Burmester new 082 intergrated amplifier

One of my favorite High End brands German Burmester just released 082 integrated amp. This one will replace 032 amp.

Here are some specs and company info:

Our latest 082 integrated amplifier – like the 032 before it – comes from a long line of distinguished amps including the 909, the 911 and the 956 MK2, which have garnered high praise all over the world. As an offshoot of our power amp 036 and pre-amp 035 the 082 closes a gap in our Classic Line.
The new integrated amplifier 082 sports an upgraded power amp section. The new circuit arrangement is an advanced design based on existing Burmester power amps and it realizes our sonic ideals: Warm, spacious, powerful and at the same time detailed sound. Mechanically, the new power amps are fully compatible with previous models. Like all other Burmester power amps the 082 is stable even when driving impedance-critical loudspeakers.

Distortion characteristics, noise, damping factor and rise time are the best that are technologically feasible. Distortions are practically kept to the technically possible minimum even under full load. The damping factor remains very high throughout the full frequency and listening range even under full load. Acoustically, the new power amp is very fast and musical with extremely precise and detailed sound stage.


Special Features

• Balanced circuitry throughout like all Burmester components
• Input stages in Class A design
• Completely DC-coupled signal path without distorting capacitors
• Oversized power supply delivers high current
• High damping factor enables effortless control of any speaker over the full
frequency range, even at high frequencies
• Stable at any load over the entire frequency range
• Massive binding posts for speaker cables (best performance with spade
lugs!)
• Remote on/off: The 082 can be switched on/off or can be used to switch
other components by a 10V DC trigger current.
• A built-in protective circuit outside of the signal path monitors the 082 during
operation with regard to overheating, DC offset and overloading.
• 5 inputs of which three are balanced, plus 1balanced Thruput (pass-
through)
• Tone controls (can be switched off)
• Adjustable pre-sets: Input sensitivity, output level, wake-up volume
• Pre-amp output

Interview with Rich Maez of Boulder Audio


  1. What moved you to design Boulder 2008 phono preamplifier? Do you think that lately vinyl is reinventing itself?

The 2008 was the result of requests from our customers. They asked for a phono section to match the quality of the 2010 preamplifier and the 2060 and 2050 amplifiers. We initially built 10 units, thinking that the 2008 had limited appeal, and every one sold when we first showed it at the 2002 Consumer Electronics Show. We then decided to make it available permanently and it has been one of our most popular products ever since.

I don’t think vinyl is reinventing itself – it is still the same basic format and still has the same appeal. I think, however, that there are things that are making vinyl sales increase. First, there are a large number of people who are rediscovering their old music collections after a number of years. These are people who have retired or no longer have children at home and have more time. Second, both the production of vinyl LPs, turntables and the electronics to play them are constantly improving, so sound quality is better than ever. Third, younger people (besides club DJs) are discovering the sound of vinyl and buying new releases on vinyl. Even bands like Metallica are doing extremely high quality reissues of their older albums on vinyl.

  1. How does Boulder experiencing digital-analog format?

We began working with digital audio conversion about 12 years ago. At the time, we were developing the 2000 Series and we saw the opportunity to do some things that had never been done before in both the digital and the analog portions of the converter. Today, we have just completed the development of the 1021 Disc Player, and again we have tried to do things that would be best for sound quality instead of simply doing things the way audiophile companies have traditionally done them. We are extremely proud of the 1021. It’s a big leap forward for sound quality, especially since it can also play very high-resolution music files.

I think that as time goes by and we have access to more high-quality recordings and technology, digital sound will continue to improve and become even more neutral. Boulder does not prefer one format (analog or digital) over another, but rather we concentrate on making everything adhere to the original recording as much as possible.

  1. In your lab testing you probably compared your reference 2008 with 2020. What kind of conclusion can you draw between state of the art DAC and phono preamp?

They’re different, though neither sounds like a master tape. Analog has its own types of distortions and digital has a very different set of distortions. We try to eliminate all of them as much as possible, however there are things we do not have control of – resonances in phono cartridges or tonearms, DAC chip limitations, etc. The 2008 gives you a huge amount of detail and resolution and lets you hear the flavor of the cartridge and turntable, though the 2020 has perfect pitch accuracy, better dynamic range, and powerful low frequency response. Neither is better, they’re just different.

  1. Boulder 1021 Disc player was just announced. It support numerous formats and you invested over 1 mil $ into research. Can you please tell us what lead to this kind of universal player and how did you approach the designing of it? Why this project demanded so much funds?

