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Finally got a DAC - Bel Canto DAC 1

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I was looking for a good used DAC and came across this one. My setup is below:

Sony SCD-C333ES CD/SACD player ---> Acoustic Zen MC2 digital coax --->Bel Canto DAC 1 --->Acoustic Zen Silver Reference Interconnects ---> Audio Valve RKV II Amp ---> Grado HP 2 --->

This setup sounded quite nice. The first thing I noticed was that everything on top seemed airier and anything that was on the CD seemed to come out. I started with a CD that I've been listening to a lot lately - America "History." True, not an audiophile recording but what the heck. I've been on a classic kick lately and just purchased an America DVD today. Next up was Eva Cassidy "Live at Blues Alley." The thing I noticed on this CD was the sound of the club coming through. It sounded more "live" if you will. The only thing that I didn't like was that with all these revealing electronics and cables my tube amp was starting to sound kind of cold and not really warm anymore. This may be a case of too much of a good thing.
post #2 of 11
Congrats, I just got one a few days ago too. I kind of wish the connections were in the back though. However, the improvement in sound is fantastic.

Any consideration of sending it in to Bel Canto for the DAC2 upgrade?
post #3 of 11
Great!
Three members with Bel Canto Dacs now. I gotta say Acid that AZ
Mc2 digital cable works great with mine. The first thing I noticed
when I got mine 2yrs ago was the beautiful grainfree silky highs.
Previously many average/poor recorded rock Cds had such a hard
and grainy treble that I almost never played them. This condition was almost completely removed by BC Dac, that slow roll-off filter really makes digital sound very clean and natural.

The comment I hear from current owners who upgrade to BC Dac2 is the treble is even more extended and detailed, yet still smooth and grain free. I am definitely thinking of getting Dac 2 later this year.
post #4 of 11
I am very intrigued by the reviews of this DAC. It sounds like it has the potential of cleaning up a lot of my cd collection and allowing me to listen to discs that previously were difficult to listen due on my system.

Acid,

How do you like it with the 333? What happens when you play a SACD?
post #5 of 11
DA, have you contacted Bel Canto to see what the cost of the upgrade is, or were you just considering purchasing the whole unit?
post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally posted by Fortune
How do you like it with the 333? What happens when you play a SACD?
You can opt to play hybrid SACDs via their standard CD layer to play through the Bel Canto (of course, you're not going to get the benefits of SACD this way). Single-layer SACDs can only be played by the SCD-C333ES through its analog outputs, so an additional set of analog interconnects would have to be run from the 333's analog outs to the headphone amp's (or preamp's) second inputs.
post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally posted by JMT
DA, have you contacted Bel Canto to see what the cost of the upgrade is, or were you just considering purchasing the whole unit?
I did post at Audiogon a few month's ago when Dac 2 first came out, and the cost to upgrade was @$700 for Dac 1.1 owners, not sure about Dac 1 upgrade cost, there are actually three versions:

Dac 1 - original version 24/96
Dac 1.1 - contains upgraded power supply 24/96
Dac 2 - newest version 24/192

Obviously much cheaper to upgrade current unit vs buying $1300 new unit, but in the unlikely case you don't like sound of new unit
vs old you are screwed (not really you could sell Dac 2 and buy another used Dac 1.1 again) Then there is the hassle of being without dac for a couple weeks while upgrade is performed.
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Acid,

How do you like it with the 333? What happens when you play a SACD?
See Jude's response to the SACD question. The 333 works well with the DAC but I've always thought the 333 sounded a little cold to me. Maybe I need a tube CD player. I don't know if I'd upgrade the DAC. The price of the upgrade is more than I paid for the DAC.

I just found a used Virtual Dynamics Nite coax digital cable that I should have soon to try out. That may be a good comparison with my AZ MC2.
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
So I switched out the RKV and put in my Moretto amp and also replaced the HP2s with the Senn HD600/Cardas cable combo. To make a long story short I never heard this amp sound this good. It had plenty of detail and dynamics. I never really cared for the bass on the HD600 because I always felt it was too loose and boomy but with this setup the bass was the tightest I've ever heard it. This combo had a great synergy and sounded damn good. Go here for a couple of pics.
post #10 of 11
Acid
You're noticing what I've been noticing--that the flaws of the HD600 seem less pronounced on better sources. That particular headphone definitely scales with both the source and the amp. Did you ever pick up a Cardas cable, by the way?

Jude
What you just explained about how to connect a DAC and also get SACD out, is a big part of the reason I decided to go with a modded player. When I looked at the cost of good interconnects and good digital cable, it was a lot of money to run both SACD and an external DAC. Even if you *only* spent $150 on the digital and $150 on the interconnect, you'd still be looking at $300 you could have spent doing something that would improve *both* redbook and SACD--whether that's upgrading the player, buying a better interconnect (since you only need one) or something else further down the stream.
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Yes, the Cardas cable was what I was using. I now have both the Cardas and Equinox cables. I haven't done a comparison between the 2 but I will.

I think next time I'll get a tube CD player. I don't think the mods for the 333 are available anymore but you're probably right. After all the money spent on a DAC and cables I could have just upgraded the CD player. I'm pretty happy with the sound now, though. And yes, I still think my LP player can sound more dynamic.
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