Acurus RL-11 Preamplifiers

RL-11

User Reviews (30)

Showing 1-10 of 30  
HIFIVE   AudioPhile [Jul 07, 2017]

I must say when I first heard this preamp I was shocked at its sonics which I wasn't expecting at this price level. For a solid state preamp not too much can compete with this pre for the exception of the Pass Labs. It is also well built with quality parts not normally present at its retail price. I like what I'm hearing and can easily recommend this preamp as an over-achiever. If you see one for sale, grab it before someone else beats you to the punch! Strongly recommend!

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
John   Audio Enthusiast [Jun 27, 2013]

Had my heart on Aragon Aurum pre amp and Aragon 8008BB amp. But my pockets weren't that deep. Turns out that Acurus is the little brother of this audio line, Mondial Designs. This is the best audio amp preamp combo for the money, build is of the best quality, and looks like a million dollars. It,s been in my system for 15 years and I never get tired of feel of those mil spec knobs. Yes it does not have a phono section so I got an out board one, no problem. The Amp I got was the Acurus A200 and for me this is the perfect tag team. You can,t beat it for the money. Come and get it Conrad Johnson!!

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Ozz   Audio Enthusiast [Dec 24, 2006]
Strength:

Classy Appearance
Very nice build quality
Hi-end sound on a low-end budget

Weakness:

After a year of ownership and frequent use....I really haven't found any. Well...okay.....it would be nice if you could change the source with the remote, but there are all kinds of ways around that. (Not to mention the extra exercise you get walking across the room to change it when you have to!)

This is a wonderful piece of equipment. How's that for an opening line of a review? After having a bad experience with an Anthem TLP-1 (I did a review on that pre about a year ago) I decided to go a different route. I had always liked the look, feel and sound of acurus gear going back to the early-mid 90's. But..at the time didn't have the money to own any! So when a package deal came up on audiogon (the RL-11 and an A100 in brandy new condition) I jumped on them. The pre is truly glorious to look at. Even though TRUE hi-end audiophiles would scoff, I will stand by my opinion that the look and build of this pre just SCREAMS hi-end. Very smooth controls. Not a lot of extra functions on some computer processor that are just begging to suddenly stop working or never work properly to begin with. No tone controls to screw up the sound and circuit. No integrated circuits period. All discrete, all mil-spec parts. It just makes you smile to look at it. Oh..and if you are into cable swapping, it's a detachable power cable.

Now, to the most important part....the SOUND. Yes, I've read reviews where people say they find acurus gear "Harsh and grainy". Well, folks....if Harsh and grainy sounds like the RL-11.....GIVE ME MORE HARSH AND GRAIN!! Seriously, I have not found any negative characteristics in the sound. It's a pleasure to listen to. And although I'd have preferred an A200 to the A100....I find it to be high quality both soundwise and build-wise as well.

So...bottom line...if you can find one of these guys in good condition...don't question.....just BUY!

Similar Products Used: Parasound
Hafler
Anthem
Aragon
Cambridge Audio
Newcastle
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
CPTG   AudioPhile [Jun 21, 2006]
Strength:

The parts, the fit, the finish, the build quality, THE SOUND. The remote despences with thousands of worthless little buttons and only has about eight buttons, ergonomically laid out---it's the classiest wand I have ever held in my hand. When manually handling the dials, they make a nice, solid click sound which feels every bit like the military components (solid, dependable, accurate---hence 'mil-spec grade') they are. I don't see how Mondial (now owned by Klipsch)made any money off this product considering the quality of the parts and the fact that it is 'hand made' in the most expensive country in the world, the good ol' USA!!!

The Sound is remarkable. The soundstage is so tight that you can literally walk around the instruments in the song, even from poorly recorded music such as the Beatles, the Cocteau Twins, Sisters of Mercy, etc. Listen to an audiophile quality source, such as Cowboy Junkies Trinity Sessions, with your eyes closed and you'll look over your shoulder for the usher if you cough, belch or talk during the recording. Recordings become so detailed that you will hear things that will start to bug you---like the squeeky piano bench on SGT Peppers LHCB fade out of Day in the life, or the air conditioning unit coming on during the quiet parts of songs...amazing!!!

