Look further if: you require an integrated amplifier that provides a built-in headphone amp (sadly, no headphone jack is provided), or if you need a DACs that provides a user selectable combination of USB, S/PDIF, and Toslink inputs (as things stand, the Bel Canto’s DAC is kind of a one-trick pony, providing a single USB input only).
Ratings (relative to comparably-priced integrated amps)
Ratings (relative to comparably-priced DACs)
Amplifier: Judged solely as an integrated amp, the S300iUSB was simply excellent, producing a tight, punchy, well-defined sound that was unfailingly well-controlled—a “take charge” sound, if you will. When I first installed the Bel Canto in my system, I was surprised by two things. First, despite its compact size, the S300iUSB handled dynamic swells in the music powerfully and expressively, vividly conveying the sense of energy and life in well-recorded performances. Second, I was impressed by the surefooted manner in which the Bel Canto was able to resolve subtle, low-level sonic details and to navigate tricky passages that provided densely layered transient information. The S300iUSB serves up an intense quality of immediacy and also of focus that make it an absolute blast to listen to. Compared to many ICEpower-based amplifiers I’ve heard (or reviewed) in the past, the Bel Canto has a noticeably more lively, open, and transparent sound (in fact, it’s one of the best ICEpower implementations I’ve yet heard).