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Bel Canto DAC 3, Mod it, upgrade SC, or move on?


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Hi folks

 

As I suffer from the disease of ‘more’ and I’d like very much to gain another level of performance in terms of honesty in the tones, and greater immediacy with imaging and sound stage representation, I’m looking for input here so I can decide which is better for me right now:

 

1. Modding my current stock BC DAC3

2. Sell it and buy another brand & model entirely?

3. upgrade my PCI sound card > M Audio Audiophile 192

 

I’m guessing the modding route one of greater value as it could likely be less expensive a way to go for me to gain what I seek. I wonder too the margin of improvement by moving up from the M Audio 192 to ???

 

I currently use a Dell Dim 4600 to feed out of the M Audio 192, via Stereovox xv2 > BC DAC 3 > system. An Iomega 1TB NAS drive supplies the file storage. J R MC12 is my main media player, Itunes backs that up for web radio.

 

My hesitancy to have the DAC3 modded, revolves around the possibility of me winding up with a DAC that is transformed into something so critically revealing and resolute so as to be without the involvement which comes from the truth & naturalness of real music, thereby reducing the music I can play through it.

 

Anyone who has had a DAC3 modded and would take the time to provide some feedback as to the results would be immensely appreciated. Or anyone who has had the same combo or a similar one and upgraded their SC from M Audio to some other, that exp would also be appreciated.

 

Of course, any other thoughts on the topic in general are welcome too, and perhaps in terms of which mod master tends to voice their mods in SUCH & SUCH A WAY… OR THE LIKE.

 

I feel naturalness & honesty in tone, timber, dynamic range, as well as ambient retrieval are of significant consequence to capture the soul of the musical recreation and enhance the illusion of the “they are here”, or the “you are there”, which I get a fair degree of now depending upon the recording..

 

Naturally, a higher level of resolution is amenable to that end, yet it should not be the spot lit attribute of a presentation. I listen for hours on end now and would wish that frame not be truncated by listening fatigue.

 

I’ve seen only the notes from Underwood HiFi on their level one and two mods, and the recent claims of the new VBS technology available thru Bel Canto for some of their e One level components.

 

As all of my system is and will continue to be digitally sourced a DAC is the key item for me. I must add too I do like what the DAC3 does for my stereo and my HT rig presently.

 

Sure I’m looking to spend some but I’d prefer not to exceed a grand or so with the DAC mod, and less for some other significant improvement to the sound by way of another SC.

 

Thanks a lot for any input or consideration on this inquiry.

 

 

Do the blindfolded squirrels juggling knives in my head bother you? If so, talk to the Elves, it was their idea to arrange some distraction so my more formidable psychosis could remain hidden.

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Hi blindjim - I recommend contacting Bel Canto about the DAC 3.1 that was used at Rocky Mountain Audiofest. It has some very good upgrades that would likely make a mod out of date. Bel Canto may be able to upgrade your existing DAC 3 to the 3.1 version.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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Thanks Chris... wasn't aware of a newer version being out. Only the intro of 'VBS' technology. I'll look into it.

 

you don't feel moving up from my M Audio card to one like the Lynx would be a decided improvement, instead?

Thanks much.

 

Do the blindfolded squirrels juggling knives in my head bother you? If so, talk to the Elves, it was their idea to arrange some distraction so my more formidable psychosis could remain hidden.

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I'm not sure how relevant this is, but one consideration is that products modified by a third party often have a lower second hand value than untouched items. So if you have the product modified and dislike it you're unlikely to recoupe much of your outlay.

 

3 seams a possible option, either with an improved output card (Lynx AES16?) or addig a reclocker between the M-Audio's SPDIF output and the input of the BelCanto.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Eloise

 

What is a reclocker?

 

I'm fast getting the nod on the fact a huge loss could be mine, if the mod is not to my liking. I get that part surely. The part I don't get is why then, do so many people mod their gear or have it modified by some pro modder with that in mind?

