Bel Canto Dac 3.7 in 2018?


Hi all,

I’ve come across a store demo 3.7 including the VBL for approximately 3000. Mint. Boxed, ready for sell. I know some might consider it dated due to lack of mqa, dsd, pcm, which is not available on this unit. Or perhaps the converter is dated?

Im quite content with 24/192. I’m waiting for the dust to settle on what will become the industry standard.  Mqa still seems questionable. Though promising. 

I currenty own a Bel Canto Reflink which would utilize the fiber connection for optimal SQ.  Add the VBL. It looks like a win for my needs and price. 

At the same time. There are always options, and different viewpoints. Which I would take into account. 

New or used. Would the community agree the 3.7 still holds up for 2018.  Are there similar units for the same price range that will surpass the 3.7 with the VBL. 

I lean towards seperates that has a external power source. Though I am open to a all in one unit. 

I believe Mytek can be hooked up to a separate power supply as well. Though I feel the Mytek  Brooklyn + has way too many features which could potentially impair the SQ. I’m very much into a simple UI. Clean lines. Less is more. Etc..

Thank you for your input. 

J


jred
Well, I think it’s a great idea, but then again I’m biased.
I just bought a 3.7 with VBL myself, should be getting next week!

Ive had the 2.5 DAC for 4 years now.
I don’t have many DSD files, so native DSD doesn’t interest me. I think the 3.7 does DOP: DSD over PCM very very well.
@1graber2 

May I ask where you purchased your new 3.7, and price. If personal information. I take no offense. How will you be setting it up in conjunction with your system? 

I’m still waiting for my tax return, so it might take another two weeks before purchase.  I’d love to know your initial impressions of the 3.7, and why you chose a model that is no longer in production. 

What amp will you be using in conjunction with the 3.7

So I guess we are in the same boat. As mentioned. I honestly do not feel I need all the bells and whistles until the dust has settled. 

Additionally there are a multitude of computer programs that one can use, as I’m sure you are aware of.  I honestly believe utilizing these programs consume more time then just listening to the music. 

Then there are firmware updates. Which could potentially have bugs. Troubleshooting begins.
More time spent once again setting/adjusting a program to listening to music. 

Hey. If one prefers programs and such. I won’t knock your preference. If it makes you happy. That’s what is all about! 


J

@jrd
- I got my 3.7 used from the Agon classifieds about $3000
-listening to it now :)

- everything is better in the upgrade from 2.5 to 3.7: much more full bodied sound, maybe a little richer, but more accurate and realistic sounding music. great big soundstage, Attack and decay, nuance, fast, doesn't sound pushed/forced.
 IME, this has been the result of more and cleaner external power source, and this 3.7 is no different.

- at this time I am running the 3.7 into either a Bel Canto Ref500s, 400WPC into 4 ohm Dynaudio floor standing speakers. Sounds good, but needs more power for the Dynaudio’s which need a lot of power to reveal their inner beauty. .. So I will be saving for a pair of Ref600Monos later this year ..

... the other amp I have been using was a PrimaLuna Dialogue HP Tubed Integrated, but have to sell it ... it is too hot where i live and I dont have AC. that has been the impetus to go total Class D, so I can actually listen to my reference system during the summer.

but now I’m finding out how good the 3.7 is, and the possibility of getting really close to a low-electricity system that sounds like some of the best aspects of SS and tubed audio, which has always been my favorite, bowie, the clash, floyd, oscar peterson, elton john, Queens of the Stone age, betty davis, miles of course .... etc ...
@1graber2 
Congrats with your setup. It seems like a solid system to me. 

Similar taste.

My budget allows for one upgrade. A amp or the 3.7. I was debating on passing on the 3.7 and going for the p.luna HP dialogue amp. Now I’m questioning once again. I figured with my current b.canto dac, reflink - the hp luna amp would provide quite the sweet spot, and round things off a bit. 

Now I’m back on the fence with the 3.7.  I came across a Cary Audio stand alone dac hybrid w a tube stage.  I can’t recall the model. It’s selling for 1,800.00 w a 30 day trial. It normally goes for 4000.  Though it lacks a analogue input, and no external power source like the vbl. The external PS, and analog input is a nice bonus compared to the Cary. Though since we both use b.c. I get what you are stating regarding the 3.7.  

I do question if a full class D system might sound a bit sterile. Too clean. Too detailed. Though some people enjoy that sound signature. Though with class D amps. I find the bass to be ridiculously tight and authoritative. Have you considered Bryston?  Perhaps that will present a warmer sound. I heard they are very solid. Im looking for a amp that is musical, and airy with responsive bass. Perhaps the luna will come close to class D for my system regarding lower frequencies. Perhaps not. 

