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
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.
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.
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
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.