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This review first appeared in the December 2011 issue of hi-end hifi magazine High Fidelity of Poland. You can also read it in its original Polish version here. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with publisher Wojciech Pacula. As is customary for our own articles, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of High Fidelity or Burmester. - Ed

Reviewer: Wojciech Pacula
CD player: Ancient Audio Lektor Air V-edition
Phono preamplifier: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC
Cartridges: Miyajima Laboratory Shilabe, Miyajima Laboratory Kansui
Preamplifier: Ayon Audio Polaris III Signature Version with Regenerator power
Power amplifier: Soulution 710
Integrated amplifier/headphone amplifier: Leben CS300 XS Custom Version
Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic
Headphones: Sennheiser HD800, AKG K701, Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro 600Ω version
Interconnects: CD-preamp: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, preamp-power amp Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo
Speaker cable: Tara Labs Omega Onyx
Power cables (on all equipment): Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300
Power strip: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu Ultimate
Stand: Base under all components
Resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under the CD player, Acoustic Revive RAF-48 platform under the CD player and preamplifier. Pro Audio Bono platform under Leben CS300
Review component retail: 64.600zł in Poland

This wasn’t my first encounter with a Burmester product. Earlier I reviewed their 082 integrated amplifier  from the Classic Line. This time I took a closer look at a model from the higher Top Line, leaving only the Reference Line unexplored. The 089 CD player is a belt-driven top loader. Traditionally this kind of drive is associated with the Japanese C.E.C.—a good association—as the best-know players of this kind. Many years ago there was a brief belt-drive episode at Parasound whose C/DP-2000 adopted C.E.C. mechanics. Burmester’s seems to be an in-house construction based apparently on a modified Philips CD-Pro2 drive as I confirmed when I removed the top cover.

Why a belt? When we consider turntables we will know of two basic drive systems whereby motor torque gets transferred to the platter (with a CD player this is a far smaller platter upon which the CD is placed): direct drive where the motor drives the platter bearing without interface; or belt drive whereby torque is transferred by a rubber belt. For simplicity I skipped idler wheel designs.

In almost 100% of all cases CD players use direct drive. C.E.C. who pioneered digital belt drives claims that decoupling the sensitive vibration-prone drive motor from the laser assembly measurably diminishes jitter related to signal phase. This is why their top models even decouple the optical sleigh with a belt, not merely the platter. Not judging based on prevalence, it must be said that a belt drive really fires up one’s imagination especially for those of us who regard a turntable as the master.

The 089 is equipped with analog and digital inputs. There are XLRs and RCA inputs and coax and optical. The unit thus can be used as a preamplifier. The company explains that their 60-step volume control operates in the analog domain which we will verify later. The circuit is electrically fully balanced and the machine comes with a sensible power cable whose polarity is properly marked. We should pay attention to that as the sound really is better. Two more things are worth mentioning. The player is equipped with an upsampler which cannot be switched off (at least that’s what I understood) but only changes from 24/96 to 24/192. There is also an upgrade slot in the back to expand capabilities in the future. One of those will be WiFi. There is no signal-based USB port. The one present merely serves communication between Burmester components like their preamp. The remote control is big, heavy and has many buttons placed such as to be inconvenient.