As the song unfolds, Lewis’ vocals are potent and at times verge on microphone saturation, flirting with disaster, but never quite going over the edge. Later, the Honeybears’ terrific horn section joins in and sounds amazingly clean, crisp, pure and rhythmically synced with the rest of the band. But perhaps the coolest part of all is hearing the big, almost impossibly fat-sounding punch of Bill Stevenson’s electric bass guitar as it joins forces with Matthew Strmiska’s drums to bodily propel the song forward with a funky, down’n’dirty lope. I had the joy of listening to this track for the first time through a pair of Sennheiser HD 800—‘phones that have a reputation for being amazingly accurate sounding, yet perhaps also for sounding a little analytical and “uptight.” But when you leave the driving to the Soloist, the flagship Sennheisers lose most of that clinical, overly-tightly-wound quality and just open up and get funky, with a really impressive combination of dynamic energy and abandon coupled with the HD 800’s signature control and clarity. Part of the reason to admire the Soloist is that it has a knack for bringing latent excellence (and musical fluidity) in many headphones out in the open where you can enjoy it.
Consider this preamp/headphone amp if:
Look elsewhere if:
Ratings (relative to comparably-priced amps):
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 of $960. For what it is and does, the Soloist is a bargain, and a versatile one at that.
Burson Audio Soloist Preamp/Headphone Amp
Accessories: Power cable, RCA stereo input cable, user manual.
Inputs: Three single-ended stereo analog inputs (via RCA jacks).
Outputs: One variable-level stereo analog preamp output (via RCA jacks), one ¼-inch headphone jack.
Frequency Response: 0 – 50kHz, ± 1 dB
THD: < 0.03% @ 30 Ohms at 1W output
Power Output: 4W @ 160 Ohms
Dimensions (H x W x D):3.15” x7.09” x 9.84”
Weight: 9.92 lbs.
Warranty: 2 year, parts and labor (requires Burson product registration)