Review: Acurus DIA 100 Integrated Amp Amplifier

Category: Amplifiers

This is the first integrated I have owned with a passive preamp on board. Probably similar to the Portal Panache integrated amplifier that is all the rage now. Have not had the opportunity to audition the Panache so I can't make a conclusion to the sonic difference between the two.

The Acurus DIA 100 is very well made,and the controls have the solid feel and action one would expect from a $1,000.00 integrated amp. Tiffany plated RCA jacks on the back, with fixed power cord. On/Off switch with green pilot light to show it is on.

The amplifier produces 100 Watts RMS into 8 ohms and 150 Watts RMS into 4 ohms with no more than 0.09 THD.
Input Impedance - 10K ohms
Input Sensitivity - 200 millvolts for full output
Volume Gain at Full Volume - 43 dB
Frequency Response - 20Hz-20,000Hz +/-.25 dB
Signal to Noise Ratio - 100 dB, A weighted
Damping Factor - >300
Tape Outputs - 2

Has 6 inputs:

Tape 1
Tape 2

Owners manual is quite really basic. Describing use and inputs and thats about it. It is as no frills as the product itself.

The controls from left to right are volume,balance,input selector and record selector. Nice touch on the record selector can listen to one source,while listening to the other.

Mondial Designs parent of Acurus spent 6 months in R & D with this design and another 6 months in the prototype stage before this went to market. This attention to detail shows admirably and the Acurus DIA 100 is a pure joy to listen to. The DIA stands for "Direct Input Amplifier". The preamp section is passive and does not add any coloration of its own to the sonic signature. The Acurus DIA 100 has one of the blackest backgrounds I have never heard. The music just appears magically.There is zero background noise.

Without question this can be the heart of any entry level high end system and one does not have to make any excuses for it as well. I find that for the most part Acurus did make any compromises in the DIA 100. For an integrated amp and I have owned several this is by far the best I have owned or heard.

Audition several CDs Rock,Jazz and Classical with the DIA 100 and found it to be a very accurate instrument indeed. It was never over bright and the bass was right on and defined. Found that whatever the music called for the Acurus DIA 100 delivered with a soild musical rendering. Even the slightest nuances and octaves were faithfully reproduced with amazing verve. I just can't find fault with the musical presentation of the DIA 100. I am totally impressed.

Sold for a $1,000.00 new and for the money in 1995 in my opinion was a steal. In the used secondary market,although I do not know why one would part with a DIA 100 it is a outright steal at about $400.00 used. I know of no other integrated power amp(except for possibly Portal Panache)that can even compete in this arena.

So if you are starting your high end adventure or a season veteran such as myself,been at this since 1957, the Acurus DIA 100 is a pure joy to use day in day out. The Acurus DIA 100 is pure bang for the dollar spent.

The Acurus DIA should be connected to good upstream components. The better the CD Player,Tuner,Speakers,Interconnects the better the Acurus DIA 100 will respond. Don't cheat yourself in this area. After all with the fixed power cord and being an integrated you won't drive yourself nuts with upgraded power cord and amp to preamp interconnects. On Interconnects I use Musical Concepts and have found them to be exemplary and they dont cost you the proverbial arm and leg.

While the Acurus DIA 100 looks like an unassuming black box with four control knobs, rest assured that Acurus put the money inside and produced in my opinion on of the most musical components I have heard in an integrated amp.

Mondial Designs,Acurus and their engineers and designers have reason to feel proud of this accomplishment. For they have produced an instant audio classic. Well done Acurus.

Associated gear
Luxman Turntable,Nad Tuner,Denon CD Player,Musical Concepts Interconnects.

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Nice review! I owned a DIA100 for a year in 2001. Bought it used for about $500 from Audio Classics in Vestal, NY. Everything you say in the review is absolutely true, but personally, I eventually found the Acurus a bit sterile, dry and emotionless. I ended up trading it for some Antique Sound Labs gear, which suited me better (until I traded those for something else, too).

Still, the Acurus is amazingly overbuilt. I miss flicking that huge power switch, and the control knobs felt like they belonged on a fire truck or something. Very reassuring. Even the packing materials were a notch above the usual styrofoam and would probably survive a number of cross country shipments. If it had a built-in phono stage, I might have stashed it away as a spare instead of trading it. Not my cup of tea, but it would have made a very reliable backup.
Yes that is a caveat not having a phono stage as I listen to a lot of LPs as well. But one can alwas use an outboard phono preamp to solve that issue.

Have found that by leaving the Aucrus DIA 100 powered 24/7 improves the overall sonic signature,quite nicely. At this point in time will use in second system that is being put together. Relocating to smaller quarters and the Acurus DIA 100 will fit that need nicely plus it eliminates the need for a preamp. Most likely will not use a turntable in that system. As I see it now the second system will be the Acurus DIA 100,Alon MK I Speakers,Denon CD Player and a Tuner to be named later. This is one integrated I can live with. Not in the same league as my Forte Amp & PreAmp which are Class A output, but this would not be a fair comparison.

Always trying unique gear and the Acurus DIA 100 has been a pleasant experience.
This is my first review on this forum and I want to extend my sincere gratitude to all who have gone before me. I auditioned the original DIA-100 amp in the store's demo room where conditions and components had been optimized. I knew full well that I would not have a very good idea of how it sounded until I took it home and hooked it up to my Snells. Imagine my surprise when I took the unit out of the box and found that all of the letters on the face plate were double stamped! Can you say t-t-tuner? Of course I was too jazzed to stuff it back in the box without trying it out. I hooked it up and was immediately amazed at the detail I heard in the sound. Records sounded rich, full, and luxurious, but CDs sounded harsh and glaring. Since there was some doubt in my neophite mind as to whether this was a desirable state of affairs, I hung onto it for a few weeks. The sound did not change appreciably.

I eventually found the time to exchange the unit, which the store was glad to do. The second unit looked AND sounded significantly different from the first. Gone were the d-double stamped letters, but more importantly the sound was flat. What had happened was that Acurus had introduced the Mark II in the interim so I brought home a free upgrade! At first I was actually disappointed, but I soon came to realize that the previous amp had been too bright and the one I have now is pure and true. I have confirmed this by auditioning it with other speakers including NHT 2.9s which some find to be on the bright side. The 2.9s sounded rather natural and sweet. I will add that the DIA 100 had no trouble driving these notoriously power-hungry speakers to high output levels without apparent effort or excessive heating. I ended up buying a pair of Vandersteen 2Ce Signatures and they seem like a good match for the Acurus.

I will add that a DIA 150 reviewer stated that the amps were assembled by the U.S. military. In my mind that would explain why they are built like tanks, and perhaps also the double-stamped face plate which makes me question their quality control.

This amp has been with me for ten years so far and I have no intention of replacing it any time soon. I have never had any problems with it after exchanging the first defective unit. The guy who owns the 2.9s was running 200 wpc Sunfire Cinema Grand Signature which retailed for $3500. I won't claim that the Acurus sounded as rich but I can honestly say that he was skeptical and that the performance of the Acurus with the 2.9s exceeded both of our expectations by a very significant margin. I can recommend this amp as an outstanding bargain on the used market.

Clever, simple design for excellent value
Heavy duty design
Natural sound (Mark II only)
Drives tough loads with ease

Annoyingly bright (prior to Mark II)
No subwoofer out
Assembled by U.S. military(?)
Questionable quality control

Similar Products Used:
Pioneer (ick), Proton (no thanks), Harman Kardon, 1980s NAD 3300PE Power Envelope integrated amp (pretty good)