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This review first appeared in the August 2009 issue of hifi & stereo magazine You can also read this review of the Bel Canto Design CD-2 in its original German version. We translated it through a syndication arrangement with our German colleagues. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of or BCD. - Ed.

Reviewer: Jörg Dames
Financial Interests: click here
Source: Fonel Simplicité (variable outputs), Audiomeca Obsession II, Wadia 170i Transport & Apple iPod & Benchmark DAC1 USB
Pre/power - Myyrad MXA 2150, Funk LAP-2.V2, integrated - Fonel Emotion, Accuphase E212
Speakers: Thiel CS 3.7, Sehring S 703 SE
Cables: Low-Level - Straight Wire Virtuoso, high-level - HMS Fortissimo, Reson LSC 350

Review Component Retail: €2.950

Sometimes things work out other than expected. As in the case of Bel Canto’s CD-2, this can be pleasant. While an amp test was on the books, its importer Jörg Labza of Axiss Europe opted to throw in a CD player. No surprise, I promptly leashed it up for a listen. Spontaneously sympathetic, a formal review was called for to dig deeper and peel out specifics. To begin with the obvious, the CD-2 is a top loader to do away with any closure or loading mechanism. Admittedly, this is also a design element. A glance through the firm’s product portfolio shows distinguished yet unified cosmetics. Yet head honcho John Stronczer who founded Bel Canto in 1990 also touts longevity. What’s not there can’t break must be another rationale for the choice of Philips CD-Pro2LF transport. Far from cheap—DIY catalogues demand about $400—and quite massively constructed, this drive is popular with heavily stressed commercial juke boxes as well as luxury high-end players for its reliability. 

Feeding it CDs is a short learning curve. Place disc on the spindle, add magnetic puck and off you go. I would have preferred soft rubber or textile cladding on the aluminum cover which despite rounded-over edges could scratch a carelessly inserted CD though it didn’t happen to me. Worthy of mention too is that to protect the laser pickup from dust, it’s smart to leave a CD on the deck during standby. I personally didn’t mind that since I routinely leave this or that disc in a player already when I turn it off.

The CD-2 offers RCA and XLR outputs and three digital outputs. While on user interface details, you might question how to operate this beast with the lone frontal control. That’s simplicity itself. One press is play; press during play makes pause; a double press during play creates stop; and left/right turns skip forward or back. For more, there’s a standard remote. Before we peek inside for tech features, you might question the black protrusion on top. Like the 12mm face place, it’s an aluminum structure which doesn’t merely protect the laser assembly but stabilizes and damps the steel chassis which, Stronczer claims, is additionally damped by layers of lacquer.