Burmester B38 floor standing loudspeaker review: Slimline tonic

German marque’s flagship B series floor stander, Burmester B38, offers smart bass-tuning potential. Is this the speaker for every room? Tested at £22,700.

Burmester B38 front view with hifi choice recommended badge

What is Burmester B38 ?

Although the largest and most expensive member of Burmester’s B series loudspeakers (which is positioned below its BA and BC, BC 350, BC 150 models), the £22,700 B38 doesn’t -when viewed front-on at least – look quite like the all-singing, all-dancing range-topper you might expect. Yes, it’s certainly marginally taller than the step-down B28 (£17,600), at 1,165mm compared with 1,144mm, but it’s also slimmer, its 210mm width shaving off some 13mm. And then there are the drivers, with the B28 having four cascading down its front baffle, while the B38 seems happy to make do with just the two…


The German manufacturer explains that: “scaling up the concept” of its slim, classic-looking loudspeaker line, including by expanding cabinet depth here to a substantial 460mm, has enabled the use of side-firing 320mm bass drivers, rather than the smaller front-firing woofer pair of the B28. This is a technique that has also been employed on its costlier models and the result, pledges Burmester, is a speaker that’s still slender enough to blend into a room while offering that all-important: “impulsive and powerful bass reproduction”.

Such a passion for the low-end will not surprise anyone that’s familiar with the company, as founder Dieter Burmester (who passed away in 2015) played bass guitar in bands in his youth before his interest in music morphed into a passion for music reproduction. Yet while Burmester Audiosysteme was officially established in 1978 in Berlin (its first product being the 777 preamp), it wasn’t until 1994 that its attention turned to loudspeakers and the use of Air Motion Transformer (AMT) tweeters in particular.

Skip forward 30 years and all the company’s speakers, bar the entrylevel £11,800 B18 floorstander -which instead makes do with a soft dome tweeter – employ AMT units. These, says the company, are bespoke designs made in conjunction with a trusted, long-term German supplier. The AMT found on the B38 is a new iteration, its height and width tailored specifically to the cabinet, and with a high-frequency reach rated to 33kHz. Next up (or down, if you prefer) is the B38’s dedicated midrange driver, a 170mm fibreglass cone, which is again mounted seamlessly within the speaker’s aluminium front panel.

Burmester B38 Specs

PRODUCT: Burmester B38

ORIGIN: Germany

TYPE: 3-way floorstanding loudspeaker

WEIGHT: 51.5kg each

DIMENSIONS (WxHxD): 210 x 1,165 x 460mm


  • AMT tweeter
  • 170mm fibreglass membrane midrange driver
  • 320mm paper sandwich membrane bass driver
  • Quoted sensitivity: 86dB/1W/1m (4ohm)


WEBSITE: burmester.de/en

How low can you go?

Both this unit and the AMT tweeter are internally isolated from the B38’s piece de resistance, the aforementioned 320mm bass driver. Its paper sandwich cone is hidden behind a non-removable grille and backed by a large neodymium magnet assembly. A bass reflex design, the B38’s alignment is ‘tuned’ by a rear-firing port, with a foam insert and ‘room adaption’ toggle that enables further user tweaking.

This trio of drivers, plus the 150Hz/2.4kHz crossover network (fed via a low-slung terminal plate with gold-plated milled OFC terminals supporting both bi-amp and bi-wire connections), are housed in a cabinet weighing 51.5kg. Contributing to its heft are two-layer 38mm-thick cabinet walls, FEA-optimised internal bracing and a base plate that decouples the enclosure from the floor by a ‘computer-calculated spring-mass’ damping system evolved from the B18. Strength and mass also come from the stainless steel ring used to secure the bass driver to the side wall.

Burmester, modest as ever, declares the B38’s aesthetic design to be: “simply perfect”, and those who appreciate a look that’s all straight lines and hard angles might well agree. Certainly, it has an elegant air to it, particular in its white, black or mid-grey finishes, while an American Walnut veneer is offered for buyers seeking a more traditional feel. As with all of the company’s products, the loudspeaker is hand built at its Berlin facility, its chassis ‘run-in’ for a week before final assembly and pairs then matched.

