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Acurus amp opinions  

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Wondering if anyone has found a resource for pro reviews of Arcurus amps? I was wondering how the


amps fare compared with something like Aragon, Bryston, EAD. I've seen a few audioreview opinions but couldn't dig up any pro reviews.
post #2 of 10
Those amps have been on the market a while now. Most of the professional (magazine-related) sites only go back about 18 months with their online copy, and no Acurus reviews show up in that time window. Sadly, since the Acurus name is being temporarily "retired", we will probably not see a lot of future review activity regarding the Acurus products.

I remember reading a comparative multi-channel power amp "shootout" review in Home Theater magazine about four to five years ago which included the 200x3 and gave it very high marks. But that was the earlier 200x3, not the current model, and as I recall, it was up against other "budget high end" units, not the brands you named.

I happen to have an Acurus 100x3 in my system doing surround duty, after being replaced in front by a BEL (Brown Electronics Lab) 1001 MkV for the left and right mains, and a Marantz MA700 monoblock for the center channel. The Acurus in my system is a fine "entry level" high end unit (way above the quality of "mass market" receiver amps) and is quite serviceable in its current role.

post #3 of 10
Does B.E.L. have a web-site ?
I have read many good things about the 1001 amp over the years.

- Andy
post #4 of 10
Cutting to the chase, "no". Brown Electronics Lab does not have a web site. But they can be reached at (408) 259-8648.

And you are right about people saying a lot of good things about the product:
http://www.audiooutlet.com/catalog/12.html (scroll down)

BEL doesn't really need a web presence to move product -- they are already swamped with orders -- a very long wait list for new units, which seems to be sustained quite readily by word of mouth -- and successful auditions. They depend heavily on their dealers for providing potential customers information about the product. And Dick Brown personally participates in the production of each amplifier, so the manufacturing volume is fairly low for even for this kind of product. Even though the BEL amp isn't inexpensive, he isn't gouging anyone on price -- its performance is easily the equal of (or better than) competing amps costing three to four times as much. "The Absolute Sound" has given it the "Golden Ear" award, citing its status as "arguably the best amplifier in the world", and "Stereophile" has acknowledged its existence by stating it has a "near cult" following and they say they are very difficult to obtain -- apparently they've never gotten their hands on one for a review...

My local dealer (the owner, not the whole staff) talks to Dick Brown at least once a week, and when I am in the store he regales me with juicy tid bits from the conversations. He also told me when I was auditioning the Magnepan MG 3.6 speakers (and I had asked for suggestions for a suitable power amp to drive them) that the BEL 1001 is not just a great choice, but is "the amp" for this purpose. None others need apply. :> ) He has two in monoblock configuration in his home system and since he can have basically any equipment in the world that he wants and has very high standards, I considered that a pretty convincing endorsement.

I am "making do" :> ) with one in stereo mode. Since, in my fairly small listening room, one BEL can drive the Maggies to insanely loud (potentially ear damaging) levels without an audible hint of strain or distortion, I don't feel a pressing need to add a second (maybe someday I will, but there are a lot of other spending priorities ahead of that luxury.) Meanwhile I use my SPL meter a lot!

The BEL's soundstage, detail, resolution, clarity, air and space around instruments, dynamic excitement, etcetera are positively uncanny. Very highly recommended.


[This message has been edited by Burke Strickland (edited 09-18-2001).]
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Would you say the MA700 sound better than the acurus? I'd like to know how you think these two compare since you happen to have both.

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

Well, that's what it pretty much comes down to, our personal finite means and compromises http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif

I'm still battling the idea of three different scenarios

1: Acurus A200x5 and HTPC for limited pre/pro functionality.
2: 4802 or maybe Pioneer vsx 49tx as an all in one solution.
3: 3802 for temporary duties to then be upgraded via an outboard amp.

Yes, these choices have to do with a limited budget and hope for future upgradeability. Thus far the 3802 option was looking like the champ, but in recent times due to the appearance of the Pioneer with it's new room adjustment technology and the great closeout deals on Acurus A200x5, I've had to rethink my strategy. I only wish I could really know the difference I'm giving up between the options. A few weeks ago I tried doing a head to head comparison of the Denon receivers but was thwarted by the stores use of different speakers with each receiver setup. It looked like I was going to like the 3802, but the sales man had to put in the Steely Dan DVD on the 5800 with M&K speakers which just blew away the 3801 with Def Tech towers.

