We were invited by Burmester to visit Berlin at the time of the launch of the new BC150 floorstanding loudspeaker. This new speaker design is an impressive statement; not only in terms of its physical presence and its £97,500 price tag, but in the sheer amount of research and development engineering that went into the project. This is more of a first look than a full-blown review (for that, you’ll need to check our 200th Issue), to accompany the launch and its first showing at the Hong Kong show this weekend. COVID-19 restrictions prevent us from travelling to that show (and even travelling between the UK and Germany is currently not without its privations), but the BC150 is a significant landmark for Burmester and high-end loudspeakers in general.
Just a look around the specification sheet shows why the BC150 is notable. Each BC150 weighs in at a shade under 200kg, a figure achieved by using a combination of aluminium, MDF, and steel (where appropriate) for a cabinet. This trio of materials combine (aided by some carefully chosen visco-elastic materials) making a cabinet that maximises the benefits of all three materials while minimising their own respective downsides. An aluminium frame with MDF housings and steel plates, carefully bonded together is a rare and uniquely successful approach in making a cabinet as non-intrusive and non-interactive as possible.
Each component or subsystem in the BC150 is given the same uncompromising, obsessive-compulsive approach to design and engineering. Alongside the two AMT folded ribbon tweeters (one front firing; a second, smaller and rear-mounted for adjusting spatial properties in room), the midrange is a Scanspeak design, heavily modified to Burmester’s spec. That last sentence needs exploring; usually ‘heavily modified’ means “can you put our name on the front of the basket?” not “can you change the dust-cap for a phase plug, can we make that phase plug oval, and can we revise the doping materials on the paper of the cone, please? Thanks!”. In fact, when it comes to the side-firing bass unit, Scanspeak liked Burmester’s changes so much, they retrofitted many of them (such as beefing up the magnet) into their own designs.