BELLES 250i INTEGRATED AMPLIFIER


Hello.
I just purchased this truly remarkable integrated amplifier from a fellow member here a couple of weeks ago. Like many of us I have long been interested in Belles simply because the brand receives high praise from virtually everyone who’s owned a piece.


Admittedly, I have consumed the various koolaids out there, buying some pretty good equipment over the years since I joined in 2015. Of all the stuff that has passed through my house, the Belles, at least this particular Belles model, is hands down the best integrated I have owned. (BAT VK 300XE, Primare i30, McIntosh 6400 receiver, Peachtree Audio, Modwright KWI200...) A pretty extensive list in such a brief period. And that’s just the integrateds. My separates list is even longer...McIntosh, ARC, BAT, Pass Labs....


Curiously enough there is extraordinarily little information about this integrated. What little I have been able to cull off of the interweb is vague. One classified states that its output is 125 watts per channel, another classifed kind of guesses that it will output up to 250 watts per channel. Neither states the output into ohms as is usually the case. At least with more current equipment.


This is a VERY articulate integrated, to my ears it strikes me as being similar to the Pass Labs X150.5 amplifier I had a while back. Pass Labs became my benchmark for amplification, and this is indeed its equal - at least sonically.


Anyway...based on enjoying this for a couple of weeks now I would guess that the power rating is 125 watts @ 8ohms, doubling to 250 watts @ 4ohms. It does run quite warm, warmer than any other of the amps or integrateds I have owned, so I am also guessing that it runs Class A for most of the power band. That’s an uneducated guess - I am an audiot, not an audiophile. I don’t know a mosfet from a misfit, but I know what I like.
For the record my listening levels run VERY conservative. There are occasions during a year when I may listen at a higher level than normal, but that’s pretty rare. My preferred loudspeakers are Thiel and/or Magnepan - both speakers being what I liken to be "articulate." Neither brand is very efficient, but that doesn’t really matter to me because I have never pushed anything I’ve owned to its limit.


If anyone has more detailed information regarding this Belles model please feel welcome to respond here. I love this integrated. (I have contacted Power Modules with a similar inquiry but no response yet..)
Thanks.


77ad1274 d0a3 4789 8b72 8a37dd1a28bdoblgny
Strange you haven't gotten a response. Have you checked your Spam folder?
Bob
gdnrbob...


Nope.  You’re the sole response thus far. 
I think he means from Power Modules.
I called Power Modules with a question about the Belles Aria preamp and spoke directly with David Belles.
@shawnmr2 I agree. David sounds like he is an "older" gentleman, and might not be too hip on the email technology. When I had a question I called and he picked up right away.

The Virtuoso was supposed to be his latest and greatest integrated, but I have to admit I'm beginning to wonder if it will ever happen...

https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/belles-virtuoso-integrated-update

I just purchased a used Belles 150a Hot Rod amp. and it works very well with my 1.6 magnepans. It's watt rating is 125/250 @ 4ohms. I use it with tube separates.
sml19...


A few comments I’ve gathered - and there are very few indeed - more or less imply that the integrated is comprised of that amp and one of his preamps.  Having never had either, I am just as content with the integrated.  The specs you state for the amp are most likely the same for the integrated. 


I’ll bet your Maggies sound excellent with it. Colorless speakers mated to an articulate amp. Woof!

Thanks!

oblgny


Nice set up in  Virtual Systems.  I am looking forward in reading more about the integration of this amp into your room.


Happy Listening!

jafant...

Thanks. This is a system you build around the amp. Since I got a hold of my first Thiels years ago I built my system around the speakers, eventually getting to a time where my “standard” was Thiel/Pass Labs. 


With all due respect to Nelson Pass, this integrated gives me everything my Pass system did. It is THAT good. I’m not kidding here - this is an articulate, dynamic, resolute integrated.  I do not consider this an “alternative” to Pass, it is by any comparison I can muster through experience an equal. 


