The Burson Soloist will make your headphones sound better than ever
Unlike most solid-state headphone amps, the Soloist doesn't use off-the-shelf IC " op amps ." In their place the engineers fit proprietary circuits, hand-built in the Burson factory in Austrailia. Even the volume control is fabricated in-house and uses a special 24-step attenuator that incorporates precision metal film resistors assembled by Burson technicians. A conventional volume control would cost a lot less, but Burson's designers insist on using the best-sounding components. One downside to Burson's control is that when you change the volume you hear clicks over the headphones.
The Soloist has three analog stereo inputs, so you could connect a CD player, TV, or game for example, and it has preamp outputs that can drive a separate power amp hooked up to speakers. Plugging in headphones automatically turns the preamp outputs off.
I first checked out the Soloist ($999) with high-impedance (250 ohm) Beyerdynamic T 70 headphones, and the sound was disarmingly sweet. The solid-state amp has the richness of a vacuum tube design, with the clarity and power of solid-state designs. A high-resolution 96/24 download of Paul Simon's "So Beautiful or So What?" album had a remarkable sense of space. I could not only hear Simon and the band, I could hear the acoustics of the room they were playing in.