Any love for the Belles Aria or other recent Belles amplifier?


I recently heard a Belles 150a Hotrod with Triangle Zerius speakers and a transformer volume control.  The sound is one of the most compelling pairings I have heard.  I am considering purchasing a used 350a or a new Aria or 150a ref. v2.

Has anyone spent time with one, two or all three of these amplifiers?  I'd like to spend as little as possible but still have an outstanding match with the easy-to-drive Zerius.  I like the idea of an integrated if it sounds as good as the bigger amps just with less output power.

Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated!
leahy
I have Belles Soloist 1 and think it's awesome. Use with Salk SongTowers. The Belles dealer on this forum wrote a bunch about the Aria line a few weeks ago 
Thanks jl35 - I'll look for his posts.  The soloist was another consideration.  Good to hear you like yours so much.
There's an interesting piece on the Belles website about the advantages of an integrated 
 audioconnection I believe 
Belles is good alright, owned 3.
That said, vast majority of what you heard was the Triangles .
 Last time I looked they had no US distributor which makes me bit wary .
Check with Johnny R at Audio Connection in New Jersey.  He is a Belles dealer and had the Aria when I last visited in February.
I owned the Belles 350a Reference amp and loved it. All of his amps are wonderful sounding. Never etched or hard always musical and nicely resolved with great bass control. Big fan of Belles amps! 
I just purchased a pair of Reynaud Bliss Silvers/Magic Stands, and I have Triangle Zerius and a pair of demo Finale Vivaci Mini speakers.  Different amps from the Belles lineup will match up better with different speakers, or at least that is my assumption.  I think a 350a Reference would be best with Reynauds, but the Aria is probably best for the Triangle and Finales.

It sounds to me like I can't really go wrong with any of the Belles amps.  I appreciate all of your feedback - it reinforces the positive evolution of the 150a Hotrod by a highly talented designer.

I'll post some impressions once I get the Reynauds and Belles amplifier in the house.  Based on hearing the Reynauds at Amherst Audio, I think the Belles pairing could be a grand slam combo, but I do love my Zerius...we'll see.

Thank you all for your insightful posts.

Cheers!
I have the Belles Aria preamp and his 150 v2 power amp. To my ears it is a hard to beat combo for the money. Add to that the fact that Dave Belles builds them himself and you have something very special. I understand that the rest of the Aria line is excellent too. BTW, I also have a Belles One power amp that is well over 35 years old and works like a charm pushing refurbed AR 2ax speakers! I had the thing checked out by a great tech and it still hits its specs. Not too shabby. Plus the Aria is just cool.
I'd suggest you contact Aaron at Kanso Audio Furniture who is a Belles rep and uses a Belles front end in his stellar audio system.  He can tell you how fine the Belles line of amplification is.  
Thanks birbygdad and whitestix - great info!
@leahy

Having first hand experience (as a Power Modules dealer) with the 350A Ref, the 150RefV2, the Aria, and the Soloist amps (which BTW, Dave Belles is not making the soloist separates anymore and the Solisit integrated would be a special order item), I would say the 350A is probably overkill on the Reynaud Bliss Silver... The 350A is a terrific amp, but I doubt you need the 250W/ch it has... the 150Refv2 would probably be a better choice (to my taste) based on what I recall various Reynuads speakers I have heard over the years sound like, but you just may prefer the more muscular sound the 350A has.

The Aria is a terrific little integrated... Dave Belles is also make a Aria power amp(s) and preamp too if you want to go separates. For example there is a Aria stereo power amp which basically the power amp that is in the integrated, in the same size chassis, with some minor refinements for the same price as the Aria integrated. Dave has also even mentioned making Aria monoblock power amp available too.

BTW, if you folks think the Aria is good, the Soloist integrated (which is about $1,000 more) is really good too.... its basically pretty close to a integrated amp version of the 150ARefV2. If you need more power and/or better sound than the Aria integrated - its well worth looking into.

Cheers
Rich Brkich




(((BTW, if you folks think the Aria is good, the Soloist integrated (which is about $1,000 more) is really good too.... its basically pretty close to a integrated amp version of the 150ARefV2. If you need more power and/or better sound than the Aria integrated - its well worth looking into.Cheers
Rich Brkich )))

Rich,
Thanks for your comments I agree with you on much of the above
 but wanted to shed some light with my take based from genuine listing experience. 
I have been a Belles Power Modules dealer since mid to late 80s....
In our listening sessions with many top quality speakers the 1995 Aria Integrated petty well smokes the 3 k plus Soloist on all the speakers we listened to.
 The new Aria Mono Blocks at 2995 are pretty magical and easily surpass the150 V2.
The Latest Belles SA 100 at 5500 with its Dual Mono design is even more fun then the 350 units which were already a fine design.
Best
JohnnyR
Audio Connection   
Rich and JohnnyR - thank you for the additional information.  

