The Hot Rod version has a small identification plate on the back designating it as such.
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My experiences with the 150A Hot Rod are the exact opposite of Marakanetz's. I found the 150A HR to extremely warm and detailed without being colored. You are making an excellent choice for your husband.
I have spent the better part of 1.5 years looking for the "best" amp(as in all things, a personal opinion) within this price range and the Belles is at the top of MY list along with Monarchy SE-100 Delux monoblocks. If you look at the multitude of professional and owner reviews there is an overmwhelmingly opinion of true greatness and satisifaction. A fairly rare milestone in this highly opionated obsession called audio, especially within the "affordable" range.
belles causing listener's fatigue? that's ridiculous--i'd love to know the system that caused listener's fatigue w/ the belles as the amp.
btw: the 3b-st is not a very good amp---talk about etched!
strongly agree w/ darkmoebius...the belles gear is, at the price range, about the best out there...you're not paying for marketing or heavy face plates---just quality audio reproduction.
I have to concur that the Belles Hotrod is a great amp. I would rate the Hotrod and the Marsh a200 as the 2 best amps in the $1500 range. Both amps have different strengths and we are getting in to splitting hairs. You couldn't go wrong with either depending on your system but the Hotrod is hard to beat.