Bel Canto Ref1000 MkII or Accuphase A-20

HI, I've recently got a Squeezebox Touch that feeds to a Havana DAC. I am thinking of either upgrade to the MkII for the Bel Canto Ref1000 monoblocks or get an Accuphase A-20.

For people who have auditioned the MKII and/or the Accuphase A-20, what would you recommend? Thanks.
Right, the speakers are 8ohms Totem Forests and the living room is around 10x10 meters. I recently found that running amp-direct from Havana to Bel Canto sounds really amazing where volume control can be done on the Squeezebox (though it need to be keft at 70+ with an attenuator for best results).
Hello ,

Never heard he accuphase a-20 , but we did compare the Bel canto to a Threshold s500 series 2 and the threshold was better sounding to the group including the owner of the Bel canto. Speakers used were Maggies 1.6 .

Thanks for the reply. It looks like Threshold s500 is Class A/AB and so I guess it leans more towards the Accuphase side as far as topology is concerned.

I wonder how is the MkII in comparison to Class A amps...
Metronet, you can conduct a valid comparison of Bel Canto Ref 1000 Mk.2 against one particular class A amp, but a generic comparison of a single class D amp against the entire class A group is not possible. . . there are enormous differences between individual amps in any particular class, and there are sonic overlaps between classes. It is likely that you would find Ref 1000 Mk.2 more pleasing than some class A amps, and less pleasing than other ones. .

I have not listened to the Accuphase A-20 amp, but I have reviewed the Bel Canto Ref 1000 Mk.2 for Positive Feedback. See:

Hope this helps, Guido
Wow thanks for the informative reply. What I am really curious about is should I upgrade to mark 2 or try something like a basic accuphase amp like the a20. I really like the mark 1 but I don't know if the mark 2 will make a huge difference in my current setup. Thanks again for the respond.
Metronet, I have heard Mk.1 and 2 side by side. Mk.2 is more extended and transparent with a little more harmonic development. Mk.2 has a little cleaner treble and is a little more linear in bass. Mk.2 has also higher input impedance, so it is compatible with more preamplifiers than Mk.1. Some people prefer Mk1, because it's a little warmer, but mostly because. . . in some quarters the older the version or product, the more valuable it is considered. . . it's that nostalgia thingie all over again.

Saying some people preferring the Ref 1000 mk1 over mk2 because of some nostalgic factor is kind of stretching it. If you are talking Leak, Quad II,Mcintosh 275, etc i can understand. It's just a reboxed ice modules with a nice case and better binding post and a choke. Mk2 is just a catch up exercise for a hefty premium in the face of presence of other ice module product with more work done.
The MkII (now called REF1000M) definitely takes things further than the original REF1000. The addition of a custom input stage board and another board with a custom power stage make the REF1000M a different beast and hence the higher price. So, I don't think anyone can say it is just an amp with reboxed ice modules.

The following video is a little old, but it explains a lot of things. John Stronczer has the S-500 (now called the REF500S stereo amplifier) cracked open and explains the input stage and then also explains the extra power stage board which is added to the REF500M monoblocks and REF1000M monoblocks.
Jaspert, thank you for expressing your opinion.

I have spent some time investigating design differences between the 2 versions, by pouring over published materials, talking with Jonathan Scull, and talking with John stronczer who designed both units. As mentioned above, My reasonably detailed description of the design changes is found in 2 paragraphs of my review article for PFO, which you can link to from my previous post. The technical component of the article was verified for accuracy by BC. Of course, the design changes would not be material, if not for the fact that there are easily perceivable/audible differences between the 2 versions. I personally easily prefer the sound of MK.2. . . but that is utterly immaterial.

The original BC ref1000 does seem to me to be essentially a stock Ice module in a nice box.

The ref1000mkii does have value added design enhancements regarding power supply and input section as mentioned.

I think prices on teh used market for these and other ICEPower based modules are starting to reflect the actual relative value of the different designs. Ref1000s can be had for much less than ref1000mkii's, for example.

Wryed 4 Sound is the company that seems to be blazing the trails in terms of overall value with their IcePower designs.

The newer BC amps are one of several that seem to be on the bleeding edge of what can be weaned out of Icepower sound wise and their higher pricing is in accordance with that.

I decided to take the best plunge I could with my initial foray into Class D/icepower (albeit used, not new) and have been most satisfied with the results.

I know there are many fine and more expensive amps than the newer Bel Cantos out there, some I have heard, some not, but at this time I would say I would be hard pressed to invest more in a power amp in the interest of better sound.

Then again I tend to look at things as either meeting my expectations or not. There is little value for me in the time and energy and expense involved in trying to continuously push the limit. Maybe someday when I retire....

Op, in your case, with Totem speakers, I suspect the mkii should be an improvement from what I read, but can't say for certain having never heard the original ref1000.

I would speculate that the Accuphase would take your sound in a more pronounced different direction, for better or for worse. Totem's I have heard all seem to like gobs of power and current. Based purely on specs, the BCs would seem to have a significant edge over the Accuphase in that regard, but the only way to know for sure would be to listen and compare. I would expect significantly different results from these two significantly different amps.

The Totem web site lists 50-200 w/ch (into 8 ohms, their nominal rating I assume) as the power recommendation.

The Accuphase is only 20 w/ch in to 8 OHM, from what I see. Though I am certain they are sweet ones, the Accuphase would appear to underpowered for the Totems.

And that is based on the the published specs. Smaller Totems I have heard, like Arros even, seem to thrive on way more power and current than advertised as recommended. That is not unusual. I believe many speaker makers publish power specs that will satisfy a larger % of the general public, but the power needs of demanding audiophiles to get the dynamics and performance they are looking for tend to be way higher than most vendors would be willing to publicize.
Mapman, thanks for your reply. This really helps me decide on a bit more powerful amp. It sounds like the more power the better and the 20w Accuphase is probably not the best suited for the Totem Forest.
I might sound a bit harsh on Bel Canto ICE module based product with my previous post but I did enjoy my Ref1000 mk1 when I had them driving my Dynaudio Confidence C1( both now sold to go active). If i have some inefficient or current demanding speakers, I wiould consider them again but probably looking at used market.

To the OP, I also think Totem will be better served with high power amps.
hi Guidocorona,

Enjoy your review and posts! I am now even more convinced that BC would be my choice of amp. I have heard REF500M and Bryston (can't remember which model, maybe 100?), both driving ATC SCM40's, I must say I prefer REF500M, a bit better bass and sweeter highs, Bryston while it's good is a bit on the bright side to me.

I have a pair of ATC SCM40's (8 Ohms, 84db sensitivity, 50-300W recommended), which is well known for its hunger for power as you can see. Would you recommend BC REF1000M's or REF500M's?

I understand the more power the better so if money is not an issue REF1000M should be better, but would you say REF500M's is more than enough to bring the best out of SCM40's already and therefore there is no need to spend more on REF1000M's?

Also, I heard that REF500M uses newer (and better?) power module than the L&O's ICEpower 1000 and therefore maybe a little bit better sounding than the REF1000M, do you know whether that is the case? Or have you heard them side by side? Is it worth going for REF500M just because of that?

Many thanks in advance!!