Bel Canto DAC3 vs Theta Gen Viii

The transport is Bel Canto CD2, so the easiest guess might be using the same company's DAC3 which seems to be very well regarded. I am even thinking of the Underwood-modified DAC3 for further improvement.

Then the Theta Gen Viii which shows up on the audiogon once in a while. Yes, it's more expensive but it can also eliminate the preamp. And I am happy to reduce the number of equipments.

The Underwood site claims their modifed DAC3 can compete with $10,000-range DACs, and the Theta is really a $10,000 product...:)

Anyone heard both? How do they compare? I'll welcome other suggestions too. I'm interested in the overall sound quality but my priority is in the decent reproduction of big orchestral music.

Thank you.
The Theta Gen VIII is truely amazing and transparent as a preamp (since it is actually an analog preamp, not a digit chopping digital preamp)... the anti-jitter engine is amazing too elimintating the need for that. Build Quality, Featureset (12volt trigger, remote balance, truely balanced design).

I can't speak for the Bel Canto, but I've tried a lot of other digital players and front ends and I haven't made a change.
Before going with the modded Bel Canto Dac 3, why not try the unmodded one first and decide from there?

If it doesn't work move up to the Theta.

As with the Theta preamp needed using the Bel unless you use analog front end.

You may find the Bel all you'll ever need. I'm listening to Classical as I type this. The Bel does a fantastic job rendering the instruments and voices realistically. Nothing rolled off or warmed up. The better the recording the better the music.

It has an ebb and flow that allows the music to climb and and fall as it should.

Good luck with your hunt
Thanks for the replies.

Trying unmodded unit first seems reasonable, but the modded unit comes at a discount. So I thought buying an already modded one is a good idea, especially when used DAC3s are either hard to find or not so cheap anyway.

I do need analog inputs, and considering the price of a decent preamp, Theta isn't that much more expensive..

Are there anyone who compared these two and willing to share his experience?
The Theta has a total of 5 inputs which you can assign any way you need to (there are 8 possible input paths). Of those possible inputs it has analog single ended inputs and a set of balanced analog inputs; These analog inputs are not digitized. I am running my Clearaudio Balanced Reference Phonostage(just upgraded from Dynavector P75) into one of my analog inputs, Bolder Modified Squeezebox via my Modified Tact 2.2x into one digital RCA input and I'm using the AEB(XLR) digital input from my Theta Compli.
Cytocycle - what else have you compared your Theta to? Anything from Wadia? How did they all fare?
I've owned Wadia gear before and last I heard was the 850, which I also like. But Wadia does volume control in the digital domain and so you need to jumper inside the unit to determine the max output level and then you shave bits down as you reduce volume. This is true of all the older gear. I can't speak for the 581 and the new series.

I find the Theta sound is warmer and more filled out in body than the Wadia gear I have heard but the Wadia gear has an amazing delicate top end (not that the theta doesn't) that is thinner but not Levinson thin. I find Wadia to sound more realistic than DCS or any of the other upsampling DACS. But I find that Theta even more pleasing in this respect.
The Theta seems to be a great product, anybody know if you can kick the analogue RCA inputs into a passive mode for HT Bypass operation?
Amnizu: The Theta Gen VIII comes in two version one with fixed volume output to be used with a preamp and one with variable volume output. Because the variable one has a numerical volume number you can calibrate it with your surround system and return to that number when using your surround processor for a HT bypass. You can also program the volume number that the Gen VIII starts up in and make that the same pass through level for ease of use. If you have a Casablanca you can get a control card that digitally connects to the Gen VIII and uses it as an external processor for whatever channels you want. I hope to go that route some day.
Thanks for the info, Cytocycle. One of the things I was hoping to improve over my current GNSC modified Wadia 850 (and was hoping the Theta might be the one to do it) was in the sense of airiness and spaciousness. I had heard a Simaudio player that had a sense of airiness and breathing that is hard to describe that was better than the Wadia, but it was not as good as the Wadia in other ways. I attriuted htis to better very high frequency performance of the Simaudio. It sounds like the Theta might not be the improvement I'm looking for, though, as it sounds like you're saying the Wadia has a better top end than the Theta, although the Theta is better across the rest of the frequency band. Am I reading you correctly? Thanks for the info.
it's so hard to describe these minute differences.... The Theta sound is fuller (has more meat on it) in the upper freq than the Wadia. I prefer the Theta top end to the Wadia in my Wilson system, if I had other speakers that weren't as fast or revealing the Wadia/Levinson might be a better match. I can't speak about the GNSC modification but when I was looking I was considering the Wadia 861 or the Theta Gen VIII. I felt the Wadia concentrated on the edge of the note more than the sustain...delicate but too delicate compared to live performance but more natural than the DCS,Levinson,EMM, etc.. If you like what the Wadia does then the new 581 SE sounds like an amazing machine that you might consider... it takes the hassel out of finding a good transport, but I have heard the Wadia still benifits from a good preamp... uggh... around and around we go..... I have huge depth of stage with the Gen VIII but not the width of soundstage in my salamander rack, but my dealers Gen VIII has huge width also in his Particular Rack, and I had it before I went to the salamander rack. I have tried a nice VTL 6.5 preamp which gave me even more air to my system so that it approached my dealers setup (without a preamp)... It might be as simple as powercords though also, as I'm running Purist Audio and he is running either Transparent or Shuyanta power cables. Both of our systems are running Transparent cabling for interconnects and speaker cables, and both systems are using Theta Citadels.
How much of a difference do people hear when switching between Jitter Jail and Reclocking on the GenVIII?
Depends on the quality of your transport... whatever it does to for my Theta Compli and Squeezebox all I can say I'm truely stunned.