The OpAmp Rolling is a practice that consists of changing the operational amplifiers of the DAC/DAP/AMP to improve or modify the sound. And when it comes to OpAmp Rolling the first brand that comes to mind is Burson Audio. It is difficult to find such a clearly enthusiastic company in this field, achieving excellent levels of practice.
The latest version of their OpAmp is the V6 and is the result of 12 years of research, concluding that they are the most refined chips they have created. The great peculiarity of these chips is that they are totally built with discrete components, to maximize the final sound quality. Burson is so sure of their quality that they offer a lifetime guarantee.
But the fact of using discrete components has a clear cost: the size. The V6, compared to any other chip of its competition, are almost gigantic. Their design is based on two vertically arranged printed circuit boards, covered with a plastic casing, the upper part of which is conveniently perforated, to ensure the best possible heat evacuation.
There are two models: Vivid and Classic. Each has been designed to offer different sound characteristics. As you can see from the graph below, the Vivid are designed to maximize transparency, detail and soundstage, while the Classic offers a more intimate sound that enhances color and texture.
The chips are bought in pairs. They are boxed specifically for their size and shape: the chips are encased in a foam mould, protected by a translucent, rectangular plastic box with rounded corners. An adhesive seal is placed around the box.
OpAmps are mounted on sockets.
Installation Steps on Burson Audio Playmate
The Playmate features 4 OpAmps: two for the LP Stage & Headamp Output Stage and two for the I/V Stage. All are dual.
To install the OpAmps you must first remove the sockets on which they are mounted, so that they fit perfectly inside the Playmate. Then they must be placed in the sockets welded to the plate, two by two, as indicated in the manual.
The ideal use for the Playmate is to have two V6 Vivid and two V6 Classic, with the purpose of changing their position to obtain different sonorities and to adapt the final result to our tastes.
Measurements with the oscilloscope
I measured with a Fluke digital oscilloscope to check the frequency response of the Playmate with the OpAmp V6. The differences in low gain between the standard OpAmps and the V6 are null in terms of frequency response: Totally flat in both.
At high gain the differences are greater, the standard OpAmps are not able to provide such a high output voltage, without visible distortion. Meanwhile, the V6 reaches 6V (and above) offering great linearity without distortion.
Subjective sound analysis
As I have affirmed, based on the frequency responses, the installation of the V6 does not modify in any way the output signal with respect to the original OpAmp.
However, although the low gain voltage is not modified, the first sensation obtained after installing the V6, is an increase in power, the sound is more powerful and more energetic. This sensation is felt especially in the lower zone: The depth is multiplied, as well as its width, the texture improves, the body is large and the detail is amplified. Something similar happens with the treble, seem to extend beyond the previous limits, giving the sound greater resolution and freshness, raising the micro detail, separation and transparency to a new level.
The sound, comparatively speaking, with the standard OpAmp, expands clearly. The second sensation after the change is the greater width of the stage, as well as a substantial improvement in three-dimensionality. Instrumental positioning is more accurate and easier to position, any hint of inaccuracy is lost.
The third sensation that is observed is a clear improvement in the vivacity of the sound, with the OpAmp of standard, the sound is shown something flat, more dull, even darker. With the V6 the sound gains in excitement, becomes more colorful, dynamic and decongested.
Next I leave graphs of realized measurements
Playmate V6 low gain, Volume 99, with all filters
Playmate V6 high gain at different volumes
Playmate V6 low gain, volume 99, CMFR filter
Playmate V6 high gain, volume 75, Brickwall filter
Playmate V6 high gain, volume 95, Brickwall filter
Users always have several options to improve the sound. One could be to buy a new system, and another could be to buy new OpAmps to modify the sound of their current equipment, whenever possible. Many questions will come up when buying new equipment. However, if you decide to buy new OpAmps, you will not have them: Burson Audio V6 will always be an excellent choice.