The 1021 actually began life as a DVD player. We had started to develop a video player, though when Blu-ray and HD-DVD appeared, we decided to concentrate on music (we could never keep up with Sony or Toshiba and the rate at which they were developing the blue disc formats). So we stripped the DVD capability from the 1021 and decided to figure out where the limitations of digital music reproduction were and create entirely new ways to solve them instead of trying to improve on what was already being done. Most players had always used an “audiophile” disc drive that limited what was possible because of the electronics that came with it – high-end manufacturers were being forced to use them. This meant we needed to develop a new display and user interface. Also, if we created our own software and computing system, we were free to do any type of data conversion that could be burned onto a CD-R, and this allowed us to decode WAV, AIFF, MP3, FLAC, or OGG Vorbis files, some of which can go to 32-bits and 192 kHz where digital filtering is much gentler. Not only were the new files other than Redbook PCM (standard CD music) convenient and you could store hours and hours of them on a disc (like MP3, for example), but you could also find hi-res files that provided incredibly good, pure sound quality, better than we had ever heard before.

As time went by, we realized that the player should be a slave to the data, not the other way around – it should do the work in software instead of processing it in hardware and forcing it to work in an AES data stream. The more we learned, the more we changed. The more we changed, the more expensive it became to develop. In a sense, we’re fortunate that we aren’t limited by pricing and much like Bentley or Breguet we have the freedom to develop and innovate the absolute best we can.

  1. Everyone is approaching jitter and digital audio with their own solutions. What is Boulder design philosophy regarding DA converters?

When we were working on the 1021, we decided that we would avoid anything that would be susceptible to jitter and have an effect on sound quality. The DSP section is then slaved to a master clock that is located as close to the D/A section as possible. All of the clocking is done there. If the clock signal is needed elsewhere for reference or sync, it is sent back where accuracy is not absolutely necessary because it will be clocked later at the DACs anyway. We also believe that the elimination of low-frequency noise-related jitter is extremely important, so we developed our own precise interval clock to deal with this issue. Low-frequency noise-related jitter has a much greater correlated impact on digital sound quality than many people think. Dual buffers, one in hardware and one in software, also help to deal with any effects jitter may have on the data. The best way to deal with jitter is to eliminate the things in the conversion process that can be affected by it.

  1. Your amplifiers are used commonly in pro audio industry. Do you draw the line between pro and high-end audio?

No, not really. Boulder actually began as a pro audio company 25 years ago. Jeff Nelson, our founder, began in the broadcast industry where reliability is paramount and also worked in Hollywood with a number of people who believed that sound quality was the top priority. These people still exist. For example, if you watch movies like U-571 or Glory, the people responsible for the soundtracks spent thousands and thousands of hours making them an incredibly powerful sound experience. They don’t work with poor quality equipment because it would mean their sound isn’t as good as it could be and they have a huge amount of pride in what they do. We really don’t look at what we do as “high-end” or “pro” or “consumer.” We prefer to see ourselves as a high-performance company. We feel it is better to define ourselves by the great things we can achieve instead of who we sell to or how they use our equipment. In the end, we’re happy that people appreciate and understand what we do.

  1. Where is the line between overpriced gear and remarkable products that demands higher prices?

That’s a very hard question to answer. There are industries such as fashion where you simply pay a premium for a brand name or marque, even though the materials are not special. There are also industries like automobiles where you pay a premium for performance or luxury (or performance instead of luxury). Then there are other areas like art where you pay for rarity or future investment or watches where you pay for complications and jewelry but not accuracy or performance. In audio equipment, all of these same things can be true and customers are still devoted to companies that do each of them.

I would say that a product is overpriced if it fails to meet the expectations of the person who pays for it or if the manufacturer is dishonest about what does or how well it works. It should not be expensive simply because someone wants to charge a lot of money for something that was cheap to develop and produce. It should be exceptional to see, feel, and hear, and it should be obvious that it is special on first sight and even more when you listen. It should never meet the expectations of the customer, but always exceed them. It is remarkable when it continues to surprise and thrill you years later. That would be true for a product that is expensive as much as for a product that is not.

We are aware that our products are expensive, however we are very careful that all of our products are the very best performers in the world and that can be verified on the test bench as well as by ear. We are not expensive for marketing purposes. We are expensive because we do not do things cheaply or quickly. You can take the cover off of any of our products to see the effort that goes into making them. The chassis are not empty or full of parts from Pioneer. Everything has a purpose and we make everything ourselves if possible, including cutting our own metal. We feel that owning a Boulder should be special and that the product should provide you with a lifetime of enjoyment, not just a few years until something else comes along. We want our customers to be loyal, so we build things as best we can.

  1. Do you plan to offer more affordable products or your current product and price politics are borderline between quality and manufacturing costs?

The 800 Series products (810, 850, 860, and 865) are probably as inexpensive as we can go without sacrificing our engineering philosophy. To make things less expensive would mean trying to eliminate things that make our products perform well. The 800 Series performs well because we made them smaller and less powerful, not because we removed a lot of the performance. Some things, like gain stages, for example, are better in the 1000 and 2000 Series, but the lower priced gear is still great. We still do everything ourselves, we still give you programming and automation options, and they’re still very reliable. There will be more products in the 800 Series, though there will likely never be a series that is less expensive. That would mean performance we’re not proud of.

