Audio Research vs Burmester Audio


Next year I will upgrade my amps. At this moment I have Burmester 061 cd player, and Burmester 051 integrated amp. Due to the fact that I have bought a pair of Wilson Audio Sophia 2 speakers, I need more power.

I have been looking at upgrading to Burmester 011 preamp w/RIAA and Burmester 911mk3 amp. Lovely sound and great build quality.

I have also heard favourable words about ARC Reference series 3 Preamp, Reference 110 amp and Reference PH7 phono amp. I have also heard that Wilson Audio use this equipment on their speakers.

How does the sound of Burmester compare to ARC? And how long can the tubes be used before the sound loose finesse?

The 061 cd player fits the Burmester amps perfectly. I am not sure about ARC, but I will try to test it out.

I look forward to hearing back from you.

Cheeers, Toffen G
Both of these manufacturers are excellent. If you are going to spend this kind of money you owe it to yourself to take each product home and audition it. The proof is in the pudding.
If vinyl is your thing, you need to consider Einstein phono stage which is favorably reviewed worldwide. It's also German, so you know the quality is top notch.

When I was working in Singapore, the dealer who carries Burmester also carries Einstein. When he was showcasing Continumm TT, that $120k giant, he chose to use Einstein pre and phono over Burmester though he did use Burmester power amp.
You are in an enviable position. I have been an Audio Research enthusiast for many years and believe in their approach to initial value and long-term support. Having said that, I feel that over the years ARC has moved away from the 'traditional tube sound' and now make their products to be as absolutely neutral and transparent as possible.

It appears in contrast, that Burmester has a sonic signiture in mind and chooses to design to that ideal. Ultimately it's a decision of preference. I do think, however, that an AB comparison will reveal that there are some significant differences between the two companies.
I have a Burmester 911 Mk 3 amp. While the Burmester 011 pre is perfect for it, I chose not to use that pre because it lacks a balance control. After trying an MBL 5011, I ended up with a Krell Evo 202, which has a 50 ohm output impedance (the Burmester amp likes a pre with a low output impedance). After some experimentation with interconnects, I purchased a Kimber Select 1136 (with wires to the XLR pins inverted at the factory, to accomodate an American pre to a German amp), and I am now very happy with the results. The Burmester is a fully balanced amp, and it needs careful matching if it is to sound its best. So if you decide to get the 911 Mk 3, your choice of preamps and cables is limited if you want to get the amp to sound its best. It would not be a good idea, for instance, to drive a Burmester amp with an ARC preamp. You are probably best off with either all ARC electronics or a Burmester amp with either a Burmester or Krell preamp.
Brauser what is the Burmester sonic signature? What are the significant differences between ARC and Burmester?

I have never had the opportunity to hear Burmester and would have to either buy or fly so any thoughts would be welcomed. I have been currently looking at the ARC 210's and considered but ideally I would prefer their 610T's but then I got to personally experience first hand the heat they produce, sorry but just way too much for me. Which ever amps I go with I would be using in a mono block configuration so if I went with Burmester that would mean two 911 MKIII's set up in mono block configuration and/or I would even consider the 909's but obviously they would have to offer substantial improvement due to to the extra cost. I tried another German manufacturer, MBL 9008's and did not like them, too mechanical sounding.

Speakers MBL 101E's, pre-amp currently ARC REF3 but would be willing to change. Redbook CD's played only on this set-up. Most recent amps CAT JL3 Sig. MKII mono's.
Kusina, your post came up after I had already sent mine. Could you have a read and reply back to it thanks

You mentioned you had the "XLR pins inverted at the factory, to accommodate an American pre to a German amp"

Could you have not just reversed the speaker connections or if your pre offered an "INVERT" button like my REF3 pre has just used that?

Do you know if the MBL 9008 is built the same way.
Dev, reversing the speaker cables in my case seemed an inelegant and possibly misleading process. First, my speakers are bi-wired, so I'd have to take care in reversing lest I make a mistake. Second, each of my speakers has a built in powered subwoofer, and each subwoofer amplifier has a phase switch which should be set to 180 degrees for a non-inverted main amp and 0 degrees for an inverted one -- and I'm not sure how to adjust for wiring the speaker cables with reverse phasing. It was much simpler to ask Kimber to invert the pins (which they did for no additional charge). All other connections then became a breeze, and the sound is glorious. My Krell preamp does have a phase reversal switch, but on asking people if reversing phase is sufficient I've gotten different replies. So again, from the standpoint of my cognitive uncertainty, having the cable manufacturer take care of the problem seemed the easiest and less confusing route. Of course, if I eventually sell the interconnect, I or the new buyer might want to have the cable altered to normal. But that, I'm told, can easily be done (for a nominal price). Finally, I believe that MBL is wired the same as Burmester (they are both manufactured in Berlin), so if you want to use either in balanced mode, you have to check to see if the preamp matches. My Krell has pin 2 non-inverted (i.e., plus); my Burmester has pin 2 inverted (i.e., minus). The interconnect is wired 2 to 3 and 3 to 2 for correct phasing.

Thanks for lots of advise.

I will try to get hold of some Audio Research equipment to listen to back home. Normally its very hard to achive this since the shops in Norway seldom have this service, especially high end.

I have listened to Burmester 911mk3, 011, 077, 069, etc (plus the equipment I have), and the sound signature is just great. Burmester sound signature has also changed during the years. The sound is now more neutral, but still live like. Maybe not so much glow. So I more or less sure Burmester will fit the Sophias 2 well.

Speak soon!

Cheeers, Toffen G
Kusina, I misunderstood I thought you said you had the manufacture of the Burmester make changes, yes it would only make sence to have the termination on the IC's done. I was also reading Atmasphere/manufacture response to you, reading his replies were very interesting.

