BEL 1001 amp...does it deserve the hype?

i read periodically about this amp (usually in The Absolute Sound) and the reviewer practically soils himself/herself about the near if not "absolute" perfection of this amplifier. yet i've never seen one, never known somebody who has owned one of the versions, never known a dealer that has carried the product...what gives? anyone care to comment from personal experience?

Overrated. There is a store in town that sells BEL. The salespeople genuflect as they pass the sound room. I expected to be blown away. From what I heard, it was not worth the money. Maybe it was the speakers, Dunlevy, or CD player, Wadia, but I think not. I think that the amp is overrated. Sorry.
I acquired a BEL 1001 in a trade about 12 years ago. I used the amp to drive a/d/s and Acoustat speakers. In neither case did this unit sound good. It's sound was exceedingly solid state; dry, flat, and with a hyper clean, rather etched treble. The only application where I thought it excelled was driving a subwoofer; the BEL has a tight bass grip. I got rid of the amp and went back to tubes. This amp would probably be a good choice to drive a speaker with a tubby bottom and a dull treble--something like an old original Advent Loudspeaker or vintage AR's or KLH's.
Another thing that bothered me is the claim that BEL 1001 is a "Class A" amp. I don't believe it! I recall reading, quite awhile ago, that Dr. Brown (BEL is Brown Electronic Labs) stated that marketing considerations dictated that the amp be sold this way. When you look at the unit it hardly has any heat sinking? How can this be?
Mind you, I'm referring to the original version. I believe that the 1001 is in Mark IV or V status now.
This is my opinion. What do other BEL owners think? Any can anyone answer the "Class A" question?
I own a pair of BEL 1001 MK IIIa amps, which I use bridged mono to drive Aerial 10t loudspeakers. Yes, Tom Miiller and others have been raving about them for years (at least since the MK II versions). Do they deserve hype? I would say so from my experience and based on the experience of other audiophiles whom I respect and who have had the luxury of trying most of the good amps out there. It is true that BEL amps are not carried by a lot of dealers, and the fact is, not that many are produced and one usually has to wait to get them. Although they have been in production for over 10 years it is rare to see them advertised on the used market, and when they are they don't last long. That, I believe, says a whole lot about what people who own them think. Prior to owning the BELs I used Rowland mono blocks and then a Classe CA300, both very nice amps, but in my system the BEL was a significant improvement. As to Theduke's description above of an early (12 years ago) version of this amp, I cannot comment since I've never heard one. However, his description of the sonic character of more current versions of this amp could not be more inaccurate. If anyone is interested in knowing more about this amp then I suggest reading what Tom Miiller has to say as he goes into great detail and has a lot of experience with the different versions. As to the question above as to whether or not it is a class A amp, yes it is, and these amps do get hot! Yes, the heat sinks are not that large, but keep in mind that the BEL uses only two output transistors and it is rated at 50 watts per channel in stereo and 200 watts bridged. Not a huge amp by any means, but it will drive most anything. I used a single MK IIIa for a year or so on my Aerials and was quite satisfied. However, the addition of a second BEL was an improvement with this speaker and worth the extra money. For those who are interested, the rest of my system consists of: Audible Illusions 3A preamp;EAR 834P phono preamp;Well-Tempered Labs Reference turntable and arm;Grado Reference low output phono cartrdge;Audio Logic tube DAC (here is another piece of gear that deserves all the praise it has received and also will not be found at many dealers);CEC TL2 belt drive CD transport; Image Reference interconnects and Cardas Speaker cable. Hope this helps those who might be interested in these amps. There are many fine solid state amps available, and I would never say BEL is the only one worth owning or considering, but I do believe it is one of the best out there. Although very simple in design, it is beautifully built and very reliable. I for one have no intention of selling mine!
Yes, it does deserve the hype and MORE! I believe this is one of the finest amplifiers ever produced in the world. I have swapped out almost all of my solid state amps and preamps for SET tube gear with the exception of the BEL. My main speakers have remained Magnepans powered by a single BEL 1001 Mk III. The BEL is currently fed from a McIntosh C220 tube preamp. I have periodically tried a variety of power tube amps with the Maggies and none ultimately performed as well as the BEL. This is an extraordinary amplifier but is extremely difficult to find.
I've used a pair for at least 18 years, probably 19. Flawless performance, and as far as I can tell after nearly 2 decades, sonically invisible.
I owned the MKII, MKIII, MKIV, and MKV in mono blocks. I had the Thiel 3.6 which was very power hungry. Back then, I tried Classe, Krell, VTL 225. None of these amps could drive the 3.6s to my satisfaction. The BEL MKII mono blew all these amps out of the water. A single BEL at 50 watts per channel was already great sounding. With mono set up, it was another world. All BEL amps I believe can drive speakers down to 1 ohm.

I agree that BEL MKII was on the lean and mean side of neutral. The later versions were getting warmer and sweeter like tube. The MKV was the best sounding like tube and yet retaining all the good things a good solid state amp offers.

Lots of folks ignored these amps because of its industrial, honest look. In addition, there weren't much inside the chasis due to its simple design. And yet, its sound was simply spectacular.

Unfortunately, the designer Richard Brown passed away and I don't believe anyone out there continues his work.
I owned one for about 12 years. It performed perfectly that whole time and the sound was fantastic. I have owned many highly rated SS & tube amps since and wish I had kept the BEL. It was that good.