I’m in the market for an integrated amp in the $2k-3k range, and a couple of weeks ago I spent an hour auditioning the Rega Elex-R and the bel canto C5i, each playing on the Maggie LRS without a sub. That they were playing on LRS was purely a coincidence, but it’s relevant to your question so here you go.
Of the two, I preferred the Rega. The bel canto probably had a bit more clarity and perhaps imaged a little bit better, maybe a little more revealing and maybe even a bigger soundstage, but I thought the Rega was more full-bodied, had more layers to the sound, had definitely better bass, and just had more of an analog sound that I preferred. I just connected with the music better through the Rega I guess. I was listening to Buddy Guy (blues), and the Rega dug deeper and sounded grittier, which is what that style of music calls for to my ears anyway. The room was a small listening room and listening to CD (Rega CD player), not sure about cables.
I’m not sure if it was the Rega’s class AB versus the bel canto’s class D that gave it the fuller-bodied gritty presentation that I preferred, or something else.