Outside of its native Germany, Burmester is perhaps best known for its audio electronics and, more recently, its automotive audio systems inside some of the world’s best cars. Although the company has made loudspeakers for decades, and some of those loudspeakers were highly respected, they were frequently dismissed by those who thought one brand is never able to perform all audio tasks, and were somewhat harder to justify in smaller listening spaces due to their demanding room size requirements.
Recently, however, those objections are fast being overturned, and it’s thanks to loudspeakers like the B18. In part, one of the reasons why the B18 is such an agent of change is down to size and price. Electronics, even designs as ‘statement’ as Burmester, are relatively easy to slot into most European living spaces. Even the flagship 909 Mk 5 power amplifier is not much larger than a beer fridge that can stand close to the wall (the beer fridge should join the Olympic-sized swimming pool, the double decker bus, and Wales as slightly bizarre units of measurements). Loudspeakers, on the other hand, demand and take up a lot of space, and the bigger the loudspeaker, the more demanding their room requirements. Burmester traditionally makes very large loudspeakers (like the B100 and B80 Mk 2) that are never going to fit into a small, elegant apartment in Berlin, Paris, or London. Models like the B18, and the B10 before it, challenge that perception head on, by being smaller, more attainable loudspeakers.
The B10 was mentioned on purpose, because the standmount – Burmester’s first – delivered much of what ultimately trickled up into the B18. OK, so the front baffle of the B10 is not the midrange and treble panel of the B18, but they are close enough to mean they should never marry.
The B18 is a two and a half way floorstander. It’s rear ported, so placement close to the rear wall is not advised, but the loudspeaker is provided with a pair of foam bungs, and there is a bass control to tailor the loudspeaker to a surprisingly large number of rooms, both in terms of room position and ultimate bass control.
It seems Burmester might have learned quite a lot from its automotive division, too. The aluminium-MDF sandwich front baffle is there to significantly reduce cabinet resonance: this follows the concepts investigated in the B10, but the same idea makes a lot of sense when you consider trying to get good sound from the inside of a car. Alongside some heavy-duty DSP, the interior of a car is all about resonance control and finding ways to keep that resonance at bay. FEM analysis of the cabinet helps, and the resultant cabinet is exceptionally torsion-resistant. That doesn’t just make it corner better in the wet; it helps reduce internal resonance simply by making a more solid enclosure. All without having to adopt some wild styling that would make it harder to sell to the more conservative buyers that respect the Burmester brand.