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Questions on a new old Bel Canto DAC2 ??


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Just got an old Bel Canto DAC2 off Ebay and am loving it. My CDs sound like different CDs altogether. But, the mid and upper base and some of the mid tones (am I defining this right?) at times sound muffled or fuzzy. Or "off". Especially it seems when the music is complicated, layered and fast.

 

I don't even know if the unit is broken in yet- it's used but looks very new, especially for it's age.

I don't know if the power cable should be upgraded. It's a heavy duty one but nothing special I don't think.

My CD player right now is a pretty old RCA player- I do need an upgrade at some point. It will only support toslink- not coaxial, and toslink on this DAC is somewhat reduced bit depth.

The toslink cables are cheap- radio shack, but only 3 ft.

I have it on a parasound set of amp & preamp; 2100 and 2125, paired with 2 dynaudio excite 14's- small bookshelf speakers. Pretty good- good RCA gold component connects and speaker wire.

 

Is this DAC known for a little fuzziness or is it the CD player? Or the cheap toslink cable? Or power cord? Is it OK to have the dac sitting on top of the CD player which is sitting on the pre-amp? Or is that too much vibration?

 

Even with the off and on fuzziness I really do like it. Music is once again enjoyable : D

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Congratulations on your new purchase. I have been a Bel Canto user for a long time and their components wouldn't generally be described as "fuzzy" or "muffled". I would, in fact, categorize them as exactly the opposite. Admittedly, I do not have direct experience with the Dac 2.

 

In your case, it sounds like you should perhaps address the CD player and see if that changes the performance. While I do believe in performance power cables, I would address the old RCA first. If the issue persists, you can always have Bel Canto check over your Dac; I have always found the customer service to be very helpful.

 

I do think addressing vibration is very important; I find this especially true for CD playback. Again, I don't think isolation will affect a truly underperforming component, but in my experience, reducing vibration has a non-subtle effect. I believe that much of "improving" sound quality is reducing noise that degrades the sound.

 

If it were me, I would probably try a different CD player and start to think about a dedicated rack or some sort of vibration control in a bookshelf set up.

 

Best of luck!

 

 

 

Just got an old Bel Canto DAC2 off Ebay and am loving it. My CDs sound like different CDs altogether. But, the mid and upper base and some of the mid tones (am I defining this right?) at times sound muffled or fuzzy. Or "off". Especially it seems when the music is complicated, layered and fast.

 

I don't even know if the unit is broken in yet- it's used but looks very new, especially for it's age.

I don't know if the power cable should be upgraded. It's a heavy duty one but nothing special I don't think.

My CD player right now is a pretty old RCA player- I do need an upgrade at some point. It will only support toslink- not coaxial, and toslink on this DAC is somewhat reduced bit depth.

The toslink cables are cheap- radio shack, but only 3 ft.

I have it on a parasound set of amp & preamp; 2100 and 2125, paired with 2 dynaudio excite 14's- small bookshelf speakers. Pretty good- good RCA gold component connects and speaker wire.

 

Is this DAC known for a little fuzziness or is it the CD player? Or the cheap toslink cable? Or power cord? Is it OK to have the dac sitting on top of the CD player which is sitting on the pre-amp? Or is that too much vibration?

 

Even with the off and on fuzziness I really do like it. Music is once again enjoyable : D

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Forget power cables until you get the system sounding the way it should. What DAC did you use before this? Did you have a similar problem then? The one cable that could potentially be messing things up is the toslink cable. If it has dust at either connection it can throw things off. That's an easy and free fix to start with. As the poster above said it could be the older CD player being used as a transport. It also may be time to think about getting your CD's on a hard drive and eventually streaming Tidal for even. Enter sound. Just a thought

 

 

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The Bel Canto could now be exposing weaknesses in the rest of your sound chain, for example the CD player is a good bet. After a while, the lasers/tray/spindle do get out of alignment, just like any mechanically linked device.

