophile game, as we move up the ladder, smaller increments have the larger prices.

If you purchase the Playmate 2 with the OP Amps already installed (well, they are not actually installed, just shipped together), then you get to save $30 in comparison to purchasing them later, so that would probably be the best way to go. Let’s be honest, when we are searching for that ultimate sound, if we know there is an upgrade available, we will, at some point or another, want to experience it. So as the saying goes… “buy once, cry once”.

It will still arrive with the basic OP Amps installed and the Vivid OP Amps separate, so you get to experience the improvement with your own ears, which can be part of the fun!