Acurus ACT3 vs. Others

I'm in the market for a used Music/HT preamp and was wondering if I could get some feedback on the Acurus ACT3. I'm debating picking up a ACT3 or waiting for the B&K ref30 to come down in price. I will be sticking with 5.1 channel HT for a while so I don't need all the features of the new units. My main question is if newer units (B&K Ref30) are sonically that much better or if it's just the added features? What would be better for 2 channel.

My budget is under $800 and my system is below:

Speakers: B&W CDM-1s
Preamp: Yamaha 995
Amp: B&K AV5000
Cables: Signal Cable
Well everyone's "cup of tea" is going to be different of course. But for me, sonics are everything when it comes to audio gear! I'll take audiophile grade purity and refinement over bells and whisles every time. And while the B&K ref 30 is no slouch, or piece of cheese when it comes to pre/pro's, it ain't exactly world class sound quality either!...and I'm talking about both DD/DTS and 2 channel capabilities as well. Not to entirely knock the B&K, as it has some excellent features for tweeking the system..infact more than most pre/pro's. It is dynamic enough, and can do the steering you may need in the future.
I would put the Ref 30 in the same sonic class however as the Lexicon stuff(DC1/2/MC1) for all applications. Infact, basically you're going to be able to match the quality of the sound with most of your Yamaha and Marantz preamp sections from the receivers coming down the pike today!(my experience...with the dynamic advantage still to the pre/pro's however). I guess what I'm saying is I don't think the purity and transparancy of the sound is anything to write home about in something like the B&K pre/pro!(nor the amps for that matter)...but then again, it's not's just not fantastic.
Your CDM1's would sound cleaner, clearer, and more detailed through the humble Acurus ACT 3 in my experiences!!! I've enough experience with the CDM1's and B&K line to know, and I've owned 3 of the Act 3's, and used them with a good varity of hi end speakers.
One word however, and that's that the ACT 3 sounds DEFINITELY better if you go "digital in" for all your CD/Movie listening! Infact, the ACT 3 is sonically right there with the Aragon Sound stage through the digital in put for CD's and DVD's. And, the ACT 3 has Advanced Bass Management option in some of the units out there used, so you can adjust your crossovers for perfect blend.
Keep in mind however, that my bias towards the excellent ACT 3 is that I only used a dvd player hooked up to it via a digital input for CD's and DVD's!!!...the sound was VERY GOOD, and as good as any pre/pro is likely to get overall for DVD's in my experience! I've sold the Krell's, Theta's, Aragon's, and other hi-end pre/pro's, and the ACT 3 isn't out of place with any of these for sonic integrity from a digital in with CD's or DVD's!!!!(the above unit's do have an ever so slightly lower noise floor advantage though, which might be an issue in some systems)
The only area I could say might be an issue in some systems/rooms with the ACT 3, where the B&K might have an advantage, would be the ACT 3's signal to noise ratio ultimately. In lower sensitivity speaker systems, and some amp combo's, the ACT 3's noise floor is a bit higher than some pre/pro's out there(rating 90db SN ratio). In the system with your CDM1's (91db @ 1w/m?), it shouldn't be an issue, and the system should be quiet through the speakers.
I used the ACt 3 for several years in rooms no bigger than 11X12 and 13X12(8' ceilings), and the act 3 was just fine...and I'M PICK ABOUT MY SYSTEMS NOISE LEVEL AND SOUND!!
Still, I'm nit picking issues, and being a bit critical of the points of performance here.
I would say if you are more into tweeking your system digitally, or like trick surround modes, or lots of features, your B&K might be for you. If you are into more purity of sound, the ACT 3 is worth a try for the price you can get em for used!($500 range).
Good luck
Echoing Foreverhifi, I have owned my Act 3 for about 2 yrs now and LOVE it. Its remote is truly universal and its sound is spectacular. Everything coming through it--satellite receiver, DVD player, tuner, VCR and laser disc player--sounds great. I have never owned such an easy-to-use, great value component. For the prices it goes for used, you can't lose. There's also a big upgrade/total rebuild available now from Mondial for the Act 3 to make it 7.1 but I don't need or want it. It's great just as it is.
I will mimic the above two statements, I had an ACT 3 when I was attempting home theatre and after the confusion(on my behalf) ended, the ACT 3 was the only piece that didn't leave me upset and further confused. I have not compared it to a lot, but the dealer I purchased it from also sold B&K and I wanted to get one of those- I figured a little more money maybe a little better- he recommended me getting the ACT 3 and for the price they go for used it is truly a great value on a fantastic product.
Thanks for all of your replies. I went on and bought a used ACT3 today and we’ll see how it sounds. Can’t be any worse than the Yamaha receiver I’m currently using.