  1. What product you are most proud of?

Wow. There are so many. The 865 is an incredible performer for the money. The 1012 is three products in one chassis. The 2008 is unequalled. The big 2000 Series amps are delicate monsters. I would say that right now I am most proud of the 1021 Disc Player, simply because it is so different and so new – you’re always most proud of your newest release. It has been a revelation in CD sound, and has created an appreciation for CD that some dealers had lost. Being able to play hi-res music makes it even better.

  1. What do you use for your reference playback?

We have many, many recordings that we use, both analog and digital. Most of it is just good music instead of audiophile-type recordings, so some of it may not have the greatest recording technique, but we are very familiar with it. Some also do very specific things to a system. We use classical, jazz, rock, acoustic, electronic, everything, because our customers play everything and we have to be able to reproduce what they play through our equipment exceptionally well. At any given time, you can go in our sound room and hear Boccherini, Tool, Charlie Parker, The Beatles, Enya, Zane Musa…the list goes on.

  1. Can you please describe your reference company audio system?

We have many things available, from Westlake and B&W and Sonus faber and Apogee loudspeakers, to Wilson and JM Lab at our nearest dealer. We have numerous cables though we also make our own. We do not, however, have a “reference system.” We do not have a system we try to match or sound best with. Instead we try to sound neutral or transparent. We have to sound good with everything you could ever connect our gear to, anywhere in the world, so we constantly rotate, change or borrow equipment to make sure we stay neutral and do not “tune” our products.

The room is just as important. It’s multiple layers of sheetrock on the walls, each wall is treated, and the ceiling is six feet of acoustic material.

  1. Do you plan to add also a speaker to the product line and offer a complete Boulder system?

We don’t plan on it at this point. We know electronics and it’s best to stick with what you know and do it well. Other companies have tried to add a speaker line and it has meant that what they already did well suffered or the loudspeakers were not as good as the electronics. Besides, if you think our amps are heavy, imagine what a loudspeaker would be like!

  1. Do you have a dream product that is still just on the blueprint table?

Many! But we’re not saying what they are so that if we decide to build them we can take our time and do things carefully (without pressure) and it will be a surprise when they are released.

  1. Any contemporary manufacturers, audio designer that you feel share the same vision and quality as you?

There are quite a few. Dean Jensen was our original gain stage inspiration, and he had a massive impact on our company. Wilson has done a lot of work on materials research, Hansen and Magico have pursued constrained layer damping theory, Transparent has worked on eddy current and high frequency noise elimination, and Continuum has done a lot of resonance control work. Even inexpensive companies like Denon have pursued performance – they all basically pursue a similar performance goal and try to eliminate colorations.

Boulder is a company dedicated to eliminating distortions. We don’t make our equipment “sound” a certain way; it’s not voiced. There are other companies that do things this way, and then there are companies that make design choices by the way they change their products’ sound or create “flavors.”

As for quality, it also includes reliability. Things must not blow up. We don’t think anyone can build a chassis the way we do, and everything we make must be completely reliable. Since we do everything ourselves, quality is always the best it can be.

  1. Do you feel threatened by rising low priced Asian audio manufacturers?

No, we’ve actually been very successful in China, as the people who are able have been seeking out Boulder because of our reputation. The Chinese usually build tube or valve equipment (we only do solid state), it is generally not balanced, and it is not built to the same standard. Our way of building is very expensive and must be done slowly, one-by-one, so it does not really fit the Chinese production method. Since their way of doing things is very different from ours, we are not threatened. We have a different objective.

  1. What would you say that have changed in few recent years in the high-end audio?

The industry is fragmenting. We have seen a number of companies get bigger, a number get smaller, and some collapse entirely. Companies are also focusing on different types of customers – some prefer enthusiasts, some like luxury buyers, and they are very different types of people. We also have the custom installation industry affecting what we design and the way products are controlled. Analog is selling, the iPod has created the server product category, higher resolution digital is becoming available in different formats. Even overseas manufacturing has had an impact – reliability is down with prices, and fewer companies are in control of their own quality because they no longer build their own equipment at home. So we must be aware of all of these things and still stay true to what we do. One thing that has not changed is that people expect a lot from Boulder products.

  1. Where your company is heading in future?

People will always need amplifiers, but we are also looking at where music may come from. Downloads, subscription services, Blu-ray discs, digital libraries, who knows? We need to be aware of where music is going so that we can work with new formats. We feel that we are already world-class for the traditional formats – vinyl, CD, etc. We will continue to support those, as people have large collections of music on them. We need to try to work with new formats in a way that will not mean poor performance. If we have to wait for formats to improve, we will wait and go slowly. We have never been first, though we have always been the best.

