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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.
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.
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.
(((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 )))
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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...
Leahy, please keep us up to date on your findings. I too am thinking about buying and trying out the Aria. I have a Sugden A21 now but would like to have more power so I can try out a variety of different speakers. I have a hunch the Aria might pair up well with the Nola Boxer 2 speakers. What do you guys think? Leahy, can you compare your Aria's sound signature to the Sonneteer Alabaster you have? Areas of differences? Thanks.
Thanks for the post. Between work and getting ready to take my daughter to college (she is going to a school 1/2 hour away from Amherst Audio - where I'll be picking up the Reynaud speakers), I haven't had much time to really dig in to the comparisons. Once the Reynauds are in the house, I'll get more serious about rotating the amps and making comparisons. My end goal is to keep one amp/speaker system that plays the widest variety of music in the most convincing way. I have run out of storage room to hold all of the accumulated pieces - decisions have to be made.
I will post my impressions after the Silver Bliss are in the house...
Stupidly sold my first Aria and just got another. Just can't believe this thing. I don't remember the headphone amp sounding great in the first one and on a whim, hooked up my Sennheiser HD800S headphones. Geeeze. I'm going to sell my Violectric V281. How does Dave Belles do it. Sounds amazing through these Gallo Reference Stratas I picked up too. Running them near field with a Chord 2Qute DAC, Chord Anthem 2 speaker cables, microRendu, Chord Signature Tuned Aray USB, REL S2, Tellurium Q Black. I'm very, very happy right now. FYI, I like the Gallos with the Aria better then the Harbeth P3s I just sold.
I've had sooooo many integrateds. Rega, Simaudio, Naim Supernait 2!, Hegel, Exposure, Marantz, TACT, Croft separates. you name it. Well I'm finally happy.
Thank you so much Dave!
The Belles Aria/Vandersteen VLR combo was amazing! Problem was I was trying to merge 2 channel with headphone listening. Also trying to get something small for my desk. I've moved on to a Linear Tube Audio MZ2 headphone amplifier/preamplifier, ZOTL10 amplifier and some Proac Tablette 10 speakers. I bet the Quicksilver EL84 integrated would also be great on the Tablette 10s. Naim is also great but wanted a better headphone amp and love that tube magic.
If you are looking for a great 2 channel system, I highly recommend the Belles/Vandersteen combo. Working with Johnny at Audio Connection is the best! He is a Belles, Vandersteen and Proac dealer.
I have a Belles Aria pre-amp/monoblock/Vandy 3a sig system set up by Johnny Rutan at Audio Connection. Totally agree that his service is top notch. The match of amps to speakers is very efficient for my smallish listening room, with a lot of headroom for any type of music. The silence between the notes is profound - the system doesn't get in the way of the music. Really shows up poor music sources. Enjoyed Johnny connecting me up directly with Dave Belles on a conference call before I purchased the amps. Nice to hear Dave's philosophy right from him.
Those belles product really are special. They are one of the true values in high end audio. they are not out of place in much more expensive and sophisticated systems. If I was putting a system together for someone on a limited budget, I’d gladly move them up a line in speakers and use a Belles integrated or amp to run things. It’s what NAD was years ago, only much much better.
I’m glad that they are growing as it’s a benefit to all of us.
Purchased a used Belles Aria on Audiogon on this week. Paired with Vandersteen VLR speakers, Bryston BDP-pi streamer and Mytek Liberty dac. Kimber Kable interconnects and speaker cables. Most honest, uncluttered sound I have had in my system, with great dynamics, soundstage and range. Thanks to John Rutan at Audio Connection for another great recommend.
I am an owner of Belles MB-200 Monoblocs along with David's VT-01 Pre/Amp, but ended up buying a Aria Int. Amp at a great deal and I am shocked on how good it sounds on a pair of Magnepan 1.7i and some Dynaudio Confidence C2's. Didn't think this thing had the balls to run some of these big boy speakers, and boy was I wrong... Unbelievable that good!
He is a great designer. Many great ones out there, but most folks don't know about their gear etc... This is why the brick and mortar stores are so important and why I frequent them when purchasing. You can hear gear and how it pairs with what you own.
I'm sure Johnny can answer any questions about the age of a piece or how it sounds compared to todays offerings.
found this thread doing research and felt compelled to resurrect it with a comment.....I couldn’t agree more with what ctsooner said above about “brick and mortar” audio retailers. I found my Belles Soloist 1 at Overture Audio in Ann Arbor used in 2015. Since then, I’ve replaced every other component in my system with no plans to replace the Belles. I’m running a Transparent cable loom that costs more than the Amp, a Mytek Brooklyn DAC+, ATC SCM 40v2 towers and a REL S/3 SHO and I am truly happy with that set up. Point is, I would’ve never considered the Soloist 1 or even known it existed unless someone at Overture took the time to educate me about David Belles and his handmade audio gems. I’m very happy with mine and I can’t imagine ever finding a better solid state integrated for the money....
I've heard the Belles running some really expensive gear and it fit right in. I think it's because it has plenty of current to run difficult speaker loads and it's tonally balanced. I believe that's why I've never heard anyone say they don't like the sound. Others may get a higher priced integrated like an Aesthetix Mimas, but nothing negative about the Aria or newer mono's etc.. I love the fact that I can tell friends to get the Belles and I'll never look bad. lol.