Now, pair this with Maggies or Thiel?  This is my 3rd pair of MMG’s.  The ONLY thing that would have me sell these would be a pair of Thiel 2.3, or 2.4’s.  As a matter of fact there’s a NY local pair of 2.4’s I’m considering after I sell my ARC DSi200 Integrated. The Thiel seller is asking $1800. Methinks I may be able to get ‘em for $1500.  (Third floor walk up in Manhattan - ugh!). But...worth it. 


This is is a seriously refined integrated.  Articulate like Thiel and Magnepan.  Happier than hell now. 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSyZuSyO76M The Belles Virtuoso dual-mono power amp is here playing music along with the Virtuoso Preamp at Audio Connection NJ.The Virtuoso is a healthy match for many speakers B&Ws, Magnepans, Vandersteen's, Thiels, etcFor those looking for a sophisticated, strong capable choice, this is a refreshingly different experience seemingly void of electronic artifacts with an endless engaging feel by stepping out of musics way.
The V integrated is in the final stage with just final CAD drawings and should be available October Best JohnnyR
The Power Modules website lists the integrated at 200 watts into 8 ohms. I've had Belles amplifiers and pre-amps in my system for 19 consecutive years. My first amplifier was his SA-200. I had a pair of Quicksilvers with the 20A preamp and then a CJ Premier 3/MV 100 setup. At the time I swore I'd never go back to solid state. Then a move to a room double the size with carpet required a change. I auditioned Krell, Bryston, Parasound, Mcintosh extensively  before settling on the 350A amplifier with the 22A preamp which to me was the most musical and realistic presentation I found. I liked this piece so much that I just bought the next generation and then had him modify it twice before moving to the SA-100 and now the mb 200's, upgrading pre-amps along the way. As good as they are there are still things I miss about the previous amps. Over all these years I've auditioned many competitors and while at times I wanted something different I never found anything as good for the money much less better. Dave is in his mid 80's, designs and hand builds all his equipment. He told me one reason he stopped making the 350 because he couldn't pick them up anymore. Email isn't the best way to reach him but he answers the phone and I often talk to him several times a year. I'm mystified at how little appreciated his work is.
rcaben...

Thanks for the info.  Like you stated, I too am mystified why he doesn’t get more recognition. This is absolutely the best integrated I have ever owned.  Period. 


As my personal benchmark was Pass Labs, I can state without hesitation that this delivers everything I enjoyed with the Pass. I will not let this piece go. 
1.) I cannot afford to continue swapping things in and out in pursuit of the “it” system. I just reviewed what I’ve sold here since 2013 and it’s embarrassing. 
2.) I agree with you that I’d probably be disappointed with something else.  I’ve learned my lesson with selling off three pairs of Thiel CS3.5, a pair of CS3.6, and others.  I was an idiot. 


I am building what in all likelihood will be my final hifi system. (Not being melodramatic here, just acknowledging my age and finances.) It will be built around this integrated. I definitely will add a pair of Thiel down the road when and if finances and opportunity arise.  The Maggie MMGi’s are an excellent match for this, the detail is eye-opening. 
Thiel is Magnepan with more bass. I’ve moved in this identical direction before and what these two brands share far outweighs what they don’t. I am certain a pair of CS2.3 or CS2.4 will add that bass pressurization that the MMGi cannot. (50HZ bottom end.). The Thiels both reach down around 33HZ. 


Perhaps the best way I can describe my impressions of the two brands is that Thiel does better at delivering the bass at low volume. Neither brand colors the bass.  It’s natural sounding, no bloom nor bloat. 


I can hardly wait to add a pair of Thiel to this integrated. 
Post removed 
oblgny

Good to read that you are enjoying a pair of Thiel Audio loudspeakers again. IMO, the CS 2.4 flies way under the proverbial radar.
Looking forward to more reports on the Belles/Thiel front.

Happy Listening!