pl | en
Compact Disc Player
Burmester CD PLAYER 089

Price (in Poland) : 64 600 zł

Manufacturer: Burmester Audiosysteme GmbH

Wilhelm-Kabus-Straße 47 | 10829 Berlin | Niemcy
tel.: +49 30 787 968 0 | fax: +49 30 787 968 68

Manufacturer's website: BURMESTER

Polish Distributor: Audio System

Country of origin: Germany

Text: Wojciech Pacuła
Pictures: Wojciech Pacuła | Burmester
Translation: Krzysztof Kalinkowski

Report published:
∙ in Polish on Dec 16th 2011, No. 92
∙ in English on Jan 3th 2012, No.92

This is not my first meeting with a Burmester product. Earlier I tested the integrated amplifier 082 from the Classic Line series. But this time I could have a closer look at a device from the higher series, Top Line – so only the Reference Line remains uncharted.
The CD player 089 is a belt driven player of the top loading kind. Traditionally this kind of drive is associated with the Japanese CEC – and this is a good association – those are the most know players of this kind. But some time ago there was an episode with a belt driven CD player by the American Parasound (model C/DP-2000), but they bought the mechanics from CEC. Burmester seems to construct their own drives – when we look at it from above it seems to be a modified Philips CD-Pro2 drive (but I am not sure about that).
Why at all a belt? When we are interested in turntables, then we will know, that there are two basic drive systems, I mean by that the ways of transferring the torque from the motor onto the platter (in the CD this is a small platter on which the CD is placed): “direct drive”, where the motor is a part of the platter or “belt drive” where the torque is transferred by means of a rubber belt. For clarity I skip turntables with an idler wheel.
In almost 100% cases in CDs DD (Direct Drive) are utilized. The company CEC, a pioneer of belt drives claims however, that decoupling the sensitive, very prone to vibration coming from the drive motor, optical section visibly diminishes jitter related to signal phase. This is why in the topmost models also the optical sleigh is belt driven, not only the platter. Not judging about the prevalence of one or the other solution, it must be said, that a belt drive is really moving one’s imagination, especially for those, who regard a turntable as a master.

The model 089 is equipped with analog and digital inputs – there are two inputs, balanced XLRs and unbalanced RCA, as well as two digital inputs – RCA and optical. The unit can be used as a preamplifier. The company informs, that volume control, in 60 steps, is done in the analog domain – we will verify that later. The device is fully electrically balanced and comes with a sensible power cable, which has the right polarity marked. We should take care of that, as then the sound is really better. Two more things are also worth mentioning. The player is equipped with an upsampler, which cannot be switched off (at least that is what I understood), but only change the value from 24/96 to 24/192. There is also a slot on the back, which can be used to expand the capabilities of the unit in the future. Now it is know, that one of the options is WiFi. There is no USB port dedicated for the signal (there is one, but only for communication between the devices) – the preamplifier has such a port. And the remote controller – bug, heavy and with many buttons. Those are placed in such a way, that handling it is not easy.


Recordings used for the listening test:

  • Depeche Mode, Enjoy The Silence, Sire/Reprise, 21490-2, MS CD (1990).
  • Depeche Mode, Personal Jesus/Dangerous, Sire/Reprise, 21328-2, MS CD (1989).
  • Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong, Ella and Louis, Verve/Lasting Impression Music, LIM UHD 045, UltraHD CD (2010).
  • Eva Cassidy, Songbird, Blix Street Records/JVC, VICJ-010-0045, XRCD24 (2010).
  • Glen Gould, Bach: The Art Of The Fugue, Sony Music/Sony Classical, SMK 52 595, The Glen Gould Edition, SBM CD (1997).
  • Marc Copland & John Abercombie, Speak To Me, Pirouet Records, PIT3058, CD (2011).
  • Pieter Nooten & Michael Brook, Sleeps With The Fishes, 4AD, GAD 710 CD, CD (1987).
  • Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here, Experience Edition, EMI/EMI Music Japan, TOCP-71169-90, 2 x CD (2011).
  • Project by Jarre for VIP Rooms, Geometry Of Love, Aero Prod, 4606932, CD.
  • Lucrezia Vizzana, Componimenti Musicali (1623, wyk. Musica Secreta i Catherine King, Linn Records, CKD 071, CD (1998).

Japanese versions of the CDs are available on CD Japan.

