The Burson Funk is a compact integrated 3W Class-A headphone amplifier and a 45W Class-AB speaker amplifier. It is priced from $544.
Disclaimer: The Burson Funk sent to us is a sample unit in exchange for our honest opinion. We thank the team at Burson for giving us this opportunity.
You can find out more about Burson products reviewed on Headfonics here.
Note, this review follows our new scoring guidelines for 2021 which you can read up on here.
The Burson Funk is a headphone and speaker amplifier that is making quite a splash into the audiophile market. I have to admit, I get excited every single time Burson sends something my way.
This time, it was a total mystery to me, and I could not have been happier with what arrived at my doorstep. This is something I have long waited for! Both a speaker amplifier AND a headphone amplifier? Good lord, yes!
The entire aim of this product is cited as something that aspiring near-field speaker audio listeners can enjoy alongside their excellent headphone collections. Leave it to Burson to make the experience so slick and easygoing.
The idea of having both a moderately powerful speaker amplifier and a dedicated 3w output headphone amplifier, all in a small chassis? This has been a serious dream of mine for years.
The Funk offers a powerful 3w output for headphones, there is not much on the market that won’t be fully powered by this little monster. Most, if not all Planar Magnetic headphone models out there will be topped off with 3w on High Gain.
On low gain, Burson says that IEM’s and sensitive headphones are proper pairings as well. I agree, my testing phases proved that to my ear to be valid. Headphones are covered.
Speakers on the other hand are going to be limited to the relatively modestly power needy models out yonder. 45w of speaker power is on the low side.
Yes, it can power my Magnepan LRS’s to sufficient volume enough, and it can be more than enough for the Q-Acoustics bookshelf speakers. So long as you are matching up with moderately needy to efficient driven speakers, you will be fine.
MIPS Power supply
Burson has long used the MCPS topology combined with a noticeably short signal path in its components instead of a traditional switching transformer design (SMPS). This was present back in the Fun as it is now in the Funk.
The Funk’s Max Current Power Supply (MCPS) does away with high resistance copper windings (SMPS) and uses switching resistors instead that adjust to the power supplied.
In turn, that means a much lower output impedance and far less working frequency noise.
The resistors also convert AC to DC at a much higher kHz than traditional SMPS designs thus producing a much better performance for noise and therefore dynamic range should improve.
Burson’s output designs and performance are not only influenced by its proprietary power supply design and of course those rollable opamps.
The V6′ family’ are discrete opamps with up to a ±15V swing and reverse voltage protection as opposed to preconfigured IC blocks off a shelf. This sample includes the V6 Vivid opamps for $744 but you can buy a cheaper ‘Basic’ version with 2 x NE5532 opamps installed for $544.
They have a better power to performance ratio than IC options as well as a deeper class A bias. Not only that, but they also fundamentally change the sound signature of the output stage as I found out in my original Playmate review when I first used them a few years back.
From my previous experience, the V6 Vivid (red tops) are the more ‘explosive’ of the two V6 opamps. The Classic is a bit warmer and more relaxed sounding.
That is to say less midrange warmth and richness but more power and a higher level of treble contrast. I am expecting this to be a lively opamp sound with a high level of energy and a clean-sounding timbre.
Wow. Similarly, to the previous Burson Conductor 3 Performance DAC and amplifier combo unit I had reviewed recently, this new Funk shares a similar solid metal chassis.
This sucker is dense, let me tell you. I cannot imagine the build possibly getting better than solid aluminum, yet such a very thick cut of it.
This is not a thin slice of metal, nope. It is quite thick around the edges, and you can really feel the quality of this amplifier when you hold it. Each button feels firm and tactile with a refreshing clink sound when engaged, the volume wheel is also nicely weighted and sturdy.
Burson has specifically designed the Funk and the previous headphone amplifier and USB DAC models with this rigid form factor, which is intended to force heat dissipation throughout the unit itself. When I turn the unit on, it does get warm as most amplifiers tend to.
However, when using the “cool stand” and placing the Funk on its side, the heat factor significantly drops. So, I highly recommend using the stand placement at all times. You can seriously feel the difference in temperature from placing it flat on a tabletop vs on its side and on the cool stand.
This is a dream come true. This Funk lets me connect with a microphone and also lets me play through speakers if I want it.
On the front side, we receive a standard ¼ headphone adapter output, next to that is a port for TRRS headsets, the central volume knob, headphone gain selection, headphone, and speaker selector, and lastly a power button.
Swapping over to the read side of the Funk, we standard RCA inputs, a mic input bypass entry, your speaker plugs outputs, and a 24v power supply port. All in all, this going to make a lot of modest speaker setup fans who are also headphone users incredibly happy.
Packaging & Accessories
Fairly standard and very typical of Burson, in general. The amplifier arrives in a nice, sturdy cardboard box, complete with foam cutouts for the amplifier and the power supply cable.