 

Some mods, by some modders gain quite the press and appear as substantial upgrades over the previous stock items.

 

My M A 192 via SPDIF allows for external or internal clocking. IOW, I can allow the DAC3 to do all the work, or enable the M A card to send out a reclocked signal to whatever the downstream component is. I'm set to external last time I looked. As best I can recall, there's little diff if any either way, ext or int. with the sound.

 

BTW.. nice rig.

 

jim

 

Do the blindfolded squirrels juggling knives in my head bother you? If so, talk to the Elves, it was their idea to arrange some distraction so my more formidable psychosis could remain hidden.

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Chris

 

I've scoured the BC website and see no mention of a 3.1 version of the DAC 3. Only thing I saw there was the 24/96 USB to SPDIF converter which I don't need, and the VBS tech.

 

Do you know for a fact there is such an itteration as the 3.1 out now?

 

RE Lunx

Which Lynx card is the best bang for buck card to go with? I believe I had noted here previously that there was some mention of Lynx cards (depending upon version) being difficult to integrate due to driver issues?

 

I would like to get one I think, but I'd also prefer one I can use both ways.. to upsample incoming analog to 24/96, or from a 2496 source (DVD) via digital in, and of course to output 24/96 via AES BNC or at least coax back out to my DAC.

 

Would you mind recommending a model there, and if I could find it preowned? If not, then a good place to get it from?

 

Thanks very much.

 

Jim

 

Do the blindfolded squirrels juggling knives in my head bother you? If so, talk to the Elves, it was their idea to arrange some distraction so my more formidable psychosis could remain hidden.

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Only reference I have seen on the Bel Canto website is:

http://www.belcantodesign.com/Belcanto_Visit_Us_RMAF.html

which you may have seen already.

I spoke to our Bel Canto distributor a couple of weeks ago; he described (some of?) the upgrade as follows. The power supply will be changed to a virtual battery; a separate unit supplying 12v to the DAC, so the DAC will be totally immune to mains-borne nasties. It will be possible to upgrade existing DAC3s by adding a board to accept the 12v supply. Apparently this is part of a general strategy covering the CD transport and pre-amp as well.

 

David

 

 

ALAC iTunes library on Synology DS412+ running MinimServer with Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 tablet running BubbleUPnP for control >

Hi-Fi 1: Airport Extreme bridge > Netgear switch > TP-Link optical isolation > dCS Network Bridge AND PS Audio PerfectWave Transport > PS Audio DirectStream DAC with Bridge Mk.II > Primare A60 > Harbeth SHL5plus Anniversary Edition .

Hi-Fi 2: Sonore Rendu > Chord Hugo DAC/preamp > LFD integrated > Harbeth P3ESRs and > Sennheiser HD800

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Hi Jim - The DAC 3.1 should be available soon. Contact your dealer or Bel Canto for details.

 

I use the Lynx AES16 and AES16e cards. They are digital in or out cards only. There is no A to D or D to A on the AES16 cards. These cards only input or output AES via XLR connections. You may want to contact Jesus at http://www.Sonore.us . He is a Computer Audiophile sponsor and is a Lynx Studio dealer.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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I've just found this on the battery supply:

http://www.belcantodesign.com/pdfs/VBS_White_Paper.pdf

 

David

 

 

ALAC iTunes library on Synology DS412+ running MinimServer with Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 tablet running BubbleUPnP for control >

Hi-Fi 1: Airport Extreme bridge > Netgear switch > TP-Link optical isolation > dCS Network Bridge AND PS Audio PerfectWave Transport > PS Audio DirectStream DAC with Bridge Mk.II > Primare A60 > Harbeth SHL5plus Anniversary Edition .

Hi-Fi 2: Sonore Rendu > Chord Hugo DAC/preamp > LFD integrated > Harbeth P3ESRs and > Sennheiser HD800

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Thanks David

 

I did see that previously while perusing the BC site. I also sent them a reqest for more info via their email link there.

