I see that at least 60 people have looked at this thread, but so far no responce, nobody has any advice ? chris
93 responses Add your response
I've owned a DAC3 and I absolutely loved it. The only reason I traded it in was because I did a serious upgrade to an MBL 1611F DAC. I thought the Bel Canto sounded great with the stock power supply. I'm not familiar with the upgrade that you mentioned, however I agree with you that improving power supplies usually helps, you may be able to improve your "power delivery situation" in other ways, though.
Your used DAC3 is worth about $1600, so I don't think that I would invest another $2000 into it, you'll never be able to recover your investment. I would personally rather put that money into a Music Server or Logitech Transporter.
If I were you, I would leave the DAC3 as is, because I think it's great, and then when you're ready to jump into the Higher Resolution Audio Formats 24bit/192kHz, you could sell the DAC3 for $1600 and then add your $2000 and see what you could get in the Music Server/DAC $3000-$4000 range that can handle 24Bit/192kHz Audio.
If you want to spruce up the power to the DAC3 now, then I would invest in a nice used power cord for a couple of hundred bucks, and consider a dedicated AC-Line, that can also make a big difference.
Are you not happy with the way it sounds now?
What's the rest of your set-up like, maybe there are other areas that you could improve on?
hi, the power supply is in another box that is the same size and shape of the dac 3, but its filled with caps and ac filters, it converts ac to 12 volts dc, they take out the power supply board in the dac 3 and put in a new 12 volt board. then both the dac 3 and the cd 2 plug into the new separate dedicated power supply. I was told by belcanto that it lowers the noise floor by orders of magnatude, and is quite a sonic upgrade. I have all of my gear pluged into a shunyata hydra 8 [the new one] with good powercords, I live in a 1920s built apartment so a dedicated line is out of the picture. I have done power supply mods to my Rogue audio m150s , and that was a big upgrade in sound, so I am hoping that this would also be a nice upgrade. thaks for the input, chris
oh , I forgot to add, i love the sound of my dac 3, and dont have any intention of replacing it any time soon, but you all know about the upgrade bug, it itches and itches untill you scratch it !! I will upgrade my speakers [revel f32] sometime also ,but the dac 3 cd2 and rogue m150s are staying for a while. thanks , chris
Is this upgrade done by Bel Canto?
My DAC3 had an exceptionally low noise floor, with great resolution, using a Kubala AES/EBU Digital Cable, which I thought was great.
What is the rest of your system like?
Digital Cable type and brand?
Do you have more than one digital source plugged into the DAC3?
Are you using a Preamp or the DAC3 Volume Control?
What are you not happy with with the way your system sounds now?
OK, I'm with ya..., Certainly good Stuff!
I posted some questions awaiting moderator approval, but I see that you've answered some of them already. If you could answer some of the others forthcoming, I may have some other possible suggestions for you.
I love the DAC3 too, but what do feel you're not getting out of your system, that needs improvement. Black background, resolution, detail? Depth?
Digital cable brand/input type? How many inputs are plugged into the DAC3?
Are you using the Variable Volume or fixed volume on the DAC3, or external preamp?
hi, its not that I dont like my system. I do. but, it can always be better ! I have 2 sources pluged into my dac 3, my cd 2, and my playstation, which I turn off when i listen.I have tried five or six digital cables, i like the wireword gold eclipse aes ebu the best so far. I also use the dac three directly into the rogue m150s, at some point i will get a pre amp, because some day i will add a turntable to my system, but for the moment its cd only. I am pretty shure that this [the power supply upgrade] is a case of better sounding, not just different sounding. thats why I am considering this. thanks, chris
I was wondering if you have any hiss, coming from your amp, when the volume is turned up, but no music is playing.
It's kind of strange, because my DAC3 was deadly quiet.
One thing I did notice was that, if another cable was plugged into the DAC3, (in your example it would be the playstation) then I found it decreased the quality of the output on the DAC3, even if the other item was off. By the way I noticed this with my MBL DAC also, maybe it's me.
