Burson Conductor 3X Performance

Pros: Really good sound
Easy to use once setup
XLR4 and 1/4″ headphone output options
Gaming mic input (if that’s your thing)
RCA speaker outputs
Great case
Small footprint

Cons: Stupid fiddly knob
Comes on high-gain, no instructions about gain
The most annoying computer software setup EVER
Running off phone is quieter than PC for some reason
The shortest USB C cable ever
There’s way better options at this price


The Burson Conductor 3X Performance (3XP) is Burson’s fully balanced Headphone DAC/AMP all-in-one. It plugs into your source (computer/phone) with the world’s shortest USB C to USB C cable (it’s like a foot long – ugh) and then it outputs through a balanced XLR4 jack or a 6.3mm (1/4″) jack to your headphones. It has two gain modes, some pretty useless FIR settings and the worst setup instructions of all time. I bought mine on sale from Headphones.com, which conveniently would not allow me to return it because it was on sale.

Honestly, I wanted to return this because I couldn’t get my computer to acknowledge its existence for several days (keeping in mind that I was a computer science major, and I am typically not an idiot.) This was made more challenging by the shortest USB C cable ever, which forced me to set the 3XP on my desktop computer instead of my desk. I replaced that stupid thing with a Pixel USB C cable, which seems to work and was about 7,000 times longer. You WILL need to buy a longer cable unless you carry the 3XP around with you like a portable DAC/AMP and just plug it in wherever your source is – assuming there’s a plug nearby (this thing is NOT portable.)

For setup, make sure you install the Burson_UsbAudio_v5.30.0_2022-03-24_setup.exe, everything in the TE8802-(Win).7z file that installs, AND the Xmos-USB-(Win8+).rar or the 3XP WILL NOT work. Also, conveniently, there are no instructions on how to do ANY of this included with the product, or on their website (The link to all of these things is here: Stupid Downloads.) Hopefully, that helps so that you don’t have to contact Burson’s team in Australia for support.

OK, once you’ve finally got the 3XP plugged in and up and running, found a long enough USB C cable, installed every dang piece of software ever, and your computer recognizes it – STOP. Yet another thing Burson doesn’t tell you is that the gain setting comes set to High. Click the button onthe far right to go to the options menu and change the gain to LOW (unless you have the world’s hardest to drive headphones ever.) I did not know this, and almost blew out a new set of very easy-to-drive headphones (the volume was a comfortable listening volume set to 1/100 – I had it at 20.) To do this, you will get to play with Burson’s terrible fiddly volume knob that is super sensitive and likes to jump around or undo the turning you just did (this also happen when trying to adjust volume – it’s the most annoying potentiometer I’ve ever used and I had a Fiio M11 Plus with the side volume adjust.)


Phew, if you made it to here, you’re wondering why the heck you’d buy this thing when stuff like the ifi Micro iDSD Signature exists. Honestly, you’d be right, just go buy that – it’s great. BUT, if you want more power, a desktop profile, great sound, a display screen (that loves to flicker every second or so as it reads the hz rate,) you have XLR4 headphones, good looks, and you don’t want to buy a Schiit stack for some reason even though it costs less and performs just as good, then the Burson Conductor 3XP is for you!

The Burson Conductor 3XP sounds really good, it doesn’t add any coloration to the music streaming from my Tidal. It even slightly toned down the bass and treble harshness on my Kennerton Gjallarhorn GH 50 JM Mk2 (GHJM.) I do mean slightly, as in almost imperceptibly compared to the Schiit Bifrost 2/64/Jotunheim 2 combo it was plugged into before. Other than that, they sound almost the same, which is to say extremely good, though both options cost over $1k, so they should sound good. The Schiit stack is cheaper though – and doesn’t have the connection issues the 3XP has, and has a nice volume knob (though it doesn’t come with ANY cables other than power, but I’m not sure the 3XPs USB C counts either.) If I was able to return the 3XP, I would have and I’d have kept the Schiit, though the Burson has a smaller footprint on my desk, which was the goal, and the all-in-one is nice to have.

The Burson also has a screen, which is basically useless, so no points earned there. If you don’t need XLR4 (all of my headphones have XLR4 terminations,) there’s really no point in this. If you don’t need XLR4, don’t get the Schiit OR the 3XP, get the ifi Micro iDSD Signature, it has a ton of power, sounds great, is portable, can do MQA, power IEMs, has bass boost, etc. I even used it as a desktop amp for several months and enjoyed it more than the Naim Unity Atom HE that cost 6x as much. Actually, it has 4.4mm balanced, so just get an adapter and have a better option with ZERO issues for 1/2 to 1/3rd the price. You will however be missing out on MQA, a screen, and a crappy volume knob in addition the annoying setup.

If you really want a screen, get a DAP and attach it to a good amp, maybe the Jotunheim 2, be happy (Fiio M11 Plus is pretty great.)


Man, it sounds like I hate this thing (little bit,) but it will remain as my desktop DAC/AMP until I find something else I like more (the Fiio K9 Pro ESS was even worse, so that’s not an option.) It provides excellent sound, doesn’t take up much space for a high-end desktop all-in-one DAC/AMP with XLR4, and has enough power to run a small city (my RAD-0s are my toughest to drive headphones and they run at full volume at 70/100 on low gain.) It also has Bluetooth if THAT’s your thing (I can’t think of a reason I’d use this.) So, if that sounds like the DAC/AMP for you despite all the issues, get this ON SALE, not full price ($1400 for this is crazy.)

Wolfhawk’s Rating: 7/10

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