Burmester 077/218 Pre/Power Amplifiers Page 2

A single power button is the only control on the front of the amplifier, with a customisable LED changing colour to show on and standby. Again to the rear there are trigger ports as well as that proprietary BurLink connection. The 218 also has an automatic power down after 30 minutes of no signal, which is on by default but can be bypassed using Burmester's system remote, or via the BurLink port. There's also extensive protection against short circuits, overheating or DC offset, all of which is enabled using circuits lying outside of the direct signal path.

sqnote And... Relax
Our initial auditioning of these amplifiers kicked off via the 077's USB-B 'computer audio' input, with music fed to the DAC card using Aurender's W20SE music library [HFN Mar '23]. Speakers were B&W 801 D4s [HFN Nov '21], and it soon became clear that the digital module fitted to the 077, though convenient, was starting to show its age... The sound, while lush and rich in the low frequencies, as one might expect given Burmester's origins as a company created by a bass-player, was somewhat lacking in freshness and vitality in the midband and treble. This was all very relaxing and apparently very 'hi-fi', but the music still lacked spark and excitement, something rapidly addressed by bringing into play dCS's Vivaldi APEX DAC [HFN Jun '22], also connected via USB-B to the Aurender W20SE and with a fixed-level output to the 077's analogue inputs.


Inside the 218 with four pairs of bipolar output devices (from ON Semiconductor) per side [far left and right]. Copper heatpipe connects all the heatsinking [top corners] while a Noratel transformer and 4x100V/47,000µF PSU reservoir caps are under the centre PCB

Tracks that previously sounded rich but slightly anonymous, such as 'On The Sunny Side Of The Street' from the Bill Charlap Trio's Notes From New York album [Impulse! download], gained extra sparkle and impetus, no longer sounding like a slightly snoozy late afternoon hi-fi demonstration. And Bonobo's 'Otomo', from his Fragments album [Ninja Tune ZENDNL 279], previously distinguished only by its big, thundering bassline which was more about weight than impact, took on extra detail and became faster-sounding and more interesting as a result.

Even those tracks I'd found satisfying when run through the preamp's internal DAC gained new life with the dCS player/DAC in harness, allowing the Burmester amplifiers to deliver all their warmth and weight while gaining new presence. 'Angel Eyes', from Carmen Gomes Inc.'s Thousand Shades Of Blue [Sound Liaison SL-1001A], which is definitely a demonstration-quality recording, combined richness with immediacy and a more detailed view of the singer's voice. Similarly, the slow burn of the 3rd movement of Elgar's First Symphony [Staatskapelle Berlin/Barenboim; Decca 478 9353] brought together stateliness and scale, complemented by a detailed insight into what each section of the orchestra was doing.


A Burlink 'home automation' interface [top left] is joined by 12V trigger ports [top right], balanced audio inputs (RCA to XLR adapters are provided) and wingnut-style spade/4mm speaker cable terminals

Sax Appeal
True, the Roger Waters take on 'Money' from his Dark Side Of The Moon Redux set [SGB Music download] arguably sounded a little slow, if melodramatic, but one can hardly blame the 077/218 amplifiers for that. By contrast, the Espen Eriksen trio/Andy Sheppard 'Passion' from the recent As Good As It Gets release [Rune Grammofon RCD2233] demonstrated much better pace and openness, together with a fine reedy tonality to Sheppard's sax. Furthermore, Fleur Barron's performance of Purcell's 'When I Am Laid In Earth', from the La Nuova Musica recording of Dido and Aeneas [Pentatone PTC 5187032], was positively spine-tingling.

So, yes, this Burmester combination remains warm, generous and still somewhat polite-sounding by comparison with some more obviously upfront amplifier systems, but the immediacy, the thrill and sheer amount of detail thrust at the listener by those latter amplifiers is not always a recipe for satisfaction in the longer term. Moreover, the 077/218 pairing maintains a firm grip on speakers such as the big Bowers & Wilkins floorstanders, which benefit from both confident driving and control if they're not to dominate proceedings.


Both the 077 preamp [top] and partnering 077 PSU [bottom] sit on alloy bases with spikes located onto inset carbon-fibre discs. Six balanced line ins and one optional module (either DAC or MM/MC phono) are offered alongside balanced pre and tape outs, two 6.35mm headphone outs, BurLink, trigger and USB (update) ports

The grip that's exercised here might be concealed to some extent by the innate richness of the 077/218's presentation, but it's clearly there in the intimate 'in the room' presentation of Ed Sheeran's 'England' from Autumn Variations [Gingerbread Man Records 5054197767272], with superb vocal and instrumental colours. It's even more obvious with the languid country of 'Songs That She Sang In The Shower' from Jason Isbell's 10th anniversary release of Southeastern [Southeastern Records SER9984-10DX], which shows excellent three-dimensional soundstaging.

This ability to let voices and instruments cut through that seemingly rich, 'easy listening' sound is also apparent with Magdalena Kožená's voice on her lovely Folk Songs set of little vignettes, with the Czech Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle – yet another beautifully judged Pentatone recording [PTC 5187075]. Meanwhile the 218 power amplifier proved capable of serious dynamics on the 'March From 1941' on the Jerry Junkin/Dallas Winds John Williams At The Movies release [Reference Recordings RR-142], with crisply resolved snares and startling bass drum strikes. And yes, it really swings with those marching tempi.


Burmester's full system 067 remote is a heavyweight alloy casting that confers full control over its amplifiers and digital components

Listening Pleasure
Play another Reference set, the Oue/Minnesota Orchestra recording of Respighi [RR-95], and the 'Pini di Roma' sounds suitably dramatic, exuberant and cinematic. Indeed, the scale these amps can deliver is perfectly measured against the detail and tonal shading of the performance, however carried away you get with that weighted volume control. And so, in the round, while this Burmester duo undoubtedly has a 'sound', it's one carefully tailored to delight the listener, and for many this mixture of ease of listening and richly delineated detail will be exceptionally attractive.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
The distinctively rich presentation of the 077/218 pre/power amplifiers may be at odds with the apocryphal Germanic 'sound tuning', but there's no doubt they are superbly easy to enjoy, while at the same time conveying the spirit and emotion of the music. Add in the solid engineering and lavish styling, and there's no gainsaying the appeal of these luxurious components. Nor, indeed, the sound they deliver.

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