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Thread: Bel Canto DAC

  1. #1
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Bel Canto DAC

    jrhymeammo...

    and all who are interested..Its magic!

    The Bel Canto is now configured running straight to the amp, bypassing the preamp altogether, Flipped the switch on the back of the DAC 2.5 and WOW! The sound is absolutely Fabulous! Totally different sound from running through the Rotel preamp. The sound is miles ahead of the Rotel pre. The first thing I noticed is the smoothness and warmth of wha'ts happing in the inner portion of the music. The sweetness of the sound is just enough to give you a feel of tubes but Bel Canto is completely solid state. The bottom end is robust and defined....never heard this much deep bass from my Cantons. And the higher extension has the edge removed while maintaining the lasting fade effect of the cymbals. There is a touch of high extention roll off but not much compared to the Rotel sound. The sound stage is not to forward and not to far back, but it just is. Female voices sound full and clear, the midrange is rich...very noticeable that the sound of the mids makes the overall sound romantic. ...the entire sound is thicker than the Rotel in my opinion. As with great gear, nice air around the instruments, even better spacing than what the Rotel preamp was able to do.

    When I had the DAC 2.5 run throught the Rotel preamp and did the A-B with the Musical Fidelity XRAYv8 they sound absolutely alike . It was when I by passed the Rotel pre that I heard the true character of the 2.5 which surpassed the XRAY...at least I think. the weak link, that I thought all along, is with my Rotel preamp. By bi-passing the Rotel, I now have that same wonderful sound that I heard at my dealers house, who has the entire Bel Canto outfit. But I do believe if one was to run any of the Bel Canto DAC's through a preamp, it has to be one that will let the Character of the Bel Canto shine through. The Rotel can't, it seems.... which leads me to ask, what about the XRAY v8...and the Rotel... if both, the XRAY v8 and Bel Canto sounded absolutely alike, it must be the Rotel pre? So I am asking those who know far more about this than I....can a preamp limit the processing of the source or am I only hearing two different preamps that sound totally different (Rotel pre and the Bel Canto built in pre)? If the latter i's correct, then why did it sound just like the XRAYv8?

    Edit: As I continue listening, there is way more noticeable detail than I remember from CD's I know backwards and forwards. This DAC is simply outstanding. Bass is punchier...and music seems thicker than I remembered, cymbals hit harder and piano is more real like. I believe sound stage is bigger, nothing of the music seems as if its coming from the speakers , but seems to be just there between the speakers. This DAC alone has taken the overall sound to another level. IF the DAC is this good, how good is a Bel Canto preamp/DAC combo I wonder?



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    Last edited by frenchmon; 04-18-2011 at 09:25 AM.
    Music...let it into your soul and be moved....with Canton...Pure Music


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    Vincent SA - T1/Vincent SP-331 MK /MF XRAY v8 /MMF-7.1/2M BLACK/ Creek OBH MK 2/Canton Vento 830.2

  2. #2
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frenchmon
    .... which leads me to ask, what about the XRAY v8...and the Rotel... if both, the XRAY v8 and Bel Canto sounded absolutely alike, it must be the Rotel pre? So I am asking those who know far more about this than I.... [1] can a preamp limit the processing of the source or [2] am I only hearing two different preamps that sound totally different (Rotel pre and the Bel Canto built in pre)? If the latter i's correct, then [3] why did it sound just like the XRAYv8?
    ...
    Glad to hear you're pleased with your Bel Canto, Frenchmon.

    As for your questions ... [1] Yes; [2] Most likely; [3] Coincidental: limitations certainly can obscure differences. By the sound of it, the Rotel is obscuring some of the inherent detail of the DACs so they sound alike.

  3. #3
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Thanks Feanor....

    By the sound of it, the Rotel is obscuring some of the inherent detail of the DACs so they sound alike.
    Thats what I am beginning to think as well

    While the DAC is a loaner from my dealer to see if I want to make a future purchase, I am not wanting to take it back now. It sounds that good. I did have a Stello DAC for a while, and thought the Stello was better, but after I've ran the Bel Canto around the Rotel Pre, I know the Bel Canto is miles ahead. The Bel Canto is on a different level altogether..it hits harder and wider and is a tad warmer as in tube warmness. More detail is also very much noticeable. I think system matching may be more important with the Bel Canto... But to be fair to Stello, I've heard they maybe coming out with a new version of the Stello DAC Signature 100.
    Music...let it into your soul and be moved....with Canton...Pure Music


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    Vincent SA - T1/Vincent SP-331 MK /MF XRAY v8 /MMF-7.1/2M BLACK/ Creek OBH MK 2/Canton Vento 830.2