I demoed the MBL 9008's and when I used the INVERT on my REF3 pre it was my preference hence the reasoning from the information I have gathered now which I did not know at that time and the dealer never mentioned to me either.

Have you ever heard the 909's, are the 911's a newer design. What are the sonic differences between these two.

What speakers are you using Kusina, you mentioned powered bass which now has me wondering. If they are powered then you have not really been able to hear good or bad what the 911's have to offer in the lower spectrum's.
Dev, I've never heard the 909s. They are the top of the Burmester line of amplifiers, and they are more powerful than the 911s. I believe that the 909s are older than the 911s, and that the 911s are modeled on the 909s.
I have the latest 911 iteration, the Mark 3. The Mark 3 is internally wired with Burmester's proprietary silver wire, and has another improvement over earlier 911s as well.
When I first acquired a 911, I had an MBL 5011 preamplifier. I bought a Burmester silver interconnect. While the sound was detailed, it lacked (for want of better words) shean or sparkle on top. I contacted some Burmester dealers and others, and was told that I needed a preamp with a lower impedance output (both the MBL 5011 and 6010D have a 100 ohm output impedance). So, eventually, I bought a Krell Evo 202, which has a 50 ohm output impedance. That improved the sound, but I still didn't have enough shean or sparkle of the sort you hear at live music concerts. I tried various interconnect cables, including several different Kimber Select cables. My Burmester XLR terminated cables were too short for the new preamp installation and, in any case, they were not wired for my needs. To make a long story short, only the Kimber KS 1136 sounded right to me. The 1136 is a pure silver balanced cable with extra silver conductors -- that is, it is an 1130 with additional conductors, thus lessening the resistance and impedance, My speakers are YG Anat Reference II Studios which, if properly set up, come very close to sounding like live music. In setting up my system my wife and I would rush off to a concert or other live musical event to compare live music to what we have in our livingroom. We've narrowed the gap, especially on some CDs.
Kusina, I have not had the opportunity to hear the YG Anat Reference II Studios as of yet but I have read allot of buzz about them. How long have you had them for.

Is your set-up in a living room set-up or designated.

Very interesting what you have communicated to me, thanks.

Talking with anyone within the Burmester community have you heard any reference towards the difference of the 909's and 911's besides the power.
Dev, I've had the Anats for a little over a year. They are set up in a 32 x 14 foot livingroom, and their placement had to be accomodated to the other uses of the room. Neither their location nor the room itself are optimal, but we are getting surprisingly realistic sound nevertheless. Use of wall acoustic panels or other obtrusive sound devices was ruled out by my wife, but I do use ten Acoustic Resonators, which help. The left speaker only has a back wall. Instead of a side wall, there is a large opening into another room. That results in the right speaker having a greater volume than the left. I've solved that problem by using the balance control of the Krell preamp. Only a modest two clicks (or one db)increase to the left speaker balances the sound without destroying the sound stage. As to the Burmester 909s: I've heard that they are very good, but they are also quite expensive. But I've never heard them. There are a couple of Burmester dealers in NYC, but none in the Boston area, where I live.
Toffen -- while I cannot advise about the AR phono vs a Burmester phono. For the pre & amp combos (ref3 + 600 vs 011/808 + 909): the AR, which I like, is no match for the Burmester.
OTOH, the Burmester is also more expensive (I think).
Gregm, when you make reference to the AR Ref3 & 600's vs Burmester 011 & 909 saying the AR is no match for the Burmester. Can you go into further detail why.

What did the rest of the system consist of to give you this you out come.

Have you heard the 909 and compared it to the most recent 911 MKIII, any thoughts.
Dev -- I *don't think* i've compared 909 to the latest 911 -- but the 911 current until the beginning of this year?

With a number of speakers, average sensitivity or better, (medium acapella, a-physic, wilson sophia, wilson maxx)the 911 gave a slightly more euphonic sound than the 909; sweeter rather than neutral. Admittedly pleasant.
It's just that the 909, with the Maxx for example, seemed to give more immediacy to the sound. I.e. the transient attack thing...
Although in all fairness, I can't say I was complaining with the 911 -- and really, it was only obvious with the Maxx which is a big spkr after all, huge cubic capacity.

The AR & the Burm. There was a Burmester integrated cdp (001?) & a S Yorke TT (don't remember the cartridge) & the ASR phono which didn't thrill me was used. Speaker wires were commendably thick, intercons were Nordost. Speakers were a newish pair of Wilson Maxx.
Well, to put it simply, the Burmester sounded clear and the AR did not. That is, in comparison to one another. There was also a small matter of soft dynamics with AR vs. considerably more attack with the Burm. Please note that "clear" does not mean harsh, etc, i.e. an edge around 6-9kHz exemplifying mock "clarity". And/or cutting of anything below 80 Hz by at least 3dB so that the rest sounds better...
I can't say if it was a pre or power amp matter, as no one thought of mixing around the combos. Stupid of us.
The spkrs were, reputedly, new-ish, as were all the electronics -- i.e. there was no known problem with the AR tubes, the standard ones being the ones used. (You'll have noticed that the Burmester pre used was not their super-duper model which was deemed outrageously expensive. Pity.)
We had some commendably thick spkr wires & exotic Nordost intercons.

Of course, the AR combo makes many others sound UNclear accordingly. Please don't read the above out of its limited perspective! Regards
I have had a Burmester 089 CDP/DAC/Pre for several months now, and just picked up a 911 MK3, and I am blown away by sound of this combination. It is totally transparent, dynamic, detailed and the most analog sounding SS match I have ever heard, ever. This is with Venture CR-8 Signature speakers and FMS cables.There is a audio God, and He has blessed me.