Burl B2 Bomber DAC Review: Holy Sh**, This is Good

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by purr1n, Jul 14, 2020.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Slammed at work, so just teasing for now. This is the last of the three pro DACs (not including the Forssell) on my list, and the one would personally want to keep among them (Crane Song Solaris, Dangerous Music Convert-2, Burl B2 Bomber). It comes down to personal preferences and component synergies (funny how so many of the True-High Endâ„¢ guys get their panties in bunch when I don't choose their personal favorite - well scroo you because @Clemmaster agrees with me). I found all three pro DACs good in their own right, pointing out their strengths and weaknesses in their respective threads:

    https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...aris-dac-review-stream-of-consciousness.7044/
    https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...rt-2-dac-review-stream-of-consciousness.7000/

    Burl.jpg

    I wish I had gotten to the Burl earlier and didn't initially discount it on the matter of their sales pitch in SOS on the DAC sounding "analog" with "deliberate ... distortion". Or maybe that was the writer's lame interpretation. I was worried about warmpoo or 1984 R2R NOS sound which I most definitely wanted to avoid. It's hardly that at all. Yet at the same time, the Burl B2 Bomber DAC quite the opposite of the Benchmark or Mytek approaches (shudders).

    To be continued later throughout the day.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2020
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  2. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I love the switches. Clunky. Snap. The front panel thickness is excessive. These are good things.
    IMG_20200714_115047.jpg

    Rear panel view. Simple layout with lots of space.
    IMG_20200714_114548.jpg

    Top view. Note that the power supply is a switcher. The red card is for the Dante.
    IMG_20200714_114848.jpg

    OG AKM4399. Not the latest Velvet Sound stuff. In many ways this chip sounds better. Only a single one, but Burl has managed to extract a lot from it. The Gungnir DS also uses the AKM4399. The Burl sounds like a souped up version of it with its own touch. More on this later.
    IMG_20200714_114952.jpg

    Spartan FPGA. No idea if this is used for a custom filter or if its used for control of ancillary elements.
    IMG_20200714_114958.jpg
     
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  3. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Front panel: very simple input source select. Clock source and sample rate knobs are at the right (not pictured). Note that the output level can be selected.

    IMG_20200714_121651.jpg
     
  4. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    Note: the output level matches dBFS (digital) level to +4 dBu (analog) output (E.g. -18dB is louder than -8dB). Not sure if that's typical on pro DACs? But it sure is convenient and relatable.

    I would think the Spartan 6 at least does the asynchronous resampling. Maybe the filtering, too.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2020
  5. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Yup. As we turn clockwise, the signal level gets lower. Not any different from the output level buttons on the Convert 2 DAC, although this one gives us more choices.
     
  6. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Most improved member; A+

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    Good DAC but the sound varies based on how hard you hit the discrete op amps. Those distort more than the transformers in Burl gear.
     
  7. Gungrave

    Gungrave Rando

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    Which would you recommend Im looking to upgrade my dac it's between the solaris convert 2 and b2 bomber my current setup is cayin HA-300B to a RME adi2 I've got a modius on the way as I will most likely be returning my rme adi2. My headphones are final audio d8000 pro focal elegia and still deciding on my third headphone most likely leaning towards ZMF VC.
     
  8. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Indeed. I'm jumping ahead here (will post subjective impressions shortly - getting my thoughts together). I was telling @Clemmaster how this Burl DAC has a vintagey sound. Not in terms of vintage R2R DAC sound - oh gawd no - but good vintage electronics, receivers, tape decks. There's almost a saturation effect. The output reminds me a bit of that super hot running output stage from the Theta Gen V DAC. From a tonal perspective, not quite as thick (depends on the Gen V and whether it had the teflon boards), but definitely muscular with warmth, but not warmpoo.

    Would be interesting to verify with measurements. This a a short loaner thanks to @Clemmaster, but I'm hell bent on this being a loaner (plan is to buy one with our community warchest funds). I'm quite excited about this DAC. Maybe because I'm an old fart and remember how stuff used to sound like.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2020
  9. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    You should wait until you get Modius (and run that from balanced) to get a full "calibration" to your personal preferences. If you end up preferring the RME ADI-2 over Modius, then stay away from this. This is AKM (4399) at its fricking best (IMHO, YMMV, FWIW, etc.), before these next generation AKM Velvet chips went one step forward and one (or two) steps back. While Modius (balanced out) is a move away from the RME ADI-2 embrace of the Velvet Sound*, but could only cure 80% of the Velvetness.