It looks like I can find a nice condition 150a V2 a few hours away, so I will try that with my passive transformer volume control (sounds great with the Hotrod).  If I need more gain, I'll spring for some form of Belles preamp.
Anyone else heard the Soloist 1 and Aria ? I'm a happy Soloist owner, but if the much cheaper Aria is that much better...
Dave Belles and I have discussed this one for hours and both agree.
The newer Aria designs out performs the Soloist.
The Aria integrated ,Aria Stereo amp and Aria Mono Blocks far more engaging and sophisticated. They easily out perform much more $ designs, and made in USA
If I didn't tell you I would be doing you a disservice.
 Best JohnnyR
I heard the Aria Monoblocks at Johnny R's a few weeks ago and they sounded great. If you are looking for nice sounding monos and don't want to break the bank these might be the ticket. Pass Labs for everyman without the heat!
Why does the Belles website say they are 'coming soon'?
B
I also heard the Aria Monoblocks at Johnny R Audio Connection.  The system it  was in was quite modestly priced, but it put many much more expensive systems I have heard to shame.  Out of all the different systems Johnny R played for me, I was most mesmerized by that modest system.  Of course, the expensive Proac speakers I heard with a very nice amplification system was quite special as well, but the Aria system really sticks in my mind.
What speakers did Johnny pair the Arias with?
John has generally been showing the Aria Integrated with the Ryan 610's and the Vandersteen Treo CT's. Both combinations sound great. I believe he showed the monoblocks with a pair of Proac floorstanders when I was there. I am not sure which Proac's they were. I would call John directly and speak to him if you are interested. He's a great guy and will work with you to get your system sounding the way you want it to. Good Luck!
Thanks Joey54!  I got my Ayre-Vandersteen set up from John and agree that he's a great guy! 
signaturesound,
Can you please explain how is the Aria "terrific" amplifier when NAD C356
(when it works, of course) sound better with the Cardas Clear for Pre/Amp.
Better bass and much more detailed sound. With the NAD you can actually hear the pluck on guitar which is not the case with Aria.
My friend recently bought a brand new Aria but with some issues so it had to go back for a repair. We listened yesterday some music and it's very clear that the Aria is not "terrific" amplifier. To be fair, we listened Aria only for a couple of hours but I really doubt that the Aria needs 250 hours to open. I even don't believe that the Integrated amplifiers (except for tubed)
need break in period. Of course, this is just my opinion.
I was also in the minority in not being wowed by the Belles Aria.  Of course, everything is system dependent, and I was comparing it to a Bryston B100sst integrated.  The Belles just sounded small and thin compared to the Bryston.  Perhaps it needed more burn in time.  I have heard the Soloist and liked it quite a bit, so I was hoping to be impressed with the Aria.  Wasn't bad at all, but just fell short for me.  Was running it with Harbeth C7es3 speakers.

Only the Belles dealers wows Aria.

If you had a real pair of neutral speakers you would go wow as well
 Try em with the best selling speaker of all time Vandersteen 2 CE Sig
 Instead of those lifestyle pandering Tea Kettle whistler Nasal Boxes you like.
 even a set of Large Advents will rock better.
 Chuckles JohnnyR
 

I asked the original question, and since then I've had some time to compare the Hot Rod, 150A Ref. Mk 2, and the Aria.  I also have an EL34 amp, T-amp, Sonneteer Alabaster, Rogue Sphinx, and some others.  I have used Totem, Triangle, Finale Vivace (awesome single-driver speaker), and Klipsch Quartets, among others.

All of the amps are different, and there is synergy to be found between each amp with the variety of speakers.  I use Kimber 4TC, and I've found this to be an excellent/neutral cable for most applications.  

I'll just say that the Belles line impresses me with many speakers.  The Aria, when matched with an appropriate speaker, is very musical, natural, and exciting, but it has not been fatiguing.  Great match with my Triangle Zerius (one of the sleeper speakers of the decade!).

I won't be able to keep all of these amps/speakers, (I have a pair of Reynaud Bliss Silvers/stands I'll be picking up in early September) but I will keep all of the amps and see which one creates the most magic.  I firmly believe that the Aria can compete with the other amps and may win out if there is enough power.  Time will tell...