Bel Canto Design SET i40 Integrated Amplifiers

5/5 (2 Reviews) MSRP : $5200.00


Product Description



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Reviews 1 - 2 (2 Reviews Total)

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Greg Mclean a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: December 25, 2000

Bottom Line:   
Associated Equipment:

- Copland 289 cd player w/ HDCD
- Meadowlark Shearwater Hot-Rod's
- Conicident Speaker Technology CST interconnect
and speaker cables
- Lovan Soveriegn equipment racks
- MG room tune paks

Room size and particulars:

- 21 ft in length
- 13 ft in width
- 7 ft ceiling ( drop acoustic tile )
- carpeted floors and "normal living" decor
- listening is done along 13 ft. wall with speakers
being placed 42" from rear wall, 22" from side walls with
5-7 degree toe-in and speakers 7 ft. apart. Listening
position is 8-9 ft. away.

**** I believe this former information to be of important value to the reader, to give the reader a "sense of space" in which this component was reviewed and it's relative properties to associated equipment****

This amplifier surprised me. Normally, when I think of SET designs, I think of some grossly overpriced, underpowered "ME TOO" product driving a pair of horn speakers that look like they were carved out of a piece of balsa wood in Uncle Frank's garage.

Enter the Bel Canto Design SETi40, a stately looking beast indeed! Weighing in at 64 lbs, this 845 power tube based, pure class "A" integrated amplifier, is finished in matte black powder coated, high-heat resistant flat enamel and is beautifully appointed with gold badge and tube-rings ($360.00 option) and boasts a 37 watt-per-channel output into 4 or 8 ohm load. The remote control is simply laid out and easy to operate being equipped with "standby" feature, balance control, mute etc. The build quality is exceptional and hosts 3 line level inputs, gold plated binding posts and 4 and 8 ohm impedance toggle switch tap design, nice touch.

After a 2.5 hr warm-up, I felt the unit was up to reasonable potential for reviewing. My first music selection is one I have used over a 3 yr. period whilst auditioning many systems and individual components, that being Shirley Horn's sublime "You won't forget me" ( Verve 847-482-2) track 11, "If you go". Right from the first sizzle of percussionist Steve Williams rivetted cymbal, I knew I was listening to something special!. The air, naturalness and decay was first rate, as were the piano and chestiness of Shirley's smokey vocals. There was a real sense of "venue" and "space" with no hardness of treble-tilted sibilance. Soundstage was "believable" and extended well beyond the Meadowlarks already gifted outer parameters. Bass notes were rich and full, not "one-notey" or "pushed" creating a sense of false dynamics as I have heard in other lower powered SET designs. Bravo!

Next selection is Josquin: Missa Pange Lingua / Tallis Scholars ( Gimell CDGIM-009 ), a choral arrangement of early church period ensemble ( 1440 - 1521 A.D. )
Track 2, "Kyrie" is a difficult one to reproduce with any degree of accuracy and realism as it contains a host of male choral arrangements which challenge the limits of any amplifier/speaker combo. These arrangements can easily turn into a "congested" cauldron of voice patterns and timbre of the human voice is easily lost on the wrong system. Not so with the Bel Canto. Although some of the highest frequencies were a tad rolled off compared to the Levinson or Rowland, this piece stayed intact and behaved flawlessly throughout the midband and upper midband range where both the others sounded thin and glassy.
The male baritone vocal exhibited body and presence without sounding forced or damp as is common with solid-state. I also noticed an airy warmth between the featured vocalists which aided in an "understandable" sense of placement.
Here, Here!


In summary, the Bel Canto Design SETi40 was the most "enjoyable" of all 4 tested, yet I will confess, I have always liked the richness and warmth of tube designs so this is more a matter of preference. I am also very strongly partial to "one box" designs as of late. It has easily out-musicalled some gear I have tried at 50% or better. If you have it in your budget, listen to the SETi40 for yourself as it offers you both convenience of single box approach and the extreme benefits of SET design.
A remarkable product!

Expand full review >>

Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   2000



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Rob a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: July 1, 2000

Bottom Line:   
I now have several hundred hours on the system. I find I am now not analyzing and just enjoying beautiful music. This is a bedroom system so the integrated feature is very nice. The remote control works well. The unit is beautiful to look at and is of solid construction. I am truly pleased that after analyzing several systems I choose the Bel Canto. Beautiful music and outstanding workmanship.

Expand full review >>

Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   2000




Reviews 1 - 2 (2 Reviews Total)

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