I have a Wireworld gold digital Coax on hand that I use on a squeezebox in the bedroom, I thought it sounded a little thin and lean in my opinion. I have tried it on the DAC3 when I owned it, and I've also tried it on the MBL DAC and I've compared a few other high-end digital cables and the Kubala Emotion AES/EBU is absolutely phenomenal and it's the best one i tried, including some others that were double the price. I actually kept it even though I went to a much more expensive MBL DAC. It is very balanced from top to bottom, very musical, analog-like, and involving, with deep tight bass, with a very dark background that is inaudible. It has resolution and transparency without sacrificing musicality.
I also felt that the DAC3 sounded better driving an Amp from it's balanced outputs.
If you ever get a Preamp, remember to put the volume all the way up on the DAC3, before pressing in the fixed volume button in the back of the unit. It makes a huge difference.
Good Luck, If you decide to go with the upgraded power supply. I agree with you that it usually helps, however keep in mind that Bel Canto Gear is pretty robust already.
Your used DAC3 is worth about $1600, so I don't think that I would invest another $2000 into it, you'll never be able to recover your investment. I would personally rather put that money into a Music Server or Logitech Transporter.
Excellent advice and very obviously the logical approach. You really need to check out some of the latest offerings by companies who are making great headway in the development of digital playback and the different methods that are available for executing computer audio (i.e.: computer-based, component-based/network server-based). I recommend visiting this site,hereto learn more about implementing high-end digital. I think you can better invest your $2,000.
2chnlben, I have no intention of hooking a computer to my system, not intill they force us to. I am a collector , I love my collection of cds, and slowly growing lps, The idea of a list of music on a computer just does not do it for me, I like cover art and everthing else that comes with it. when all music is recorded in 24 bit 96k or higher then maybe I will look into something. the bel canto dac 2 is 24 bit 96k, so I will not have to replace it to hear hi rez formats. thanks, chris
I don't think it I'll hurt at all...
Good Luck with the upgrade if you should go that route. We're just looking out for your best interest regarding the above suggestions. You're right the DAC3 plays high resolution files, and it's very close to 24Bit/192kHz resolution.
I have a very large CD collection too, and I burned all of them using Apple Lossless Codecs into iTunes, on my MacPro desktop which is upstairs in my home office. So, it's actually not hooked up to my rig at all, nor is it on the same floor. I'm using a Logitech Transporter to stream the music to the Living Room Rig, using wired ethernet over powerline protocol in my house.
Even with redbook CD's it's great having a music streamer. I compared the Transporter to a $25,000 MBL Transport, and although the MBL barely won, it was closer than you would think. Compared to my trusty old Sony 9000ES transport there was no difference, as a matter of fact I actually prefer the sound out of the Transporter using the AES/EBU cable to the MBL DAC, because the Sony doesn't have the AES/EBU pro-link.
It goes without saying that most high-end transports can only store one disc at a time, and a music server can store an unlimited amount of CD's at your finger tips. If you have that many CD's then you will really appreciate loading an entire album from the remote control, I actually listen to much more music now compared to the old way of finding one CD at a time. Not to mention playlists, and favorites, and playing random genres of your entire CD Collection. I also have 2 squeezebox's throughout my house that can sync all of the same music in every room. The artwork shows up on the remote too.
I would not compromise the sound, ever..., however the sound is as perfect as redbook CD playbook could be, using the most expensive digital playback equipment on the Planet.