For my purposes the 3.7 paired to the hp luna amp would complement each other. My only concern with the P.Luna - come summertime. Will I have to keep my noisy AC on to keep the Luna from keeling over?  I do not have central air. I have in wall. 

I have heard P.Luna’s run pretty hot. Most likely shortening the tubes lifespan during the warmer months. Regardless if relays turn the unit off it becomes too hot.  

My listening area is 12x13. I listen to everything but classical. The monitors I have are power hungry Though with enough power. They are dead on. It sounds like your Dyns require mono blocks for sure. 

As a side note, I just upgraded all my PCs to TWL Digital American Series. Pretty impressive. 

Though one question?

Arizona can get a tad hot. A definite given. How did the Prima Luna perform with your given environment and working unison with your older BC dac?

What was your impression of combined SQ?

Thanks,

J
Given what you've said it would be helpful to know what your current system components are and what type of improvements you're after and what aspects of sound reproduction are most important to you.  This sounds like it could be more of a "system" type question rather than just a source question. 

But just FYI, I had both the BC DAC3 and DAC3 VB in my system on extended demo, and although the DAC3 was very good on its own the VBS was so superior it was no contest.  It was so good I'd happily add it to my system today, but I'd probably still try to audition something like a Metrum Hex or Pavane as well just to see if the newer R2R DACs sound any better.  Anyway...

@soix 

hi

R2R. Thanks for the info. Additionally thank you mentioning the other dac companies. I never heard of them. Looking forward to checking them out

I have a allowance of close to 5000 for a upgrade. I can get the 3.7.  With the vbl new in box for 3,000.00. Add another TWL digital American cable. Twl usb. That’s under five, and I’m good. Sell the 1.7 and partially  recoup. 

Or or I can stick with my 1.7 bel canto w the reflink and purchase the hp prima luna amp. Sell the MA-6500. More than partially recoup.  I guess either way it will be a improvement. Though the amp would probably make a greater difference in sound. 

Though I do like the 3.7. So it’s a tough call. 

So at the present 
McIntosh MA - 6500
ACI Sapphire XL Monitors 
BC 1.7 dac
BC reflink
macbook pro as the server. 
audioquest carbon AES, and USB
Silversonic dh labs q10 speaker cable
Silversonic Air Matrix interconnects 
TWL HP American digital PCs
Blue circle power conditioner. 

Looking to rebuild slowly but surely. I’d be content with a new dac or new amp. 

The speakers are running great. The Mcintosh works. Though I can flip it and make a profit on it. 

So so it’s either upgrade the dac or the amp. It’s a system that performs well. Though obviously if I step up a bit. I’m hardly at the land of diminishing returns. 

The 3.7 I think will be a long standing classic. Assuming you have no desire for mqa and psm. Which I do not. 

The hp luna will be around for a bit. The 3.7 is out of production. Though for 3000 n.i.b. It’s tempting. I don’t think I’ll see nib for a 3.7 again. 

I can live w my current system. It does perform well. Though The upgrade itch calls. I’m curious to see what the additional performance will bring. 

- looking for more detailed, rounded off sound. Definitely tighter bass. The Micintosh is just a sloppy excuse. Though some would kill for it. So I will not knock it too much. It’s served me well.  The 1.7 with the ref overall is good. Though jitter pops up every now and then. After all the 1.7 is entry. So I get it. That’s why I picked up the ref to improve the sound. 

Hope this info helps. I work nights sporadically so excuse my grammar, etc

regards

j



all good info ...
- Jred, this is not hyperbole, but when I went from the 2.5 DAC to the 3.7, I went up 2-3 stages of improvements: From the 2.5 to the 3.5 to the 3.7. Like I said, Everything sounded better. After having the 2.5 DAC for 4 years, I thought I had a great DAC until I listened to the 3.7 DAC. :)
- since you are looking at the 3.7 for $3000 with a 30 day trial, I would encourage you to try it. If you are not impressed (tho I doubt it) you can return for a refund.

- the External PSU for the 3.7 is a hybrid power source: both Solid State and Class D- so no worries about all Class D "dryness". In fact, this is one of the main upgrades from the 3.5 to the 3.7 was to modify the power source, adding SS, and getting a boost not only in overall performance, but especially in the PreAmp section, which I felt was lacking with the 2.5 (which for illustrative purposes is probably about on par with your 1.7 DAC).

-and since you have the 1.7 and reflink, you would also be moving up another 3 stages. THIS IS THE BEST PART, b/c the original audio signal coming from your DAC needs to be as clean and resolving as possible as it goes through your PreAmp, amp, etc. E.g, if you replace your amp, you would still have an inferior DAC signal from the 1.7 compared to the 3.7.

