Bel Canto e1X power amplifier Associated Equipment

Sidebar 2: Associated Equipment

Analog sources: Pro-Ject Classic SB turntable with Hana SL moving-coil cartridge; Rega P2 turntable with Ortofon 2M Mono cartridge.
Digital sources: Yamaha BD-A1060 universal disc player; Audiokernel Euphony Summus, Intel NUC-based music server/player/streamer running JRiver Media Center 23 and Roon; Sonore ultraRendu streamer with LPS.
Preamplifiers: PS Audio Gain Cell DAC/Preamp; Musical Surroundings Phonomena II+ phono preamplifier with Musical Surroundings LPS; Sutherland KC Vibe phono preamp.
Power amplifiers: Emotiva XPA-1L monoblocks; Schiit Audio Vidar stereo amplifier.
Loudspeakers: Magnepan LRS fitted with aftermarket Magna Riser stands; Zu Audio Omen with Mk.II tweeter/cap upgrade; Klipsch RB-3 compact monitors; REL T1 subwoofer; Definitive Technologies Powerfield 1500 subwoofer.
Cables: Interconnects: AudioQuest Yukon (XLR and RCA), Pro-Ject Connect-it SI. Digital: Pangea Premier SE (USB), Pangea Premier XL (coax). Data: Blue Jean Cables Cat 6a. Loudspeaker: MG Audio Designs Planus II, Monster M1.5 biwire. AC: Rite Audio Cables High Current Sound Pipes, manufacturers' own.
Accessories: iFi Power Station power conditioner with 2 iFi iPurifiers, Emotiva CMX-2 common mode AC filter, AV RoomService EVP/CVP isolation footers, Bright Star Big Rock isolation base, DS Audio stylus cleaner, Disc Doctor/Last/AudioQuest record cleaning supplies, Lovan and Target stands.
Room: 26' L × 16' W × 9' H. GIK Acoustics corner bass traps, ASC wall panels, Room Tunes corner treatments, Corning wall panels.—Tom Gibbs

Bel Canto Design
221 1st St. North, Suite 300
Minneapolis, MN 55401
(612) 317-4550

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Mr.Tom Gibbs has good size listening room suitable for reviewing large size loudspeakers :-) ........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Mr.TG could review the new, more powerful, same price as the Bel Canto, PS Audio Stellar M1200 mono-blocks, $6,000/pair ...... They are hybrid tube/Class-D design amps :-) .......

Ortofan's picture

...Bryston 4B3. Slightly higher output power capability and a 20-year warranty, instead of only 5 years from Bel Canto.

Otherwise, the still more powerful Parasound Halo A 21+ costs only $3,000.

The yet again more powerful Rotel RC-1590 costs $3,500.

OTOH, if you need a fancy brand name to impress your fellow audiophiles, then the Mark Levinson No. 532H, with an output capability similar to that of the Bel Canto, is now available for $6K.

None of these amps requires an external filter to limit ultrasonic garbage at their output.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Parasound JC-5 can put out more power and costs the same, $6,000 :-) .........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

However, if you are one of the 'green new deal' supporters, Bel Canto and PS Audio Stellar amps are good choices :-) ........

Kal Rubinson's picture

I will not argue any of your suggestions but I believe that more apt comparisons might be among amps that can be as easily lifted as the BC. :-)

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be Ortofan's 'Total-T' levels are higher than many of us .......... Just kidding Ortofan :-) .......

Ortofan's picture

... been my first suggestion, except that Benchmark does not specify an output power rating for operation in bridged mono mode into a 4Ω load.

If spending $6K on a power amp, I'd try to scrape up another $1K and buy a McIntosh MC312. 385W into either 8Ω or 4Ω should be sufficient. If not, the power guard feature will prevent clipping. The dealer will deliver it and the amp need never again be moved until after I die. Plus, it has those blue lit meters.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Recently reviewed Primare A35.2 Class-D amp is slightly less powerful, and costs $3,500 :-) .......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Stereophile Class-A, PS Audio Stellar M-700 Class-D monos are more powerful and cost $3,000/pair :-) ........

John Atkinson's picture
Ortofan wrote:
None of these amps requires an external filter to limit ultrasonic garbage at their output.