As regards setup, the B38’s manual doesn’t establish a preference for having the speakers toed-in, instead suggesting experimentation (“this is easier to do with a helper or two rather than alone”) and keeping the cabinets a minimum of 50cm from side and rear walls. Lastly, although this floorstander has a slender visage, it’s still big and in turn will benefit from amplification of equal stature, as evidenced by Burmester’s quoted 4ohm nominal impedance and 86dB sensitivity ratings. We decide to plump for a Primare A35.2 power amplifier paired with Rotel’s recent Michi P5 S2 preamp.

Sound quality

Listening to the B38 brings back memories of that famous commercial from Heineken about refreshing the parts that other beers cannot reach. The impact of this speaker’s 320mm bass driver – unusually large even for a floorstander at this price – is immediately noticeable, delivering a low frequency performance with real extension, with grip and control thrown in for good measure. Coupled to succinct, clean highs from the AMT tweeter, the resulting sound has plenty of dynamism and the voicing shows no desire to add extra warmth to what’s already on the track. There’s energy and liveliness; a direct feel to the sound that’s simpatico with the loudspeaker’s physical style.

The B38 delivers a correspondingly largescale sound that ticks all the boxes

It’s a performance that works wonders with Daft Punk’s Da Funk off their Homework album, which begins with a deep, propulsive electronic bassline and rat-a-tat percussion underpinned by a thudding kick drum. Each element lands with rapid attack and decay, the space between beats making it easy to latch on to its nightclub groove. Furthermore, even at a listening level that would perhaps reasonably be described by anyone’s neighbours as anti-social, the B38 still manages to comfortably maintain its clean, composed nature.

A trade-off for this focused, forward sound is that Burmester’s speaker isn’t exactly going to bowl you over with warmth and syrupiness, which some might think makes it uninviting. We’ve certainly heard Diaraby, from Ry Cooder and Ali Farka Toure’s Talking Timbuktu release rendered with softer edges. On the other hand, through the B38 there is more of an invitation to really focus on the varied instrumentation, the vocal harmonies and the astonishing musicianship. And we can’t stress enough just how much the bass response is delicious.

The Metallica instrumental Orion features bass player Cliff Burton using all four strings and most of the frets to create the track’s underlying melody.

It’s a great example of his dexterous fingerstyle playing, but on lesser systems many of his flourishes get lost underneath a tidal wave of distorted guitars. This certainly isn’t the case here, with the B38 providing superb insight into each quick note, while lending plenty of steely bite to the six-string rift’s above.

With the option of sealing the speaker’s bass port or leaving it open, plus the ability to choose between the rear panel’s +ve or-ve Toom adaption’ settings, there’s impressive scope for tweaking its in-room sound. Also, as the B38 cabinets aren’t ‘handed’, they can be set up with their bass drivers firing outwards rather than in. Burmester’s manual makes no mention of this, and during our audition we experiment with both but ultimately prefer having the two bass drivers facing each other, as the opposite – which introduces more boundary loading – proves to be too over powering in the listening room.

We also prefer the B38 in bass-reflex mode, while finding the speaker’s bass boost toggle a real boon. This simple adjustment yields tangible differences (far more than can be achieved using the typical filter choice on a DAC, at any rate) and makes getting up and down from the listening position worthwhile. Playing Michael Jackson’s Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough from Off Trie Wall, the funky Quincy Jones production has more edge and groove to it with the B38 set to +ve, while still sounding entirely natural.

The 320mm bass driver delivers a performance with real extension

The appeal of the B38 isn’t limited to its bass output, of course. Across a variety of different genres, vocals and instrumentation are rendered clean and crisp, and the soundstaging is open and wide. Settling back with the sultry soul of Marvin Gaye’s Soon I’ll Be Loving You Again, the rendition is popping with musicality.