  1. How do you see the future of high-end?

The high-end will always exist and there will always be companies that are successful if they build products that people want, and not just the type that Boulder makes – single-ended triodes will probably always be around in some form. The types of products that are available may change, as servers are very popular now but they are simply a computer in a fancy chassis. They may be just a step towards remote storage or streaming on demand. Vinyl playback will continue to improve, and hopefully so will vinyl formulations for better LPs. Even CDs are still improving, as JVC’s XRCD24 has proven. I think multi-channel audio may become more popular, but two-channel stereo will not disappear any time soon – there’s simply too much good two-channel music out there already, and multi-channel is very expensive to do properly.

I also think that the high-end will become more mainstream. As companies continue to grow and get better at what we do, we will be exposed to more and more people who didn’t know that high-performance sound exists. We just need to be very careful that we do not sacrifice performance for popularity.

  1. Any last thoughts for our readers?

Enjoy what you have, have what you enjoy. Do not buy products to impress others because you will have to listen to them. Buy good music, not just good recordings. Do not be afraid of new products, music, or formats. And most of all, let the high-end hobby make you happy.

Matej Isak

Mono & Stereo

mi@sgn.net

ION Audio has shipped its one millionth USB turntable

Many smiled about vinyl reinventing. This is not really audiophile or pro audio news but...

ION Audio has shipped its one millionth USB turntable. This must mean something. While CD is rapidly dropping in sales, vinyl is the only media which sales are growing. And rediscovering old records must be a joy for younger generations. One million is a huge number. Freely scratch you head. I did mine.

Sonus Faber Guarneri Memento review

What if you would meet the queen or princess of your dream while looking something completely different. What if she just stood there and waited for you. An accident waiting to happen. What would you do?

Ubiq - Vklop chief Igor Kante was lending me Denmark Gryphon audio integrated amplifier Diabolo for test and while taking it to my car i spot something that lightened my led diodes (as Bender might put it). Sonus Faber Guarneri Memento loudspeakers. In a moment i got quick flashback of all the raves i heard about it. I went home but contemplation was too intensive so i rang Igor and arrange to demo Memento’s as well.

Sonus Faber Guaraneri Memento is a representer of Homage series. They should be labeled as monitor speakers, but with original stands, they look like a sculpture from a hands of a master designer. This is practically only speaker in Sonus Faber line which enclosure is completely wooden (no MDF). It’s made out of 21 staves of hand selected maple blocks that are naturally dried for at least two years.

Cabinet is shaped like traditional lute instrument. All the gluing is done by traditional Italian recipes derived from mouth to mouth heritage. These are the secrets of greatest violin craftsmanship. Finish alone is done in 10 segments. Each layer is hand painted and sanded. Result is stunning gloss “Graphite” finish and finest i'd seen up to date.

Unpacking them was screaming; style, prestige, quality! Mementos are stored in the wooden box and covered with special textile bag. Setting them up took quite some time. Whole speaker system is consisting from three separate modules. The wooden enclosure, massive body covered with nylon strings that resemble original lute strings and “stone” stand. Once assembled the appearance is timeless.

It’s funny that i needed 2 days to get used to the Mementos. I'm use to completely different experience when you welcome new speakers into your system, but Mementos gave me quite a shocking treatment. At first they seemed to be to closed and dark, but so often airiness and resolution is mistaken with real character and tone of instruments.
After transitional period I started to fall for of these beauties. How often we read enchanted reviews of owners and reviewer to be left unimpressed when we test them.

I listened to a lot of speakers, but only few really left me in that special state of mind; a continuous loop of longing. The Memento is the real "reminder".

Guarneri Memento proved to be real instrument. I would say it is one of the most musical speaker i heard. Music is simply plaid and let you forget about all audiophile nags we incorporate in our listening. Some said that they lack the bass but i wouldn’t dare to say so. I guess they didn't use a proper amplification with them. There is plenty of well controlled and i would say natural bass. If you want over hyped bass you can always add a subwoofer or look for another kind of speaker.

There is one catch. You have to drive them with quite few watts of power. You might be left with only half experience without proper amplification. Sonus Faber is testing them with their Musica amplifiers and I'm wonder if they really know Mementos real potenital :).

Lack of bass that some folks complained about might be in absence of a proper amplifier. Be careful before drawing conclusions.

It is such an avid moment to hear bass and instruments plaid well and controlled without too much room tweaking and treatment from the very start. That is something that set apart hi-fi and high end equipment. And this is also apparent with good recordings. Steve Hoffman mentioned in our is answering in our interview that’s almost all secrets of good sound are hidden in good recording and mastering. And it’s the same with reproduction. With first class enclosure and the knowledge behind the speaker building you are saved from many anomalies that can be attached to poorly designed and constructed speaker. The “boominess” is practicaly absent in well designed speaker and Sonus Faber Memento is remarkable in this regards.