RIG:  MB Pro - Benchmark DAC3 L - LA4  AHB2 | Paradigm Sig S6 Cables:  Van Damme, Canare 4S11, Lifatec optical, Wireworld and IsoTek power

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The power cord will make a huge difference in getting the most of the DAC. Especially a reference one like the Audience AU24se. It will sound like a much more expensive DAC with that cord installed.

Waversa hub > Lumin S1 > Bakoon HPA-21

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Thanks DP, I really do like it. Of course, this is my first DAC- so I wouldn't know to compare it to anything. Right now it almost sounds like an LP- or at least, not so harsh like I'm used to hearing with CDs. Good to know I can make it better. & that is very helpful and I'm glad to hear it's most likely not the DAC! OK, yes, the CD player will be next, but probably not this month. Glad to hear the Bel Canto company is helpful as well. I really wanted something at least partially made in the U.S.

 

Congratulations on your new purchase. I have been a Bel Canto user for a long time and their components wouldn't generally be described as "fuzzy" or "muffled". I would, in fact, categorize them as exactly the opposite. Admittedly, I do not have direct experience with the Dac 2.

 

In your case, it sounds like you should perhaps address the CD player and see if that changes the performance. While I do believe in performance power cables, I would address the old RCA first. If the issue persists, you can always have Bel Canto check over your Dac; I have always found the customer service to be very helpful.

 

I do think addressing vibration is very important; I find this especially true for CD playback. Again, I don't think isolation will affect a truly underperforming component, but in my experience, reducing vibration has a non-subtle effect. I believe that much of "improving" sound quality is reducing noise that degrades the sound.

 

If it were me, I would probably try a different CD player and start to think about a dedicated rack or some sort of vibration control in a bookshelf set up.

 

Best of luck!

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Thanks CT, Yes, eventually I'd like a music server. Either bought or DIY. Right now a good one is out of my price range. I guess the first thing is to get an old Sony ES or other player and go from there. I'll take my time. Against all odds I think this DAC might not be broken in. In the meantime I can start transferring CD's to an external hard drive.

 

This is the first DAC I've owned. I did a lot of reading before buying it, and then saw a great deal on Ebay.

 

Forget power cables until you get the system sounding the way it should. What DAC did you use before this? Did you have a similar problem then? The one cable that could potentially be messing things up is the toslink cable. If it has dust at either connection it can throw things off. That's an easy and free fix to start with. As the poster above said it could be the older CD player being used as a transport. It also may be time to think about getting your CD's on a hard drive and eventually streaming Tidal for even. Enter sound. Just a thought

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Computer Audiophile

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You should do what you feel comfortable doing. My own personal is that cabling makes a difference both good or bad. Put together your components first and then you can think cabling. I never understood spending as much or more on any type of cabling as it would cost to upgrade components. Again JMHO

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Thanks for a recommendation Skyline, although I don't need a USB cable. I think I'd be looking for something priced under $50, unless I could sit down and listen, so maybe whatever I would get wouldn't make a difference. The DAC itself was $300.

 

The power cord will make a huge difference in getting the most of the DAC. Especially a reference one like the Audience AU24se. It will sound like a much more expensive DAC with that cord installed.
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Thanks CT. I don't like to gamble, so I will certainly take your advice. The toslink cable is pretty flimsy, but I'll be looking for a CDP and later a MS with coaxial. I'm planning on spending as little as I can for decent cable. I think the secret to happiness is second best. The "best" always makes people miserable. Second best is generally pretty darn good.

 

You should do what you feel comfortable doing. My own personal is that cabling makes a difference both good or bad. Put together your components first and then you can think cabling. I never understood spending as much or more on any type of cabling as it would cost to upgrade components. Again JMHO
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Made in Minneapolis. The winters are cold there so the hi-fi components sound great.

 

Just trying a different CD transport is a good idea to put your mind at ease even if you don't commit to buying one. A lot of others have suggested a music server. Given that the DAC2 pre-dated the switch to music servers, it doesn't have as many inputs as a modern DAC. This may influence your music server vs. CD player decision. A lot of listeners on this website shun CDs. I use both; at least have the ability to rip CDs to a server. Lots of titles are still not available in hi-res and sometimes you need to buy the CD even if it is only to rip it.

