Burmester B25 loudspeaker

It's always fun to visit the Burmester Audio suite at the annual Consumer Electronic Show. Founder Dieter Burmester and CEO Udo Besser are upbeat, fun-loving personalities who enjoy demonstrating their latest home audio gear—that is, when they're not working on the latest updates to their sound system for the $2.1 million Bugatti Veyron 16.4 supercar. This past year they introduced their new B25 loudspeaker, an 88-lb floorstander. This "baby" Burmester's suggested retail price of $12,000/pair is only one-sixth that of Burmester's flagship speaker, the B100, only one-fourth its weight, and half its height. The design goals for the B25 were a less expensive, lighter speaker that was easier to set up, while retaining Burmester products' high-quality sound and good looks. Playing my own CDs through the B25s at the 2008 CES, I found them notably smooth and detailed; they also imaged well, and were particularly good at reproducing male voices.

The B25 is a small, ported speaker standing about 42" tall, 8" wide, and almost 14" deep. It follows Burmester's usual three-way design of tweeter, midrange, and side-firing woofer with rear-panel bass-reflex port. All of its drivers were initially developed to be used in the Bugatti Veyron. These are claimed to meet strict tolerances—only the best 10% of these are used, apparently. All drivers are burned in for two weeks using a 10Hz continuous sinewave for the midrange (at 10W) and woofers (at 250W), and a 7W continuous pink-noise signal for the tweeter. The drivers are then measured and matched by computer to be within ±0.5dB of their specified frequency responses. The actual performance of each driver is filed so that a B25 in the field can receive a new driver that precisely matches the one being replaced.

The B25 shares with the B100 its 30x40mm Air Motion Transformer (AMT) tweeter. The 12cm2 area of the AMT tweeter's diaphragm, made of heat-resistant Kapton foil, is four times the area of a conventional dome tweeter. The AMT uses neodymium magnets with an energy density 20 times that of comparably sized ferrite magnets. Although the tweeter's upper-range output extends out to 45kHz, a short horn had to be used at the front of the driver to extend its lower response to allow a crossover frequency of 2.7kHz.

The midrange driver has a 5.1" woven Kevlar cone. Woven Kevlar composite has the best ratio of rigidity to mass of known diaphragm materials, says Burmester, and the B25's midrange cone is claimed to be resonance-free up to 3kHz. Its die-cast aluminum-alloy chassis is rigid and nonmagnetic. The B25's woofer is a 9.1" by 6.5" oval driver with a double-vented voice-coil. The diaphragm is formed from air-dried paper , the 50mm-long voice-coil former is Kapton, and a 25mm coil allows long linear excursion. The reflex-aligned woofer vents through a large flared port on the speaker's rear; foam port plugs are supplied if the speaker's bass is found to be excessive in smaller rooms.

The split crossover is attached to the bottom of the B25's enclosure, isolated from vibration. Second-order filter slopes are used between the tweeter and midrange, third-order slopes between the midrange and woofer. Impedance corrections of the driver's resonant frequency and magnetic coil inductance are set so that theoretically correct filter behavior remains independent of changes in any one driver's impedance. Woofer connections are made using 6mm2 OCC copper wire, while 4mm2 OCC copper wire is used to connect the crossover to the tweeter and midrange drivers. Biamping or biwiring is made possible by four sizable five-way binding posts on the rear panel, equipped with large plastic wing nuts and set below the reflex port, near the floor.

The B25's enclosure has a rigid inner housing; instead of being internally damped with wool, it's filled with felt mats of various thicknesses. Burmester produces the B25 in mirror-imaged pairs: the woofers face each other from behind a series of slots cut in each speaker's inner side panel. This side placement is claimed to reduce interference between the woofer and the front-firing midrange and tweeter.

The B25 comes in three standard finishes: high-gloss Macassar, silver laminate, and Elsberry. The fit and finish of the cabinetry, hardware, and drivers are superb.

Two Burmester B25s in their cardboard shipping cartons were delivered to my house by Udo Besser himself. I was pleased that the cartons easily fit into the trunk of his rental sedan, and didn't require a truck with powered lift gate, as more massive floorstanders do. Besser easily lifted each 60-lb B25 and carried it up the six steps to my listening room.

Burmester Audiosystems GmbH
US distributor: Audiophile Systems, Ltd.
8709 Castle Park Drive
Indianapolis, IN 46256
(317) 841-4100

rimu's picture

The whole review becomes somewhat redundant after reading the Setup section: terrible amplifier pairing and incorrect positioning make auditioning a speaker completely useless. Burmesters have a side firing bass driver and are designed to be positioned in parallel without or with very little toe-in. As for the amps: Burmester sounds OK with many amps, making somewhat better pairing with some particular models, but among all I've heard Mark Levinson was the worst pairing for them by a large margin. With ML monoblocks the sound was just small, unambitious and zero-fun, although detailed.
Many people would give a serious credit to reviews on Stereophile, so it's a pity that sometimes such weird things happen with the reviews. The best pairing I've heard for these were Audionet AMP monoblocks, and the sound was just a miracle.
In fact B25 has its sonic character and is not a 100% neutral 'audiophile' thing. It's musical and in the same time insanely coherent and resolving. There are not many speakers that could boast combining these traits so well. It particularly shines reproducing vocals. B25 is not so good for orchestral music, so if this is what you are after, B25 won't be the best choice.
For my taste it was the best speaker I could find after listening to a very long list of candidates.