In the listening room the B18 turns out to be an easy-going partner. Owing to the dispensable spikes and a design height of slightly above one metre [about 40’], the loudspeaker is well manoeuvrable. An ingenious treat is the visual support from the base when trying out different options of angling in. Here I mostly work with a solo voice where the imaging size of the mouth matters. As soon as it appears to be natural and credible, I stop working. In such a moment you get a feeling of how the sound image literally »locks into place«. At first I run the B18 on a valve combo from Italian maker New Audio Frontiers. The result is a performance which is marked by smoothness, yet with a really decent resolution. Above all the Burmester convinces by its inner musical coherence. At the listening spot one can’t detect that six drivers altogether contribute to the sound generation.

And then: the fast lane

Yet in order to reveal the true sound potential, solid-state amplifiers may this time deliver the power. In this case a rewarding decision, for Dominic Miller’s piece »Rush Hour« depends on speed. If the guitar player is thwarted only at one point of the chain, the magic of his music will get lost. However, with the B18 the reproduction turns out to become a heavenly experience. On the one hand this is due to the definition, transparency and high resolution, and on the other hand to the dotted energy of the marvellous bass. Often loudspeakers are designed in such a way that one of these features prevails. In the B18 they find common ground in a magnificent way. Furthermore, I’m also convinced by the high content of information, which is not offered by other transducers. Remember that spot-the-difference puzzle; there it’s also about differences, one picture delivers more information than the other. It’s such details that win me over as well: key noises from saxophones, the breathing of the vocalists and finally also the perfection of the reverberation that gives such a good hint of the room size.

To verify this outstanding sound impression I always fall back on orchestra music. Some loudspeakers show a rendering tendency of bloating 36 musicians into 360. Those who go for things like this – also known as demonstration effect – will be happy with it, but for my listening taste that’s definitely out of the question. I want to get a realistic impression of what’s going on. To me the »Ride of the Valkyries« by Richard Wagner falls into this category, for here it’s not the mass of the musicians which matters, but their class. And thus Gustavo Dudamel is wielding the baton, leading the Simon Bolivar Orchestra through the score with verve. Even at higher volume levels the musical performance does not fall apart here. With brilliant force the wind players are blaring the theme into the listening room, I cannot detect even the faintest trace of booming or resonating. The strings, too, come wonderfully into their own, precisely located within the sound image and not just coming from anywhere. Without doubt, the B18 doesn’t merely allow first-class music listening, no – it also makes the music come alive.