Bel Canto s300iu versus Peachtree Nova: thoughts?

Power? Sound? Ease-of-use?

The Peachtree has tubes, of course. The Bel Canto seems to be known for an outstanding DAC, and has that USB connection.

Or if anyone has a better idea for an integrated amp or setup under 2k that would serve a largely computer-based system.... (Squeezebox and standalone DAC?)

The Decco is known for it's DAC. It's the new Buffalo Sabre chip and us supposed ti be excellent. The Be Canto is know for the integrated amp. The DAC in it is nowhere near the DAC 3. So one has a solid amp and midi DAC and the other has a great DAC and midfi amp. The tubes in the Decco are not really that noticable. I have not heard either, but this is what I have learn of the two through extensive research. At the end if the day they are both nice units, but I'd probably go integrated and stand alone DAC.

For 2k I'd probably go Manley stingray and DacMagic/Stello DA100/Benchmark

Really you should answer some questions before making a decision.
1) do you need a remote for the volume
2) do you need more than one source input?
3) are you going to use USB or Toslink?
4) do you want tubes, class d, or SS (they are all very unique)?

I had a nova. It sounded pretty good out of the box. My issue with the nova is the volume control. It moves way to fast from the remote.... I had to get up and use the volume on the unit. My volume was also not very balance left/right but that might have just been my unit. I have not heard about anyone else with the same issue.

As for sound quality I had both the nova and Benchmark dac1 HDR. I did not use the DACs by then selves but as a preamp/DAC. I liked both unit best with the toslink over USB. Using the toslink the Benchmark had punchier more controled bass. Highs we about the same and very detailed on both and mids were to close to call. But the build quality of the Benchmark is MUCH better than the Nova. It also has gain adjustments on the balanced outs.

All in all the nova seems like a good deal but in the long run it might be better to save up a little more money and get something better. It it had a better volume control I would have kept it, I could have used two toslinks in.

I should note the the Benchmark seem bright with the USB contected to my mac mini BUT with the toslink in it sounds very good and balanced top to bottom with no brightness at all.

PS sorry for the typos and what not. I typed this on my phone....
Thanks guys. Sorry for belated response. I totally agree about the Nova insofar as build quality, etc.---something about it seems a little plasticky. The Bel Canto is built like a tank. James63, yes to the Benchmark rec---I am myself leaning towards that option, and maybe that unit... bypassing the whole preamp question entirely.
After reading many stellar reviews, I purchased a Peachtree Nova to hook up to my Zu Druid when my other amp broke.

As others have experienced, it sounds pretty good in the mid and treble, but bass is lacking depth and control.

The unit I received had many functional problems;

It would revert to the first coax input when trying to switch to any analogue input, including HT bypass. No opportunity to try them out.

Loud pop changing sources, regardless of volume level.

Volume control produced a lot of static through the speakers when adjusting.

The headphone jack did not work. Plugging in headphones would disable the speaker output but no sound through the headphones. I did try several pairs.

I have seen it brought up as a good option for the Zu Druid, but even if I had one without defect I would not recommend it due to the poor bass from the built in amp.

Unfortunately I didn't get to try it as a standalone dac.

I returned it after a week. I guess it wasn't broken in but it didn't sound like it needed breaking in. Bass aside, the mid and treble was good with no brightness or fatigue. Pairing with speakers with limited bass extension would probably be a better match.

The Bel Canto looks interesting, but am I the only one annoyed by the proliferation of USB only input on built in DACs? It is useless to those using Sonos/Squeezebox or an older cd player that they want to use as a transport.