Power Amplifiers

Bel Canto S500 Stereo Power Amplifier

ARTICLE INDEX

Introduction

Let me first state "I like this amp, I really do." What does "Class A, A/B, D, ICEpower" mean to the average audiophile? Will there be an audible benefit by upgrading to the newer technology? If I am making an initial purchase will this technology satisfy me? Does the amp du jour really make a difference in the listening experience for the average listener?

For the uninitiated listener, the simplistic view of ICEpower is the controlled application of house power to your speakers. This is done without the usual need for a large inefficient transformer, large capacitors, large numbers of high current capacity switching transistors and the the associated heat sinks. This method is extremely efficient: in size, weight, materials and power generation and therefore minimal heat is generated. According to B&O literature, ICEpower modules are 90% efficient (they are switching amplifiers, or Class D, often called "digital" amplifiers), and use 5 to 10 times less power at idle than equivalent A/B amps. You could say ICEpower gives you the power you need only when you need it. Bang and Olufsen owns the patent and techology rights and is the sole source for ICEpower modules. Currently, there are competing switching power modules available using similar technologies but ICEpower remains unique to B&O.

Bel Canto S500 Specifications

  • Design: Two-Channel Power Amplifier
  • Dual 125ASX2 ICEpower Modules
  • Power Output: 200 Watts x 2 into 8 Ohms
  • Speaker connections: 1-set WBT 5-way Safety Binding Posts
  • Inputs: Both Balanced (XLR) and Un-balanced (RCA)
  • Weight: 15 pounds
  • Dimensions: 3.5" H x 8.5" Wx 12" D
  • Price: $2999 USA
  • Bel Canto

I jumped at the chance to review this product when asked. As a retired regular type guy I couldn't wait to begin the review process. As a long time legacy class AB amp owner(except for my class D sub amp), I have shied away from an upgrade and have stuck with my 3 class A/B stereo amps. Although energy inefficient, they have satisfactorily provided 6 channels @ over 350+ watts/channel for the last 6 years and I was anxious to try the latest in amplifier technology to see if I was missing out on an enhanced listening experience.

Bel Canto is no new comer to the world of ICEpower module power amps. This was obvious from the very beginning. From packaging to production and on to application it is obvious that Bel Canto builds a quality product. I expect this energy efficient amplifier, with its clean looking minimalist and functional design, will have a high spouse approval factor; especially when multiple amps are configured in a home theater system.

I found the soft blue LED power light unobtrusive and inconspicuous, even in my bat cave home theater. I quickly dismissed my initial negative reaction to the rear mounted power switch once I realized this very green friendly piece of gear would always remain powered up.

With great anticipation I opened the shipping carton. It was immediately apparent that Bel Canto takes great pride in securing a positive first impression. The inner container has a convenient handle and opening it presents no mystery or unusual challenges. The straight forward and elegant method of packaging is impressive. No knuckle busting, low loss, inventory control tough plastic here, only a soft well fitting foam bed and cover containing all the necessary pieces, placed in a logical, easy access configuration. This is one packing box you won't mind saving in the attic if the unlikely event arises that you would need it again.

Bel-Canto-S500 Power Amplifier