The information that I was trying to convey to you is that there are, by far, more, effective ways to spend $2,000. I am familiar with the Bel Canto DAC 3 and CD 2 - great gear. In reality, those devices are already behind the proverbial curve compared to what has recently become available. For $2,000 plus your DAC, you can acquire the new Perfect Wave DAC from PS Audio - which is in a different league altogether. You don't have to use that DAC with a server, but it will be upgradable to operate as a server if you want to spend another $500 when the forthcoming Bridge device becomes available later this year. I can assure you that $2,000 spent on a power supply upgrade will not net you the advancement in performance that you can achieve by doing some more research. This is a forum designed to benefit its members. My post is meant to help you make a well-informed decision, not to deride your tactical plans or your gear.
thanks for the ideas, I do not think you were puting my gear or anything else for that matter. I would like to know why you think the ps audio dac is better, or league all together, the bel canto was the best measuring dac stereophile has ever tried. i know that measurments dont tell the whole story, but i have put the belcanto up against some very expesive competition , and prefered the belcanto. another thing about me, i like to keep gear for a while, I dont like constantly changing my system. my cd2 and dac 3 are less than two years old, which I consider new. thanks for the input, chris
one more thing, the only time that I have heard apple lossless, was through the wadia ipod dock into the dac three, in direct head to head comparisons the cd2 playing the same cuts that was burned to the I pod , the apple lossless lost badly, it was not even close , the old fashioned transport won hands down. thanks, chris
I have taken a interest in this thread and found like yourself a similar path had developed with me, so I took the opportunity to view all the recent correspondence.
I have always felt traditional Red CD could not be replaced by streaming until I experimented with the Squeeze box. I also tried the wadia 170i dock with a tri-vista 21 DAC and found the sound thin and differently not up to my Mark Levinson 37 transport output to my tri-vista 21.
However a Squeeze box 3 digital output to my tri-vista 21 with a upgraded P/S by Andrew Ross, the sound is very close and so close that I fell it does not justify me investing any more into Red book cd format. I tried many cd transports including Wadia.
I am in the process of upgrading my music server to a Logitech Transporter which I am support to receive today.
Whenever I want to spin a disc I will continue to enjoy my Vinyl set-up.
Good luck with your decision.
Thank you , audiogalore, Its nice to see that you have had the same experience with the wadia, most people who read my observations think Im nuts, but if you heard what I did , you would agree. I have not heard your system , with your equipment however, and Im not suprised you have found a better way of doing things. At some point in the future I would like to hear a moderately priced music server, a friend has the soloos but it is out of my price range. I would like a way to listen to hi rez formats when more music becomes available that way, but to listen to Redbook I will stick to the transport I already own. Thanks for the tips, Chris
Also, the point of me starting this thread was to see if anybody out there has had any experience with upgrading the power supply of their digital gear , and what differences sonically did it make, not for advice on different gear. I know companies like NAIM have power supply upgrades , Mod companies like Great Northern Sound make their living off of such things, so is it worth it, could it be just different sounding, or truly better ? Thanks for the advice, Chris
Ok, so after talking with bel canto I decided to get the upgrade. They said it would take a little while to break in, but should still sound better than before right away.
They were right. Within the first song i had a smile on my face, this was better sounding, and if it actually gets better, holy crap! Its fantastic sounding so far, i will post more on actual differences once its broken in more. I have a friend who has the same cd2 dac 3 combo, so we can do side by side tests, and will let everyone know how it turns out, thanks , Chris
Great News! That was quick...., and I do recall that the DAC3 took at least 2-4 days to warm up initially to sound it's best, so you're probably going to be thrilled with it.
Was this upgrade done at Bel Canto, and do they offer this upgrade on their new products? Could you please list the contact information or link? Thanks!
It does certainly stand to reason that it would sound better, because I think many of us would agree that by supplying; dedicated power, cleaner power, a larger power supply, or more exotic power cords, that they would all have a cumulative effect towards improving the sound.
