Burmester 077/218 Pre/Power Amplifiers

hfnoutstandingTaking both aesthetic and design cues from the flagship 159 monoblocks, the 218 power amp is the German marque's newest model, teamed here with the 077 preamp

Never accuse Berlin-based Burmester of timidity... In an interview published to mark the launch of its 216 and 218 power amplifiers, its Team Leader for Quality Management, Thomas Schneider, says, 'We have thought in exactly the right direction'. The 216 amplifier is part of what the company calls its Top Line, and while the 218 may look similar it's actually in the upper tier Reference Line, one step below the Signature Line that features the flagship 159 monoblocks and near-2m-tall BC350 speakers, yours for £233,000 a pair.

Still with me? Well, the 218 is a stereo power amplifier, rated at 165W/8ohm while standing almost 22cm tall and weighing 42kg. Hand built to the company's usual standards of solidity and finish, it sells for £34,600 (the 100W 216 is £23,700) and is partnered here with the £35,900 077 preamplifier, a relatively long-running Burmester model, the original version having been launched in 2007 to mark the 30th anniversary of the company's 777 preamplifier.

Module Choice
Launched as a one-box preamp, with the option of an offboard power supply, the 077 is now only available in two-box form, as a balanced line-only, analogue design, albeit with the option of modules to add digital inputs, MM/MC phono capability and an unbalanced line stage. One module of your choice is included in the price – ours was fitted with the USB-B/coax digital card. RCA-to-XLR adapters are included as is the company's 067 remote handset, which is £500 when bought separately.


Inside the long-established 077 preamp with digital module installed [lower right], multiple PSU regulation [far left], input gain adjust ICs [bottom right], logic [right] and proprietary 'X-AMP 2' output modules [centre]

Output from the preamplifier is via balanced XLRs, matching the inputs on the 218 power amp, while an additional BurLink connection allows the amplifiers to be integrated into third-party home automation solutions, including Crestron. Despite being separated by more than 15 years, the 077 and 218 remain a perfect visual match, bridging the eras between the company under the helm of founder Dieter Burmester, and the brand today after his passing in 2015.

The heavy aerospace-quality casework has a decidedly 'technical' look, and while the mirror-finish fascia treatment adds visual appeal, the engraved legends above and below the 077's multifunctional toggles are rather tricky to read. For example, a single control handles phase switching but also toggles the display brightness, while another – at least with the digital input module fitted – chooses between Class 1 and 2 USB operation, selects the digital input in use and enables upsampling to 192kHz.

Other controls access the set-up menus, including selecting the main output or the 077's two headphone sockets, the latter somewhat inconveniently located on the rear panel. Input sensitivity, input naming, and so on, is achieved by a combination of up or down movements of the toggles, plus different lengths of hold when doing so.

Taking Control
You can even bypass various switches if required, and while most users will soon become familiar with their basic functionality, it's likely that the supplied remote control, also aluminium-clad, will provide more logical access to the functions of the preamp. Mind you, using the remote deprives you of the tactile 'click-stop' appeal of the 077's chromed volume control. There's not much chance of overshoot through over-enthusiastic twiddling here – in fact, a determinedly positive shove is required to make changes!

The 077 and its power supply are designed to be stacked. As both units have heavy alloy feet, machined to a spike, Burmester supplies protective alloy baseplates for each, the 'points' sitting on carbon-fibre discs set into their surface. Completing the attention to detail is the provision of a cleaning spray and microfibre cloth, designed to maintain the units in pristine condition.


The 218's mirrored frontispiece and architectural fins are both aesthetic and functional, and classic 'Burmester'

The 218 power amp is of a size and mass to make it a definite 'sit on the floor' device, and features massive aluminium top and bottom plates sandwiching heatsinks wrapping around all four corners of the enclosure. Conduction is improved by a copper heatpipe, as the output devices are actually located behind the solid side-panels between the heatsinks. The amplifier is a symmetrical, dual-mono, and DC-coupled design described as 'a three-stage, fully complementary signal amplifier... with targeted compensation techniques and very narrow-tolerance components'. This is the core of Burmester's proprietary X-AMP technology.

Power Down
Around the back, hefty 'winged' terminals are provided for stereo speaker cable connection. The 218 can also be used as a mono amplifier or as part of a bi-amp configuration using dedicated adapter cables, available as accessories from Burmester dealers at £1300 a set.

Burmester Audiosysteme GmbH
Berlin, Germany
Supplied by: Burmester Audiosysteme GmbH
+49 307 879680