I have almost exactly what you're proposing... I have a Planet 2000 with Analysis Plus Digital Oval cable and a Bel Canto DAC 1.1 - it is a truly awesome combo for the money. The Digital Oval is a great match in this setup. It blew away the LAT International DI-20 and Harmonic Technology Cyberlink Copper - both less expensive by a small margin, but the performance margin was ridiculous. I also use a Z-Squared Au/Au digital cable with this sytem, which gives more detail than the Analysis Plus but otherwise gives a similar presentation - lots of detail, good bass, not sizzly.
Just for kicks, I inserted a Sonic Frontiers Ultra Jitterbug between the Planet 2000 and the Bel Canto 1.1 - it brought out much more clarify and depth to the music, and more impact. So despite the "reduced jitter timing circuit" etc. in the Bel Canto 1.1, I found that an outboard jitter device really made a difference as well. I wonder how much this is true for the DAC 2.
One final note, I really liked the Nordost Shiva as a power cord for the Planet 2000 when I used its analog outs - it gave more detail and slam. Analysis Plus power oval is also not a bad match, but gives up a fair bit of ground to the Nordost in detail. I haven't bothered to compare power cables on the 2000 since switching to using it as a transport - I couldn't even be sure what is hooked up to it at the moment. I'm sure it makes a small difference, but less so than when the analog outs are involved.
If anything, I can tell you that I'm VERY happy with a setup almost exactly as you've proposed. You will get alot more bass and better timing/ pace (and obviously way more detail) with the Bel Canto DAC over the Planet 2k's analog outputs. In my system, there is a definite synergy in this combo.
Rest of system: Klipsch La Scala, Quicksilver Horn Monos, Acurus ACT3 pre/pro, Tice Powerblock 3CHP, Analysis Plus Oval 9 speaker cables, Analysis Plus Solo Crystal Oval ICs, Kimber Select 1010 ICs, so on, so forth.
Very encouraging indeed. I'm using Hero interonnects and 8TC "IBW" speaker cable (from Kimber Kable) all together in my system, except for a Cardas Golden Cross Phono with my MMF-7 turntable and my EAR 834P phono preamp: I love their neutrality.
I will keep on exploring the prospect. It sure sounds promising. Thanks for sharing.
My pleasure to comment! If you get a chance to try one, based on your preferences, you may really enjoy the Analysis Plus Solo Crystal Oval interconnects. They're about $250 or so used for a 1m pair.
The Hero is a very timbrally pleasant sounding cable, but I think it attenuates high-frequency detail to some degree, and bass can be a little round when compared to dead neutral. This can make them sound on the "soft" side, and this makes them a very popular choice as a non-harsh sounding cable. For the pleasantness of the cure, however, some detail may be sacrificed.
The Analysis Plus should be a little tighter in bass, a little more neutral overall, and give more high-freq. detail without going so far as to sound shrill. I've definitely got a system (horns) where I notice "harsh" very quickly, and found the Analysis Plus to be just the right amount of detail without the harshness.
So along with the DAC (which would be a big upgrade, and the Bel Canto sounds like a good fit for your preferences), experimenting further with the interconnects could also yield some incremental improvements toward the sound you're looking for. At any rate, it doesn't cost much to try (as long as you don't step all the way onto the merry-go-round!)
Anyone else with a similar (or different) experience?
Why match the Planet 2000 with a better DAC? According to what I've read what makes the Planet 2000 is its resident DAC, and not its transport. My opinion would be to purchase a better player if you've got the upgrade bug.
I'm using a Planet 2000 with a Plinius 8200, Soliloquy speakers, and Acoustic Zen cables with much success. At for what a 30 year old law student can afford..
Well, the upsampling feature of the DAC2 definitely SHOULD make the difference, I figure. I am willing to try and report later. I have located a used one in perfect condition and it should arrive very soon. Stay tuned.
To follow up on my earlier comments, I did try different power cables on the Planet 2000 the other day, using it as a transport. Wow - they make a much bigger difference than I would ever have expected. I was quite surprised. A transport just sends 0s and 1s... but something quite audible is going on nonetheless.
I tried these from my collection:
Analysis Plus Power Oval - good all around, a little more bass bloom than the others. Could easily live with it and love it - it's what I'd been using here.
Nordost Shiva - more detailed and quieter. Bass more tactile and defined, though with less overall LF output in quantity, but not lesser in reach (less bloom, and more true sounding.) Clearer, more articulate and impactful. This one gets swapped in for the next long haul.
Signal Cable Magic Power - respectable for the bargain price, but ponderously slow compared to the other two.
Mdp0430 - the Planet 2000 was "glue" in my system using its internal DACs, taming my Klipsch La Scalas with their sweetness. But as I've discovered, the same tonal balance is also achieved using the Bel Canto DAC with the Planet 2000 as a transport. Given the difference in sounds using different power cords when using the 2k strictly as a transport, it's clear to me that the inbuilt DACs of the Planet 2000 aren't the only thing that defines its unique sound.
I'm interested to hear your impressions of the DAC2, I may eventually do the same.
I had paired a Bel Canto DAC2 with an Audio Refinement CD Complete CD player and found the upgrade to be quite substantial. So I would suspect that you will also notice a significant upgrade in sound simply by adding the DAC2. I later replaced the AR CD player with a dedicated transport (Theta Pearl) and heard a distinct improvement in voice smoothness and instrument separation - more holographic. So maybe you use the Planet as a transport for now and upgrade to a dedicated transport sometime in the future.....
In my experience, it's worth experimenting with digital coax cables. When I got my Bel Canto DAC2, I tried several different ones from Analysis Plus, Harmonic Technologies, Acoustic Zen, Tributaries, and JPS Labs. In my system, the JPS coax won hands down.
Regarding power cables, I was able to audition a Shunyata Black Mamba power cable on my DAC and it made more of a difference than I would have ever imagined. Greater dynamics, "blacker" background, and it deepened and widened an already excellent soundstage. I was really surprised.
Good luck and have fun!
Thanks, Kurt. I really want to use this setup for now (Planet 2K/DAC2/AP Oval Digital) and later move to a dedicated universal transport. My only concern is that I have not seen many of those: a transport only CD/SACD/DVD-A. If you know of any examples, please share.
In any case, I will definitely report on the upgrade as soon as I receive the Bel Canto, hook it up and do some critical listening.
Concerning my last post, I meant an affordable but very good to excellent CD/SACD/DVD-A transport (only).
Anyone with an affordable ($1-1.5K range) but very good to excellent CD/SACD/DVD-A transport (only) or player to match with the DAC2 in lieu of the Planet 2K? Please advise.
I'd settle for an affordable CD/SACD transport (after a lot of reading in the specialized press and turning cold about DVD-A); but, I have yet to find one that I could pair my DAC with or another one of similar value, since I am not sure it'd work with SACD. Any thoughts?
I'd like to hear your impressions of your DAC2. How's it working out for you?
Actually, much better than I hoped for: the Planet 2K is another animal, much better in detailing the transients and with a "rounder" but clearer low end than before. In all fairness, I have to acknowledge that I (also) upgraded both the Planet 2K and the DAC2's power cords to PS Audio xStream Prelude and that has added a bit of depth to the soundstage.
As for my next move, I am dying to join the SACD ranks: any thoughts on achieving that while keeping the DAC2 in the chain (I'm thinking affordable transport)? I love this little black box so much!...
Any idea? I am thinking of a McCormack UDP-1 which would be connected to the DAC2 through its analog outputs for playing Redbook CDs and as a standalone SACD player through its digital outputs. Am I making sense?