Weakness:

First and Foremost, the Acurus RL 11 is a Line Stage Pre-amp. That means it doesn't have an integrated phono amp to play Vinyl. So what? Any audiophile worth his salt would not want an analog device, such as a phono amp, on board and close to the pre-amp's amplipher. You can now (01APR2006) buy a tubed phono amp for $250.00!!!

The unit lacks depth which means if you plan to stack things on top of it like a Radio Shack 'rack job', you are going to be in trouble. Again, so what? Stack the RL 11 on the very top of your components, run one meter cables.

The RL 11 has no MONO switch which is useful for mono recordings or for setting up the components for the first time. Oh, well.

Finlly, the RL 11 articulates details so accurately, it may ruin your enjoyment of familure songs. I used to love the fade out of 'Day in the Life', now I hate it. Play Herbie Handcock's Headhunter's Chemillion (Thank You for Let me Be Myself Again) and the song now becomes annoying---the brilliant drumming will now dominate the song and Herbie's over-use of his moog machine absolutely ruins the song---it sounds like someone breaking wind---which is normally hidden deep in the mix and doesn't effect the song---NOW IT DOES!!! You are forewarned!

Wheither it be cars, stereo gear or women, my first choice ALWAYS disappoints me. Having stupidly ruined my SAE A14 integrated amp (I left a $25.00 Humidifier on over night and ruined all the switches/components), I auditioned and lusted after the Rotel RB 980 amp. Unfortunately, Rotel's matching pre-amp sounded so horribly bright that I ran out of the store screaming (and the pre-amp was warmed up for days!!!). Since I only wanted to purchase matching components (amp/pre-amp), I rejected the Rotel purchase completely.

By pure accident, walked into a small Hi-end dealership in San Francisco to demo the Acurus A 150 amp and spied the Acurus RL 11 (The only formal review I've seen on it was Sensible sound APR 1998) on a pedistool. It was lust at first sight!!! The unit is breathing to look and and play with---like a high end piece of modern art. Imagine a black box with five milled 'mil-spec' aluminum dials. When you pressed the volume control on the wand, the volume dial rotated to the right---cool!!!

Everything about this unit says 'Mil-spec/Hospital grade components used through-out'. Go ahead, FIND a $2,400.00 pre-amp and A/B it against my RL 11 and try and beat it---Go ahead, try!!! No pre-amp EXISTS under $1,000.00 that can match the RL 11's parts and build quality. Don't even bother looking, it is that good.

Customer Service

Runs like a champ. To paraphrase Dan Quail, "Its the parts and build quality, stupid!!!" The Acurus A150 is runs just as sweet. Ask anyone to name 'made in America gear' and they'll retort Levenson, Krell. Ask anyone to name 'made in America gear' that is affordable and they'll sneer 'No such animal exists'. Wanna Bet? Have you heard of Acurus?

Similar Products Used: Bryston .5
Rotel
Adcom (the one Stereophile rated Class A in 2003)


OK, here is my class D unit that I am about to give my brother and start over:

FRONT END: Systemdek IIX, Mod Lynn Basik arm/Sumiko BPS/JA Mitchell Gyroclamp/mat and Audio Alchemy Phono Amp
PreAmp: Acurus RL11
Amp: Acurus A150
Tuner: Yamaha T-1000 digital
CD: Acdom GCD 560 with seperate Audio Alchemy DAC
Tape: Nakamichi DR3 2 head (You can never Knock a Nak!!!)
Apple IPOD 30GB, Itunes
Energy EPS 150 Sub/NHT 1.3As (Bi-amped, two channel stereo)
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
pissillo   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 01, 2003]
Strength:

Quiet, clean, natural and neutral. Good bass and accurate highs. Well appointed remote.

Weakness:

Looks (one man's opinion of moonlight)

This is a great preamp. It does evrything a pre should and nothing it shouldn't. I have more money in cables than in this piece. Compared to McCormack, Plinius, Classe aand bel canto, this is the winner.Not at all lean like Acurus amps can be, neither is it bloated sounding like some tube equipment. Natural and neutral. Not the most exquisite looking eye-candy, but it performs. Equipped with the necessary stuff, no phono, but a good outboard one is better than the mediocre internal affairs that are too common anyway. This will situate itself nicely with the best amp and speakers out there.

Similar Products Used: bel canto SEP 1 McCormack RLD 1 Musical Fidelity CR something or other, etc.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
pissillo   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 01, 2003]
Strength:

Quiet, clean, natural and neutral. Good bass and accurate highs. Well appointed remote.