 

I've found Bel canto to be remarkably slow in answering their emiails. I sent it over the last weekend and now 5 days later I've heard nothing back from them.... par for the course so far.

 

Thanks again though for the link

 

Do the blindfolded squirrels juggling knives in my head bother you? If so, talk to the Elves, it was their idea to arrange some distraction so my more formidable psychosis could remain hidden.

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Thanks for the link.

 

I finally got in touch with BC. The new VBS tech goes something like this... There are updates now available for BC e one pre2, CDP2, phono 2, and DAC3. This new tech gets any of those or any 3 of those components off the grid and fueled thereafter by DC.

 

For the DAC3 the VBS board installation process is $595. Then you have to decide on one of two VBS power supplies. the biggie which serves from one to three devices outfitted with the VBS upgrades is $1000 or so. The single serving one component only power supply is $350.

 

Reportedly the bigger unit is the better path, but the single serve supply is supposed to give definite improvements as well.

 

it was not confirmed an update to the e one DAC3 was forthcoming during my conversation with BC. however I suspect one might well be forthcoming next year. if so, maybe, BC will likely try to to launch it at CES... or around that time... again... maybe. Maybe not.

 

I figure once the VBS update is accomplished there's no going back to the grid... as an alternative, or as a 'just in case' option.

 

I was also told the results of this VBS ps being fed off a power cond or filter of sorts was at best mixed... that thought seems more as unecessary. The VBS ps does plug into the wall, draws juice, feeds stoarge cells. and they feed the device (s), depending upon the VBS power supply chosen. The single or the trio... $350 or $1,000.

 

At teh time of the conversation the turn around time was said to be about 2 weeks for BC to do the upgrade.

 

one point of discovery and operation came up during my convo with Matt. I had the notion the e one DAC 3 was purely a 24/96 unit using any input apart from USB. matt said all were at least 24/176., with most being 24/192. The 'most' note pertains to some chips used initially which had some troubles locking onto 192 PCM signals. Some did and some did not. This is something BC will attend to if a present owner's e one DAC 3 will not lock onto a 192 feed, by changing out the chip in question.

 

I've not seen this last bit widely noted online as the better take on upsampling software, or I suppose DACs for that matter, BUT matt said sticking to doubling or 2x the orig bit rate was a better idea as the software/hardware doing the upsampling would have an easier task of doing the job and with a higher probablility of less errors. So if the orig sampling rate was 44K using 88K would be the mo' betta pick.

 

Huh. ... nobody told me! I thought it was simple matter of prefference. Oil well.

 

Do the blindfolded squirrels juggling knives in my head bother you? If so, talk to the Elves, it was their idea to arrange some distraction so my more formidable psychosis could remain hidden.

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Hello everyone, I'm just getting started on my computer audiophile journey. Just got a macbook pro with a 256gb ssd. Now to build my system off of all of the hard work you boys have already put in. So here's a little bit of my feedback to share with you fellas.

 

I own a Dac 3 and a good friend of mine does as well. He had his upgraded with the bigger power supply and the other board. So we of course had to drag my Dac 3 over to his house and vise versa. We're both tweakers and enjoy testing out different components. They're both pretty high end systems so they show any little change or difference quite easily.

 

In both of our systems the result was the same. The VBS modification was an amazing upgrade across the board. Soundstage, Openess, Detail, etc... If I had to quantify it I would say it is a 20 - 25% upgrade over just the standard dac 3. I plan to have mine upgraded pretty soon.

 

The main reason why I'm waiting is that I'm still a little bit confused on what dac I'm going to use to run the computer audio. I am a little surprised that the Dac 3 does not have a usb or firewire built right into it. I don't want to do all of these upgrades and then decide that I want to pick up one of the other Dacs that does have that option and has been recommended on the cash list.

 

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I know one thing I'm definitely looking for something more musical and less analytical.