Instruments can simply disappear and there is that natural, life like feeling that surround the music. I could go on and on, but please experiance it for yourself.

My favorite jazz artist John Coltrane never sounded better and closer to my inner jazz child :). If you have the chance grab Alice Coltrane Translinear light, and simply float in the stratosphere of spiritual jazz. I’m still amazed how good this album sounds. There is something that makes you feel closer to God.

Is Sonus Faber Memento most neutral and precise speaker on the planet? No! But is for sure one of the most musical and natural sounding speaker. And best looking! Period!

Some see Sonus Faber Guarneri Memento as a fashion or style statement. Through my eyes such a is product shows love for music and and traditional craftsmanship.

If acoustic, vocal, small ensemble, natural recorded music is your thing than look no further. An audition is a must!

There is an ultimate proof for reviewer to stand behind paper tiger stuff.
I’m buying those cutes. Yes they are that good and above!

Matej Isak

Mono & Stereo
mi@sgn.net


www.sonusfaber.com

Experience high fidelity audio with the one of the best home theater speakers.

Burmester CD 061 review









Burmester CD 061 review

Burmester is well know in high end audio circles from early 80's. There is quite some patents that Dieter Burmester holds in his pocket for audio innovations.

Burmester components represent top of the class audio equipment in the world of high end reproduction. Distinctive high polished chrome looks of components are absolute eye catchers. Like i already mentioned in my 051 revies; where Buggati stand in car industry, Burmester hold the flag in audio industry. They produce high priced objects of desire. Both sonically and visually. With high price you should be served with high style. No buts! Paying few thousand dollars for single audio equipment demands a great looking "shell" that holds audio components and engineering secrets.

Burmester CD 001 already set high standards and shake quite some audio grounds with it's top class performance and analog like sound. CD 001 is a belt driven device based on Philips CD 2 Pro drive unit. CD 061 incorporate same unit, but its not belt driven. Their engineers did an inside job. They modified and improved servo unit of the original device.

Burmester 061 is very similar to the big brother. Face plate is almost the same. It's polished high quality chrome finish. Cd over is beautifully machined from blocks of aluminum and sanded by hand. I have to say that putting CD into tray is a pure pleasure. It reminds me on the vinyl ritual. Its more captivating and you have put some effort into listening. That way you are easily dragged into listening to whole albums instead of skipping songs via some digital media storage player. It brings album experience back to life. And these is good! We don't go through all the trouble and visit live concerts just to be listening to only one song; do we? Your millage and personal taste may vary but i prefer things in a classy old fashion. Call me old if you want :)!

Burmester CD 061 is a contemporary audio device with an old pedigre. New components are are strictly chosen for converters. This adds more dynamical and "debatable"transparent sound. I really like when audio equipment is designed well and easy to use. Burmester is know for that.

This is a different beast than 001. While 001 have a distinct analogue character, 061 packs more under hood more "modern" sound. Musical reproduction flows potently and with more noticeable attack. It give more impact and leans to resolutional side. Burmester 061 could almost be all rounder, but i would recommend it more to the lovers of present day audiophile sound requirements; resolution and dynamic. Rock, blues, electronic etc. will feel at home with CD 061. Bhrams, Mozart, Copland will wave classically very happily.

CD 0061 can act as stand alone DAC. You can connect your computer, cd, dvd or media storage player via RCA spdif or Toslink input and use high quality onboard Burmester converters. This adds a lot the functionality and make a longer term investment. Burmester seems to still avoid SACD reproduction. I guess they are sticking with CD while all these digital format confusion ends. And most of the titles are still backed on the red book CD format. For some this is enough.

CD 061 is delight to the ears and will play "MUSIC". I would suggest you try it in your system and see what CD 061 mens for your prefer genres.

Igor Kante of Ubiq likes to say: "You just lean back and listen to music". Thats all! High end audio should be no brainer. It should deliver pure musical reproductions without a hassle. And this is what Burmester CD 061 will do. And in a grand style. I can go on and on and multiply pages about what this machine can do. I won't. Take your quality time and listen to it. It is the more than worth of audition

Highly, recommended!

Matej Isak

Mono & Stereo

mi@sgn.net



Technical Specs:


• Digital inputs:
2 x RCA
1 x LWL (TOSLINK)
• Digital outputs:
2 x RCA
1 x LWL (TOSLINK)
• Analog outputs:
1 x XLR (bal.), stereo
2 x RCA (unbal.), stereo

The new standard remote is included in the delivery along with the Burmester Power 1.5 power cable.

Weight: 11 kg

Dimensions:

482 mm x 112 mm x 340 mm (W x H x D)
19’’ x 4.4’’ x 13.4’’ (W x H x D)

Price: 11.000 Eur

www.burmester.de

Interview with Dan Lavry of Lavry Engineering

Why electronic engineering?

