Burmester 099/956 Mk2 review | What Hi-Fi?

Over the years we’ve come to be expecting positive things from Burmester products. The 099/956 Mk2 pre/persistent mixture conforms to type.

A chrome front that may double as a replicate in emergencies - tick. Top-drawer build and finish - tick. Eye-watering prices - tick. Last, but certainly not least, superb sound, again, tick.

This pairing comes from across the center of the posh logo’s amplification vary, yet through most requirements it’s still very much at the cutting edge as far as all-round skill is concerned.

Features

The 099 is a well-equipped unit so far as line-level high-end preamps pass.

Burmester has long been a believer in some great benefits of balanced signal transmission so it’s no wonder to find all three of the 099’s line level inputs are of the balanced XLR variety.

The emblem hasn’t been dogmatic about this despite the fact that, with the preamp supplied with adaptors that plug into the XLR sockets and convert them for single-ended use.

As if to prove this pre is no traditionalist, Burmester has geared up it with a generous supply of virtual inputs. There’s a trio of opticals, a duo of coaxs and a single USB.

The optical options are limited to 24-bit/96kHz alerts while the remaining are happy to just accept 24-bit/192kHz feeds.

Some might not be inspired via those figures. In recent years, even some reasonably affordable products have long gone past those numbers, accepting alerts as excessive as 768kHz for PCM recordsdata.

Even DSD, goodbye a fringe interest, has gone mainstream (no less than as far as spec sheets are concerned, if now not in precise gross sales) so it comes as a little bit of a marvel that the 099 doesn’t include this stuff.

Burmester may just argue that their preamp will play pretty much all the song information the general public actually have, and we couldn’t disagree. The 099 is beneficiant on the subject of outputs regardless that.

There are balanced XLR and single-ended options, an optical and coax alongside a 6.3mm headphone jack.

That headphone output is inconveniently placed on the back panel, so you’ll have to head rummaging around if you wish to connect a pair of headphones.

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This preamp is configurable too. The relative sensitivities of its inputs will also be adjusted to take account of the differing outputs of more than a few sources.

Matching to a partnering persistent amplifier can be advanced via changing the 099’s output between high and low ranges. Things like start-up volume and the way the remote adjustments inputs may also be adjusted.

As there’s no display these things are shown the use of the 099’s front panel LEDs, which is usually a little complicated at first, but makes some sense with familiarity.

Build

The 956 Mk2 is via a ways the extra visually fascinating of these merchandise. Burmester has used the finned exterior design throughout plenty of continual amp fashions and it looks shocking.

But there’s a sensible goal in the back of all that heatsinking; the amplifier runs reasonably cool regardless of an influence output that achieves the theoretical ultimate of doubling from 115W per channel when riding a 4ohm load.

As with other Burmester products, the 956 Mk2 is DC coupled, which means that there aren't any capacitors within the sign path, so avoiding the innate distortions these elements impart.

The company has lengthy tried to make use of low ranges of general feedback, and so it proves here, the engineers believing this kind of design gives a more natural sound.

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If for some reason why a unmarried 956 isn’t enough, you'll be able to download adaptor cables from Burmester to show it into a bridged mono unit handing over round 500W output.

Of path you’ll need two persistent amps – we will’t consider a state of affairs the place anyone feels disappointed with the volume levels of this sort of system.

Take a glance within either of those Burmester merchandise and we’re sure you’ll be inspired. Construction requirements are very good from the standard of the aluminium casework all over to the interior wiring and board layouts.

The quality of the chrome end is phenomenal – deep and immaculately implemented - and every switch and keep an eye on seems like it's going to last decades.

These products are designed for lengthy service and things like the enter selector or volume control mechanism should feel as actual after 10,000 turns as they do the first. If no longer, then it’s back to the drawing board.

Some products take days of running prior to they shine, however this 099/956 Mk2 pairing sounds excellent immediately out of the box. They get better over time too; their presentation becoming even clearer and more transparent.

It’s very important to make use of best elegance partnering equipment. We used Naim’s NDS/555PS streamer as our primary supply with a Clearaudio Innovation Wood turntable package as back-up.

The 099 doesn’t have a phono level so we plumbed in our reference Cyrus Signature/PSX-R2 to perform equalisation tasks.

Our trusty ATC SCM50 speakers had been used as a rule, with Monitor Audio’s massively capable PL300 II stepping in on occasion. All cables were from Chord Company’s top class ranges.

Sound

Once up and operating this pre/persistent pairing sounds pretty. It prefers to attraction slightly than shout, handing over a smooth, nearly creamy sound that’s simple to experience for hours on end.

As we listen to The Light of the Seven from the Game of Thrones Season 6 OST it turns into transparent that that is an impressively light-footed mixture for something so muscular.

It has agility with the piano notes and a mild means with low-level dynamics that is atypical in this type of power-packed product.

This is a cohesive presentation too, with each sound from the bottom of bass notes upwards operating in combination seamlessly to supply a powerful entire.

Tonally, the presentation is full-bodied, with just a hint of extra smoothness and richness – it’s Burmester’s circle of relatives sound and we wouldn’t be expecting any different – however none of it's taken to excess and it never intrudes at the transparency or believability of this pairing’s sound.

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As the piece builds it comes as no surprise to seek out there’s a number of authority within the bass and the potential to ship tough crescendos with composure and keep an eye on.

And it does go loud, producing enough level for us to admit defeat sooner than the amplifier confirmed any signal of rigidity. We discovered ourselves wondering why any person would want a pair of monobloc 956 Mk2s when the standard single stereo does so nicely.

Moving onto Kate Bush’s classic Hounds Of Love set displays these Burmesters capable of rendering the sophisticated textures and inflections of her distinctive voice brilliantly.

There’s various insight into challenging tracks like Cloudbusting, and the power to keep track of the more than a few instrumental stands with out tearing the music apart.

There’s cast punch and this sort of rhythmic talent that, while now not the ultimate in enthusiasm, is without a doubt surefooted enough to convey the construction momentum of the piece convincingly.

We make a switch to digital from the road inputs and find the on-board DAC module is a superb one.

It preserves lots of the impressive qualities we’ve heard up to now through the line inputs, turning in a pleasing mixture of element, dynamics and authority.

Even the USB – from time to time a disappointment in such products – is excellent, taking the signal from our Macbook Air (loaded with Pure Music device) and making it sound great.

We undergo a complete range of song from grimy-sounding Konnichiwa from Skepta all over to Holst’s Planet Suite, and are by no means left short of more.

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Burmester’s engineers have completed a marvelous process in balancing this amplifier; it has a number of continual but never sounds muscle-bound, it’s insightful with out being clinical and has a sweet tonality while nonetheless convincing with instrumental and vocal textures.

In brief, it’s a valid that works with all sorts of subject material, just right and bad recordings included.

Despite our grumbles about the rear panel position of the headphone socket, we give it a move and we’re satisfied we did. These outputs are frequently little greater than a field ticking exercise from the producer, but that’s no longer the case right here.

Regardless of the headphones we attempted – Grado PS500s and Beyerdynamic T1s – we were given an outstanding sound that mirrored the results through the principle preamp outputs.

Verdict

If you need the last word in resolution or transparency, we might more than likely level you against our reference amplifier combination of Gamut D3i/D200i.

However, if you need a high-end amplifier that makes essentially the most of your tune assortment and has a forgiving, sophisticated but still entertaining steadiness, this 099/956 Mk2 combination must be heard.

Factor within the very good build and the well-proven carrier again up, and this pre/power turns into a very good buy.

See all our Burmester reviews

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