Burmester – 40 Years of Pure Sound

Since 1977, Burmester has produced the highest class of audio equipment. The development partnership between Burmester and Mercedes-Benz began in 2009.

Many of us no longer really know how music actually sounds. We can blame this on kitchen radios, boom boxes and mp3s. Too many “noise generators” spoil our ears. It is a little like trying to see clearly while wearing dirty, steamed-up glasses. Burmester Audiosysteme GmbH makes sure that music doesn’t sound like noise from any old box, instead it is like listening live. For 40 years now, Burmester has seen itself as a preserver and mediator of art and culture. Innovative technologies and the high quality of the individual components provide unobstructed access to the contents of the music. Less than 100 employees located in Berlin are responsible for development and production. CD players, amplifiers, speakers. Every device is developed completely individually, manufactured by hand.

Dieter Burmester, sound pioneer

Founder Dieter Burmester was a musician, electrical engineer and, primarily, an inventor. He was driven by his concept of pure sound. He became an innovator, because there were no devices on the market that reached his standards of quality. In 1977, Burmester built his first amplifier, the legendary “777”. His audiophile friends were so impressed that he immediately built twenty more of these amplifiers in his workshop. Each one cost as much as a small car. The world of high fidelity demanded more, and so a year later, he founded the company that still today demonstrates how music sounds in its pristine condition. “When the listener closes his eyes, listens to the music and nothing else interferes, then we have done a good job”, Dieter Burmester once said. Easier said than done.

Thought experiments in the SL

Entry into the automobile industry began with one thought: “If only I could develop a sound system for this kind of manufacturer.” That was in 1987. Dieter Burmester was sitting in his new Mercedes-Benz SL from the R107 series. His company was celebrating its 10th anniversary and was on sound financial footing. What the sound pioneer was hearing from the broadband speakers installed in the dashboard of his SL was unacceptable. However, it would take more than twenty years before this thought became reality and his audio system was available for special order in the S-Class. “Tireless pursuit of perfection and the highest quality, always innovative and a good partner”, as Klaus Zehender, Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Purchasing & Supplier Quality, describes his impressions of working with Dieter Burmester. Dieter Burmester died in 2015 at the age of 69. Burmester Audiosysteme GmbH is now managed by Marianne Burmester and Andreas Henke.

Burmester and Mercedes-Benz began their development partnership in 2009. After four years of intense cooperation, the pure sound could be heard not only in your living room, but also in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Burmester sound systems are now also available in E-, C- and V-Class vehicles and in the GLC. Mercedes-Maybach and Mercedes-AMG completing the list. Each one has an amplifier and speaker system perfectly tuned to the interior of the vehicle. The pure sound also cancels out road noise thanks to noise compensation. With a fine touch, the volume is raised on the frequencies that are affected by road noise.

Your big toe is also listening

The Burmester high-end 3-D surround-sound system in the face-lifted S-Class includes 27 speakers specially designed for their own tasks. Because not all bass is created equal. The subwoofer in the vehicle’s trunk provides the deep bass. The punchy bass comes from the front. The bass in the front uses the capacity of the cross- and longitudinal beams of the raw chassis as sound boards. That’s when you realize that music is not only heard by your ears. You can even feel it in your big toe.

Here, rattling is no part of the business

The sound is adjusted and tuned to the interior of the vehicle and each seat. This is done with digital signal processors, the creative interaction of exhaustive measurements and the expertise of experienced sound engineers. The classic validation of component maturity in accordance with the specifications of automobile industry associations (VDA/RGA) only works to a limited extent in this case. Measurement devices can test frequency responses, but the final assessment of the sound is done by a trained human ear. Many of the optimizations were undertaken on the pre-series vehicles in tone-setting workshops and joint listening tests with the Mercedes-Benz developers and the sound experts at Burmester. An undisturbed environment was needed for this. If the vibrations of the speakers in the vehicle caused audible rattling or buzzing in the components, the reaction was immediate. The affected parts were then underlaid with padding or even reconstructed.

Audiophile passion and exceptional engineering skill define the everyday life of Burmester employees. How will they celebrate the 40-year anniversary of the company’s founding? With friends and business partners, of course. A delegation from Mercedes-Benz was also invited to the birthday party in Berlin in the summer of 2017. Developers and purchasers. The Burmester crew demonstrated their great passion for music on the stage, not only when presenting new developments but also actively as a band playing four decades of live music. CEO Andreas Henke traded his coat for a leather jacket, grabbed the microphone and opened the Burmester Band concert with David Bowie’s “Heroes”.

40 years of Burmester, eight years of collaboration with Mercedes-Benz. This partnership will be expanded in 2018. The Burmester sound system is also available as a special option in the new generation of Mercedes-Benz compact cars. That means pure sound for all classes, from A to S.

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