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New Bel Canto DACs


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Stereophile has a blog entry from CES about 3 new DACs coming fom Bel Canto.

 

e.One DAC1.5 at $1,395

e.One DAC2.5 at $1,995

e.One DAC3.5VB at $3,495.

 

So, looks like Bel Canto is going down market (and up), which is interesting.

 

From the blog:

 

" ... all three have AES, BNC, Coaxial RCA and Toslink inputs, with the 3.5VB also including an ST Glass-Fiber input (to be used with the company's USB 24/96 LightLink converter for long cable runs) and the other two having instead 24/96 USB. The 3.5VB and 2.5 also have analog inputs. All three have 24-bit digital volume control and will be available in February."

 

So, the top end drops USB in favor of a connection type for a new product also showed off at RMAF, the USB "LightLink".

 

Given that all three new DACs have a "jitter-eliminating Two-Stage Master Reference UltraClock", I'm assuming Bel Canto is keeping their USB interface and upsampling approach intact.

 

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  • 10 months later...
  • 3 weeks later...

 

"Off the grid" use.. this seems to be the new tact BC wants to take going fforward.

 

The Off the Grid action is an upgrade they are offering to current BC DAC III owners.

 

Older BC DAC IIIs can be upgraded almost totally to the new 3.5 version save for the analog inputs, the face plate and the ability of the 3.5 to convey bit and sampling rate info on screen.

 

I have a BC DAC III. I also use a upper end preamp, so analog inputs on any DAC aren't important to me.

 

Notes I;'ve read from a few BC DAC 3 owners who have done the OT G upgrade are happy with the results.

 

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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It's a pity that only the flagship DACs (DAC3, DAC3.5) can benefit from the Virtual Battery module. The other BC line up that can use VB are Pre3 and CD2, which I do not need.

 

 

Mac Mini ? Weiss DAC202 ? ML 326s ? ML 532h ? Wilson Sophia3

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I've heard from a reliable source that the Bel Canto DAC 3.5v sounds very, very good. On par with the Alpha from Berkeley Audio Design, which as everyone knows, is the Best DAC Ever Made. ;-)

 

LOL.

 

Anyway, my understanding / translation of the reports I got was that the two DACs would compete pretty much tit-for-tat, which makes sense as their pricing is pretty much on a par. Great extension in treble and bass, natural mids, with performance dependent upon how the DAC was fed. Note that (IIRC) neither the 3.5 nor the Alpha have any way to directly connect to a computer (other than Toslink).

 

The primary difference, performance-wise, had nothing to do with the conversion, but rather that the Bel Canto is very quiet, while that is not true of the transformer on the Alpha (every one that I've run across hums a bit).

 

The concern I'd have is about the battery. Even with great battery management, batteries just don't last forever (or even for several years) without degradation.

 

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... when I spoke with BC about those upgrades and some other stuff a year ago or so, I believe I was told the battery (s) was not an expensive item to replace. < $100? Maybe < $60? and thee life expectancy was lengthy... like 4-6 years. I also think they said it remains plugged into current so it doesn't just drop offline after a few hours. So one doesn't have to be mindful of the playback time frame.

 

It sounded attractive to me then... but the expense of over $1000 to get off the grid and the benefit thereof seemed pricey to me.... albeit it would free up one kind of pricey power cord too.... hmmmm.

 

True the USB input was replaced by the glass, but there's lots of ways to get audio from a server, desktop, or laptop out and into a DAC. Bridges, USB converters, or sound cards... PCI; PCI E... USB.

 

Unless other changes were implimented as well in the new line up, the BC DAC 3 does an outstanding job of jitter reduction all by itself.

 

I found the sonic diffs quite marginal, from really expensive CD players to really inexpensive ones when being used as transports with my DAC3. The diffs were still more marginal when connected directly out of my pc.... in that instance the sound card or USB interface mattered more so than any other aspect of the computer.

 

Thereafter, it was the cable in use connecting the two in either case.... transport.... or computer.

 

I've used TOS only from my megga CD player and it isn't the ATT Tos GLASS TYPE.

 

 

 

 

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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The new Lightlink 24/96 (USB to ST glass optical) is developed for the DAC3.5 (which as blindjim says, has ST input in place of USB). Wonder how the lightlink, which adaptively converts USB signal to SPDIF via glass optical, adding both the transmitter and receiver in between could be better than USB direct to I2S? They must have a reason for that, hmmm

 

Mac Mini ? Weiss DAC202 ? ML 326s ? ML 532h ? Wilson Sophia3

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Bel Canto may be reasoning that the advantages of 100% *electrical* isolation outweighs any jitter added by the link. Naim have commented similar wrt connecting their DAC to a computer. Others may disagree but I suspect that is their reasoning.

 

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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Well you may be right. I tried both toslink and USB From my mac mini to the 2.5 and found toslink to be slightly better. I wasn't so sure at first but now I am. I used audio quest carbon USB, didn't try any other on them tho.

 

Mac Mini ? Weiss DAC202 ? ML 326s ? ML 532h ? Wilson Sophia3

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just made the jump 5 days ago to an entryl level Bel Canto set up with the Bel Canot Dac 1.5 and REF150s amp. This replaced a Wadia 151 PowerDAC and previous to that a Cambridge Audio DacMagic and integrated amp.

 

I have about 100 hours on them now so they should be broken in. I am honestly not blown away by the differences but there are subtleties in detail that I am noticing. Unfortunately in my living circumstances now (small apartment) I can't really push this as I might like to really see if they open up. There are some functional advantages to the Bel Canot set up that I appreciate and the build quality is exemplary.

 

"If you fly a flag of hate you are no kin to me"

Ry Cooder

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...I don't think.

 

If preowned a bit more ought to make things abuot what they'll be. Say 50 hrs more... again, if used.

 

Travel... sitting around... and especially air travel does weird things to electronics.

 

Is the BC DAC comprably priced units? Hopefully all will turn out well... when do the neighbors leave their apt? Crank it then.

 

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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They are new devices and the manufacturer recommondation for break in is 48 hours non-stop playback on the amp and 100 hours on the DAC.

 

With regards to learning how loud to playback equipment in an apartment (this is the fist time I have lived in an apartment in 38 years) I usually step outside my front door, around to the front window, and outside the patio door. If I can hear playback from about 5 feet away I figure I am too loud. I may give it a push for a few moments but I would really like to let them rock out.

 

"If you fly a flag of hate you are no kin to me"

Ry Cooder

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My DAC 3.5VB needed two to three weeks to smooth out and open up. Also I have been told that the VB Supply has no battery in it, it's a large capacitor bank.

 

By the way, I own a BC DAC 2 and compared it to the old DAC 3 and is wasn't much of a difference in my system as I'm running single ended. The DAC 3.5VB is completely different. The bass control and dynamics are just outstanding. Once I heard it compared to my old DAC 2 I had to have it. A very enthusiastic thumbs up for the DAC 3.5VB!

 

 

 

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Well maybe I will just let these play around the clock for the next four days during the holiday weekend and get another 100 hours on them. So far the soundstage I am hearing seems a little anchored to the speakers.

 

"If you fly a flag of hate you are no kin to me"

Ry Cooder

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