  4. #4
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Still listening. Its very easy to get lost in the music the Bel Canto presents before you. I've thrown a ton of music at the Bel Canto and it just presents it to you nicely. The detail of the music is just insane. I mean, its so detailed without being analytical at all with a nice slightly warm character....nice rich midsection. Right now Yo Yo Ma has never sounded so emotional. This is a huge step up from my preamp...and the Bel Canto is bringing out a depth of low notes I never new the Canton speakers and Rotel amp could produce. I still dont know if this thing is a DAC or preamp. Runing the XRAY as a transport into the Bel Canto DAC 2.5 into the Rotel amp....just splendid
    Music...let it into your soul and be moved....with Canton...Pure Music


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Vincent SA - T1/Vincent SP-331 MK /MF XRAY v8 /MMF-7.1/2M BLACK/ Creek OBH MK 2/Canton Vento 830.2

  5. #5
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Awesome man!!!
    You already know this but to oversimplify, preamp is just a fancy volume controller with audio selector switch. Then, designers add buffers to alter(lower) impedance output. Oh yeah, they add a bit of gain in your original signal and allow you to run long cables to your amps.
    Without the buffer and additional gain, you have yourself a passive preamp.
    This is why I go with an autoformer based passive preamp.
    I can run decent length of cable to amps, and avoid all the electrical components.
    Autoformer adds a bit of color as well but the sound is less filtered and altered.
    Why add more devices that can degrade sound between your source and amp?

    I've always loved how Rotel sounds, but I think their house sound is a bit too much.
    Bypassing a preamp will always bring out purer sound. If I was going to get another DAC, I would go for a simpler Non-oversampling DAC with a quality attenuator.

  6. #6
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    Hey Frenchmon, sounds like you got some exciting synergy going on over there. Glad you're liking the pairing of the B.C./Rotel....

    I've heard the BC DAC with BC amplification, with Belles Amp's, and also with Sono's as a source. I never did get excited about what I heard with those pairings so from what I can tell from your comments the BC Dac and Rotel simply have an excellent synergy going on. You can probably confirm the synergy by trying out a different Amp and listen up for any changes. Good luck with that.

  7. #7
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrhymeammo
    Awesome man!!!
    You already know this but to oversimplify, preamp is just a fancy volume controller with audio selector switch. Then, designers add buffers to alter(lower) impedance output. Oh yeah, they add a bit of gain in your original signal and allow you to run long cables to your amps.
    Without the buffer and additional gain, you have yourself a passive preamp.
    This is why I go with an autoformer based passive preamp.
    I can run decent length of cable to amps, and avoid all the electrical components.
    Autoformer adds a bit of color as well but the sound is less filtered and altered.
    Why add more devices that can degrade sound between your source and amp?

    I've always loved how Rotel sounds, but I think their house sound is a bit too much.
    Bypassing a preamp will always bring out purer sound. If I was going to get another DAC, I would go for a simpler Non-oversampling DAC with a quality attenuator.
    Do passive preamps act as switcher and phono amps for TT?
    Music...let it into your soul and be moved....with Canton...Pure Music


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Vincent SA - T1/Vincent SP-331 MK /MF XRAY v8 /MMF-7.1/2M BLACK/ Creek OBH MK 2/Canton Vento 830.2

  8. #8
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeRoy
    Hey Frenchmon, sounds like you got some exciting synergy going on over there. Glad you're liking the pairing of the B.C./Rotel....

    I've heard the BC DAC with BC amplification, with Belles Amp's, and also with Sono's as a source. I never did get excited about what I heard with those pairings so from what I can tell from your comments the BC Dac and Rotel simply have an excellent synergy going on. You can probably confirm the synergy by trying out a different Amp and listen up for any changes. Good luck with that.
    Hi Leroy...Yes I completely understand what you are saying. Before I eliminated the preamp, it was boring and no excitement at all. It was the preamp for one reason or another not letting the detail come through so I thought. So I did a lot of on-line research and found others who have had the same problems with other preamps and other sources. Some stated that when a better preamp was added the detail came though, other decided to eliminate the preamp altogether. This is a problems with some preamps. Just as jrhymeammo said....Rotel has a strong house sound, meaning it takes over and not let the source give all the detail in favor of their sound.

    I suspect this was the problem as well when you listened with Belles amplification, but I cant understand why it would be so with the BC amplification. After I eliminated the preamp, the music was more engaging...it was thicker full of punch yet it is very smooth and the midrange is very rich. I hear detail in some of my favorite tunes that I never ever noticed before. The warmth and detail is just as it was at my dealers. I will be switching out the Rotel amp in a few days to see if its just a synergy thing with the Rotel amp or if the Bel Canto is just in a different class from the previous DAC's I've been using. But the previous DAC and the XRAY may be suffering from the same problem with the Rotel preamp. Any way stay tuned for the next thoughts of the Bel Canto/Belles amplification.