At 13 years of age, I looked inside an old radio. I found electronics interesting, and 50 years later is more interesting than ever.

Did you had any influences, people you looked up to?

I come from a very musical home. My father was the national composer of Israel. He wrote the first Israeli symphony, the first opera, many of the early Israeli songs. At home I met many of his word class musician’s friends (Stern, Bernstein, Adler and many more).

Regarding the electronics, I learned most of what I know from reading and experimenting. People I look up to? Bob Adams from Analog Devices and Dr. Rich Cabot (founder of Audio Precision) come to mind. I miss my dear friend David Smith from Sony music.

It seems that many top high end audio designers worked in IT or medical instrument field. Do you find any resemblances?

The basic principles of electronics are the same, but each type of application does have it’s own specific demanding requirements. Understanding audio takes a lot of time and dedication. At the same time, in my opinion, being too specialized can be very limiting. It is good to know about other areas of electronics. A wider view yields a lot of advantages. Often, techniques and methodology from one area of electronics can be applied to another area, such as audio.

What brought you into digital audio?

I am both a musician and an engineer, so I always wanted to get into audio electronics. By the mid 80’s I had much converter design experience for medical applications, weighing scales, telecom and instrumentation. Digital Audio was taking off, and with it the need for audio converters.

What do you think of digital audio era. Is analog on fading away or just becoming niche market?

The world is going digital for many good reasons:

Analog memory leaves a lot to be desired: vinyl wears out and scratches easily, Tape cassette demagnetizes and wears out. Both offer limited storage capacity, bandwidth, dynamic range… Digital memory is plentiful (CD, DVD, hard drives, memory sticks…). Also, the transmission processing and duplication of analog signals is subject to unwanted alterations due to environmental noise, circuit’s imperfections, interconnections, grounding issues… Digital technology offers a great deal of immunity to all of the above.

But sound is analog, so in order to take advantage of digital, one must convert the signals between digital and analog thus making the conversion quality very important. Many people talk about “digital sound”, but there is no such thing. The ear does not hear data made out of 0’s and 1’s. An analog signal fed into a perfect AD then to a perfect DA would be identical to the original analog signal. So all comments regarding “digital sound” are in fact directed to specific implementations.

Viewing “digital sound” as some conceptual limiting factor is incorrect. However, the implementation of converters tend to bring about different sonic character than the implementation of only analog circuits (converters consist of both analog and digital circuits). For example, poor digital may introduce alias distortions. Analog does not alias. Digital tends to yield better dynamic range then analog, and so on.

Many people prefer to continue with what they were used to using. For example, one may get attached to some old vintage Neumann mic. The microphone company still has the drawing plans and know-how for the vintage mic. The material technology, manufacturing process, precision, and the electronics have improved greatly in the last 50 years, so why vintage? Because many people like what they are accustomed to.

In the old world of tubes, transformers, and old transistor circuits, we could not get away from significant sound coloration (distortions). The manufactures of gear have been striving towards sonic transparency (improving the ability to capture and reproduce music as accurately as possible). The goal of transparency demands that much of the gear will not alter sound. The speaker should not compress, the AD should not distort… Of course, there is much gear designed purposely to allow intentional sound alterations (EQ, reverb, compression and more). People that like tubes and vinyl prefer the addition of certain vintage type sonic alterations to the sound of the original music performance.

Do you consider yourself and audiophile?

I am not much into such labels but I do seek to listen to music at a level of quality as close to the original performance as possible therefore I listen through my DA2002 at home.

Why did you start to produce audiophile products?

As I previously stated, I am a musician and an engineer. I play piano and accordion almost daily, and my weekends are dedicated to playing with my musical friends. I love combining music and electronics. Much of what I did was (and still is) driven by my own desire to hear the best sound possible.

What is the high end audio to you?

RECORDING:

For me, high end audio is the ability to capture the music at any performance space, and reproduce it as clearly as possible within a listening environment. I do not have an issue with sonic alterations done by the mastering engineer, or by the final listener. I am not against tubes or EQ. But the starting point in my judgment must be transparency. One can add a pink tint to one photo, a blue tint to another photo. Artistic decisions are best added to a neutral and transparent picture. This is my philosophy. My gear is not intended to do the mastering or EQ for you.

LISTENING:

For me high end audio is about transparency. When I hear the resonance of an important cello or violin, the depth and imaging within a choir I know my work has meaning.

Where is the line between hi-fi and high end?

I do not think there is a line between good hi-fi and good high end. I do see a lot of confusion regarding true high end and mediocre and sub mediocre gear. In my area of converters, there are a few well known main stream converter makers that do not even bother to provide a single specification regarding dynamic range, or distortion (not even for a 1KHz tone). That is mind boggling! I know that specs do not tell you everything, but the total lack of specifications leaves much to be desired. Don’t be fooled, missing noise and distortion specs are missing when they are very poor. Instead, of good specs, I see a lot of marketing hype, with phrases such as “full bass, warm mids and crisp highs”.