Personally, any def tech guys out there please don't take this as a flame, I don't care for the sound of Def Tech, I find them muddy and boomy. The 5800 was head and shoulders better than the 3801. However I can't say it was due to the receiver alone considering I was listening to speakers which were obviously in a different class.

I suppose the search will go on until I get some feedback on the new Pioneer and 4802.

post #7 of 10
Would you say the MA700 sound better than the acurus? I'd like to know how you think these two compare since you happen to have both
I only have one MA700, which I use to drive the center channel speaker, so it is only in that context that I can compare it to the Acurus.

When the Acurus 100x3 was driving all three front channels, the sound was balanced between the channels, and pleasingly musical in stereo mode. However, when I put the BEL on duty for the left and right front channels the Acurus on center was clearly outclassed in sound quality and outgunned in volume capability in the center. I occasionally had to boost the center to hear the dialog more clearly on DVDs where it tended to be a bit muffled, and the Acurus just didn't have the headroom to keep up with the demand driving the inefficient 4 ohm Maggie MGCC1.

While the MA700 is definitely NOT in the same class of refinement as the BEL, it does have the oomph to deliver at volume levels sufficient to keep the dialog clear. Frankly my listening is typically less critical on movie soundtracks than on music, so any performance disparity (i.e., differences in clarity of upper treble and control of bass, detail, resolution, soundstage, etcetera), between the Marantz and the BEL is less critical in this role. My budget-be-damned preference, of course, would be to have another BEL in monoblock mode for the center, (I've even tried that for sake of comparison -- and there's no comparison), :> ) but another Bel would have been an order of magnitude more expensive than the MA700 and a waste of the BEL's capabilities, given my allocation of time between movies (where I use the center channel) and music (where I do not). With only one BEL in my system, I'd much rather be using it as I am, for main left and right channel duty, where it positively smokes the Acurus. (And in case it isn't clear from preceding statements, the BEL blows away the Marantz, as well, so I wasn't even tempted to get any more of those for duty on additional front channels.)

So the MA700 more adequately meets my needs to power the center channel for movie soundtracks than did the Acurus, but I have not had an opportunity to use two of them in stereo mode (or three to power all three front channels) to compare the MA700 against the Acurus in that role.


[This message has been edited by Burke Strickland (edited 09-19-2001).]
post #8 of 10

If you are worried about the head room and drive... CINEPRO!

Actually there used to a review at Mondial Designs of the Acurus amps you were asking about.
Think the addy was something like: www.mondialdesignsltd.com

It was from one of the big review mags. Something about sharp edges and blood on the rug... You know when you find it.

As for the Def Techs. I helped a guy set up his wiring for the Def Techs he has a pair of 2000 Centers, 3000 mains, 2000 rears, BPXs for the sides. This system would play loud and I mean real loud. They were by no menas unclear. At times even too bright. but all speakers were Bi amped externally with multiple amps and had the internal powered subs. As far as I know that owner is reall happy with his Def Tech speakers.
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 

I'm asking about Acurus due to the value, low cost, of this amp. Currently it can be had for about $1200.00 and maybe less on Ebay. if I could choose a more expensive amp, I'd be inclined to look towards an EAD Theater Master 2000 or Sunfire Cinema Grand. However, since I have limited funds, these are my options.

The comments regarding def tech have been made when driven by some sort of high end receiver. Maybe with more power, headroom they sound better. However, I will say that the Sonus Faber concertino's I listened to driven by the same receiver sounded much more clear and defined than the def tech. The def tech by comparison sounded muddy and boomy. I found this to be similar to my findings vs. M&K and Def Tech.

post #10 of 10
I used to use Def Tech BP2000s as the main left and right front speakers in my system. I like deep bass and thought that with two built-in 15" "subwoofers" that they should be able to produce deep bass at an audible volume. I found that the attempt to get them to produce at volume at lower frequencies "overdrove" the Def Techs and that they needed a separate subwoofer in the system to avoid sounding "muddy and boomy".

After adding a Velodyne FSR-18, which has no trouble reaching into the lowest octaves cleanly and as loudly as I could stand, :> ) (it goes below the threshold of human hearing, in fact), I could "back off" on the Def Tech's bass level and then the overall sound was much clearer and less strained all up and down the frequency spectrum.

Of course, that improvement didn't stop me from moving up to Magnepan MG 3.6s later down the road, but it sure made the remaining time with the Def Techs in front a lot more enjoyable. (Since I never got around to selling them, the BP2000s are soon going to be reinstalled as rear speakers in my system to round out a 7.1 configuration.)

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