I will start this test in a slightly untypical way, although I would not like this opening to determine the perception of the Burmester player. And it is about the fact, that the model 089 ideally replaced the Transrotor Zet 1 with the cartridge Miyajima Kansui in my headphone system. Like I said – I do not mean, that this is “a CD player for headphones”, but that its sound, its character brilliantly fitted in the requirements posed by the headphones, and only the mentioned, analog system with the phonostage RCM Audio, gave me similar joy and woke positive emotions in me. When the Burmester was at my home, and that was after the Transrotor left, I did not listen to anything else with my headphones – even my beloved Ancient Audio Air V-edition was unused. The thing is in the way the German player builds virtual sources and how it weaves them together into one whole. And it shows very big and very saturated instruments. Really very palpable. And that regardless of the volume level used for listening. Even at low levels we had full-blooded events in front of us, no holes, no anemic murmurs. Everything was very emotional and so full of life!
And this is the reason, that listening using headphones was so unusual. In such systems usually those two elements are missing, regardless of the quality of the headphones and headphone amplifier, because that is the nature of listening. When we do not perceive the sound by the head bones, when we do not feel it with our whole body, and it is mostly about bass, then automatically everything is reduced to something small and less natural. This is how our brain functions, this is pure psychoacoustics.
With the Burmester this tendency, that the less influences our body, the smaller and further away seem the sound sources, can be stopped, at least to some extent. The German player sounds in such a way, that it breaks this rule, suggesting our brain something else than in reality, that we are listening to big, floor standing loudspeakers.

The most important element building such a sound, is a strong, very strong, low, fleshy bass. This is the thing that will be key, also for listening with loudspeakers. Such a nice drive, such fleshy, slightly soft low passages we do not hear often from digital players. Maybe twice or thrice – two cases would be the Soulution players 745 and 540, and the third one the split player TL1N+DX1N from CEC, which also has a belt drive. Is this due to the belt drive instead of the classic, direct drive one, that the Burmester has such a splendid bass? I do not know. But I have to say, that I had similar impressions when listening to the RCM system, with the TL0 drive, and – if I am not mistaken – I heard something similar with the Parasound CD, in times when the company also offered belt driven units. And finally, the mentioned Transrotor turntable, which can be a representative of a bigger group of analog sources sounding like that. All those mentioned sound sources have one thing in common: unconstrained playing with large virtual sources and a beautiful, low reaching, slightly soft bass.
As you can see, in this group there are two CD players with classic drives, and those are not CD drives, but DVD ones, used for playing SACD discs. All SACD players use DVD drives – the differences between the DVD and SACD format are on the signal coding-decoding side and in setup of information on the disc, the drive is exactly the same. But even in this comparison the Burmester wins, by a hair, but still, at least when it is about the way of building the lower octaves (I am talking about the timbre and depth).

In general it was a very big sound. Playing the 089 and the Transrotor side to side it was audible, that the sound was formed in a similar way, and somebody who modified this CD player, who listened to it and changed the values of individual elements, and the elements themselves, to achieve the desired result, modeled it based on analog. I have no doubts about it. And he had a powerful tool, in the form of the belt drive, so he could achieve something like this.
I am writing about listening sessions and modifications, because I think, that this kind of sound can only be achieved listening to a device many times and changing something in it. Or modeling it after some device that was treated in this way.

In this sound it is about showing real performers, with flesh and blood. Not commas on the stage, no points, but large shapes, a clear event. Probably this is the reason, that the midrange seems most important here, founded with the mentioned, strong bass. When you switch to the Burmester from any other sound source, maybe with the exception of a few turntables, everything seems to be deeper, that the sound is stronger, more massive, and the accent of the whole is placed lower.
Maybe this is why the sound of the Burmester, and I am also talking about the rest of the electronics, is for many manufacturers and distributors “sweet”, “warm” and/or “dark”. I talked with them about that in Munich and the consensus was very clear about that. And I now see where this opinion comes from – from the lowering of that accent, from strong bass. Due to that everything else seems the be shown less strong.
Another element that shapes this reception is the slightly rounded attack of the sounds, heard splendidly with percussive elements, not only cymbals, but also bongos, snare drum, etc. This results in the sound being a bit soft. Because the treble is strong and full. It is even stronger than from my Air, a very well balanced player. This was well audible with recordings, where on the vocals a lot of reverb was added – like in the acoustic versions of the recordings Enjoy The Silence and Personal Jesus Depeche Mode from the American maxi-singles. The sibilants are long with that – and with the Burmester more audible, stronger. If the treble would be cut in the player, the sibilants and their reverbs would be shorter.

Like I said, this is very energetic sound, with large virtual sources (performers, instruments, etc). The sound stage is not so deep, and the individual instruments do not have a clear 3D shape. This is not that kind of sound. Here vividness is achieved by the energy of the sustain, the medium part of the sound, by building a big sound, with swing. This does not change with volume, it is similar with low and high volume levels. It is full, big and mature.
But you have to know, that this is not a very selective sound. Resolved – yes, quite, but not selective. The sound is rather in larger spots, areas, than clear contours. This is why the 3D shape is rather only suggested, and that mostly due to the energy, but not shown.
I liked this player very much, although this is not the ideal sound (if something like this exists at all). It has a clearly shaped sound, and you have to listen, if this, low based sound, with a mighty, although not fully controlled at the bottom end, sound, will fit in your system. If it sounds in a similar way, then there will be too much bass, they will be over the top, and the whole sound will not be natural. If the system will be well balanced, or even a bit “thin” on the bottom, then the 089 will fit in it perfectly. And the fantastic construction! Yes – this is a truly luxurious player, both in terms of sound and construction, not even mentioning the price…


Like I said in the introduction, we deal here with a Compact Disc player, combined with a preamplifier and digital inputs. This is a top-loader player, with manually operated, heavy cover. The disc is placed inside on a metal axis. From the top it is clamped with a wide, aluminum puck. The cabinet is made from thick, aluminum elements, and the front from brass covered with a thick layer of chrome – this is something characteristic for Burmester.

