Haven't compared both, but I don't believe the Act3 has an analogue pass through, if that is important to you.
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I have the B&K reference 30 and have not heard the Acurus. It has 2 sets pass-through inputs (a bypass input and DVD-Audio inputs). The ACT-3 used to be notorious for hiss, and I've also seen some unreliability reported at audioreview.com. I think the B&K may be more reliable, and has a room notch mode to tame room nodes. Bass management options are excellent. However, Acurus has come out with upgrades in the past, while B&K only promises to do so. Check out the reviews of both units at audioreview and I think you'll feel much more comfortable going with the B&K.
Hi, I have the new Acurus Act 3 w/bass management and can report that it has been functioning flawlessly for about 5 months, no hiss or problems with the remote or software (which I had heard used to be somewhat unreliable in the past). No analog pass-through, no balanced inputs, no 3-way video inputs (is that called composite video or the other name that begins with a "c"? anyway, it doesn't have those inputs but you can plug a DVD w/that capability directly into a TV w/that capability and program the Act 3 remote to run a macro and select all the right inputs--cool!)
I considered the BK Ref 20 but couldn't find one at a comparable price so got the Act 3.
Regards - I also have the Act 3 with Bass management and confirm the comments of Sc53. No problems of any kind in 9 months of operation, and Mondial's customer service is absolutely first rate. Regarding hum, I get the impression that the Act 3 may have been a lot of peoples first AV unit, and the unit is so revealing that there's grounding hum which they never knew was there before. Also, there's the need to ground the cable input which many overlook. Once I put the Majik in line with the cable there was no problem.
I heard the B&K, and can't comment on it's A/V performance, but with music the Act 3 immediately sounded better to me.
I've been using an ACT-3 with bass management upgrade for almost three years, and it has had no problems at all. However, if I was in the market for a new processor, I'd be awfully tempted to go with a Ref 30...the low frequency notch filter is a great feature. Realize, however, that it doesn't function when using the analogue pass-through inputs (Direct or 5-ch).
In terms of the bass management issues, while I consider the B&K's to be extensive, it is not 100% flexible. That is, one cannot choose the crossover frequency for each set of speakers (say, if one wanted 40hz for the fronts, 80hz, for the center, and 70 hz for the center). I doubt one would really need quite that much flexibility.
I'm in the position that my fronts are true full range, but tail off just a tad about 30 hz. My surrounds give up at around 70hz, so I have to settle on 70hz. If I choose to have the front signal sent to the sub then I get too much bloat (with both sub and fronts doubling up from 70 to 30hz). Therefore, all I'm really missing is the very bottom octave in my fronts, and most of that information is probably directed to the .1 channel anyway.
I've heard the ACT has a bass mgt upgrade that is extensive. Can one choose a separate x-over for each speaker with the Acurus?