Taking a 24-bit DAC to an Amazing New Level
Burson Audio's HA-160D has been a benchmark in the industry for over four years. It proved to the world that a properly designed all-in-one component can perform at the highest level. Just as significantly, it smashed the popular notion that the performance of a DAC is purely dependent on the DAC chip. The HA-160D demonstrated that with a tailored analog network and power supply network, even a seemingly ordinary DAC chip such as the PCM1793 sounds superior to higher spec DACs.
Burson has now created the Conductor SL1793 because the PCM1793 chip still has more potential to realize, and the HA-160D design can still be beefed up to challenge today's best.
Improving on the Popular HA-160D Design
Based on what Burson learned from the Conductor project, the company has developed a new FET input stage specifically for the PCM1793 DAC chip. It has significantly less components on the signal path. This results in an even more transparent sound.
The driving power of its headphone amplifier has been increased from its original 0.25-wtts-per-channel (@8ohm) to over two-watts-per-channel. With such power, the Conductor SL1793 can drive most if not all headphones to their full potential. Coupled with a two-level gain switch, it offers infinite flexibility.
The Conductor SL1793 is housed in a refined and precision folded 2mm aluminum casing that is unmistakably Burson. This case also works as a singular heat sink for the entire unit, ensuring stable and optimized performance at all times. This case really puts the conventional 1mm folded steel case and generic heat fins to shame.
Completely Discrete Design
Just like the original Conductor, the Conductor SL1793 is completely discrete in design. It doesn't use ICs, which can compromise performance. Assembled with high end components and operating in pure 'Class A,' the Conductor SL1793 carries the same sonic signature which has been described as "the utmost in organic sound and transparency."
Variable Output Stage
The Conductor SL features a new Variable Output Stage (VOS). It enables the Conductor to match well with any type of headphone. Be it easy to drive high sensitivity in ear monitors or open back moving-coil designs. It can drive anything including the latest planar magnetic headphones with ease.
With the VOS, volume control is always smooth and synergy is always perfect. From the low level output of 0.18-watts-per-channel to an impressive two-watts-per-channel, the VOS will ensure there is plenty of fine control for every type of headphone out there.
Soloist Headphone Amplifier
The Conductor also features Burson Audio's well regarded Soloist headphone amplifier. Burson had to deploy another 35-watt customized transformer to ensure that the Soloist circuitry is independent and optimized at all times. This is to make sure that its performance is exactly the same as the standalone Soloist.
The Soloist from Burson Audio is a headphone amp with a huge difference over most headphone amplifiers on the market. The great majority of these amps use standard IC opamps in their designs, because they are very cheap and easy to use. However, opamp-based designs are inferior to discrete designs, because they aren't tailored for a particular audio circuitry. They also contain many low quality and unnecessary components that can degrade audio signals.
"The Soloist takes substantial steps forward relative to the already very good Burson Audio HA-160, offering better and more refined sound, greater power, superior versatility, and exceptional build-quality, all at the more-than-fair price," reports Chris Martens in his August 16, 2012 review for Playback.
The input stage of the Soloist is a symmetrical current feedback circuit with only 21 components in its signal path (compared to a typical IC opamp containing over 50 components). The signal path is short and with little blockage, and Burson carefully matches the 21 components. This approach allows the Soloist to achieve amazing sound.
Digital and Analog Connections
On the digital front, the Conductor SL1793 features a 24-bit/192 kHz Tenor TE8802 USB receiver working in Asynchronous Transfer Mode. It also accepts coaxial and Toslink inputs supporting 32-bit/192 kHz audio files. The SL9018 accepts analog input via RCA. With such versatility, The SL9018 works perfectly with any audio system.
Just like an athlete needs clean air to perform at an optimum standard, audio equipment needs clean power to reproduce transparent and natural music.
The Conductor SL1793 has taken the already fanatical IC-free power supply of the first generation HA-160 to the next level. The new generation of power supply is built around a new noise-filtering network that employs twice as many filtering stages compared to the previous design resulting in superior noise rejection. The new power supply is fed by a new custom-built low noise transformer, which delivers clean and stable power. The result is pure music against a pitch-black background.