Burmester of North America

Some audio equipment makes its presence felt simply by its elegance. With its Versailles-like appeal, the colossal Burmester rig in the Schaumberg A room was magnificent to behold, virtually an audio treatise in luxury. A legacy German brand that manufactures everything from nuts and bolts to speaker cabinets and drivers, Burmester, represented at AXPONA by its US distributor Rutherford Audio, brought some of their classiest, biggest, and boldest equipment—all the listener need do was indulge the senses.

A large-scale, relaxed sound was produced by the Burmester 217 belt-drive turntable ($30,000 with cartridge and onboard phono preamp), 808 MK5 preamplifier ($65,000), 400lb, class-AB, 159 Mono power amplifier ($350,000/pair), 111 Musicenter ($55,000), and the new, three-way, bass reflex BC150 loudspeakers ($150,000/pair) (specified sensitivity of of 88.5dB/2.83V/m and impedance of 3 ohms). The BC150 includes two Air-Motion-Transformer (AMT) tweeters, a side-firing 12.5" woofer, and a 7" fiber-cone midrange unit with an oval-shaped voice-coil, which is said to "significantly increase the dimensional stability of the lightweight membrane." "The very lowest frequencies are delivered via the flow-optimized, carbon-fiber bass reflex port," stated the publicity materials. Cabling at AXPONA was also by Burmester, including the Burmester interconnect ($2000/pair) between components and Burmester Espirit Lumina speaker cables ($5060/pair).

The thick Burmester product manuals handed out in the Rutherford room cited the descriptive phrases, "Devotion Without Limits," "Elegance for Perpetuity," "Innovation for Eternity" and "Simplicity of Full Control," totem-like mantras for high-end audio lovers. After my visit to the Burmester room, I was a believer.