Not going to suggest calling Belles. Will suggest calling a dealer for Rothwell 10dB attenuators & installing them on your amp's input. Reduced gain & increased s/n ratio.
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Go to amazon type in attenuators and go from there i suggest a 12 db pair, only like $25 or close to that,these enabled me to use my Counterpoint the strange thing is when used on pre amp didnt seem to lower gain when hooked up to cd player they worked great,cd output or whatever you call it is 2.5 on my Atoll.
I wanted to bump this thread as I am having the same problem using my Ray Samuels B52 (as a preamp) feeding my Edge NL12.1 power amp.
The 23-step Dact attenuator is usually at 4(too low) or 5(too high). I am going to try a pair of Rothwells (cheap!) but I saw comments that they blunt the sound.
I noticed other ideas here in the forums but I just wanted to ask for up-to-date suggestions (aside from trading for a new tubed preamp, which I will consider later on).
I love the tonality and richness of the B52, so I am trying to make it work if I can.
It's surprising how common this problem is. I have to wonder why manufacturers design preamps with so much gain. Five or 10db should be adequate for most systems. The 21a is rated at 17db.
I used 10db Rothwell attenuators to tame my preamp and it worked to some extent, but I never had the kind of control for low level listening that I wanted. Maybe 15 db attenuators would have helped. I don't know.
For what it's worth, I had a similar experience when I contacted Belles about a problem with a 150A. No response. Fortunately, my problem went away without needing any work, but it bugged me that David didn't seem willing to help. Yes, he's in business to sell gear, and he probably doesn't have a lot of time for non-revenue generating questions, but companies that stand by their gear get rave reviews from customers and those raves usually lead to sales.