Burmester B38 Review
  1. AMT tweeter
  2. 170mm fibreglass midrange driver
  3. Side-firing 320mm paper sandwich bass driver
  4. Rear-firing reflex bass port
  5. Gold-plated milled OFC terminals supporting both bi-amp and bi-wiring
  6. Room adaption switch for adjusting bass to suit your room


Felix Koslowski, Acoustic Engineer at Burmester’s Berlin headquarters, reveals that a significant part of the weight of the B38 floorstander stems from its custom plinth. “The floor panel and housing are so rigidly constructed and well-damped that only marginal vibrations are transmitted. We achieve this by designing the floor panel as a sandwich construction made of 10mm aluminium, 3mm POM (polyoxymethylene) and 30mm steel -a 43mm-thick composite that weighs over 13kg per speaker.”

Reinforcing the cabinet is also key to securing the B38’s large side-firing bass driver, of which Koslowski reveals the company has no “hard and fast rules” around positioning. “In most cases”, he notes, “It is more advantageous to direct the side-firing woofers inwards, which can often improve imaging. Alternatively, if there is furniture between the speakers or the room dimensions and shape are not standard, then the B38 can benefit from being placed with the side woofers firing outwards.” Burmester believes that the customer is always right, so: “try it out and enjoy!”

As for what’s coming next from the German company, its 232 Integrated Amplifier, which introduces a new DAC module and was first announced in 2023 at the High End Munich show, is readying to arrive at dealers. Other products, meanwhile, are in “advanced stages of development”. Koslowski explains: “Further information will be forthcoming soon.” Burmester fans best keep their eyes peeled for more details which we’ll bring you asap.


There’s no shortage of precision ’music-first’engineering in Burmester’s B38, but these slimline towers don’t have it all to themselves. For example, they are sandwiched between B&W’s 802 D4 and 803 D4 floorstanders, these models both benefitting from a custom diamond dome tweeter and Continuum mid in their Turbine head assemblies, delivering an openness and presence that’s tough to match.

PS Audio’s similarly priced aspen FR20 offers an exquisite blend of planar-magnetic mid and treble with carbon-fibre-skinned dynamic bass drivers and side-mounted ABRs. The planar drivers bring a lightness of touch to both bold and super-subtle mid/treble detail, delivering standards of focus, openness, weight and control that are up with the very best at this price. Not unlike Burmester, PS Audio has always been known for its hi-fi electronics, but both brands have emerged as true heavyweights in the speaker sector!

The Burmester B38, Magico A5, and Wilson Audio SabrinaX represent the pinnacle of high-end audio engineering, each offering a distinctive approach to sound reproduction and design. The Burmester B38 stands out with its precise German craftsmanship and balanced, dynamic sound, characterized by rich mids and tight bass, making it a versatile performer across various genres. In comparison, the Magico A5, with its graphene-coated drivers and robust aluminum enclosure, offers a remarkably transparent and distortion-free sound, appealing to audiophiles seeking the utmost in sonic purity. Meanwhile, the Wilson Audio SabrinaX combines meticulous craftsmanship with an exceptionally balanced soundstage, offering a refined and natural audio experience with impressive depth and detail. Each of these speakers excels in its right, catering to different audiophile preferences, whether it’s the Burmester’s dynamic versatility, KEF’s technological precision, Magico’s purity, or Wilson Audio’s refined balance.


While the B38 is slim for the price, it’s still a big unit and delivers a correspondingly largescale sound that ticks all the boxes when it comes to bass weight, dynamic punch, detail and openness. Clearly engineered with finesse inside and out, it’s also flexible regards setup while being smartly styled. Time to save those pennies

10 Total Score
Recommended Burmester B38 Review

Upholds Burmester’s rock-solid reputation

Sound Quality
Value For Money
Build Quality
Ease Of Drive
  • Largescale sound
  • Flexible setup
  • Nothing of note
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