What I did not expect to be included in there was a vertical stand for this Funk that is made of the same high-quality metal as the Funk’s chassis.
Interestingly, they thought ahead and made sure to place some type of softer material on the inner edges of the stand so that there is no metal-on-metal scraping. Cool!
As standard with most Burson products that exist, the low end is plentiful and never lacking. Sadly, my Magnepan LRS’s are not geared for bassy needs, but the Q-Acoustics speakers here sure are.
Swapping between this Funk and my typical Harman HK3770 speaker amplifier, you can immediately both hear and feel a bass quantity improvement when referencing through the Funk.
The A/B dynamic between these two amplifiers is quite different. One of them (Funk) is more dense feeling, weighted, and firm. The Harman, despite being more powerful, feels thinner, less focused, offering less quantity.
With regard to headphone usage, I feel like this is one of the better mid-tier headphone amplifiers out there. That 3w really pushes my Planars nicely and to a buttery smooth sound.
For overall quality, this is a hard one to classify since not many products run speakers and headphones in just one unit. In this case, with just headphones on the testing table, the Funk performs well above its price point for raw purity factor.
Bass EQ Response
When EQ is involved, the Burson shines so well. I almost do not even need a sub with the Q-Acoustics and am happy to report that the Funk handles a +5dB baseline of low-end boosting phenomenally well.
I am actually quite astounded by the control factor, as I sit here flipping between the Cambridge amplifier I had just received and this Funk, I am amazed by the raw purity factor that remains unchanged. The Funk retains control while adding more oomph down below.
Headphone usage again mirrors the speaker path, both ideally set up for bass-driven experiences. I love my bass; I think everyone who reads my articles knows this about me. They know I run Burson in my home rigs because Burson does bass so well.
Right now, one of the nicer bass headphones I own is the Beyerdynamic T5 Gen3 and with a little extra bass EQ added, the experience is lovely and highly musical.
I feel no shake, even when running bassy songs. I cannot perform this same feat on the Harman HK3770. The same song, same volume, and same EQ settings result in slight audible warping of the low end through the HK3770.
This tends to be a problem with speakers that are not bassy, to begin with, or that we consider “bass light”. Adding in the extra low end will cause that warped sound to become very apparent, yet I do not feel it so much here through the Funk + Magnepan LRS, even though it is very, very underpowered through the Funk.
Attempting this through the Harman was the least enjoyable end result, while the Cambridge AXA35 did simply good overall with a +5dB in comparison to the Funk. You can hear this control much easier through speakers than through headphones.
Typically, headphones do not start to sound “funky” (sigh) until well beyond +5dB extra bass added in. In this case the top-of-the-line headphones I tested with, such as the Sennheiser HD800 and Beyerdynamic T5 Gen3, just retain excellent control up just past that +5dB barrier.
After that, you can feel the shake, whereas, in many speakers out there, you can feel it just before or at +5dB.
Midrange & Treble
The Burson Funk is a midrange titan, no doubt about it. Vocals are extremely vivid and well-formed. This is really a strength of Burson, as they are among very few who tapped the vast imaging + forward mids and great bass category.
Overall, if you enjoy forward vocals, of course, make sure to pair them with forward-sounding headphones or speakers.
Rig pairing is especially important. Beyond the excellent vocal purity factor, the top side is slightly brightened, yet retains a smooth tactility. Burson’s house sound is very present in this Funk.
Thankfully, the Funk is not overly recessed in physical midrange placement, nor is it supremely forward. The Harman amplifier I usually use for my Magnepan LRS’s showcases immensely distant-sounding midrange compared to this Funk, which sounds bloomed and more engaging, more refreshingly upfront.
Headphone usage is where this is much less noticeable. We cannot feel the difference in the Sennheiser HD800’s midrange placement as much as you would a good speaker.
But I recommend this Funk for headphone enthusiasts too, even if they do not ever use it as a speaker amplifier. This funk is just a damned great $500ish headphone amplifier. Simple and clean.
As is the case with most Burson products, the Funk offers a noticeable improvement in the depth of field over something like my Harman 3770, as well as the Cambridge AXA35 that I have reviewed just recently.
Having said that, I feel the Burson is not quite as wide feeling as the Harman amplifier, but it is roughly on par with the Cambridge. No doubt, this Funk is an all-around great-sounding product despite that.
What is offered in height and width factor is still outperforming most other speaker amplifiers I have owned in recent times, yet also, for headphone usage, the Burson still feels open and aired out as most of their products tend to.
I would feel extremely comfortable using this as my new generalist amplifier, something I can easily switch between headphones and speakers with the touch of a button.
The overall synergy of this product is off the chart and was intended to be. It was made specifically to play with as many different types of sources and outputs (headphones and speakers) as possible.
So, unless you are looking for a recessed midrange, this is going to suit you perfectly fine for the majority of usages that even exist.
