Review - Kiwi Ears Allegro

Swapping OP Amps on the Burson Playmate 2 (& a nice remote)

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Not long ago I review the Burson Playmate 2, a very interesting all in one DAC/Amp by the Australian brand, Burson Audio, which is built to accept the swapping of OP Amps.

A couple of weeks ago I received a surprise package in the mail that contained a set of Burson Vivid Op Amps, along with a remote control for the unit.

I have spent some time testing these OP amps (and the remote), comparing them to the stock ones, and am going to share my opinions on whether or not it is a worthy upgrade to the unit.

There are 4 OP amps in the unit in total, in two different stages, and Burson offer two different models, the Classic and the Vivid. The ones I have received are the Vivid, as I just said, and these retail for $145 for the pair of duals plus $85 for the singles. 

The official page can be found here: https://www.bursonaudio.com/products/supreme-sound-opamp-v6/

As always, the above link is non-affiliate.


Price & Remote Control…

Before getting into the OP Amps, I just want to mention briefly the remote control. The basic option of the Burson Playmate 2 retails for $544 and doesn’t include the remote. If you opt for the V6 Vivid option, the remote is included, along with the OP Amps that I am testing today, and comes in at $744. I can’t find the remote control available separately on their site but if you do the math, you are paying $200 more for $230 in OP Amps plus a nice little remote.

And the remote is nice. It’s simple but it is elegant and compact.

Built completely from metal, including the buttons, the remote only offers vol+, vol-, mute and source select (cycling between Optical and USB inputs), but honestly, what more do you need? I tested it from one end of my living room to the other (about 6m) and it works fine, so it is plenty for you to kick back in your chair and not have to move to make changes.

So, in short, I like the remote, so let’s get on to the OP Amps.


Changing the OP Amps…

The procedure to swap out the OP Amps really couldn’t be any easier. You remove the top two screws of the face plate, the top two screws of the back plate, then the cover of the unit lifts of with ease. You obviously do this with the unit disconnected from the power supply, both for your own safety and the safety of the unit.

Inside you will find the 4 basic OP Amps which look like 4 little black squares with feet, all in a row. There are single channel OP Amps and Dual Channel OP Amps in the unit, it is important that you replace the singles with singles and duals with duals.

The basic OP Amps are identified by the number, with the 5534D being single and the 5532D being dual. You will also see that the ones on the right have the text legible from the front of the unit, while the ones on the left are legible from the back. The replacement OP Amps (in my case the Vivid V6, but the classic also) have text on one side of them, this text should face the same way as the orientation of the stock (basic) OP Amps.

To remove the OP Amps, just grip them (with an antistatic tool, like ESD long nose pliers or even plastic tweezers) and gently pull them up. Once removed, line up the feet of the replacement OP Amps (with the text facing the way mentioned above) and push them into the slots. 

It really is that easy.


Sound changes…

I am not going to go through the sound of the stock unit, as I already did that in the full review (which you can find here), so I will just focus on the changes I noticed after the change. For this test I focused on keeping it simple, using the Hifiman Arya Stealth and the Sennheiser HD6XX, along with Foobar and music I have hear a million times (although not my usual test list, just a selection of music from one of my most listened to “random” playlists. The list contains everything from rap to rock, opera to EDM, pop to acoustic and just about everything in between.

The most noticeable difference straight off the bat was an improvement in the quality of bass. While there is no difference in quantity (which is a good thing), there does seem to be more clarity and definition in those lower ranges, with bass hits seeming to have more punch and authority.

While not night and day, there is also an improvement in detail. In its stock form, the Playmate 2 was already very good at presenting clear and coherent details, yet, swapping from one set of OP Amps to the other, there seems to be a little bit more focus on them. It’s not that there are more details, just that they seem to be presented with less effort.

With the stock OP Amps, I found that planars could sometimes come across slightly harsher in the upper mids than on other sources. This is something that is eliminated with the Vivid OP Amps. I no longer get that sensation of harshness on occasions (obviously depending on the music) and things are a little smoother in those upper mid ranges on the Arya Stealth.

Treble seems to be untouched, although my brain does tell me that there is a slight improvement in detail here also. While I am not sure that I would be able to tell the difference in treble without knowing which OP Amps were in place, overall the details seems to be improved, treble included.


Conclusion…

While it is always possible that my brain is the one telling me it is better and not really my ears, I come away with the sensation that the Vivid OP Amps really do offer an improvement over the stock ones.

We are talking about investing another $230 into a $544 DAC/Amp that already sounds pretty good in its stock form but, as with anything in this audiophile game, as we move up the ladder, smaller increments have the larger prices.

If you purchase the Playmate 2 with the OP Amps already installed (well, they are not actually installed, just shipped together), then you get to save $30 in comparison to purchasing them later, so that would probably be the best way to go. Let’s be honest, when we are searching for that ultimate sound, if we know there is an upgrade available, we will, at some point or another, want to experience it. So as the saying goes… “buy once, cry once”. 

It will still arrive with the basic OP Amps installed and the Vivid OP Amps separate, so you get to experience the improvement with your own ears, which can be part of the fun!


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