Remember, the audio signal resolution only DEGRADES as it goes through your system, it does NOT get cleaner or more resolving. It may change the signal from the audio flavor of the PreAmp, cables, etc, but it will NOT get better.
- the best thing an audio person can do is keep a balanced high quality audio signal as it goes through their entire system. that is why experienced audio folks tend to spend about 30% on the DAC/source, 30% on Pre/Amp, and %30 on speakers. the problem is that a lot of folks spend too much on Amps and speakers, and neglect how important the original audio signal is (DAC/source). when I heard this years ago, I balked at it. but now, I see its wisdom ....

the TWL’s sound good, may check them out in th future.
I’m running mostly Nordost Blue heaven and Red Dawn with PCs and ICs. I use them as I A/B equipment, so as to keep some consistency from one test to another.
- I used the Red Dawn into the BC Ref500s with the BC 2.5 DAC into the Dynaudio’s. There was just a bit too much on the high end, started to bug my ears. After I replaced the 2.5 with the 3.7 DAC and used a PS Audio PC10 PC, that mild sibilance went away.
- I have the PrimaLuna HP amp, Im in the mountains of CA, and it gets hot 4 months of the year

- per PL, they devised the HP to not overheat or overrun the tubes, so they will not degrade more quickly. they say they run them about %50 capacity for long life. yes, there it will auto-off if overheated, but I’ve never had that happen, I think the PL is too well build for that. I just have to sell my HP b/c I have no AC, and the whole room gets so hot, I cant even enjoy the music.
- and seriously, you have a great equipment list, but I think you would get the most audio benefit and best bang for your buck with the 3.7 DAC.

In looking over various options given your situation I happened upon something that, if I were you, I'd seriously consider.  I know you're looking to do this slowly, but sometimes opportunity comes a knockin'.  Right now there are a couple Devialet D-Premier integrateds available in and around your price range.  This would give you a new integrated amp and DAC all in one, and all at reference-level performance capabilities.  Read the unanimously glowing reviews.  $18,500 unit you can get for about 5 grand, and it's upgradeable.  Jeff Fritz of Soundstage used a lower-powered Devialet model to drive his $185,000 Magico Q7s and found it to be the best he's ever heard in his room -- better than megabuck Boulder, Gryphon, Vitus, etc. amps.  Hard to see you being anything but floored by the performance level on offer here.  Best of luck. 
@soix 

Thanks so much with all of the information you have provided. The Dac you mentioned seems like a great deal, and the fidelity probably surpasses the 3.7 in every aspect. 

Ironically after I placed my order for the 3.7 I checked my email, and noticed your post. Which was most appreciated, considering the fact  no one here gets paid for being a audio consultant. Ha! 

The fact that bel canto is made in the states and applies a very minimal audio approach appeals greatly to me. External design is not high on my list. That plastic wheel though. Come on now.  Ohms law. Minimal meaning they do not go over board throwing all into one box. i do understand the appeal of why some consumers would prefer a all in one unit. 

I like the the fact I can choose my own external phono pre amp, etc or simply use it as a analog input pertaining to the 3.7

I value the philosophy of upgrades for a unit as technology improves. Though at the same time I try to keep my components as simple as possible. Schiit is the perfect example. 

Additionally a unit that is priced originally at 18,000.00 would probably not match well with my monitors, and current amp.  I’m guessing a amp around 5000 tops will work well with the 3.7. Perhaps I’m wrong with that assumption. Prima luna looks pretty sweet though it’s not manufactured in the states, which I’m honestly still battling with. Rogue Medusa looks promising as well. 

6 moons wrote up my Saaphire Xl’s providing a respectable honest review. That was not my determining factor of purchase. It was the philosophy of ACI that sealed the deal. Mike Dzurko is a awesome guy. It’s too bad his company no longer exist. 

His business philosophy, and persona were amazingly similar to Pete at Triode Wired Labs. To whom I cannot praise enough. 

It appears  I’m currently working on a modest system which I really appreciate, and value. I enjoy the slow process of upgrades. Though I did take a giant leap with TWL. 

When I’m ready to take that extra step. I might very well look into some companies you have mentioned in this post. 

I would like your honest opinion for one particular item.

Which power conditioners suit your preference. Blue circle is a blast for the price, though I’m eventually going to have to upgrade to 4 receptacles. I like what Chang lightspeed has to offer as well. 


Wondering about the difference between VBL and VBS1?
I still have a Bel Canto 3.7 and it sounds great. 
Just curious if anybody has upgraded their older DAC 3.5VB to the 3.7VB?  Bel Canto no longer even lists the 3.7VB on their website, but still offers upgrades for older 3.5's (for $500).  Does the sonic improvement (if any) justify the expense?