    *Velvet Sound: in general, softer attacks, murky or organic bass, low and mid textures blended into baby food, laid-back mids, exaggerated air, pricklier high-end, but super resolving.

    RME ADI-2

    upload_2020-7-14_17-51-32.png

    Burl B2 Bomber
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2020
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  10. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    With the thick front plate, the DAC is meant to be rack mounted. @Clemmaster put some sorbo pads underneath which I am using. These are with the unit left on several hours at 76-77 degrees Fahrenheit ambient. The outputs get quite hot.

    flir_20200713T213440.jpg
    flir_20200713T213451.jpg

    Here is a photo of the output boards.
    IMG_20200714_114913 (2).jpg
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2020
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  11. Gungrave

    Gungrave Rando

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    Lol the imaging is quite interesting, the biggest weakness or things I'd like to improve upon are stage depth(front and back) and dynamic range from my d8000 pro apparently that is where the tuning went away from... If I were to pick the weakest instrument played through these headphones, it would be drums. dynamics are weak and staging always seems small the imaging is precise but you're talking about such a small area and it basically sits behind the vocalist. This chart is pretty much spot on imo.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2020
  12. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    The Burl has the biggest sound-stage that I ever recall hearing in a DAC (width and depth). Maybe the Theta Gen V was on par, but it's been so long since I last owned one that memory starts to get fuzzy.
     
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  13. Gungrave

    Gungrave Rando

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    This sounds like my biggest problem with the sound. I can't wait to try the modius so I can see if it's a natural step towards progress. Most noticable with drums, though
     
  14. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    So hot that I had to use cork spacers to elevate the Freya S. It would get borderline burning to the touch otherwise (in passive mode, no less).
     
  15. Gungrave

    Gungrave Rando

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    Have you tried the solaris ?

    Maybe the burl b2 bomber is what I need, something about a dac named after a US bomber and a japanese flagship headphone working out in the end seems reasonable.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2020
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  16. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    I have.

    Unlike others here, I was not wowed by its "soundstage" with headphones (but we all know this doesn't count...). It was quite a surprise, since it's been praised for it many times, especially the depth.
    I was impressed by the amount of detail it threw at me, but not so much with its overly 'robotic' and 'soft' presentation.
    I felt it had the best digital input conditioning of any DAC (the sound I would associate with extremely low input jitter and noise), but either the DAC or the output stage (or both) felt sub-par next to the digital section.
     
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  17. Gungrave

    Gungrave Rando

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    Dare one say... Borderline leaning towards the Velvet sound ?
     
  18. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    Fully velvet.

    The comparison is not super fair to the Solaris, as I've since moved my main rig to my home office, with a Furman power conditioner and (seemingly) better electrical outlets (the ones by my bed are particularly shitty).

    Also, I'm using a Metrum Ambre now, versus Pi + DigiOne then. Still, I think I was able to get a good sense of the actual sound of the DAC, which is as I described.
     
  19. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Corrected photos for FLIR shots a few posts back. Should display properly now.
     
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  20. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    With the Crane Song Solaris, the bass impact and mids texture wasn't as bad as the typical Velvet implementation. Could be because it's brightly tilted. With the right chain, for example, the built-in headphone amp, the tonal and other aspects were quite good. Still Velvet Sound inescapably though.

    As @Clemmaster said, the Solaris can be a bit antiseptic and surgical. Lots of fine detail, but also lots of gross detail, maybe too much of it.

    The Burl has grunt and isn't afraid to attack you. This can be a bad thing if you desire something more polite and gentle.

    The Solaris soundstage is deep, placed behind the wall. I don't think this translated well with headphones because soundstages that are too far deep don't exhibit instrument depth localization in headstage. The Burl B2 Bomber's stage is moderately deep, but not so deep that instrument depth is lost with headphones. The stage is also wider, so that helps with headphones too in general for most people. There's almost a Schiit megacomboburrito effect going on here, with the feeling of sound propagating from the instruments on the stage toward the listener, but with a more deeper placed stage - what everyone has wanted the Schiit Multibit DACs to be more like.*

    --

    *I'm kind of hoping that one day Schiit builds a balls-to-the-wall output stage for their DACs like the crazy one on the Theta Gen V that got so hot that it warped the PCB after five years of use**, measurements be damned.

    **Warping boards may be a bad idea with the lead-free ROHS solder today.

    --

    P.S. Yes, I will get to posting impressions tonight.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2020
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