Bel canto tend to have more natural and dynamic range...ambience. Great music resolution that makes you feel like "you are there" and also i made some minor mods to it.
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I replaced an Odyssey Stratos Dual Mono (not the Extreme version), with a pair of the original Bel Canto 1000's. Obviously I preferred the Bel Cantos or I would not have done it (I got to audition both before deciding). This goes back a few years now...I would have been using Silverline Sonatinas or SR17's. You might cross check previous posts as I might have commented on differences then and that would be more accurate than my memory of it. I believe the principal advantages I was hearing was a purity of midrange (greater clarity), as well as better extension up top...a bit better sparkle in the highs. Down low I think they both did a fine job, and I might have given the edge to the Odyssey. The Bel Cantos rendered a blacker background so had an audibly (or not so audibly) lower noise floor. I seem to recall feeling the Odyssey had a bit of warmth in comparison, while the Bel Canto was more neutral and linear. This was all 2-channel. These were certainly both fine options and I don't think the preference would necessarily be universal. Obviously, YMMV. I've only heard the Mk. III Bel Cantos at CES and liked what I heard but could not compare to what I had. Obviously the idea is they've improved it.
Hope that helps.
Not too long ago I owned Stratos monos and currently own the Bel Canto integrated. At one time or another, I used both on the SF Cremonas and both sounded very good. IMHO, there is zero chance of a noticeable sonic mismatch - although I'm assuming that the Bel Canto monos would match well with their own integrated. I suppose I could be wrong about that since I've never compared 'em.
In any case, both are among the better SS amps I've heard (and both are good value).
This has been very helpful. It sounds like I might get more clarity and transparency on my center channel with a Bel Canto, which is precisely what I am looking for. LF is less of an issue so this would all play to the strenghts of the Bel Canto. I will probably try to pick up a single used Ref1000. If I really like what I hear I might try to sell my Stratus HT3 and get an S300 for my surrounds later on, but this would be a less critical move.
A few things about the Bel Canto REF 1000. I owned a pair once.
They are not without a sonic signature of course, two things from memory:
a) Emphasis on midrange at least in my system.
b) Low end maybe not as defined as with more traditional amps.
c) Absolutely NO WAY that these sound as powerfull as their 500 WATTS claimed ratings.
Still, they are cute, make no heat, and are very silent. They are a classy find for any system.
I would give them another chance personnaly as I have changed preamps.
Good luck !
"Low end maybe not as defined as with more traditional amps."
For the record, and FWIW, my memory would support this as well. As I said, I thought the Odyssey was better at controlling the low end, and, as I recall, had more impact there. I did not feel the midrange was bumped up on my system as one person opined, but that could be a system-dependent response. My memory of them was that they were quite linear. This was the original versions though.
Low frequency rsponse is less of a concern for my center channel, which is all about vocals/midrange. I have been convinced by these comments it is worth a try blending amps - keep the heavy monsters for front L/R and inserting a bel canto mono into the center, and may be a bel canto stereo for surrounds at some point in the future. It may work out very well in fact.