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Built like a tank—solid but yeoman—the 160 preamp's feature set is so basic, there's not even a second pre-out or fixed out to connect the company's own HA-160 headphone amp. Instead serious attention went to dual toroidal transformers and extensive regulation.

Team Burson spent the six months which passed between penning the previous page and dispatching the actual loaners with reworking these two products already in formal production.

As Alex of Burson Audio itemized, "we have further enhanced the power supply section of the PP-160 power amp to lower the noise floor compared to its earlier incarnation. We also re-designed the preamp's stepped attenuator. It now is superior to the one you encountered during your review of our HA-160 and also shows up in all our current headphone amp production.

"Lastly we upgraded our transformers to higher-quality types for even better low-noise operation."

While the claimed inferiority of op-amp based designs can be challenged, Burson clearly walks their talk when you inspect their wares up close. To get this level of implementation would usually demand far higher fees.

Here is the very unconventional but potentially very SET-happy set of speaker terminal inputs on the amplifier.

The output transistors are paralleled pairs of Japanese Toshiba 2SC5200 and 2SA1943. Where the competition bolts them to heatsinks internal or external, Burson couples them directly to their 6mm aluminum enclosure. The entire casing becomes the heat sink. Simple but effective.

Not very common either, the usual flying leads from the speaker inputs don't connect to the massive posts proper but to screw terminals on a circuit board.

Overall parts quality is astonishingly high.

The first test would involve the amp's booster feature.