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Bel Canto e.One REF1000 Digital Mono Power Amplifier Print E-mail
Saturday, 01 March 2008
Article Index
Bel Canto e.One REF1000 Digital Mono Power Amplifier
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The Downside
While I absolutely adore the REF1000 mono amps from Bel Canto and find little, if any, fault in their sonic capabilities, there were a few ergonomic issues I have to mention.

For starters, the WBT binding posts make it difficult to connect certain types of spade lugs to the REF1000, due to their plastic safety enclosures. My Transparent speaker cable’s spades fit the WBT posts, but the angle in which they had to go into the tight slot made positioning the amps on my rack a bit of a chore. Luckily, a couple of spade-to-banana adapters from Transparent made my life a whole lot easier. Those of you with banana-style ends on your speaker cables will love the WBT binding posts on the REF1000s.

Also, due to the size and weight of the REF1000s, and the fact that I had to somewhat “hang” them off the back of my two-channel rack in order to accommodate my reference cables, the amps were prone to tipping a bit. Careful amp and cable placement eliminated this minor drawback, but, alas, it was present.

Lastly, while the REF1000s’ size makes for a sleek and stylish appearance, it also makes them a bit more difficult to rack-mount. Unlike traditional components that sit comfortably on most standard shelves or racks, the diminutive REF1000s require a bit more finesse and/or specialty shelves to achieve that professionally installed look. However, there are no better products than Bel Canto’s for an ultra-high-end system on the down-low, for they can be placed almost anywhere, even in tight spaces, due to their nearly total lack of heat production. You can even stack them, which is something I almost never endorse for any hi-fi product.

With a retail price of $1,995 each or just under ten grand for a complete five-channel system as tested here, the Bel Canto REF1000s are a sizeable investment, considering you can buy a traditional multi-channel amp for far less. While you can definitely spend less for power, you’re also getting less: less power and less quality. However, in comparison with some of the best amplifiers available today, the REF1000s are an absolute steal and compete favorably with, and often best, the traditional competition. I can count on one hand the number of traditional amplifiers for sale today that I would go on record as saying are outright better than the REF1000s, for they truly are that good.

The REF1000s are as good as your equipment and source material will allow and each incremental upgrade, from power cords on up, will be met with equal fervor from these mighty mites. However, unlike most high-end products, the REF1000s sound good with even budget gear, for a lot of what makes them great can be unlocked with components as simple and inexpensive as an iPod. They truly are an upgrade junkie’s paradise.

Without a doubt, Bel Canto makes some of the best-sounding and best-looking audio equipment out there today, and their REF1000s mono amps represent the pinnacle in an already stellar lineup. They are among the finest amplifiers I’ve ever heard and have had the privilege of auditioning.

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