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Bel Canto Design CD3t Disc Transport Review Print E-mail
Tuesday, 29 November 2011
Article Index
Bel Canto Design CD3t Disc Transport Review
Set Up and Listening
Conclusion and Specifications

Set Up & Listening:

I set up the CD3t on a set of Symposium Rollerblock Jr’s, and with a Shakti Stone on top, near the power supply. I used a Shunyata Venom AC cord and the aforementioned DH Labs BNC and AES/EBU cables to connect to the Bryston BDA-1. My first impressions were that the CD3t was offering a very detailed, airy, and dimensional presentation. It was also amazingly quiet operationally. I must admit as to not being a big fan of slot loading players or transports in the past, but I realized that highly respected digital luminaries like Esoteric, dCS, and others have embraced it. I am now a believer. Among the advantages of slot loading mechanism are durability and there is one less group of parts to wear down in a motorized tray mechanism.

A disc I have been spinning for a while now is Robert Plant's nicely produced Band of Joy album. With great covers by artists as varied as Los Lobos, Richard Thompson, Low, and a stellar cast of supporting musicians, Plant is in full flight. The CD3t extracted the musical layers very impressively. On “Central Two-O-Nine”, the layer of acoustic guitars, mandolin, harmony vocals, and percussion were easily distinguishable. I can safely say I have not heard this CD sound better.

Bel Canto CD3t rear panel

One of the greatest bands of the 60’s British Invasion was the Animals, and they were very well served on the great sounding SACD Hyrbrid Retrospective. With the CD3t, the Redbook CD layer sounded positively thrilling. Such classic tracks as “We’ve Gotta Get Out of This Place”, “It’s My Life”, and “When I Was Young” sounded amazing, and the superb mastering job by mastering guru Bob Ludwig was fully on display. These hugely influential recordings deserve the best possible sonics, and the CD3t was up to the task.

Peter Gabriel’s New Blood, a recording of some of his classic work with an orchestra, is a stunning sonic achievement, and of course the material is sublime, with tracks culled from across Gabriel’s illustrious recording career. Hearing Gabriel’s untarnished voice backed by a full orchestra made the hairs on the back of my neck stand at attention. The CD3t did a superb job providing a framework for this incredibly dynamic disc. Quiet passages lead to throbbing crescendos on tracks such as “San Jacinto”, “Red Rain”, “The Rhythm of the Heat”, and “Digging in the Dirt”.

The 2011 remaster of U2’s 1991 masterpiece Achtung Baby is an amazing package, which includes six CDs, and four DVDs. The album sounds as fresh today as it did twenty years ago. The package also includes the follow up album, Zooropa, in remastered form as well. The CD3t did a great job of extracting the all the musical information from these recordings, which were done with a combination of analog and digital equipment, and are somewhat limited in overall transparency.  But the Bel Canto made every track come alive.

I was able to compare the CD3t’s BNC and AES/EBU digital outputs on a variety of recordings and I probably preferred the AES/EBU by a very slim margin. I mean very slim. Both outputs are obviously well engineered, and I may even have been imagining differences. The CD3t was also a pleasure to operate. The front panel buttons were very responsive and clearly laid out. Track access via the buttons or the supplied remote control was immediate and disc loading was impressively quick. The display is bright, and can be turned off as well. The only complaint I can muster is the fact that you can display track number, disc time, and time elapsed, but not time remaining on any given track.


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