Neither does the Bel Canto when used to drive a pair of loudspeakers. But as I have explained, I need to use such a filter when measuring class-D amplifiers to avoid driving my analyzer's input stage into slew-rate limiting and thus give inaccurate distortion readings.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

jeffhenning's picture

You and your crazy fear of input stage slew-rate limiting. The next thing you are going to say is that your measurements are accurate and relate to the sound you can hear.

You nutty kid!

a.wayne's picture

Hello John ,

So whats causing the poor Squarewave responses ..?


John Atkinson's picture
a.wayne wrote:
So whats causing the poor Squarewave responses?

The Bel Canto's squarewave response isn't "poor." In the 10kHz squarewave (fig.2), the lengthened risetime is associated with the ultrasonic rolloff (-3dB at 38kHz) seen in fig.1. There is a very slight overshoot on the waveform's leading edges but this is not accompanied by any ringing.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

stereophileuser2020's picture

In the year 2020, you should really start thinking about the impact of power efficiency on the planet. Class D with its 90% efficiency is the only way to go.

Also, class D is much, much lighter in weight.

  • Bel Canto e1x amp (this review): 13 lbs
  • Bryston 4B3: 42 lbs
  • Parasound A 21+: 71 lbs
  • Rotel RB-1590: 84 lbs
Ortofan's picture

... NAD C 298 amp with the Purifi Eigentakt amp modules.

dc_bruce's picture

It's probably worth noting that when Jim Whinney introduced his "Magneplanar" speakers in the early 1970s, he demoed them with a 60 watt Audio Research tube amp. I first heard the Magneplanar (a 3-panel speaker, IIRC) demonstrated in 1972. I believe the transistor amps of the time were rated at about the same power output and clipped pretty nastily, unlike the ARC tube amps. Supposedly, the Magneplanar was much easier load, not being particularly reactive like cone speakers. I think people's expectations about loudness was less than it is today, and the Magneplanar was very listenable, as it remains today.

jeffhenning's picture

Thinking of the white papers and reviews of nCore amps I've seen in the past, they usually have a lot less distortion in the treble than this amp. In fact, they usually have very little rise in distortion as the frequency goes north.

That makes me wonder if this is a "feature" of Bel Canto's input stage.

Regardless, for around $1,800 or so, you can get Nord to make you an amp with one of Bruno's latest Purifi amp modules with a choice of input op-amps.

I think that says all you need to know on this subject.

David Harper's picture

While it is particularly important (with maggies)that an amp be a good match for them (I have the LRS speakers) it has nothing to do with the price of the amp. Rather it is about impedance,power output, current capability, etc. Correctly designed high-quality power amplifiers, when not overdriven, do not vary in sound quality.I'm driving my maggies with a Schiit Vidar amp which cost $700 and the sound quality (again, when not overdriven) is equal to that of any other amp regardless of price.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

In a recent review of Primare Class-D amp, HR used the Primare and Bel Canto Class-D amps to drive his Magnepan .7 speakers and got good results :-) ........

Tom Gibbs's picture

A couple of things; yes, $6000 is a lot for an amplifier to drive a $650 pair of loudspeakers, but it makes a couple of things really very clear. 1) When Wendell Diller says the Magneplanar LRS is built to show its mettle with higher-quality electronics, he's not overstating his position. The LRS will handle high input power levels and reproduce impressive dynamics with the Bel Canto e1X without flinching. 2) Sometimes it's possible to get a significant portion of a manufacturer's higher-end excellence at a very reasonable price point. The LRS is an almost unbelievable example of this, and also, though at a significantly higher price point, so is the e1X; it gives you so much more than just a taste of Bel Canto's top-line design implementations at a significantly reduced price.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be Mr.TG could review the new Yamaha NS-5000 speakers? :-) ........

Ali's picture

Class D, it seems, getting momentum!

Ric Schultz's picture

Amps using the same Ncore module and even the slightly better Purifi modules are available from VTV Audio, Nord, Apollon, etc. For instance, from VTV you can get a stereo amp with two Purifi/or NC500 modules, one 1200 watt power supply, discrete input stage using Sparko labs input op amps and Sparko labs regulators for $1350! Mono blocks are $1800. Less than one third the price and you get mono blocks with 1200 watt power supply in each amp. Direct sales, 30 day trial period. You can also get mono block amps using the NC1200 (bigger, more powerful and better sounding than NC500 modules) modules for about $2600. And these much cheaper amps can be modded for even better sound.