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Thanks, yes. I'm thinking an OLD Sony es 5 disc player. Or something as good- 90's. I'm reading up and taking notes on them now. I don't want to spend a lot on a player then turn around and get a server. If I can find an old Sony tank and just use as a transport that might do for now. I'm thinking a heavy well built player might be as good as anything I can afford that is just built as a transport. There are some guys in the next town who rebuild some of these. I might call and see if they have anything or just what they can re-build. Change out the laser assembly if they can.

 

"The winters are cold there so the hi-fi components sound great." ?? Because they spend more time inside in the winter and so listen to what they are working on???

 

Made in Minneapolis. The winters are cold there so the hi-fi components sound great.

 

Just trying a different CD transport is a good idea to put your mind at ease even if you don't commit to buying one. A lot of others have suggested a music server. Given that the DAC2 pre-dated the switch to music servers, it doesn't have as many inputs as a modern DAC. This may influence your music server vs. CD player decision. A lot of listeners on this website shun CDs. I use both; at least have the ability to rip CDs to a server. Lots of titles are still not available in hi-res and sometimes you need to buy the CD even if it is only to rip it.

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Thanks, yes. I'm thinking an OLD Sony es 5 disc player. Or something as good- 90's...

 

I have a Pioneer Elite DV-45A that was a crowd favorite to modify (i.e. Modwright) back in the day that I am trying to find a caring home for. It is in mint condition seriously,probably under 30 hours of use, suitable as a museum piece next to the Mona Lisa.

RIG:  MB Pro - Benchmark DAC3 L - LA4  AHB2 | Paradigm Sig S6 Cables:  Van Damme, Canare 4S11, Lifatec optical, Wireworld and IsoTek power

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Lynn, Audioquest makes some of the top neutral sounding cables at all price ranges. They have plenty that will work good with your system with any of the connections you need. There are plenty of names of cables out there. I've had plenty through my systems over the years as have many of us. I personally have found the AQ cables at all the price ranges just get out of the way and allow you to get the most out of your components. There is a good reason they are one of the better selling cable out there and it's not just marketing. I have used MIT, Transparent, Wireworld, AQ as well as some of the smaller companies for years and I have found that if you have good sounding components to start with, that the cables should just get out of the way and not 'change' the sound. JMHO, but I demand great sound for what I pay and I rarely have to change the cables even when I upgrade a component. The only thing I've found to make a full component upgrade to date (iRT cables, cords and power 'supplies') is the new line from AQ called Niagara. Even non AQ guys who put the power strip into their systems are getting them. Garth Powell from Furetech came to AQ to invent these devices. They are not in your range right now. Eventually they are coming out with a 500 one though and they will have a line of cords to go with them at all price ranges. ONCE you get your system to where you love it, then you can get something like that in along with others to see if they are worth the price. Depending on what you have as a system, it may or may not be what you want. Just because we all like what we are telling you, doesn't mean YOU will like it. Listen and trust your own ears.

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I think your problem is your CD player that you use as a transport. The SPDIF output must have high levels of jitter. To add the insult to the injury - it has TOSlink optical output not COAX, which adds considerable amount of interface jitter.

 

Bel Canto DAC2 pretty old digital input receiver chip, which makes it suspectible to those kind of distortions.

 

Before you try any upmarket power cords, optical cables etc, do yourself a favour, and try a SPDIF reclocker. It will reclock your digital signal (changing it from TOS optical to Coax at the same time), making your old CD player perform like a much more expensive, dedicated CD transport.

 

6moons: audioreviews Wyred4Sound Remedy

Wyred4Sound Remedy S/PDIF reclocker review | DAR__KO

 

I have seen one used recently for $199 in the classifieds.