    TTYL

    -frenchmon
    Music...let it into your soul and be moved....with Canton...Pure Music


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Vincent SA - T1/Vincent SP-331 MK /MF XRAY v8 /MMF-7.1/2M BLACK/ Creek OBH MK 2/Canton Vento 830.2

  9. #9
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    frenchy as I listen to ray charles and milt Jackson through my Teradak NOS dac I am feeling jealous of you. One day, one day....I love hearing about that initial excitement, it's the crack cocaine of this hobby that brand new feeling.

  10. #10
    Forum Regular Jack in Wilmington's Avatar
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    Hey Frenchie, Do you still have the Bel Canto DAC?

    Just wondering how you like it. I tried to audition one, but the dealers in the area didn't have one in stock. I auditioned the PS Audio Digilink 3, Musical Fidelity Tri Vista and the Bryston BDA-1. In end it was really a one horse race the BDA-1 was clearly in a different league. I think the Bel Canto would have been stiffer competition. The funny thing is that my Bryston sales guy has the Tri Vista and he's been afraid to take the Bryston home. He said if I take the Tri Vista off his hands then he'll have to take the Bryston home. This will be my first stand alone DAC. Any suggestions on hookup guys?
    2 Channel System
    Dynaudio Contour 1.8 Mk II
    Pass Labs X150.5 (Amp)
    Cary SLP-03 (Preamp)
    Music Hall MMF 5.1 (TT)
    Goldring 1012GX (Cart.)
    Pro-ject SE II (Phono Box)
    Rotel RCD-1072 (CD Player)
    Bryston BDA-1 ( DAC )
    Sennheiser HD-600 (Headphones)
    Musical Fidelity Xcan V3 (Headphone Amp) _

    HT System
    Usher X-719 (Mains)
    Usher X-616 (Center)
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    Rel T2 (Subwoofer)
    Anthem MCA20 (Amp)
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  11. #11
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack in Wilmington View Post
    Just wondering how you like it. I tried to audition one, but the dealers in the area didn't have one in stock. I auditioned the PS Audio Digilink 3, Musical Fidelity Tri Vista and the Bryston BDA-1. In end it was really a one horse race the BDA-1 was clearly in a different league. I think the Bel Canto would have been stiffer competition. The funny thing is that my Bryston sales guy has the Tri Vista and he's been afraid to take the Bryston home. He said if I take the Tri Vista off his hands then he'll have to take the Bryston home. This will be my first stand alone DAC. Any suggestions on hookup guys?
    Hi Jack!

    I took the Bel Canto back to my dealer...it was a loner. I may have it as a future purchase. I thought it was an outstanding DAC. I had to run it around my preamp, straight into the amp because my Rotel pre would not pass the characteristics of the Bel Canto.

    I'm starting to wonder if the Rotel is letting the characteristics of my Musical Fidelity CDP v8 come through as well. The MF v8 sounded really really different through Peabodys CJ, but through my Rotel the Bel Canto and MF v8 sound 100% the same. I was able to get around the Rotel with the BC 2.5... it has gain. I 've talked to a few who have owned Rotel preamps in the past and they also say Rotel has a very strong "house sound" which over powers any source connected t it.

    The DAC 2.5 is slightly warm..rich mids, and great extension on the bottom and top end. I thought it was really musical....with really a high end rhythm to it. I may addition a few other DAC's to see if anything can best it, but I really like the Bel Canto 2.5...its not analytical at all,nor is it sterile, but its very very detailed and has a tad of tube sweetness thus a rich midrange thats smooth.
    Music...let it into your soul and be moved....with Canton...Pure Music


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Vincent SA - T1/Vincent SP-331 MK /MF XRAY v8 /MMF-7.1/2M BLACK/ Creek OBH MK 2/Canton Vento 830.2

  12. #12
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Just wondering...Did you listen to the DAC going through your Jolida? System matching is very important..especially with high end gear like the Bryston BDA-1 which is about $2000... about the same price as the Bel Canto DAC 2.5 which can also be used as a preamp.

    IF you get a chance, you should listen to both in your system. Bel Canto has 3 models....the 1.5 and 2.5 and the 3.5.
    The 1.5 does not have analogue inputs like the other two and it can be had for $1300. If I get the Bel Canto, it would be the 1.5.
    I did use the analogue inputs on the 2.5 and while it sounded better with greater dynamics than with my Rotel, the sound was more digital. I don't want my TT having a digital sound. I like my TT to have that smooth cohesiveness that can only come from a TT... so if you love a good vinyl play back as I do, there is no need to get the DAC with analuge inputs.