What is in you opinion difference between pro and audiophile audio? How you distinct your products between this two markets?

First, pro gear includes various tools and gear for music production, such as mic pres, AD and more. Audiophile gear mostly consists of a subset of music production gear, the listening portion (DA’s, amplifiers, speakers…).

Pro gear needs to accommodate the logistics encountered during the music production process. For example, professional gear may use analog voltage levels as high as 24dBu (34.72V peak to peak signal). Such high voltage work well when distributing signals over very long cable runs. Audiophile gear woks fine with about a tenth of such voltage level.

We see that year by year there is kind of race for bits and high sampling rates. Where do you think this will stop?

Regarding bits: The ear can not hear more then about 126dB of dynamic range under extreme conditions. At around 6dB per bit, that amounts to 21 bits, which is what my AD122 MKIII provides (unweighted).

Regarding sample rate: The ear can not hear over 25-30KHz, therefore 60-70KHz would be ideal. Unfortunately there is no 65KHz standard, but 88.2KHz or even 96KHz is not too far from the optimal rate. 192KHz is way off the mark. It brings about higher distortions, bigger data files, increased processing costs, and all that for no up side! People that think that more samples are better, and that digital is only an approximation, do not understand the fundamentals of digital audio.

What rate and bits are enough for today music reproduction and recording?

Regarding processing bits:

For music production, for adding and mixing many channels, for various digital processing, we need more bits. One must make a distinction between processing bits and conversion bits. Say for example that you have 32 channels, each channel made out of 24 conversion bits. If you sum the channels you end up with 31 bits. At the end of the process, the 31 bit sum can be reduced back to say 24 bits, or to 16 bits, because the ear can not hear 31 bits (186dB dynamic range). It is best to have a lot of processing bits. How many, it depends on the number of channels and on the type of processing.

Regarding the rate:

One has to make a distinction between the audio sample rate and the rate of a localized process:

The audio sample rate is the rate that carries the music data itself. Roughly speaking, the audio bandwidth itself is slightly less then half the sample rate. A 44.1KHz CD can contains music to about 20KHz.

At the same time, there are many cases when we use much higher “localized rates”. Such higher rates do not increase the musical content. The higher rates still offer the same original bandwidth of the sample rate. We up sample or down sample between localized rates for various technical reasons. For example, virtually all modern DA’s operate at 64-1024 times the sample rate speeds (in the many MHz range). Operating at such high rates simplifies the requirements of the anti imaging filter (an analog filter located after the DA conversion). The decision about the ideal localized rate depends on the technology and the task at hand. It is an engineering decision, not an ear based decision. As always a poor implementation may introduce Sonics, and it would be wise to refrain from the often encountered practice of far reaching false generalizations, so common in the audio community.

When CD came on horizon nobody talked about jitter. Now days everyone is having his own philosophy around it. Can you elaborate on this subject please. What is the real importance and how to approach this?

Jitter is not only an audio issue. I was dealing with jitter issues in medical conversion, way before the days of digital audio. Jitter is an issue for all conversion (video, instrumentation, telecom, medical, industrial controls…).

The concept of conversion is based on two requirements:

“Taking precise snap shots”

Taking the snap shots at evenly spaced intervals, and playing them back at the same evenly spaced intervals.

Think of a movie camera with an “unsteady motor”, or a playback film projector with a motor that rattles between too slow and too fast. Either case will distort the outcome, and the distortion depends on both the jitter (speed variations), and on the subject itself. Jitter would not do much harm to a steady object, but it does alter the view of a fast moving object. Similarly, in audio, the distortions due to uneven timing (jitter) is due to the interaction between the clock imperfection and the audio itself. Unlike tube, transformer or many other distortions, the outcome due to jitter is NOT predictable or repeatable. There is no such thing as “good sounding jitter”. There are many types and causes of jitters. What we hear is not only about the jitter amplitude and frequency. It is also about jitter type.

Conversion jitter may alter the sound significantly. At the same time, transferring data (that was already converted) between say AD and a computer, or between other digital sources and digital destinations, does not call for great jitter performance. It is only during the conversion process that jitter needs to be very low. Data transfer jitter is not much of an issue, when you are only moving ones and zeros.

It is relative easy to produce DA, AD converter, but it's hard to make it musical. What's is the secret of good sounding converter?

Engineering is the art of optimizing and compromising. Making gear musical does take lot of experience and understanding of the ear. I never underestimate the ability of a good ear.

What is exactly the function of DA and AD converter through your eyes?

Music and sound is air vibration. We pick it up with a membrane (a mic) and make it into an analog voltage. We amplify the voltage (sound), store it… and then we let the speaker (or headphone) vibrate the air and re make the sound.