Adam

 

PC: Hot rodded CAPS v4 Pipeline: Teradak ATX linear PSU, Jcat Femto USB card, UpTone Audio JS-2 + 2x LPS-1.2 combo, Jcat SSD battery PSU, Jcat SATA cable, TotalDAC D1 USB cable, SOtM sMS-200, W4S Recovery USB, Jcat USB Isolator, Win 2012, AO v2.10

Digital: Lampizator Pacific DAC

Amp: Dan D'Agostino Momentum Stereo

Speakers: Magcio M3

Cables: AudioQuest WEL Signature IC / Shunyata Anaconda Z-Tron SC

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I have a Pioneer Elite DV-45A that was a crowd favorite to modify (i.e. Modwright) back in the day that I am trying to find a caring home for. It is in mint condition seriously,probably under 30 hours of use, suitable as a museum piece next to the Mona Lisa.

 

Thanks PM, I'm going to look for a multidic player or changer. I did get to hear an OK Sony which sounded great with the warm speakers I have. I'll probably spend around $100 or less. Unless I go Parasound or Arcam.

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Thank you, good advice. I hear the name Audioquest over and over- so it's easy to remember. And yes- most important to define one's own sense of sound. I bought a pair of Emotiva speakers a while ago and absolutely hate them. I'm sure others would love them. They physically hurt my ears.

 

Lynn, Audioquest makes some of the top neutral sounding cables at all price ranges. They have plenty that will work good with your system with any of the connections you need. There are plenty of names of cables out there. I've had plenty through my systems over the years as have many of us. I personally have found the AQ cables at all the price ranges just get out of the way and allow you to get the most out of your components. There is a good reason they are one of the better selling cable out there and it's not just marketing. I have used MIT, Transparent, Wireworld, AQ as well as some of the smaller companies for years and I have found that if you have good sounding components to start with, that the cables should just get out of the way and not 'change' the sound. JMHO, but I demand great sound for what I pay and I rarely have to change the cables even when I upgrade a component. The only thing I've found to make a full component upgrade to date (iRT cables, cords and power 'supplies') is the new line from AQ called Niagara. Even non AQ guys who put the power strip into their systems are getting them. Garth Powell from Furetech came to AQ to invent these devices. They are not in your range right now. Eventually they are coming out with a 500 one though and they will have a line of cords to go with them at all price ranges. ONCE you get your system to where you love it, then you can get something like that in along with others to see if they are worth the price. Depending on what you have as a system, it may or may not be what you want. Just because we all like what we are telling you, doesn't mean YOU will like it. Listen and trust your own ears.
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Thanks Elberoth, THAT is really interesting. Except that it down samples. Maybe there is one that doesn't. Might be what I get after a new (old) player. & I love the 6moons review; "The Remedy will clean out your clock. Pow. KO. Call the ambulance!

Sorry. Relying on slang and inside knowledge makes for a poor joke when you must explain it after. "

Love translated German humor : )

 

Or... Maybe I should check these gadgets out first? I do want a multidisc changer, but for now.. This old RCA is built like a tank. It will never die. It's already going through a DAC, if it goes through a re-clocker, what's left to change? Other than playing multiple discs?

 

Would a re-clocker be worth it on an old sony, parasound or arcam changer? Most of the older stuff on I see on ebay originally retailed for 3 - $500. With everything that can go wrong with newer CD players I won't spend much on one.

 

 

I think your problem is your CD player that you use as a transport. The SPDIF output must have high levels of jitter. To add the insult to the injury - it has TOSlink optical output not COAX, which adds considerable amount of interface jitter.

 

Bel Canto DAC2 pretty old digital input receiver chip, which makes it suspectible to those kind of distortions.

 

Before you try any upmarket power cords, optical cables etc, do yourself a favour, and try a SPDIF reclocker. It will reclock your digital signal (changing it from TOS optical to Coax at the same time), making your old CD player perform like a much more expensive, dedicated CD transport.

 

6moons: audioreviews Wyred4Sound Remedy

Wyred4Sound Remedy S/PDIF reclocker review | DAR__KO

 

I have seen one used recently for $199 in the classifieds.