Weakness:

Looks (one man's opinion of moonlight)

This is a great preamp. It does evrything a pre should and nothing it shouldn't. I have more money in cables than in this piece. Compared to McCormack, Plinius, Classe aand bel canto, this is the winner.Not at all lean like Acurus amps can be, neither is it bloated sounding like some tube equipment. Natural and neutral. Not the most exquisite looking eye-candy, but it performs. Equipped with the necessary stuff, no phono, but a good outboard one is better than the mediocre internal affairs that are too common anyway. This will situate itself nicely with the best amp and speakers out there.

Similar Products Used: bel canto SEP 1 McCormack RLD 1 Musical Fidelity CR something or other, etc.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Maprik   AudioPhile [Jul 31, 2002]
Strength:

Simple to use Very transparent Inexpensive for it's quality

Weakness:

Cheap feeling remote

I must say that the RL-11 sounds as good if not better than the Classe CP-35 that goes for around twice the price on the used market. The only advantage the Classe had was balanced inputs and outputs as well as a digital readout of vulome level. Soundwise, however, the Acurus is amazing and perhaps even more transparent than the Classe. Less wiring, less complicated equals better sound? I have read that some modifications take this unit to a higher level and I may do that but at this point why bother? AN AMAZING audio value when you consider I paid $300 the RL-11 which is the price of my least expensive interconnects. Why did I buy the RL-11? I actually bought one for a friend's system to help him out and while I had the RL-11 I tried it in my system. After a week I decided to sell the Classe and get an RL-11 for myself. Associated equipment: Rega Planar 25 w/ Benz Micro Glider M2 Lehmann Black Cube Classe CDP.5 CD player Music Reference RM-9 tube amplifier Reference 3A MM DaCapo speakers PS Audio P300 powerplant Synergistic Research Resolution Reference speaker cables.

Similar Products Used: Classe CP-35
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
fallencr   Audio Enthusiast [Mar 27, 2002]
Strength:

Very faithful and subtle, amazing soundstage

Weakness:

None for the price range

My only reference point is a Rotel RC-1070 wich is on the same price range. I demo both units from a dealer and found the RL-11 to be more faithful and subtle. This unit has an amazing soundstage, caracteristic to units that double its price tag. I am very happy with its performance and build quality. System: Acurus ACD-11 CD player Acurus RL-11 Preamplifier Acurus A100 Amplifier B&W DM 601''s S2 Bookshelf Speakers Velodyne CT-80 Powered Subwoofer Tara Labs Prism 22 and Prism 2 Interconets Tara Labs Prism 2+2 Biwire Cables

Similar Products Used: Rotel RC-1070
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
DEE   Audio Enthusiast [Jul 03, 2000]
Strength:

Honest and clean. Tells the truth about your source, amplification and cables. It can sound thin and trashy or honest and neutral.

Weakness:

White knobs. Easy to get filthy so I don't tuch them unless I have too. Clean regularly.

Handsome piece and honest. I also use mine with an B&K Ref4420EX. I think it's a marriage made in heaven merging the tonal qualities of these two pieces. I just wish it didn't have the white knobs. I clean mine on a regular basis because I've seen second hand ones where the knobs were filthy. I guess you would have to order new ones from Mondial Designs if it gets out of hand. Other than that it's awesome and if you feel you have nothing to hide in your system, go get this pre amp.

My system:
Paradigm Ref 100'sV2
Acurus RL-11 pre amp
B&K EX4420 2- channel amp
Denon 1650AR CD player
DH Labs T-14 Speaker cable
DH Labs BL-1 Interconnects
MSB DAC Gold

Similar Products Used: ADCOM, NAD
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Fred   Audio Enthusiast [Aug 19, 2000]
Strength:

Good construction. Remote control. Great sound. Value for money.

Weakness:

Will reveal weakness or poor sound in any other component or CD. No phono stage. Have managed to get some loud feedback with the right/wrong combination of listen selector and record selector.

This is one nice preamp. I am very happy with it. It's sound is detailed and not nasty. Great sound all around.... Remote is very handy. Construction is wonderful. Warranty not as long as Rotel's, only 2 years.

Similar Products Used: Rotel. Dynaco. Onkyo.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 30  

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