I am able to connect RCA to 3.5mm and run my AP80Pro to source whatever the hell I want. My Magnepans? My Sennheiser HD800? My T5? Sensitive and efficient IEMs (on low gain) and whatever else I have on hand? So far, I have not found anything that doesn’t pair well with this Funk.
In my humble opinion, this device is geared toward being friendly with as many potential paths to your music needs as possible. After speaking to Burson on this very subject, I think it instantly became clear that the intent to offer an exceptional all-around great performing amplifier, for both headphones and speakers, was on the mind of the designer from the beginning.
This is an older amp receiver now, but they were originally priced at $999 when I received it. The HK3770 is the only speaker amplifier that withstood the test of time for me, until recently that is.
The HD3770 is a beast of a unit, it gets extremely hot, and it offers much more complexity in the UI system than the Funk does.
Yes, the Harman amp has significantly more power than the Funk, roughly 4x the wattage output for driving speakers, but it also lacks smoothness, refinement, and overall a sense of solidity that are all abundant in the Burson Funk.
For speakers, I yearn for a Burson with a ton more speaker driving power. If that was the case I feel the Funk would mesh with my Magnepan LRS much better. But for now, the modest power of the Funk will have to suffice only for easier-to-drive speakers.
Cambridge Audio AXA35
The one thing that the AXA35 has over the Burson Funk is an adjustable bass and treble EQ function built into the UI system. With a tap of a button, you can add up to +10dB or treble and low end, and here is where the oddities started to flow.
The Burson Funk comes with a good amount of Bass quantity to begin with, not a bass head level but not at all lacking. The Harman lacks Bass and does not mesh with anything bassy in the way of speaker usage.
Yet, the AXA35 running a +6dB on the low end feels pretty much the same in bass presence as the Burson Funk running the same song. Yes, that could have to do with varying power output levels between them.
But that only goes so far with efficient speakers like the Q-Acoustics models that are what I would consider bass moderate in quantity allotted.
Burson Conductor 3 Performance
Not long ago, I reviewed Burson’s much more expensive Conductor 3 Performance model, which was strictly a headphone amp/DAC without any speaker outputs.
True, I do not want to compare too much in the way of purity factor, as I think most of us already know the more expensive model outperforms the Funk in quality. But I did want to shine a light on the tonality factor comparison.
If you have heard the Conductor series models lately from Burson, you should be aware that they are regarded as wonderfully musical, yet firm, pure, and solid feeling.
To receive the exact same tonality factor in a model more than half the price is just breathtaking to me. This will be why I would want to use the Funk as a generalist headphone amplifier.
Yep, it has speaker outputs too, but the headphone amplifier circuit in there is classic Burson in tonality. And to me, as well as those who love and prefer musical-sounding products, this is something we have long waited for.
The true champion of generalist products is finally here. Slight warmth, but overall, still pure and firm feeling. So yummy, does not matter if you are using it through headphones or speakers.
Hey look, sure I am a Burson fan. But I am also an objective reviewer who will tell it like it is. The Funk sounds like Burson’s more expensive models and unlike the somewhat recent Burson Playmate series which loomed a bit cheaper in price. So, that is a wonderful thing when you think about it.
The Funk is extremely well built and has a plethora of options for you to tango with. Do you need a lot of power? Well, 3watts of output is plenty for a headphone. You will drive most planar magnetic headphones extremely well on high-gain with this Funk.
Do you have a set of speakers that are mildly efficient but still require an amp? Look no further, the Funk has you covered there too, and you can swap back to headphone usage easily.
At the end of the day, Burson does not mess around. They are quite serious when it comes to all-around great performing products. I have waited a long time for a small headphone amplifier that is also great for efficient speakers.
45w output for speaker usage is a bit low for me, but this Funk was clearly intended to be used with very efficient to mildly efficient bookshelves or towers in the mid-range tier.
Burson Funk Specifications
- Input impedance:, 38Ohms
- Frequency response:, ± 1 dB 0 – 35Khz
- THD:, <0.03%
- Output impedance (Head Amp):, <2 Ohm
- Inputs:, RCA Left / Right, Weight:, app. 3Kg
- Outputs:, Headphone / Speakers, Dimensions:, 190mm x 150dimm x 60mm
- Power Supply, 100-240V AC
- Impedance (Headphone), Power, Signal to Noise Ratio, Separation
- 16 Ohm, 3.5W, 96db, 99%
- 32 Ohm, 2.5W, 97db, 99%
- 100 Ohm, 600mW, 98db, 99%
- 150 Ohm, 400mW, 96db, 99%
- 300 Ohm, 150mW, 95db,
- Impedance (Speaker), Power, Signal to Noise Ratio, Separation
- 4 Ohm / 8 Ohm, 45W / 35W, 92.5db, 98.50%