Bel Canto e.One Phono phono stage Lab Report

Bel Canto’s claims for low noise are certainly borne out in the e.One Phono, but with limited gain adjustment it services MM, high- and medium-output MCs rather better than low-output MCs. Bel Canto specifies its four gain settings as +38dB (MM), +50dB, 58dB and +60dB (all MC) which, on test, were +37.9dB, +50.0dB, +57.2dB and +59.7dB via its balanced outs, equivalent to input sensitivities of 12.75mV, 3.17mV, 1.37mV and 1035µV, respectively. THD is also very low – between 100-1000x lower than any pick-up – at just 0.00014-0.0025% [Graph 2].

The lower sensitivity ‘+38dB’ option is better suited to high o/p MMs and is matched to a healthy 89mV input overload ceiling – or +25dB for a standard 5mV MM (re. 1kHz/5cm/sec) – and a truly fabulous 93dB A-wtd S/N ratio (re. 5mV). The three ‘MC’ options include an additional gain block and while the A-wtd S/N ratio seems to ‘fall’ to ~76.5dB this is because the IEC reference input (500µV) is 10x (or 20dB) lower than the 5mV MM standard. The ‘+50dB’ option might seem as useful for MMs as high o/p MCs but the 23mV (+13.3dB) input overload suggests some caution needs to be exercised. The remaining two +58/60dB options are really too similar (a +66dB mode would better suit low-output MCs) – so select by auditioning!


RIAA-corrected frequency response (5Hz-100kHz), MM input, re. 0dBV via balanced output


Distortion versus frequency (20Hz-20kHz), MM input, re. 0dBV via balanced output

Bel Canto has not included a subsonic roll-off in the e.One Phono so its response remains within ±0.2dB from 20Hz down to 1Hz, which is fine if you have perfectly flat records, a well managed arm/cartridge resonance behaviour and, ideally, non reflex-loaded speakers. At the other end of the scale, the pronounced rise above 20kHz (+0.45dB), with a +6.4dB peak at 100kHz, suggests the controversial ‘Neumann ultrasonic time constant’ has been applied here [see Graph 1]. PM

Input loading (MM/MC): 47kohm / 31-980ohm
Input sensitivity (re. 0dBV balanced out): 12.8mV/3.2mV/1.37mV/1.03mV
Input overload (re. 1% THD): 89mV / 23mV/11mV/8mV
Max. output (re. 1% THD) / Impedance: 6.9V / 96ohm (balanced)
A-wtd S/N ratio (re. 0dBV balanced out): 93.0dB/ 76.2dB/76.4dB/76.7dB
Frequency resp. (20Hz-20kHz/100kHz): –0.15dB to +0.45dB / +6.4dB
Distortion (20Hz-20kHz, re. 0dBV): 0.00014–0.0025%
Power consumption: 4W
Dimensions (WHD) / Weight: 216x75x318mm / 4.5kg
Price: £1250

Bel Canto Design Ltd
Minneapolis, USA
Supplied by: Padood Ltd, Cambridge, UK
01223 653199