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Or... Maybe I should check these gadgets out first? I do want a multidisc changer, but for now.. This old RCA is built like a tank. It will never die. It's already going through a DAC, if it goes through a re-clocker, what's left to change? Other than playing multiple discs?

 

Would a re-clocker be worth it on an old sony, parasound or arcam changer? Most of the older stuff on I see on ebay originally retailed for 3 - $500. With everything that can go wrong with newer CD players I won't spend much on one.

 

The reclocker would be worth its money especially on an old CDP, with optical digital output. The worse the player, the bigger the difference. It will basicly made it sound like an expensive, dedicated CD transport.

 

The sound will get much smoother, more fluid and analog sounding. Resolution should increase as well.

Adam

 

PC: Hot rodded CAPS v4 Pipeline: Teradak ATX linear PSU, Jcat Femto USB card, UpTone Audio JS-2 + 2x LPS-1.2 combo, Jcat SSD battery PSU, Jcat SATA cable, TotalDAC D1 USB cable, SOtM sMS-200, W4S Recovery USB, Jcat USB Isolator, Win 2012, AO v2.10

Digital: Lampizator Pacific DAC

Amp: Dan D'Agostino Momentum Stereo

Speakers: Magcio M3

Cables: AudioQuest WEL Signature IC / Shunyata Anaconda Z-Tron SC

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Thanks Elberoth, THAT is really interesting. Except that it down samples. Maybe there is one that doesn't.

 

In your case (44.1kHz signal from your CDP), the Remedy will upsample the signal, not downsample. This is how it gets rid of the jitter (using asynchronous upsampling).

 

Many CD players use this tech to get rid of the jitter - even $40.000 Soulution and Vitus CD players (just to name the two).

 

Nothing to worry about.

Adam

 

PC: Hot rodded CAPS v4 Pipeline: Teradak ATX linear PSU, Jcat Femto USB card, UpTone Audio JS-2 + 2x LPS-1.2 combo, Jcat SSD battery PSU, Jcat SATA cable, TotalDAC D1 USB cable, SOtM sMS-200, W4S Recovery USB, Jcat USB Isolator, Win 2012, AO v2.10

Digital: Lampizator Pacific DAC

Amp: Dan D'Agostino Momentum Stereo

Speakers: Magcio M3

Cables: AudioQuest WEL Signature IC / Shunyata Anaconda Z-Tron SC

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Lynn124 - I have just reread the DAC 2 review on 6moons, and it seems that the DAC already uses internal asynchronous upsampling. Which means, that it will probably not benefit from Remedy or other reclockers much, as its jitter attenuation must be quite high.

 

The problem you are describing is most likely not related to the quality of your CDP you are using as a transport (or a digital cable).

 

Sorry for the confusion my posts have created. The Bel Canto DAC2 is almost a 15 year old design, which made me assume it doesn't use any ASRC.

Adam

 

PC: Hot rodded CAPS v4 Pipeline: Teradak ATX linear PSU, Jcat Femto USB card, UpTone Audio JS-2 + 2x LPS-1.2 combo, Jcat SSD battery PSU, Jcat SATA cable, TotalDAC D1 USB cable, SOtM sMS-200, W4S Recovery USB, Jcat USB Isolator, Win 2012, AO v2.10

Digital: Lampizator Pacific DAC

Amp: Dan D'Agostino Momentum Stereo

Speakers: Magcio M3

Cables: AudioQuest WEL Signature IC / Shunyata Anaconda Z-Tron SC

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Beat me to it! I just started reading the manual for the DAC2 and found the same thing. And came back here to post.

 

I don't know if I'm imagining it or if the lower midrange is a little bit clearer now. I put some cloth behind and under the speakers & put the DAC on it's own shelf. It's possible the DAC IS still breaking in, against all odds... Have used it for about another 30 - 40 hours so far. I'm still hearing a little bit of fuzziness- using Alison Krauss CDs as reference. I would think with this DAC and Dynaudio speakers I shouldn't. They are only small excite 14's, but still.