Rich, this is a new bel canto product, not a mod. Bel canto does not have it on their website yet, but they will. I found out about it after talking with belcanto.
it is called the VBS , and is in its own box, it looks just like a ref1000 with the single blue led on the front, and brushed aluminum face plate . you can power up to three different bel canto products with it, but not the power amps. it converts the 120 v in to 12v out then connects the cd 2 dac three with two well made shielded 12 power cables that have locking connectors on them. the dac three needs a new 12v power board installed as well, but the cd already has 12v power in ,so its plug and play for it. It has so much storage capacity that I can unplug the VBS from the wall , and it still plays music without a hiccup, way cool. I will have more on the sound once I have some more time on it , thanks, Chris
Thanks rich, I understand, there are lots of mod service companies to choose from, some know what they are doing, some dont. And the dac 3 had a very good power supply, this is just better without question. And for what it costs, it should be, but if you have more than one piece of bel canto gear, such as I do, the cost gets split between the two. Making it more cost effective. So far I am very happy with what its doing sonically. Thanks, Chris
Now its been a while, the new Bel Canto VBS is nice and broken in. My friend came over for a shootout with his Dac 3 sans power supply upgrade. We set up the gear so we could do quick side by side comparisons between them. A long story short, the new VBS Dac 3 combo is much better than the stock Dac three, and by a substantial margin! Wider soundstage, better detail, more open,
You basically name it, it was better ! Great job Bel Canto , they came out with an upgrade that actually is an upgrade, and not just different sounding. If any one out there has the Dac 3, this is worth it.
Update. just compared the dac3/cd2/vbs to a audio research cd 8 and much to my surprise the bel canto was better ,in about every way. between myself and two other people listening to the shoot out it was clear that the bel canto was passing more low level information , was more dynamic and had a bigger , more open soundstage. very impressive. It was also put up against the new Wadia, the 17,000 dollar one, and it just killed it. WOW ! the wadia was dead and uninvolved compared to the Belcanto combo. I am starting to think the Belcanto is not only [good for the money] but state of the art, regardless of cost, and is sitting right at that sweet spot on the bell curve between cost and performance. The irony is that I think a lot of people will never consider the Belcanto ,because they mistakenly think its to inexpensive to be state of the art. ps I do not work for Belcanto ,just am a happy customer !
Chrissain, thanks for sharing your experience about the upgraded Bel Canto DAC3. Since I have the same DAC, I am trying to decide if its worthwile to upgrade it. I recently compare my stock Bel Canto against a ARC CD7, and I think the ARC was better (they are in different leagues). Did you compare the stock DAC3 against the ARC CD8 before the upgrade?, what did you think at that moment?. If I could match your experience, this upgrade would be a tall order improvement.
sorry for taking so long to reply. I did not compare a stock dac 3 to the cd 8. I had all ready upgraded the dac 3 with the vbs at the time of the shootout. but in a very good system, revel studio 2s, top sim audio preamp , rogue Apollo monoblocks, the dac3 vbs was better, and all of us listening thought the same thing, it was unanimous. It [the vbs] is a big upgrade. good luck, chris
Chrissain, can you tell us if you are experiencing an
improvement in pitch and voice articulation.
Also, when you did a direct comparison with the regular
Dac 3, did you allow the old Dac 3 to settle in for
48 hours? I can attest that it does take about 48 hours
for the Dac 3 to settle in after shut down.
I am considering this upgrade. However, I hear that upgraded power cords will have no effect on the upgraded DAC 3 and I am using a Synergistic Research Hologram D power cord into a SR Powercell. This increased the sound stage and front to back layering to an amazing degree.
So, I am wondering if the upgrade would be any better
than what I already have. It may be worth it to me if there
is an improvement in the tone and pitch of the music.
scott, yes the dac 3 was warmed up , and the vbs dac 3 combo sounded more open , with better front to back separation, more low level detail, better bass ect.voices sound more real to me with the vbs by the way. going back to the stock dac three sounded more closed in and coming from the speakers so to speak, a little more rounded at the top and bottom, maybe a tad more warmth, but that could just be because its not as open and extended at the frequency extremes. I now have a dac 3.5 I am evaluating against my dac 3, will post what I think .
So, I have now listened to the new dac 3.5 vbs cd2 combo. It is with out question better than the old dac 3. this bel canto front end is now world class, for any price. some of the best digital sound I have heard to date. simply awesome. even at seven grand or so for the whole stack, it has to be considered a bargain compared to what else is out there, I would put it up against anything for any price.
