Dieter Burmester (1946–2015)

Photo: Paul Messenger

Dieter Burmester founded Burmester Audiosysteme GmbH in 1977 and ran it for 38 years. For me, he was the friendly face of an unusually friendly and outgoing German high-end hi-fi company. He died on August 15, and his company will badly miss him.

I first met Dieter years ago; he was playing bass guitar in a practice session with his band. Although he aspired only to play in a local band, the scene I witnessed pretty much summed up the man and his priorities. Burmester Audiosysteme, with its bright chrome-plated faceplates, is one of Germany's best-known hi-fi brands, but its founder's heart always remained in the music.

When we met, I'd already discovered that his belt-drive CD player sounded exceptional, but I was particularly intrigued when Dieter explained to me just how the belt-drive mechanisms were assembled. Apparently, just one of his employees had the necessary sensitivity of touch to carry out this work. The parts required for some 20 mechanisms would be laid out on a table, and this worker would arrive at the factory on a Saturday morning, when background noise and vibration in Berlin's business section were unusually quiet. He would then work his way through the parts, trying out the many possible combinations until he found the very best in terms of physical tolerances.

We'd invariably meet at the annual High End Society show in Munich, where his infectious enthusiasm was always worth a paragraph or two of my show report. I well recall High End 2014, when he dragged me from one end of the hall to the other to show me the Mercedes-Benz pictured above which had been equipped with a high-class Burmester audio system.

The essence of Dieter Burmester is possibly best summed up in the company's Model 808. Although this modular preamplifier design is now in Mk.5 form, the very fact that it has been in continuous production since 1980, soon after the company was founded, is a powerful testament to the the company's creativity and its design expertise.

Dieter had apparently anticipated the effect his passing might have on his company, and reportedly made arrangements for his wife, Marianne, to take over, and maintain continuity for the brand and its 60 or so employees. I shall miss seeing him in Munich next May, and will always be aware of the void he has left behind. It's good to know that his unique hi-fi legacy will be maintained by his successors.

spacehound's picture

One of the best, Europe and worldwide. And NOT one of these amateurish 'Boutique' garden shed outfits as so many are.

I'm in the UK. Our 'Naim' outfit is almost identical in every respect. Successful, top quality, similar number of employees, long lasting steadily improved product lines, started around the same time, early death (at 55) of the iconoclastic founder.

Naim did not suffer any long term damage on the death of the founder, Let's hope this is true of Burmester too.