 

Mojo Audio Mac Mini- 2.6GHz i7 quad-core Mac Mini, 500GB SSD, 16GB RAM, Internal Filter Module, Joule 3 power supply. Rogue Audio M180s. Revel F 52s. REFLink Asynchronous USB Converter. Bel Canto Dac 3.5 with VBS power supply. Rel Gibraltar G1. All Sain Line Systems cabling. Etc.... Etc... Etc.... Lol

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I'm really interested in the Weiss Minerva versus the Bel Canto Dac 3. Has anyone tried any direct comparisons of these two?

 

I like the idea of hooking it up through firewire to my macbook pro. Not to mention the fact that I can't play 24/192 on my Bel Canto either. Has me pondering the thoughts of putting it up on the chopping block.

 

I'm still planning on keeping my cd player as well so it also interests me if and how it may sound run through the Weiss Minerva instead of the dac 3.

 

Thanks for any help in advance. : )

 

~kurt

 

Minneapolis, MN

 

Mojo Audio Mac Mini- 2.6GHz i7 quad-core Mac Mini, 500GB SSD, 16GB RAM, Internal Filter Module, Joule 3 power supply. Rogue Audio M180s. Revel F 52s. REFLink Asynchronous USB Converter. Bel Canto Dac 3.5 with VBS power supply. Rel Gibraltar G1. All Sain Line Systems cabling. Etc.... Etc... Etc.... Lol

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Hi Kurt - I feel obligated to answer this one since you are probably located across town.

 

You can likely answer this one yourself if you consider your requirements. If you need 24/192 output from a MacBook Pro then FireWire is your answer right now. The volume control on the Minerva is a little tough compared to the DAC3. You could always consider the new Weiss INT202 FireWire to AES converter. This would allow you to keep your DAC 3 with the nice volume control and get 24/192 as long as the AES input goes up to 24/192. I have a feeling the DAC 3.5 will handle 24/192.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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Hi Kurt

 

The DAC3 will do 24/192. Just not through it's USB interface. Only through AES, BNC, or SPDIF Connections.

 

You'll have to use some device to convert from your fire wire Mac to one of the aforementioned inputs.

 

I was told that some very early DAC3 would lock onto 176, but had trouble at times with some 192 inputs. This is something BC can and has remedied since.

 

Changing the power cord on the DAC3 will help that analytical aspect some. The dryness, though? Not much.

 

I've found like with any component, it's always a matter of matching the new piece to what is already there, and to your own preffs. Putting tubes into your rig will sure help. A lot. Tube buffer stage? Like the one from Musical Fidelity? There's likely others and they're not way expensive.

 

having tube pre and tube monos, the DAC3 added what I and the system needed. Otherwise, I may well have stayed with the Lavry DA 10 instead... I understand Lavry has a newer version of the DA 10 out now. having had both in my home the Lavry was unquestionably the more musical of the two IMO.

 

The BC D3 however simply had more versatility, remote vol, and substatially more bass info and slam.... and again, better suited what was on hand already.

 

I'll assume your friends upgrade included the larger DC supply and not the $350 one. Thanks for that assesment. 25% or even 20% ain't nothing to sneeze at by way of improvements... but for $1600+ ?? Hmmmm.

Good luck

 

Do the blindfolded squirrels juggling knives in my head bother you? If so, talk to the Elves, it was their idea to arrange some distraction so my more formidable psychosis could remain hidden.

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I couldn't agree more nothing warms up a system and breathes life into it like some good tubes. I forgot to list my amps in my signature. I've got the Rogue Audio Apollo Monoblocks with the some nice rolled tubes in there to add what the Dac 3 can't. It's a great combo between detail and musicality.

 

I agree it is kind of an expensive upgrade that's why I haven't pulled the trigger myself as of yet. I'm going to give Bel Canto a call and ask them about their future plans with the Dac 3.

