Most of the systems we assemble are from multiple brands. The logic behind this goes as follows: no one manufacturer excels in every department. Burmester is the loyal opposition to that concept. The company’s new Phase 3 system is designed from the outset as a high-end plug and play system, combining all-in-one electronics unit, stand mounted loudspeakers, cables, stands, tables… the lot. And it does this in a very distinctive and classy style. Everything you need for the Phase 3, right down to the power cord, come supplied in the crates. There is even an optional Apple iPad Mini with the Burmester app already preloaded. All you need to do is unpack the two crates, place the loudspeakers and system on the floor, and plug it altogether. For full functionality, you need to connect the Phase 3 to a wired or wireless Ethernet router, and if you go wired you will need to buy your own Ethernet cable. But that’s it. Phase 3 is that comprehensive.
The name itself is significant. Burmester’s first phase was the manufacture of high-end separates audio components; its second was bringing the Burmester name to new markets, most notably in the cabins of Porsche and Mercedes-Benz cars. Phase 3 is a move towards more integrated systems, a turnkey hi-fi for a turnkey world. Phase 3 is also the first phase in Burmester’s company history without Dieter Burmester at the helm, although the product itself was already well in development at the end of his life.
Essentially Phase 3 draws upon several existing Burmester products, combining them into one system designed for everyday use and not limited to audiophile specialists. It’s not too far from the truth to view the Phase 3 as a Burmester 151 Musiccenter, combined with the company’s 101 integrated amplifier, and a wholly new standmount loudspeaker called the B15, all decked out in one of several colour schemes and finishes. We went for classic chrome (Retro-style in Burmesterese), with contrasting red cabinets for the sides and rear of the loudspeakers. A Loft-style look made from solid steel is also available, for those who like their brightwork a little less bright. Both stand types are heavily acoustically decoupled, but the use of steel does add to size and weight of the end product slightly. Although this system – built by hand in Burmester’s Berlin factory – is as German as they come, I can’t help but be reminded of some classic Brit-fi: the stands are very Gale 401 from the 1970s.
The two electronics components conjoined in the Phase 3 are both great (we’ve tested and liked both in the last two years), perfect partners, and represent a system that could not have existed until very recently. The 151 itself draws its technology from the company’s top 111 Musiccenter, but the intervening years of development saw the rise of devices like the iPad, obviating the need for a large touchscreen in the middle of the design, and the Class D 101 allows a 120W amplifier to nestle alongside the music server and disc player in a single unit without even a hint of overheat problems.