Looking for feedback on running a pair of Belles 150A Reference amps in mono for my Thiel 3.6's. I've heard that when an amp is run in mono mode, it is actually less accurate because the wave signal is being split between two channels, thus causing degradation of the siganl. Any thoughts? Thanks Troy
I have a 150a ref.'Been driving my Sophia-2's for near a year. I just bought the 350a ref. I didn't read what you read on running them in pairs ;but it may well be true. In a few threads I tried to get some info on the 150 ref vs 350 ref but got zip so I just up and bought one.----HUGE--- diff. You can take my word for it/ or not. This single 350 works real nice with my Soph. 2's. I think the 150 ref is good for what it costs. If you ever change you will see the 350 ref is a REAL amp. I'm not sure why but 6moons and soundstage don't exude much confidence---for me. AND--we don't get much chat from owners;here. Be BOLD--look for a 350a ref./used.
I was thinking that two 150a run in mono (500 watts) would reproduce more low end instead of the belles 350 (250 watt)or my current parasound hca-2200 (250 watt). And it might be less expensive as well.
I ran my 3.6s off of a stereo Belles 150A and generally liked everything but the lack of bottom. I am not sure if the lack of bottom was purely due to the 3.6s being power hungry, or just how the Belles 150A is voiced. If you have an opportunity to listen before buying I would strongly recommend it. The 350A may be a better choice because it looks like the entire architecture was designed around being a "muscle amp", and a very reasonably priced one at that.
On the bass response of each, as a stereo amp; Truly it isn't even close.---Then guess what?-- the rest of the spectrum is ALSO that much better. The 350a Ref is much quieter. I was never aware my 150Ref was noisy;when you compare the 2 it is one of the first things you notice. The treble brought out the Sophia's(2's) potential. This amp just does everything on a finer scale. The bass becomes the cornerstone of the music,clean and powerful.I seriously doubt 2 150's would have bass as clean and powerful.---Sure 2 150's may well have more bass than a single 150---BUT, amplifying X's2 doesn't improve the quality; only the quantity.----Oh yes, the improvement in the midrange matches the treble and the bass.Soundstage and depth of image---on the same improved level which is easily twice that of the 150. Everything is better, this is the whole package at a giant-killer price---used of course. Remember guys, this ain't a 6moons guy. This is from a guy whom ran the 150aRef for a year and then aquired a 350aRef.BTW, I also ran this 150 on Merlin MM's and sold them 'cause I didn't have enough bass---Well now I understand and it's called live and learn.
The enshrined Belles 350A Reference, brand new, for no reason whatsoever connection wise or other, emitted a DC surge into my speakers, frying every driver and burning resistors and exploding capacitors in the crossovers. I have never seen glue melt on woofers before and neither has anyone I spoke to. Needless to say, I was given a refund. However, three emails to the designer, asking what was wrong with the amp were ignored and never answered. Not a product I would touch with a ten foot pole.
I own the 150 Ref A, running into Sonic Euphoria Pre and Merlins, and this is not to discount your observations but my experience is quite a bit different then yours. I find the bass incredibly well defined and controlled and there is absolutely no noise whatsoever. I've compared the Ref A directly to several very well thought of amps that run in the 3-5K range and they have always done incredibly well. Reviews of the Ref 150 have been glowing as well, one reviewer wondering whether it wasn't the best SS amp.
Since you held on to the 150 for a year and then bought another Belles, you must have liked something about the Belles for quite a while...just wondering whether it's possible there was a glitch in the 150, particularly because of the comment about noise, which I've never experienced.
I think it's about time we got into some Belles chat;pro or con--it's all good. Why I used the 150 for a year???( I also had the hot-rod 150 before the ref,version.)--- (I think each amp is killer in its price point.) I was busy paying off my Sophias;first the originals and then the 2's.I had the originals and then traded them and got the 2's--so I lived with both,just not at the same time. Whether we're talking amp or speakers,esp. ones we own,it's natural to compare said item to the item it replaced.------When I refer to "noise" from the 150,believe me I NEVER heard any,it's just when you use the 350 you can't help but notice---it is quieter;in my system.---On to bass with each amp--and with Merlin vs. Sophia.------Just replacing the speakers with no other changes;using the exact same everthing--and placing them in near the same place---much more low/mid drive from the Sophia. I can tell you I get that much more bass ,150 vs. 350.---BTW---My 2's got here and a forklift went thru the wood crate so I had 2 months between 1&2's.(The Soph.1's were already gone) My hearing is such that If I make no changes to anything else,I can tell pretty well whatever differences there are between the new piece and the old. It took me months to appreciate the 2's better treble.---The 350 just got plunked down where the 150 had been (and no 2 months between each).----I had emailed David and received no reply as well;in the past. On getting an exploding amp I guess it would sour anyone,to bad. Nobody or nothing is perfect. The seller of the 350 says he bought Lamm,can't remember which model but at 4X's the price(new)I can assume it's also a much better amp/s.---How I got turned to Belles? The guy I bought my Merlins from was using the hot-rod,so I got one,too. While I loved each amp, moving up their line I found you get more with each step. I think the step to the 350 is just a bit more than the other steps were. So I guess changes are all subjective. The main purpose of my post was to write my opinions of going 150 to 350/ not to bash the 150;but that is how the chips fall--there are huge differences.