 

Seeing that I live 5 minutes from Bel Canto's headquarters I've been there numerous times and have met and talked with the boys over there about their products previously. So hopefully I have some new info on monday. ; )

 

So I keep hearing about limitations with the volume control on the Weiss? Can anyone explain this a little further?

 

Thanks!

 

~kurt

 

Mojo Audio Mac Mini- 2.6GHz i7 quad-core Mac Mini, 500GB SSD, 16GB RAM, Internal Filter Module, Joule 3 power supply. Rogue Audio M180s. Revel F 52s. REFLink Asynchronous USB Converter. Bel Canto Dac 3.5 with VBS power supply. Rel Gibraltar G1. All Sain Line Systems cabling. Etc.... Etc... Etc.... Lol

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Yes I am just across town. I live over in Northeast Minneapolis. It's cool to see that your from the area as well.

 

I have a few questions for you that don't have anything to do with the Bel Canto Dac 3. If you get a chance give me a call I want to run a few things by you that would be more expediant to discuss by phone. : )

 

Thanks

 

kurt

 

612-964-1413

 

Mojo Audio Mac Mini- 2.6GHz i7 quad-core Mac Mini, 500GB SSD, 16GB RAM, Internal Filter Module, Joule 3 power supply. Rogue Audio M180s. Revel F 52s. REFLink Asynchronous USB Converter. Bel Canto Dac 3.5 with VBS power supply. Rel Gibraltar G1. All Sain Line Systems cabling. Etc.... Etc... Etc.... Lol

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Kurt

 

I've only just had the opportunity to read your posting of 23 October. You gave a very useful description of the benefit of the VBS mod, which I shall follow up. I've established that my DAC3 is an early model that needs a mod to play 192 kHz properly: it's fine with 176.4 kHz.

 

I note that both you and your friend have the CD2 transport as well as the DAC 3, so I guess you needed the larger power supply to cope with the 2 boxes. Did you try the DAC3 with VBS while leaving the CD2 on mains supply? If so was the improvement similar?

 

I understand your quest for something "more musical and less analytical". I tend to think in terms of "natural and transparent" and have found that it is easy to throw the baby out with the bath water: I went from Spendor to Audio Physic to get more transparency but lost some magic in the mids, so now have Harbeths which give me an acceptable compromise. Reading the reviews, your YG Acoustics Kipod should deliver what you want in spades. As regards having a tube output stage in a DAC, I have had a Musical Fidelity Trivista DAC for some years but I relegated it to my computer system once I heard the Bel Canto DAC3. The Trivista sound could be called 'warm' but it is also darker and less transparent than the DAC3.

 

Happy hunting

 

David

 

ALAC iTunes library on Synology DS412+ running MinimServer with Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 tablet running BubbleUPnP for control >

Hi-Fi 1: Airport Extreme bridge > Netgear switch > TP-Link optical isolation > dCS Network Bridge AND PS Audio PerfectWave Transport > PS Audio DirectStream DAC with Bridge Mk.II > Primare A60 > Harbeth SHL5plus Anniversary Edition .

Hi-Fi 2: Sonore Rendu > Chord Hugo DAC/preamp > LFD integrated > Harbeth P3ESRs and > Sennheiser HD800

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Thanks David I'm glad to hear that you found my post useful. It's always nice to be able to give a little back to all of the helpful people on this forum.

 

Yes the Bel Canto Cd2 does also benefit greatly from the VBS upgrade. If your using both it makes this upgrade a lot more useful than just for the dac3. The little cord that comes with the cd2 doesn't quite cut it.

 

~kurt

 

Mojo Audio Mac Mini- 2.6GHz i7 quad-core Mac Mini, 500GB SSD, 16GB RAM, Internal Filter Module, Joule 3 power supply. Rogue Audio M180s. Revel F 52s. REFLink Asynchronous USB Converter. Bel Canto Dac 3.5 with VBS power supply. Rel Gibraltar G1. All Sain Line Systems cabling. Etc.... Etc... Etc.... Lol

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