Hi scott. The new belcanto 3.5 vbs is better in about every way I can think of, I am going to upgrade my dac 3vbs to .5 status. It has more bass weight, and punch. it has a larger, soundstage , with better separation of instruments but with better focus of each individual instrument within the soundstage. it is paradoxically richer harmonically but with better detail and resolution. music sounds cleaner and clearer , and sounds just hang in the air with great decay. It just seems like there is less between you and the performance. I have heard and been around lots of highly regarded dacs and cd players , while I thought the original dac 3 was very good for the money, enough that I bought one, the dac3.5 vbs combo I would put up against anything at any price, its really that good. you will have to spend far more to get better digital sound. you have to hear one for yourself, happy listening, Chris
Good description Chris. It matches my feelings as well. I'm a big fan of the DAC3.5VB/VBS1 combo and have been using it ever since the DAC3.5VB became available in my system. I use it as a front-end/preamp going directly into a power amp. I am a Bel Canto dealer, so you can feel free to take my opinion with a grain of salt if you want, but I just wanted to say that I agree with Chris' assessment.
Since I do not plan on building a Bel Canto system, I am
disappointed that they do not have the VBS1 x 1 output at
a lower cost. If I am going to upgrade I do want the best
possible performance path. This looks like a deal breaker
for me unless they can upgrade the LNS1 to a VBS1 x 1. Otherwise, I would be wasting a lot of money on unusable power outputs.
Everest audio, can you give us a break down on the sonic
benefits of the VBS1 vs the LNS1?
I imagine that the cost of having one output vs the three outputs that exist on the VBS1 wouldn't be that much less. You still have the component chassis and all the same technology employed, so I wouldn't think that the savings would be that much at all. So, don't think of it as wasting money if you're only using one of the outputs. If you spent less money and didn't get something nearly as good, then I'd consider that a waste. So, if you say that you want "the best possible performance path" then the VBS1 is the way to go whether you're powering one Bel Canto front-end component or as many as three.
The VBS1 is really a step up across the board. The noise floor is already very low with the LNS1, but it's even lower with the VBS1. The VBS1 provides a more relaxed and natural sounding presentation that allows you to get immersed into the music in a better way. Subtle details and delicacy is better with overall better refinement in a totally non-analytical manner. Go to the review section on our site and see the reviews of the VBS1. I think the reviewers got it right when they talk about the difference the VBS1 makes. I know I wouldn't want to be without it in my system and I already use good line conditioning. The VBS1 still takes performance further.
I owned a DAC 3, and though the cosmetics and faceplate were impressive, I was very unimpressed with the sloppy, substandard soldering that was evident throughout the boards. I also found a cold solder joint. I was then interested in seeing the insides of other units to compare. I found different size transformers with different values, along with different brands of some capacitors. My opinion of this approach in the production line is far from positive.
Low Noise Switch Mode Power Supply (SMPS) provides over 90% energy efficiency, specific control over
operating parameters of the supply, and high levels of isolation with significantly lower audio band noise
than traditional 50/60 Hertz transformer based linear supplies
Extensive input filtration, low noise rectification and high energy storage prior to the SMPS
Massive bank of LC filtration using compound inductors, parallel electrolytic capacitors and final stage
polypropylene capacitors to ensure hundreds of amperes of peak current capability and low noise across
a wide frequency spectrum
½ of a Farad of total capacitance (500,000 microfarads) and over 100 Joules of energy storage
10X to 100X lower noise floor than traditional linear power supply
Provides over 100 dB of isolation starting below 100 Hz
Compact SMPS isolation transformer for superior isolation from the power line
I tried to start a new post/topic but it couldn't copy the entire text from another doc.
So I'll post here for now but if someone can tell me how to start a new thread and copy my full text into it, that would be great. In the meantime...