Front and back
The front, with a mirror finish, is composed in such a way, that in the top part we have a big window of the display, and below it metal buttons to operate the drive. On the right there is also a nice power switch, also with a standby mode, and some LEDs to indicate the operating mode. The dot-matrix display is quite big and green. We can read on it the track number, time and – if we use that capability – the volume level. Small LEDs placed there show the upsampler 24/192 mode and synchronization of the receiver with digital signal – it works also when we play a disc in the internal transport.
On the back there are a lot of sockets. There are analog inputs and outputs – balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA – and additionally there is an unbalanced output called “tape” with fixed voltage. The sockets are gold plated, but the RCAs are mediocre, really not so good, and in addition they are placed close together, so that all high quality interconnects are excluded, like the Acrolink ones. This can be explained by the fact, that all Burmester devices are balanced, and the RCA outputs are treated as additional ones. Similar sockets were used for analog and digital inputs. To the side there are also USB and RS232 sockets, with small LEDs, used for communication among the Burmester system, and trigger sockets. Completely to the side we have an IEC power socket with a mechanical power switch. It is worth noticing, that the balanced sockets used in the Burmester are cabled differently than the DIN norm requires, according to the so called American standard, now used almost exclusively in Japan (Accuphase and Luxman), where the hot pin is nr. 3. Using a complete Burmester system we do not have to worry, but connecting the player to a different system it is worth to check, if the change of the absolute phase will not influence the sound.

The central point of the player is, what we could have expected, the drive. Yes, just as I thought, the main bearing, together with the molded, metal frame on which it is suspended comes from the top Philips drive. Usually the PCB with the controller (logic, servo, decoder, etc) is mounted directly under the main platform. Here on the axis of the motor a wheel for the belt was mounted, this is why the PCB needed to placed further away – on washers. In Burmester the program for the servo was written by the company itself – understandably. To the side we can see a big, solid motor, with a belt transferring the torque onto the disc axis. Also the motor is placed on a distance, but not rigidly, but on flexible washers – similar to the way it is done in turntables. This whole part of the player is closed in a very solid sub-chassis, made from blackened aluminum, completely isolating it from the surrounding electronics.
The signal from the drive reaches a small PCB with the DAC, bolted above the main PCB with the output circuitry. This is a part of the broader concept of the company, based on a modular setup of their products, allowing the exchange a given section, when for example a new version is manufactured. We can go there also from the digital inputs, which also have an adjustment transformer. The same kind of transformer is near the digital outputs. There is a single DAC for both channels. Unfortunately we do not know what chip it is – the marking were very thoroughly cleaned, similar to the frequency converter next to it, the ICs in the I/V converter and analog filter circuits. Fortunately we can identify the very nice word clock and passive elements – small, but through-hole elements, precise resistors and Wima polypropylene capacitors.
Volume control is done in two chips, one for each channel, where the markings were of course also removed. The choice of signal passing through them is made in relays. The output, amplifying-buffering circuit is made in the form of small modules, called X-AMP2, reminding the HDAM from Marantz. After unscrewing the aluminum top cover, the heat sink for the transistors, we see, that this is a surface mounted circuit, with the exception of the output transistors.
On the side there is the power supply. There is one power transformer (toroidal) but with many secondary windings. We can see four rectifying bridges and a lot of filtering capacitors. The stabilizing circuits are integrated. At the IEC socket we see a power filter.

Distribution in Poland:
Audio System

tel.: (22) 662-45-99 | fax: (22) 662-66-74




  • CD player: Ancient Audio Lektor Air V-edition, review HERE
  • Phono preamplifier: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC, review HERE
  • Cartridges: Miyajima Laboratory SHILABE, review HERE), Miyajima Laboratory KANSUI, review HERE
  • Preamplifier: Ayon Audio Polaris III [Signature Version] with Re-generator Power Supply
  • Power amplifier: Soulution 710
  • Integrated amplifier/headphone amplifier: Leben CS300 XS Custom Version, review HERE
  • Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic, review HERE
  • Headphones: Sennheiser HD800, AKG K701, Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro; 600 Ω version, review HERE, HERE, and HERE
  • Interconnect: CD-preamp: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300 (article HERE, preamp-power amp: Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo, review HERE
  • Speaker cable: Tara Labs Omega Onyx, review HERE
  • Power cables AC (all equipment): Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300
  • Power strip: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE
  • Stand: Base; under all components
  • Resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under the CD, Audio Revive RAF-48 platform under the CD and preamplifier
  • Pro Audio Bono platform under Leben CS300