in , ,

Bel Canto distill Black Series essence into ACI 600 integrated

  • The Munich High-End Show this year once again reaffirmed its status as the number one hifi show in the world. One German distributor I spoke to no longer exhibits because he sees the event as having lost its German flavour, overwhelmed by a more powerful (read: international) all spice.

    ‘International’ sees the vast majority of exhibitors, press and attendees arrive from overseas. ‘Overseas’ means long haul flights. ‘Long haul flights’ means jet-lag.

    One such sufferer was Bel Canto Design President Michael McCormick who did his level best to talk through some of the features of the company’s new super-integrated, the ACI 600.

    The A in ACI is the most technically potent of the three – a front foot reminder that all digital inputs, from Ethernet to S/PDIF to USB, are asynchronously clocked.


    The ‘C’ refers to Control. Digital domain signal handling means Bel Canto are able to apply their ‘bass management system’, ‘Tilt control’ EQ (borrowed from Quad) and subwoofer crossover point via XMOS-powered DSP.

    More on this in the video interview with McCormick below.

    ‘I’ = integrated. A distillation of the company’s Black Series three box-er (US$50,0000) that rolls up Roon Ready streamer, MQA-capable DAC, MM/MC phono stage, line level inputs, dedicated headphone amplifier and loudspeaker amplifier into one chassis.

    The ‘600’ refers to wpc output power into 4 Ohms. Into 8 Ohms we get 300wpc. A pair of custom nCore 500 modules from Hypex handles loudspeaker drive. Hook up comes via WBT’s NextGen binding posts.

    Specification promised include 0.0005% distortion and 127dB of dynamic range.

    The price though – it isn’t for feint of wallet: US$25,000. As McCormick admits, “It’s a big number”.

    The ACI 600 is the costliest super-integrated we’ve seen to date (by far!) but it also shows us that even the high/er end players see the potential in boiling multi-box setups down to one.

    Further information: Bel Canto Design


    DAR 750 x 290

    John H. Darko

    Written by John H. Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has also contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram

    One Comment

    1. Hmmmm. I am beginning to think these “super” Integrated units are just the new Receivers. Nothing wrong with that, really. They merely substitute the AM/FM tuners for “streaming” or if you will, “receiving” internet music services and stations.

      Correct me if I am incorrect, but do these new Super-Integrateds have built into them the ability to receive Internet Radio Stations via vTuner (or the like) from around the world along with streaming music services such as Pandora, Spotify, SiriusXM and many others? If so, then these are Receivers, albeit “Internet Receivers”. Except perhaps among the snobbish, the term “Receiver” (like anything from Bose) is readily accepted throughout the world of audio because (like Bose) products, people like Receivers. Yeah, audiophiles are people too. They just think they can not so much hear “better” than the rest of the world, but “more” too.

      Again, nothing wrong with these new units and given the advancement of technology, I think its a good thing. I also think the ACI 600 is (’60s/70s ALERT!) totally tits. It’s gear, fab and righteous too! So what if I cannot (yet?!) afford one? It is still a gorgeous, minimalist piece. The Black Series is most definitely “Black Tie”, i.e., class.

      Super-Integrated doesn’t yet roll off the tongue with any degree of ease but it may yet become the moniker of choice. If the ACI 600 and the offerings from NAD and other manufacturers do indeed receiver/stream vTuner stations along with services such as I already mentioned (yeah, I left out Tidal-Bowl cuz I don’t much care for ’em and those that do? Good for them, not me.) then I would say what we have here is not so much a failure to communicate but a rose by any other name.

      Good report that wets the whistle for more. Thanks.


    MiND control: Simaudio’s Android app, MOON Neo ACE

    Are you experienced? KEF, Arcam at Munich High-End 2016