This is my first review on Audiogon. And since this is my first new D/A converter in my system for about 13 years, I thought I'd share some initial impressions. As a disclaimer, I've only listened to the BC 3.5 for about 6 hours... although it's been powered up for 30 hours. The BC is a loaner that has been burned in and I've had my gear warmed up for 48 hours.
What really interested me with the Bel Canto was to see how a new, modern DA converter sounded up against my 13+ year old reference Sonic Frontiers SFD-2 MKII. As as optimistic audiophile always looking/hoping for for the the next audio epiphany, I wanted the Bel Canto to blow away the Sonic Frontiers D/A.
Well... good news for any SFD-2 MKII owners, you've still got a killer D/A converter... however, there are caveats... like always.
First, I'm an unabashed tube guy. I like the euphonics of tube gear. I don't need or want the sharp reality of SS gear. Understand, I've heard some SS gear that made me think twice about dumping my tubes for some Levinson, Rowland or other mega-watt performers. However, that's another discussion. Back to the Bel Canto.
One thing I can say with certainty (at least in my system), I did not like the direct-to-amp sound. The Bel Canto has a built-in pre-amp with digital volume control so you can bypass your pre. When I tried that it was way too bright and forward for my taste. So I went back to feeding the BC DAC through my Cary SLP-98 pre. Much better.
Before going further with other comments, I wanted to mention the other components in my system to give you a picture of what I'm listening through:
CEC TL1 Transport
Meridian 518 (yes, it makes a difference)
Cary SLP-98 (with 1950s NOS Sylvania tubes)
Cary 211AE Monoblocks
Focal Electra 926 Speakers
All nice cables, mostly Nordost with Shunyata PCs and Power Conditioner.
As a side note, I also have a VPI Scoutmaster with Outer Ring, VPI SS weight, VPI SDS, Benz H2 on a Ginko platform. This set up accounts for 70% of my listening, which at $6K is almost always more involving than my $14K (incl. cables) digital front end. But I digress.
The Bel Canto 3.5 is really, really good. In fact, I've heard some passages on tried and true CDs that made me say, "Wow, I've never heard that before... or at least not in quite the same way." There is a lot of punch with the Bel Canto. More than the Sonic Frontiers for sure but the difference is subjective. I prefer the SF.
Anyway, I'll post again after a week or so and report more. But, if you're thinking of buying the Bel Canto 3.5, you'll be thrilled... unless you have the Sonic Frontiers SFD-2 :) Again, it's all about what you like in sound qualities.
from my experience the bel canto will take more break in, let us know in a couple of weeks or in a month, it has caddok resisters in the output stage, which take a while to break in. then it will crush that sonic frontier dac , sorry. also by looking at your system, the focals are a bright speaker, so are your nordost cables, all your tubes are mellowing out the sound, which I would do to if I had your speakers.
Chrissain, can you tell us the cost to upgrade the 3 to 3.5?
Also, what is the cost of the VBS1?
I am also concerned with the increased bass.
My system is at the point where more bass may
overload my room. I am looking for better pitch,
more delicacy, a wider and deeper sound stage and
a maybe a little more warmth, not to mention a lower
noise floor, all without overloading my room with bass.
If this is possible, then I am really tempted to upgrade
08-14-10: ZearI went through the innards of my DAC3 with a fine tooth comb looking at the solder joints and pressure-fit connections. I haven't seen better construction! The layout is clean and uncluttered. The PCB boards are arranged in ideal proximity. The ribbon connectors are fit perfectly to size. The connections are unquestionably solid. I've seen plenty of good quality constructions, but the DAC3 is a step above.
FWIW, I always look under the hood of components.
Has anyone tried plugging an upgraded power cord or
conditioner to the VBS1? I am really curious because
I have the Synergistic Research Hologram D PC on my
Dac 3 and the SR Powercell SE. The SR products have
expended the sound stage of the Dac 3 by a quantum
leap. So, it would be nice to use it elsewhere if it
is true that upgraded pc's have no effect on the VBS1.