 

I did see the DAC2 "up-samples 16/44.1 signal to24/192 and applies a 96kHz slow roll off filter". Not entirely sure what that means or what effect it would have.

 

Lynn124 - I have just reread the DAC 2 review on 6moons, and it seems that the DAC already uses internal asynchronous upsampling. Which means, that it will probably not benefit from Remedy or other reclockers much, as its jitter attenuation must be quite high.

 

The problem you are describing is most likely not related to the quality of your CDP you are using as a transport (or a digital cable).

 

Sorry for the confusion my posts have created. The Bel Canto DAC2 is almost a 15 year old design, which made me assume it doesn't use any ASRC.

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Answered my question on that I think. The roll off filter effects high frequency, which I would take to mean higher tones. The higher tones sound wonderful. It's the lower midranges that are slightly fuzzy.

 

"

1.

The latest S/PDIF and up-sampling receiver technology eliminates Jitter sources on the DAC

clock and 24 bit processing lowers the quantization noise floor by over 40dB – well below

that of the original recording. The DAC clock in the DAC2 is a local Crystal Oscillator driving

the Digital Filter/DAC directly. A buffered clock output from the Digital Filter is sent back to

the input sample rate converter circuit where it is compared digitally to the incoming data,

setting internal registers for calculating the precise relationship between the incoming

S/PDIF data and the DAC clock –

eliminating jitter

.

Result: Clear, superb musical

resolution.

2.

The DAC2 uses a Burr-Brown PCM 1738e 24/192 DAC along with 96 kHz slow roll-off digital

filter technology for minimal time domain errors, significantly improving transient response.

The new Asynchronous Sample Rate Converter (ASRC) used in the DAC2 provides a

minimum of 139 dB of dynamic range.

Result: Any filter residue is well below the noise

floor of the original recording, providing better imaging and high frequency

coherence.

3.

Most processors use brick wall filters that introduce a time smearing effect. The DAC2 uses

a 96 kHz, slow roll-off Digital filter, similar to an analog moving coil cartridge.

Result:

Analog-like energy response with minimal coloration of high frequency harmonics.

 

Beat me to it! I just started reading the manual for the DAC2 and found the same thing. And came back here to post.

 

I don't know if I'm imagining it or if the lower midrange is a little bit clearer now. I put some cloth behind and under the speakers & put the DAC on it's own shelf. It's possible the DAC IS still breaking in, against all odds... Have used it for about another 30 - 40 hours so far. I'm still hearing a little bit of fuzziness- using Alison Krauss CDs as reference. I would think with this DAC and Dynaudio speakers I shouldn't. They are only small excite 14's, but still.

 

I did see the DAC2 "up-samples 16/44.1 signal to24/192 and applies a 96kHz slow roll off filter". Not entirely sure what that means or what effect it would have.

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Elberoth, sorry to post so much, but found something interesting. I think your first answer may be right;

http://stereotimes.com/CD040907.shtml

"the DAC2 didn't seem to get along with the Lambda. Every now and then the signal light on the DAC would go from green to red, with a corresponding dead silence. During a lengthy telephonic correspondence with Bel Canto about this problem, I eventually put an oscilloscope on the S/PDIF output of the Lambda and discovered an intermittent instability in its clock, to which the receiver chip of the DAC1 had not been sensitive, but which caused the receiver chip of the DAC2 to shut down."

 

It's possible the same thing is happening with the CD player but on a much slighter level. Maybe it will be corrected with a different CD changer.

 

 

Lynn124 - I have just reread the DAC 2 review on 6moons, and it seems that the DAC already uses internal asynchronous upsampling. Which means, that it will probably not benefit from Remedy or other reclockers much, as its jitter attenuation must be quite high.

 

The problem you are describing is most likely not related to the quality of your CDP you are using as a transport (or a digital cable).

 

Sorry for the confusion my posts have created. The Bel Canto DAC2 is almost a 15 year old design, which made me assume it doesn't use any ASRC.

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