Bel Canto REF 1000M Mono Amplifier Reviewed

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Belcanto-Ref1000amp-review.gifWhen one thinks of a 500-Watt mono amplifier you probably picture a large, heat sink clad hunk of steel that weighs more than the car you drove it home in and probably costs more too. What if I told you that you could have all of the power of a big mega-Watt mono amplifier in a chassis no bigger than a small shoebox that won't strain your back or your wallet. Interested? Well you're in luck because the Bel Canto REF 1000M is such a product; combining stellar good looks with Goliath like power output all for $5,990 a pair.

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The reason the REF 1000Ms are so compact is due to their digital amplification design, which is of the switching variety, capable of churning out an impressive and efficient 500-Watts into eight Ohms and a 1,000 Watts into four. The REF 1000Ms feature improved input stages over previous REF 1000 designs as well as improved power supply rectification which adds 45 Joules of energy storage making for a lower noise floor, lower distortion and improved dynamics. The REF 1000Ms have a reported frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz across all loads down to two Ohms and have a total harmonic distortion rating of .007 percent.

Unlike traditional mono amplifiers, or any amplifier for that matter, the REF 1000Ms are exceedingly efficient drawing only 15 Watts at full power and no power in standby or off, allowing them to remain powered on 24/7 with no real harm done to your electric bill or the environment. Also different from traditional amplifiers the REF 1000Ms are extremely compact measuring in at eight and a half inches wide by three and a half inches tall and a foot deep. The REF 1000Ms tip the scales, or should I say don't tip the scales at a tad under 19 pounds apiece. Because of their compact size and cool running efficiency the REF 1000Ms can be placed seemingly anywhere and given their sexy industrial design these aren't amplifiers you're going to want to hide away from view. Another benefit of the REF 1000M's size is their ability to be stacked, making it easier to connect multiple amps to a single speaker in a biamp configuration without taking up valuable real estate in your listening room. The REF 1000Ms feature a single pair of binding posts flanked by inputs for both balanced and unbalanced interconnects as well as a detachable power cord.

In terms of sound there is little the REF 1000Ms can't do. They can power most any loudspeaker on the planet to insane volumes, 120dB peaks to be exact, and are extremely light on their feet, and are largely natural sounding with startling bass capabilities for a digital amplifier design. Where the REF 1000Ms excel is in their midrange and high frequency performance, which sounds more like a single ended triode amplifier in the sense of being incredibly nimble, open, airy and spacious versus syrupy, vague and recessed, which listeners often confuse for "warmth." In terms of soundstage width and depth the REF 1000M is among the best and the level of control and detail you'll hear is addictive, though it does take a bit of getting used to.

Read about the high points and low points of the REF 1000M on Page 2.

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