I have owned both. I sold the NuForce 9SE V3 to buy the Bel Cantos. I love the Bel Canto REF500ms: more liquid and musical.
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I sold my Bel Canto Ref 1K after 6 months of ownership for the Nuforce MCH-3SE. In my set up and preference, there was no comparison. The Nuforce is a lot more extended and higher resolution from top to bottom, has better bass control (higher damping factor) and a more lively, dynamic presentation compared to the Bel Canto's overly romantic but midrange- centric sonic signature. Still happy with the Nuforce after more than 4yrs. To each his own. Best way is to try both in your own home and set up and make your choice.
The Bel Canto REF500Ms use the third gen ICE modules. I use one for my centre channel vs the REF1000Ms for my main L/R speakers. It does sound less lean than the REF1000Ms. I'd choose the REF500Ms over the REF1000Ms unless I really needed the headroom.
That said, I recently switched to Electrocompaniet Nemos to drive the same speakers and noticed that while the bass was as tightly controlled as the Class D, it sounded more authoritative and had more weight than with my Bel Canto.
Did you consider Spectron Musician III amplifier? Its both and warm and authoritative and in different class then both Bel Canto and NuForce, IMO, of course.
They have now promotion here at Audiogon and you can get one for $3.5k or with optional VCap caps for $4k - which is excellent deal for this amp