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Acurus 12.1CH Muse Processor & M8 8CH Amplifier Targets Multi-Media Rooms

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Acurus Muse Processor and M8 Amplifier

Acurus Muse Processor and M8 Amplifier

Summary

  • Product Name: Muse Processor and 8-CH Amplifier
  • Manufacturer: Acurus
  • Review Date: October 15, 2018 06:00
  • MSRP: $5,499 Muse Processor; $3,500 M8 Amplifier
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool
  • Buy Now

Muse 12.1CH AV Processor


Processing:
  • 12-channel processor
  • HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2 I/O
  • natively decodes both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X
  • fully upgradeable
  • made in USA
  • 5-year warranty
Applications:
  • residential media rooms
  • multi-purpose A/V rooms
  • light commercial
  • marine
Extras:
  • mobile control app
  • optional rack kit
  • RS232 & IP control drivers

M8 8CH Class D Amplifier

  • 8-channel amplifier
  • 160 watts/ch x 8 (8 ohms)
  •  2RU height
  •  made in USA
  • 5-year warranty
 

Applications:

  • residential media room
  • multi-purpose rooms
  • light commercial
  • marine

Extras:

  • mobile control app
  •  optional rack kit
  • 3rd party control drivers
 
 

The American audio brand Acurus brought several new and newly upgraded products to the recent CEDIA trade show in San Diego. Acurus and its parent company, Indy Audio Labs, announced earlier this year that the premium Acurus ACT 4 home theater processor would receive an update in the second quarter of 2018, and the new 20-channel version of the ACT 4 was on display in all its glory at the expo. The updated ACT 4, which sells for $9,999 here in the U.S., can natively decode 9.1.6 Dolby Atmos, with configurable channels to spare (maximum layout options are 9.5.6 or 9.7.4). Acurus also brought its proprietary room correction kit, called ASPEQT (Acurus Speaker Parameter EQ Tool), to CEDIA. The ASPEQT system can “dramatically simplify the process of immersive processor system EQ and room tuning,” according to the company. But the biggest news at the Acurus booth was the new, lower-priced immersive sound processor called the Muse, which will deliver Dolby Atmos and DTS:X decoding, and sell for $5,500.

According to Indy Audio Labs co-founder and CTO, Ted Moore, the Muse is built on the ACT 4 platform, but is “specifically designed to meet the requirements of multi-purpose media room immersive audio.” With the Muse, Acurus is offering its customers a more affordable (though still not cheap) 3D-sound processing solution that provides full support for 4K Ultra HD video with HDR, via HDMI 2.0b pass-through.

The Muse may be configured to a host of surround formats including immersive Dolby Atmos and DTS:X native formats, and carries a full complement of 3rd-party control drivers, TCP/IP, and web-control interfaces”.

-  Ted Moore

Unlike the larger ACT 4 processors, the Muse is built into a compact chassis that is just two rack units (about 3.5 inches) tall. Despite the sleeker form-factor and somewhat lower price, build quality appears to be up to the company’s very high standard. The Muse shares the larger ACT 4’s compatibility with the proprietary ASPEQT room-correction system, affording integrators “complete control over the acoustic experience their customers will enjoy.”

To go along with the Muse processor, Acurus also launched a new 8-channel companion amplifier, called the M8 which retails for $3,500. In a press release ahead of its CEDIA introduction, the M8 was described as being a cool-running design that delivers “high power per channel.” Exact specs were not made available during the show, but Ted Moore reassured attendees that the M8 provides:

more than enough (power) for any typical media room install.”

Moore went on to say that

Acurus is well-known for bringing products to the CEDIA market that are sonically astounding. Integrated with our demand for sound excellence is our commitment to designing beautifully simple user interfaces and rock-solid durability into all of our products.”

 

Acurus M8

Acurus M8 - 8CH Class D Amplifier

But you don’t have to take his word for it; several other companies at the show provided endorsement for Acurus by using the company’s products in their own booths. Seymour-Screen Excellence, Audio Excellence, and Wolf Cinema used an ACT 4 for pre-amplification and processing in their joint demo, while KLH used a multi-zone Acurus Scorpion amplifier ($4,100) to power its new in-wall and in-ceiling speakers. The Scorpion amp and 2.1-channel Acurus Aries integrated amp ($3,500) were both on display at the Acurus booth as well.

Sparse Features Enough to Win Audiophiles?

For now, details about the new Muse processor and M8 amplifier are a bit scarce. However, Acurus recently announced the Muse will support up to 12.1 channels. More details were recently released on Acurus website regarding the M8 amplifier. The M8 amplifier is a Class D design rated to 160 watts/ch for up to 8 channels driven. Those are good power figures for an amplifier of such a compact form factor and we're included to agree with Ted's statement "more than enough power for any typical install".

These products do lack the networking and music management and streaming features found on many competitor products costing less, but will that matter to the customer whose focus is on audio first and simplicity? Perhaps this is what Acurus refers to these products as suited for "multi-media" room instead of a full scale theater?

Acurus has had a pretty solid reputation since Indy Audio Labs bought the company (and its sister brand, Aragon) from Klipsch back in 2009.

Will these new products allow Acurus to maintain that reputation while expanding its customer base? Share your thoughts in the related forum thread below.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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Jacob is a music-lover and audiophile who enjoys convincing his friends to buy audio gear that they can't afford. He's also a freelance writer and editor based in Los Angeles.

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