I certainly recieved a sonic shock on wireing in this power amp,I'd read and heard so many good things about this amp,unfortunately it was unavailable in Spain,so I had to find one second hand from the States.Voltage conversion was a simple affair,after doing that I was ready to go.
The amp itself was to replace a tubed Copland cta 401,I was to match the Bel-Canto to a Conrad Johnson PV10.
Source was a Micromega Drive transport,matched to a CALAUDIO "Alpha" DAC,and B&W P6 speakers,cables were Audioquests,Diamonds and Midnight,P/C from Shunyata.
Instantly I could hear that this amp was something really different,the first thing I really noticed was the crystaline clarity of the treble,it was just so unbelievably clean and extended,there was no hash or grain,it was as clean as a whistle,it picked up amazing amount of detail,it was like an open window,ablanket and veil had been removed it was so fast and clean.
Bass definition also improved,any bloom or boom are removed as the amp gets to grips with the woofers,it grabs hold of them,and just controls them,it doesn't plumb to the depths of hades,but what it does do is add speed and a vice like grip on the bass,some would say and wonder where the bass has gone,this is no car boom box sound,this is just well controlled and fast.
But I felt there was one major drawbank,the Copland really expressed vocals and the midrange,it put voices right in front of you,they had body and texture,feeling and emotion,in an instant of hearing the Bel-Canto the voices suddenly went back inside the speaker,it was quite noticeable,it was definately a recessed midrange,voices just didn't spring out enough,no realism or emotion,I was a tad dissapointed,the midrange was lacking body,and colour,i just felt it was a touch grey,and thin,was it just telling it how it was?,or was the Copland adding it's own colour?Whatever it was,the Bel-Canto was far better than the Copland,with it,s razor like speed,no pipe and slipper stuff here,just the speed and clarity,that will have you hearing inner details you never knew where there,it will show up poor recordings,and show how good your source really is.
Build quality is exellent,it looks a bit of a plain Jane,and has a sexy bright blue LED,fit and finish are stunning,inside your greeted by a massive transfomer,the amp is laid out well,constuction is superb,a classy piece of kit,it doesn't run hot,and doesn't take up loads of space as it is slim and lean.
The previous reviewers have said it all. I bought this amp in August, and for three months used my Classe' CAP 151 as a preamp. Not bad, but it had little or no gain as a pre. I did get a good pure idea of the EVo's sound though. I knew what it needed to be as close to SET as possible. It needed a tube pre. Bought a Cary SLP 2002 in December. Lots of gain, but not quite the sound I was looking for. Mid January I began to tube roll the Cary. I needed to balance the lushness of the tubes without loosing the quickness and dynamics of the EVo. Final decision is Telfunken 6DJ8s and Amperex Bugle Boy 12AU7s. Speed, Detail,Dynamics with a touch of tube lush midrange.
My system is:
BelCanto EVo 200.2/TG Audio HSR i PC
Cary SLP 2002 / Powersnake Sidewinder PC
Arcam CD 92/ Powersnake Viper v2 PC
HHb 850 CD recorder/ Silver Audio Powerburst PC
Rega P25/Dynavector 20XH/Black Cube SE/TG Audio HSR A PC
VanEvers Model 85 Reference power conditioner
B&W N804 speakers biwired w/Analysis Plus Oval 9
All ICs are Silver Audio Hiacynth
This is a tough review, in a way, because this amp sounds unlike any other I've heard. I've read many reviews of it, and most of them are correct in their own way. The things I can say that are pretty clear: There is greater detail, opennness, and depth than anything I've heard. This detail is combined with a refreshing easiness to the sound. It also sounds more dynamically reserved than some other good SS amps, although I think that the EVO might be the more accurate in this regard. This reserve seems most noticeable in the mids, which seem more recessed, but this might just be because of a total lack of coloration and emphasis. It thus sounds a little lean and dry, but also as clear as pure water. The bottom end is not as powerful, dynamic and extended as my CJ 2300A, and could be a problem for some, but the midbass definition is amazing. I use a powered sub, so this is not an issue for me. Another perception: you don't need to listen as loud with this amp. The detail is right there, at almost any volume. I'd like to hear two run as monoblocks; as it is, one of these is a clear look into the recordings, moreso than anything I've heard,(and I've heard plenty of good amps). I'm sure this amp won't be everyone's cup of tea, and system matching is very important. If you prize tonal accuracy over euphony, or just want to hear a different presentation of your recordings, give it a listen. You may want to adjust your expectations. A good after market power cord increases dimensionality and dynamics compared to the stock cord.
I'm a tube guy, and I took it in trade for a Bel Canto Evo 200.4 I had that was driving some Maggies in my weight room system. My buddy bought the 200.2, owned it for 2 weeks, then discovered he needed more power to drive some 12 inch woofers he has in his system. He now uses the 200.4 bridged to drive them, and it does this very well. But the 200.4 is way too forward for most speakers when bridged. The 200.2 is a solid state amp I could live with. It has stunning transparency, excellent detail, and is always musical. Tube amps do have a slightly sweeter midrange and a touch less grain, but you would have to spend thousands more in a tube or solid state amp to get what the Bel Canto gives you in ambience and detail. I know, because I am comparing it to my $8000. tube amp in my main system. I absolutely would recommend it to tube lovers tired of the tube hassle. I never grew tired of listening to it. If your looking for an amp with real world ergonomics and great sound, this is it. Your kids can play around it, your dogs and cats can sleep on it, and your wife can dust it, all without getting burned. And if you want to sell it, you'll have to beat the buyers back with a stick.
I have owned it all.....tubes, solid state, big amps, little amps, hi power, low power, you get the point. But I never owned that so-called perfect amp which does a lot of everything for you. Well, not until now and at this price!! It comes in a very well built but unassuming package, thick faceplate, but no garish flair, excellent binding posts, RCA's and XLR's. On/Off switch in the back -it's meant to be kept on at all times for best sonics since it only draws 30W at idle.
When I first began to listen, the first thing that struck me was how much air there was around instruments and performers! You can actually "see" each musicians space and the distances between the others. The sound was dynamic, extended (Read - Not Bright) just very real. The bass was different, however. Could I have found the weakness? No.....it was no weakness, just solid, well defined "real" bass, lacking the bloat and boom of most other amps. But what really shocked me was that this amp seemed faster and dare I say more agile than anything I had heard?! It was.....it reacted to the music a like a world-class athlete responds with his muscle! Fast, strong and agile. I bet your saying that it probably was limited to rock and metal. No. It kicked _ss with rock but it was very involving, lush and intimate with jazz vocals and classical (large and small scale). Just listen to Patricia Barber's CD "Nightclub". I have never heard such realistic sound in all my life. Emerson String Quartet, Dave Matthews, Pink Floyd, Carol King. However, it will not "mask" a bad recording. Bad is ugly, but great is magical! If you need more information, call on me!
Merlin VSM speakers w/BAM Alchemist Product 8 24/192 CD Player Adcom GFP-750 Preamp (passive mode) Nordost Blue Heaven speaker cable Alpha Core micro purl silver interconnects