As a "new" Belles 350A Reference owner, I also want to throw myself into the "very impressed" camp. I had never even heard about Power Modules/Belles, but was looking to replace a Sunfire Cinema Grand (five channel) with a robust two-channel amp, to drive ML Summits. I had already demo'd a Butler 2250, but wasn't happy with it's synergy with the Summits. My dealer then suggested I consider the Belles. I researched the Belles 350A Ref, found the sole Soundstage review, but otherwise SCANT mention of it online. I, too, emailed Belles/Power Modules (specifically inquiring about how well it could handle ML's)... and like most folks, never got a reply. I was unimpressed, and ready to keep looking at other brands. However, since I already had $$ credit with my dealer, and the demo would only cost me shipping, I finally agreed to give it a listen. Wow! From the first notes, I was blown away, and immediately called my dealer to say it was a keeper. After 3 months break-in, I'm even more thrilled with it's musicality. I eventually emailed Belles/Power Modules AGAIN (praising the amp) and DID receive a personal thank-you reply from David Belles himself. I suspect Dave Belles is approaching retirement, and just not interested in investing the time and energy needed to compete in the shrinking audiophile market. That would be a real loss for the audio future.
After buying some beautiful looking and sounding Focus 20/20's my 150A non-ref. was huffing and puffing to provide the necessary power. So I took a chance on vertically bi amping with another 150A ! Wow ! It's hard to say how much of the improvement was the undernourished 20/20's, and how much was the vert. bi-amping . But the result was astonishing ! With a good 'ol Audible Illusions Pre and Cary's Concept CD w/upsampling/ HDCD I'm listening to some incredible sound ! Sure many Goners spend $10K for each component, but I hit paydirt for a little less than that for the whole set up ! ( Take it easy on me. I bruise easily ! )
Update: 12 days into my ownership-(bought used)- my 350 needs to back to David. I had a lightning and arcing show, that took out the right channel.From the visual and sound it seemed like I was arc welding.(scarry stuff till it tripped the breaker) So I'm back to the little 150 and it is a come-down,for sure. SO--What I did is buy a used CJ 350 ss amp. That gets here on Fri,this week. I look to be without the Belles 350 for a month to 6 weeks. The CJ is a 10k amp. I'm curious to see how the 2 amps compare. The loser will get the boot.---David is going to install a soft-start device,he says no change to the sound. Yo, sleepysurf do you have the soft-start in your amp? This amp is a pig about current-draw, on start-up. I was just wondering how your is.--??
Yes, I have the soft-start circuit. Works great. After ~3mo ownership I'm thrilled with the Belles sound. Haven't had any issues with it. However, the few anecdotal reports of Belles amps "frying" themselves (or speakers) is disconcerting. What did David Belles have to say about this issue?
Hi Sl-surf. He seemed to know exactly what happened. He had a phrase to describe it--(not that I would remember what it was). Just paraphrasing from memory, it reminded me of a problem that the starter in an old car could have: such as; as you turn off the motor there would be a high spot that it could possibly come to rest on--and then the car wouldn't start.---Back then assuming you had a stick tranny you could turn the starter while the car is actually in gear. All you had to do was turn the starter and get it to creep a foot or two.Then the car would start in a normal fashion,and sometimes even tho it's in gear. ( I meant to include, rocking the car while it's in gear would get the starter off the high spot.)But, you would definitely needed a new starter.---So, I would say I'm sure of the few reports of damage to those amps that don't have this soft-start thing.---Again I am glad yours has it. That way you actually get to listen to how great this amp is. I might also mention as I'm picking up the amp I can hear there it a broken piece inside. I can hear it moving around. I'm glad you have the soft start. I did love this amp. At its price and or even a higer price it sure makes some beautiful music. Sorry to have to add,when it works.
No, not yet--It has been only 3 weeks. He hasn't cashed the check I sent,either. I haven't heard a peep--- I had to do the tracking; just to be sure he got the amp. I see there are a few of these for sale and for less than I paid. I wouldn't buy one without the soft-start--this is advice to anybody reading this thread.
On Belles vs CJ: Believe it or not at 4k vs 10k imo the Belles is the better amp.---To back track: I only had the Belles for 12 days / I have run the CJ ever since. It is a nice amp to be sure/ oh, I guess dependability should count. The first 3 days with the CJ, I was bummed. I have since spent 9k.---This is true. First I upgraded my dig. cable---That helped a bit. But that wasn't enough. I bought the AA Prestige se player and have glorious sound I never had. ---If anything it shows the importance of a high quality source.---Which we all know about but an upgrade like this reminds me of things we know but need a wakeup smack to remind us / or at least me,I needed it. I would say the amps sound similar in many respects. I would say the Belles gives you just a bit more. That "bit-more" I mention, IS WHY we spend big bucks---just to get that bit-more. The amp makes the music come out of a blacker background.---Which I mention in another post as the amp appearing to be quieter.---The highs have a 'bit-more' sparkle.--The soundstage a 'bit-more' deeper/ wider. Midrange is hard to say one being better than the other. Just a taste better bass---not by much. I have a yardstick I measure audio upgrade things by: When I can't turn the system off; I'm in heaven.---Which describes that 12 days / with the Belles. The CJ got turned off on schedule,period. NOW; with 9k more invested, I'm at that same point. I am sure there is a reason why there are 3/4 of the 350a ref. amps for sale. BOY, and are they cheap. When I bought mine it was the only one listed. I would say to anyone: Think about buying the cheapest used one and send it in for the "soft-start" board. Depending on where you live/where the seller lives and David is on the east coast----Maybe have the seller send it to David???? At the price I don't think there is a more refined/dynamic quality/high powered amp. The CJ is a good yardstick on which I base this opinion.