• The S300 is a capable amplifier that overcomes a lot of its shortcomings by being so damn stylish and easy to live with compared to the competition.
• In terms of power, the S300 can drive almost any normal loudspeaker out there today, be it bookshelf or floor-standing. However, the more efficient you can make your speakers, the better the S300 will perform. If you have power-hungry speakers like, say, Revel Salons or Magnepans, you may want to step up to the M300 monos or REF 1000M amps from Bel Canto.
• The S300 is a beautiful-sounding amp from the lower midrange on up. Once you've kind of retrained your ear to not fixate on its digital pedigree, the S300 can be quite addictive and pleasant.
• The S300 lacks a bit of soul, if I'm honest, and it is very evident in the bass, which is taut and refined, but a bit anemic for my tastes. While I'm sure Mother Nature appreciates products like the S300, there's no getting around the fact that when it comes time for sheer horsepower, turbos are great, but they can't hold a candle to a V12.
• The S300 is so lightweight and compact that if you have bulky speaker cables, for example, Transparent Reference, like I do, you can actually tip the amp back on its rubber feet. This isn't so much a problem if you're placing the amps on the floor or in a tight space, but it really sucks if you're installing them in a Middle Atlantic rack like mine and you hear the amp go sliding off the back of a shelf and down onto the floor. Use precaution and perhaps have a bean bag or two on hand to help balance out the S300 if you plan on using more robust cables.
The Bel Canto e.One S300 is a solid amplifier in terms of performance and downright awesome in terms of everything else. For its asking price of $1,395, I wouldn't call it a no-brainer, for there are a number of amps boasting the same power output and levels of style for about the same money. However, none are as compact or as easy on the environment as the e.One S300. The S300's sound is unique and takes a bit of getting used to, but if you're one of those who grow to love it, it's hard to go back to anything else. If you're in the market for a solid-performing, no-nonsense stereo amplifier, I recommend giving the e.One S300 a listen before making your final decision.
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