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This review first appeared in the November 2012 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of the Burmester B10 in its original German version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with the publishers. As is customary for our own reviews, 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 fairaudio or Burmester - Ed.

Reviewer: Markus Sauer
Sources: Heed Obelisk DT, Heed Obelisk DA; Garrard 401 in Loricraft plinth, Alphaso HR100S tone arm,
Ortofon Cadenza Black cart, Tom Evans Audio Design The Groove Plus SRX phonostage
Amplification: Tom Evans Audio Design The Vibe/Pulse preamp, Bryston 4B SST, Symasym, Naim NAP 155XS amps
Loudspeaker: JBL LSR 6332
Review component retail: €3.480/pr

Geezus, to be boss of one’s very own and successful hifi firm. Any audiophile’s wet dream would just be one command away. Which apparently was square one for the latest and smallest addition to Burmester’s speaker portfolio, the B10. When Dieter Burmester needed a compact monitor for his home studio, he simply asked his speaker designer Berndt Stark to build him one. Which he did for domestic consumption. That said speaker—decisively refined by now—would ever see the light of commercial day was due to dealers and importers. They got wind of the project and opined that exactly such a thing was still missing from the lineup. But the B10 is far from strategic filler. Its main driver doesn’t show up in any other Burmester yet to instantly merit close attention.

This mid/woofer isn’t from the catalogue of any of the usual bespoke suspects but an in-house development. That Burmester could pull this off connects to being Porsche’s Panamera outfitter. Berndt Stark could thus commission the B10 driver from the maker of the Panamera equivalent. The aim for this special driver was optimized impulse response. It’s a subject that’s haunted Berndt Stark for more than two decades. At the time there was a speaker he liked better than any number of far bigger costlier models though according to test criteria of the day those exhibited superior measurements. Where his fancied speaker parted ways with most of the competition was in its impulse behavior which Stark inspected with so-called tone bursts, brief sequences of sine waves across various frequencies.

Resultant core observations also pooled into the design of Burmester’s B10. Stark claims that it starts and stops more cleanly than most. This is important because stereo mapping relies on the first wave front in the midrange. The more precisely this wave front is rendered, the less neurological brain processing is required to localize sounds. Impulse response in the vocal range also affects listener fun factor and perception of sonic cleanliness.

A significant contributor to the desired behavior was the mid/woofer’s membrane and its interaction with the surround. Investing some two or three years of chasing an ideal combination, Stark arrived at a coated glass-fibre diaphragm for the best solution. The far shorter reaction times of tweeters make their impulse response less critical. Here resolution becomes more paramount, i.e. the ability to properly render complex signals of rapidly changing frequencies and amplitudes. In times past such resolution was often faked up by running tweeters slightly hot. This also increased overtone amplitude to suggest enhanced detail magnification particularly via an artificial depiction of audible space. Current tweeters and particularly the unit in the B10 no longer rely on such suggestive trickery.

Here Burmester’s tweeter becomes a so-called ring radiator whose 0.0025 mill Titanium diaphragm exhibits the trademark V fold. The voice coil drives the membrane from the center like a quasi round saddle to which it is glued. This membrane is guided from the in- and outside with a textile surround to be securely centered. Since this diaphragm is softly suspended, the resonant frequency of its 0.2g moving mass occurs well below the 2.3kHz crossover hinge to be outside the pass band. The motor system relies on Neodymium magnets with high field strength to support clarity and quickness. Behind the magnet sits a concave chamber to absorb rear emissions.

Ring radiators have been around since 1947 when James Bullough Lansing patented the first one. In the early 50s it was commercialised as the JBL model 075. Today the Danish/Chinese conglomerate of Vifa and Danish specialist Scan Speak have their own versions which appear in many high-end speakers. Theirs run textile membranes and textile surrounds for mechanical operation that includes pistonic and bending-wave modes. A ring radiator crafted with a metal diaphragm and textile surround works like a classical piston and as far as I can tell is currently exclusive to Burmester. A smaller version apparently does exist for automotive use. If I may wear my oracle for a moment, I think it likely that the B-10 tweeter will make appearances in future Burmester models since such a driver development for just one model could strike some as quite extravagant.