It is very important to be able to make the same identical air vibrations at the playback location. The AD and DA should not alter the air pressure “patterns”. The waveform should be kept in tact, as much as possible. Therefore the AD function is to precisely translate the wave into numbers, and the DA to translate the numbers precisely back into the same analog voltage waveform.

Do you build your products USA?

Yes, everything is made here on the west coast of the USA.

Burmester 051 review

Everyone has his own secret or public passion and I don't to hide mine. It's high end audio and quality made audio components.

Good art demands a talented painter and great audio equipment demands somebody who love and understand music close enough that he's capable and willing to put needed energy and emotions into well made dare I say audio instruments . There are certainly more than enough audio companies round the globe producing vast amount of audio equipment, but there are few of them that holds charisma and pedigree like this made in Germany company.

Burmester might be called a Buggati of audio industry. A class of it's own!

When you're buying products with these kind of recognition and pedigree, you are not paying only for a brand name, but a quality, craftsmanship, innovative audio engineering and non the last certain audio joy that such a product evoke. You might also want to add a proud ownership of remarkable and legendary german build quality which is rare, but still there.

Burmester 051 is not a giant integrated amp. No nonsense oversized box. But! I found myself continuously scratching my head, passing few hours of listening. Why? How in the heaven name can amp of this size provide such a stable and dynamic sound over the whole spectrum. My Sonus Faber Memento Guarneri speakers are very demanding to drive. They found worthy companion only when they're driven by few hundreds watts. Burmester 051 acted like it have a secret weapon under the hood. I guess high current and well thought patented topology helps a lot here. Sound is very dynamic, transparent and sound stage is on par with many bigger and astronomically priced amplifiers.

Burmester company started not from a trend like many contemporary audio manufacturers. In early 80'a Dieter build his first preamplifier prototype, which later become a legendary item. With his intuition and medical lab topology precision he success to start a route of musical and transparent sound that is imprinted (or de-pritned ;) ) in all Burmester amplifiers until today. Burmester also introduced balanced topology into high end. 051 offers 3 balanced inputs and one balanced preamp output, that let you use this integrated amp as IR and relay controled top quality preamplifier.

Burmester 051 let you set input gain in 30 steps increment or decrement helping you adjust the levele of your sources to the same level.

Having pleasure listening numerous integrated and power amplifiers I must admit that Burmester 051 is something different and in league of it's own. I couldn't be more positively surprised after some bad remarks that i heard from older audiophiles on the account of Burmester products. I believe that they never actually had a chance to listen to them orare simply deaf. There is increased trend of quasiphiles that judge product by watching the catalogues and dream about sound from spces. To taste a delicious honey by licking the jar from outside is wicked business. You'll have to bite!

Let it be the great Maceodnian folks songs or jazz classics, 051 simply float with greatness and performance. Burmester 051 addressed my passion for acoustical music and small ensembles even further. There is sense of musicality that radiate through speaker amplified by this amplifier that is not only rare, but worth running after.

This amplifier is for many an object of desire with a hefty price tag. See this as an investment. You don't buy such a product for transitional period. It' is a stander. My dear wife Natalija was not only more than pleased with esthetics and agreed that this is an unique and first class looking component, but she could hear the natural character of music amplified by 051. Double Godsend may I say on my behalf.

How good is it? Well I bought one! Inquire with my friends how often this happen :). If you are in a search for an integrated amplifier, do yourself a favor and search for your nearest Burmester dealer. All this might sound as a written commercial and in a way it is. Listen and conclude yourself.

Thanks again to Igor Kante from Ubiq for providing the test equipment as usually! He's a true Burmester fanatic and believer in their quality.

Matej Isak

Technical Specs


• 3 balanced inputs for CD, Tuner & AUX (one more than the 991) plus two unbalanced inputs with a tape loop
• Balanced surround loop for easy integration into Home Theater systems
• Completely DC-coupled signal path without distorting capacitors
• Burmester X-Amp amplification technology
• Volume adjustment in 60 steps through an ultra-precise volume control with optimal channel synchronism
• Tape monitor loop
• Preamplifier output
• Headphones jack on the back panel
• Tone controls with separate adjustments for bass and treble (bridgeable)
• Tone controls may be bridged without loss of musical quality
• Balance control left/right (40 steps each)
• Impedance adjustment for inputs (+/- 15 dB)
• Volume control and signal input selection by remote
• Power output 2x85W at 8W, 2x120W at 4W
• Intelligent circuit protection which indicates the type of error in the display
• Remote on/off switching capability
• High-performance power supply with beefy toroidal transformer (450VA) and high filter capacity (70.000µF)
• Active stabilization of the power supply for the power amp’s input stage
• Evenly high damping factor over the entire frequency range provides optimal speaker control
• New BurmesterLink™ with RS-232 and USB2.0 connection

Weight: app. 19 kg
Dimensions (W x H x D): 482 x 95 x 340 mm