Hands On: Acurus A2005 5-channel Amplifier
Acurus A2005 Amplifier
During the days of the Clinton administration, Acurus and Aragon developed a large following within the theater community that loved the brands’ combination of build quality, value and performance. The brands were so revered that Klipsch acquired them back in 2001.
Shortly thereafter, however, Klipsch shut the brands down in 2005. Fast forward to 2009 and former Klipsch engineers Rick Santiago and Ted Moore founded Indy Audio Labs after purchasing Acurus and Aragon from the audio behemoth. In late 2011, Indy Audio Labs introduced several products bearing the newly acquired brands’ logos.
The A2005 is said to provide amplification that delivers clean, dynamic audio for high-performance 5.1 home theaters. Features include a high-current power supply that’s capable of producing 18 amps during peak bursts into load impedances as low as 2.2 ohms to conform to THX Ultra2 specifications. The Class A/B design is rated to deliver 200 watts into an 8-ohm load and 300 watts into 4-ohm load. The amp also includes network interface options, as well as RS-232 and 12-volt triggers. The 6U-high amp can be rack mounted, and it weighs almost 50 pounds.
For the most part, I used the A2005 in a two-channel system, which included a Bryston preamp and other components from Parasound Halo and NAD plus a Thorens turntable. I used Straight Wire cables and a pair of PSB T2 speakers to round out my two-channel listening. In my theater configuration, I used the A2005 with an Integra preamplifier/processor, Pioneer Elite BD player, HD cable box, Apple TV, Monitor Audio Platinum speakers and AudioQuest cables.
The installation in both systems was uneventful. I will point out, however, that due to the lack of real estate on the rear-panel the company staggers the arrangement of the amp’s binding posts and because of this, the binding posts that were positioned lower on the amp’s rear panel proved to be difficult for me to insert my rear surround speaker cables’ spade terminations (I placed the amp on the bottom shelf of my equipment cabinet and the binding posts’ slots are on the bottom of the thumb screw assembly). The amp’s RCA inputs were easy to access though, and I should also note the amp offers no provisions for XLR cables.
Out of the box the amp sounded good. After a 100-plus hours’ break-in period, I was pleasantly surprised by the amp’s ease of listening and seemingly effortless ability to deliver power on demand.
On two-channel content such as vinyl versions of Journey’s Escape and Rush’s Permanent Waves albums, the Acurus amp filled my room with sound that was highlighted by lots of bottom end and rich midrange. I loved how the amp fleshed out Geddy Lee’s bass playing by adding texture and dimension. With the Journey album, Steve Perry’s voice bloomed within the soundstage to add a sense of realism to the recording’s upper midrange and lower treble. With home theater content like Bolt on Blu-ray, I thought the amp didn’t quite have the same transient snap of the Bryston it replaced or dead silent noise floor, but in fairness Bryston is priced about 40 percent higher than Acurus.
A major culprit that affected the noise floor was a ground loop that I eventually eliminated using a Tripp Lite IS1000 Isolation transformer. My Bryston’s balanced circuitry and connections aren’t affected by the loop, but with all of that said I thought the A2005 delivered many of the same quality attributes I heard in my two-channel system.
Considering I’m comparing the A2005 to one of the best home theater amps on the market, the Bryston 9B, it more than holds its own at 60 percent of the price, speaking to the value the Acurus theater amp offers.
The Acurus product line could serve dealers well as we continue to distance ourselves from the economic failings of past years and move into a new era. With a product line that includes the two-channel A2002, the five-channel A2005 and the seven-channel A2007, Acurus is well positioned to provide installers step-up solutions that deliver more real-world power and finesse than what the A/V receiver category provides.
Expect Acurus in the near future to introduce a companion home theater processor to add further value to its family of products. In the meantime, dealers shouldn’t be afraid of using the amps with the pre-outs of a receiver to provide their clients an audio solution that delivers the goods for a short amount of money.