1. Things you need to know about the new ‘Conversations’ PM system:

    a) DO NOT REPLY TO THE NOTIFICATION EMAIL! I get them, not the intended recipient. I get a lot of them and I do not want them! It is just a notification, log into the site and reply from there.

    b) To delete old conversations use the ‘Leave conversation’ option. This is just delete by another name.
    Dismiss Notice

Bel Canto C5i integrated/ pre amp

Discussion in 'audio' started by hifinutt, May 27, 2022.

  1. hifinutt

    hifinutt hifinutt

    Had quite a few integrated amps through the door this year including the norma 70b and the moonriver 404 ref . all very good . So recently got the little bel canto c5i integrated with is class d with digital front end . Used with the RFC modded Taus which is very detailed and shows up bad equipment fast . There are quite a few of these now ex demo at around 1200 pounds as the new C6i has come in which has a analogue front end and still class d

    The BC units are US built and therefore prices are a bit on the higher side but they last for years being well built . they also have superb remotes with 200 step volume control . they are small and easily fit into domestic environment .

    First up you notice the sweet top end and controlled bass which is fairly substantial . its 120 watts into 4 ohms and 60 watts into 8 ohms per channel . damping factor above 200 . I was expecting a clinical ` digital ` sound with some grain and hardness , actually its quite surprising . totally non fatiguing , imaging fairly good and very musical . not as muscular sounding as the norma 70b [ which costs over double] but for the money its well worth a listen. It wont be for everyone but its worth a listen . Even the inbuilt dac sounds very sweet . I have yet to compare fully to the external black ice dac but initial listening is favourable

    [​IMG]P1070890 by , on Flickr

    [​IMG]P1070888 by /url], on Flickr

    good points . the WBT binding posts are superb and of course the 200 step remote is brilliant
    bad points . only one analogue input so nowhere to put my tuner as well as external dac
    packaging is not as good as bel canto of yesteryear . rather meagre

    after a week of listening i tried the C5i as a pre amp into a class AB power amp . [ using a highly modded black ice dac] .... well .... its way better than i expected i must say . Reminds me of the townshend allegri pre we had here but this thing has a remote . At around 1200 quid these are a stonking bargain as a pre amp

    Extremely transparent with a sweet top end , great imaging and no fatigue at all. played various stuff including lemon jelly and whats striking is the pure treble that is sweet and controlled bass .

    Based on this i am highly tempted to get the new BC pre 5 pre which is a dedicated pre with more inputs . very few reviews on this
  2. hifinutt

    hifinutt hifinutt

    one nice feature about these is the front plate can be changed to black quite easily . the control knob is solid metal so that gives you idea of solid build . plates are not cheap at 200 quid but if like me you have black and silver kit some like it matching . I have had the pre 3vbs with a vbl psu for some years and its very good . i have another one which has been upgraded with the superb sean jacobs which made a huge improvement to the pre 3vbs . big gain in bass and weight of sound
  3. hifinutt

    hifinutt hifinutt

    well been using the c5i as a PRE only the last 2 weeks . John Stronzer has certainly pulled it off here , playing electronica , vocals and other genre with a black ice valve dac into an english amp [ arcam] its very detailed but also very smooth . in fact i have been playing trumpets and some stuff that sometimes grates on my ears and it really is very natural . imaging is very good . Vocals are delightful with a sense of presence . I had some schiit pre amps in days gone by including the freya and saga . its more transparent than the saga and has more warmth than the freya . i prefer it to them both . These are available under 1200 quid in dealers and i think would equal the townshend allegri . not done a side by side comparison yet but we had one briefly here

    The advantage of course with this C5i is that it has a dac inbuilt and a remote control which i cant do without [ the allegri has no remote unless its the ref version] . so this pre gets 9/10 for performance ... why only 9/10 , well its only got one analogue line input which means i cant plug my tuner in as well as ehe external dac . I can live with that to get a cost effective pre amp .
    Until funds come in for a better pre this is a definate contender for anyone seeking a cost effective pre amp. Be interested in other folks experiences if they get to use one
  4. hifinutt

    hifinutt hifinutt

    interesting to read this comparison of the c6i with sn3 and moon and cyrus integrated

    We had two almost identical demonstrations recently, with both sets of customers looking to upgrade their amplifiers for use primarily with vinyl. The same four models were under consideration due largely to the inclusion of onboard phono stages – the Naim Supernait 3, Bel Canto C6i, Cyrus i9XR and Moon 340iX (with optional mm/mc phono and DAC), but we had different outcomes.

