Bellisima and Joseph
As expected, Bel Canto Design's complement of components fully lived up to their reputation for affordable excellence. The top-of-the-line e.One CD2 CD transport/player ($2995), prototype DAC 3.5 (price not yet set), two REF500M Balanced mono amplifiers ($1995/each), REF VBS1 Virtual Battery Supply, which can power up to three front-end products ($1495), USB Link 24/96 USB to /SPDIF link ($495), and new USB Lightlink High Speed Optical ST glass-fiber link (price not supplied) were fed by an Airport Express-equipped computer server. As Bel Canto President Michael McCormick explained, "The DAC 3.5's excellent jitter rejection is at the center of the system." A Running Springs Power Conditioner completed the chain… except for one major component, the speakers.
Thanks to Joseph Audio's new Pearl 2 loudspeakers ($28,500/pair), the system's airy placement, lovely warmth, and fine highs were delivered in spades. Joseph's lauded babies, which have previously won a host of awards and two consecutive Best of Shows, now feature sleeker cabinets with side panels fastened from the inside, and new refinements to their crossovers. Their frequency response extends from 25Hz to 21kHz, ±2dB, and their 8 ohm nominal impedance never dips below 6 ohms. Those are fabulous specs in anyone's book. So is the sound.
Pictured, left to right, are John Stronczer, Bel Canto's CEO and chief designer; PJ Zornosa, North American Sales Manager; Michael McCormick, President; and Jonathan Scull, publicist extraordinaire and all-around bon vivant. Although Jeff Joseph was lamentably absent for this once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity, he joined us for post-show dinner and smiled his way into the show wrap-up photo that heads this blog.