    I did and still do miss the Bel Canto in my digital play back.
    Last edited by frenchmon; 05-23-2011 at 03:13 PM.
    Music...let it into your soul and be moved....with Canton...Pure Music


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Vincent SA - T1/Vincent SP-331 MK /MF XRAY v8 /MMF-7.1/2M BLACK/ Creek OBH MK 2/Canton Vento 830.2

  13. #13
    Forum Regular Jack in Wilmington's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frenchmon View Post
    Just wondering...Did you listen to the DAC going through your Jolida? System matching is very important..especially with high end gear like the Bryston BDA-1 which is about $2000... about the same price as the Bel Canto DAC 2.5 which can also be used as a preamp.

    IF you get a chance, you should listen to both in your system. Bel Canto has 3 models....the 1.5 and 2.5 and the 3.5.
    The 1.5 does not have analogue inputs like the other two and it can be had for $1300. If I get the Bel Canto, it would be the 1.5.
    I did use the analogue inputs on the 2.5 and while it sounded better with greater dynamics than with my Rotel, the sound was more digital. I don't want my TT having a digital sound. I like my TT to have that smooth cohesiveness that can only come from a TT... so if you love a good vinyl play back as I do, there is no need to get the DAC with analuge inputs.

    I did and still do miss the Bel Canto in my digital play back.
    Hi Frenchie,
    I did run the BDA-1 through my Jolida. Right now I have my Rotel CDP running into my Musical Fidelity headphone amp and out to my Jolida. I tried all three DACs with the MF in the chain and also out of the chain. I couldn't hear any difference. What kind of cable did you run from the MF to the Bel Canto?
    2 Channel System
    Dynaudio Contour 1.8 Mk II
    Pass Labs X150.5 (Amp)
    Cary SLP-03 (Preamp)
    Music Hall MMF 5.1 (TT)
    Goldring 1012GX (Cart.)
    Pro-ject SE II (Phono Box)
    Rotel RCD-1072 (CD Player)
    Bryston BDA-1 ( DAC )
    Sennheiser HD-600 (Headphones)
    Musical Fidelity Xcan V3 (Headphone Amp) _

    HT System
    Usher X-719 (Mains)
    Usher X-616 (Center)
    Usher S-520 (Surrounds)
    Rel T2 (Subwoofer)
    Anthem MCA20 (Amp)
    Onkyo TX SR-705 (Receiver)
    Panasonic TH-46PZ85U (Plasma TV)
    Denon DBT-1713UD (BluRay/SACD)

  14. #14
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack in Wilmington View Post
    Hi Frenchie,
    I did run the BDA-1 through my Jolida. Right now I have my Rotel CDP running into my Musical Fidelity headphone amp and out to my Jolida. I tried all three DACs with the MF in the chain and also out of the chain. I couldn't hear any difference. What kind of cable did you run from the MF to the Bel Canto?
    You should hear a difference in the DAC's....thats a given.
    I used the Analysis Plus interconnects, but I ruled that out as the problem. I know my problem is the preamp. For some reason more sophisticated gear such as the Bryston and the higher end Musical Fidelity's like the Tri-Vista are not able to pass the characteristics that make them unique through a less sophisticated piece of gear. Thats why I say system matching is a must with especially higher ended gear. I was not able to hear the wonderful sound of the Bel Canto until I by-passed the Rotel preamp.

    When I had the Bel Canto and MF v8 running through the Rotel preamp, they sounded 100% the same..no difference what so ever. This led me to think the preamp was not as neutral as I thought, but passed on the Rotel sound. So now I know that I have not heard the sound of my MF v8 but the sound of the Rotel.

    I also used the Bel Canto with a $1700 Vincent tube preamp and also heard the Bel Canto characteristics and the MF v8 CDP through a Conrad Johnson preamp which also passed on the MF v8 charcteristics..... So I am puzzle as to why a $1200 Rotel preamp would not pass the sound.

    I have a Marantz Universal player which cost $700. The Rotel will let the Marantz sound shine threw but not the more expensive MFv8 which retailed for $1500 or the Bel canto.at $1995. Your Jolida may have a strong house sound and not pass the more sophisticated gear....just my 2 cents...
    Music...let it into your soul and be moved....with Canton...Pure Music


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Vincent SA - T1/Vincent SP-331 MK /MF XRAY v8 /MMF-7.1/2M BLACK/ Creek OBH MK 2/Canton Vento 830.2

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