    This kind of comparison happens frequently but it still fascinates us how different customers – often with very similar taste in music – can ultimately choose different models based on sound quality and which they feel to be better. Following completion of the last demonstration we thought we’d take the opportunity to compare these models directly for ourselves and document our findings. We kept with the Linn Majik LP12 we’d been using for the customer demonstrations, as following recent updates, this model represents (subjectively) very good value for money.
    Mystic Mac likes this.
  5. Mystic Mac

    Mystic Mac cauliflower ears not golden ears....

    Thanks for sharing this review. I can identify with much of what it says about the C6i.

    without doubt it is the smooth treble and natural/even handed balance that appeals to me. It partners very well with my Dynaudio Evoke 30, the combination gives a midrange that has a natural quality, a top end that is bereft of harshness and a bass that is tuneful and nuanced.
    hifinutt likes this.
  6. hifinutt

    hifinutt hifinutt

    Amazing ..shows class d is still moving on and john stronzer is so talented at it now .
    Mystic Mac likes this.
  7. Mystic Mac

    Mystic Mac cauliflower ears not golden ears....

    I went from a valve amp that weighed 30kg to this class d shoebox amp that weighs a couple of kg.... I won’t lie but I was a little worried when I took out it of the cardboard box. But there was no need as I am really happy with this little class d amp, maybe I’ll try a Bel Canto power amp in the future, if I get the urge.

    I think I read somewhere they paid extra attention to the power supply??
    hifinutt likes this.
  8. hifinutt

    hifinutt hifinutt

    Yes i asked bc if the new pre 5 would have option of external psu and they said no .all the psu was in the amp
    Mystic Mac likes this.
  9. jamesd

    jamesd pfm Member

    I had a chance to listen to the e1X integrated with Joseph Audio Pulsars at a hi fi show and thought it was incredible. If I could afford it, I’d buy that amp/speaker combo right now.
    hifinutt and Mystic Mac like this.
  10. Cato

    Cato pfm Member

    Wonder how this would compare to the Lyngdorf 1120 (notwithstanding the fact the Lyngdorf has their room correction software on-board) ?
    Mystic Mac likes this.
  11. hifinutt

    hifinutt hifinutt

    yes i thought about the eix pre amp but i dont need a dac and it only has one set of xlr . So the pre 5is currently in my sights as more analogue inputs . However the bc5i as a pre continues to be delighful with clarity , balance and incredibly easy and simple to use
    jamesd likes this.
  12. hifinutt

    hifinutt hifinutt

    lyndorf seems to attract so much praise so that would be a good thing to compare
    Cato likes this.
  13. hifinutt

    hifinutt hifinutt

    good to see a review of the bel canto c6i which has replaced this c5i

    When paired with the DeVore O/96, the Bel Canto stack proved to be up to the task of coaxing a healthy helping of these speakers’ rich voice out and into the Barn. I’ve been addicted to Boy Harsher’s Careful from 2019 of late and playing this record, I deemed it vinyl-worthy, well into the darker hours proved to be rich, rewarding, and kinda creepy. Careful’s skeletal sound, goth-ish Joy Division-like sparseness, sounded perfectly big and punchy through the DeVores with Bel Canto in charge. While I’ve heard the O/96 sound bigger and richer, I was not left wanting sitting in the dark with Boy Harsher providing the soundtrack for thought-travel beyond the concerns of the day. This music needs real control and punchy dynamics which is something the Bel Canto stack delivered with every speaker I paired it with. Nice.
    Mystic Mac likes this.

Share This Page


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice