The Burmester 101 is the German company’s ‘entry-level’ amplifier product, although at £5,088 ‘entry level’ is possibly stretching things somewhat. Let’s say instead it is the cheapest way to get a new amplifier with a Burmester logo you can get at the moment, without possibly having to factor in the cost of a Porsche or Mercedes Benz. Nevertheless, £5,088 is a lot of money for a 120W stereo integrated line amplifier. How can it possibly justify its existence?
First, and perhaps most importantly, it’s built to Burmester’s extraordinary high standards. Burmester has a reputation (both in its native Germany and increasingly abroad) for building products designed to stand the test of time; there are amplifiers still in daily use by their original owners who bought their Burmester product when Jimmy Carter was in the White House. Flip the lid on the 101 and you are met with the kind of solidity of build and sophisticated engineering that is kind of unthinkable in today’s disposable culture. It’s not built like a tank – a tank is built like a Burmester.
Because of this, Burmester owners are not casual purchasers. They don’t swim through the constant stream of new products, buying the latest fad or trend. Perhaps thanks to that solid build and unchanging design, Burmester owners are fiercely loyal to the brand. The idea of buying something new for the sake of it, or buying something that wasn’t from Burmester is at best alien to many, and at worst akin to an unthinkable act of disloyalty to a trustworthy and highly-respected family member. It’s why second-hand Burmester equipment is so rare; it’s more likely to be handed down from father to son than end up on sale. To those who don’t see it in the same way, five big ones for an integrated amp with a shiny front is crazy, but to those who do, the return on investment comes from still using the same amplifier decades from now, with no drive to change or upgrade. The 101 could just be the cure to bad audiophile GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). That is not to say Burmester owners don’t update or upgrade their equipment, and the 101 has provision for this in its balanced preamp outputs.