David makes some nice audio gear, but just doesnt seem to get the notoriety like others do.
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I heard the Belles Aria at Audio Connections last year driving a pair of Vandersteen 2CE signature II speakers. It almost made me want to sell my 6.5K McIntosh Integrated. It was that good. I absolutely got the goosebump experience. If I was looking for an Integrated in that price range, it would be my first choice
I just purchased a used Belles 250i Integrated from another Audiogon member. I cannot begin to describe how good this thing is.
Right now I’m listening through a pair of Maggie MMGi’s, through an Oppo CD player. Nuttin’ fancy BUT, the Belles is so damn good.
I’ve owned other integrateds, McIntosh, Balanced Audio Technology, Primare, and I’ve owned a slew of separates including Pass Labs, (my previous personal fave) ARC, McIntosh, Threshold, Modwright...the list goes on. The Belles is VERY much akin to the Pass Labs sonically - I’m not missing anything here.
I’m a fan.
Thanks for reading.
I have the Aria. It's a very well-built piece of gear. I find it to be a tad bright, but then again I have found that with a few SS amps.
Unlike @twoleftears I replaced the Aria in favor of a Rogue Cronus Magnum III. Still have the Aria. Part of me doesn't want to sell it. Maybe use it for a second system.
Both amps represent great quality and value, IMO.
Just an addition for anyone considering if Belles made good products.
I’ve been listening to the 250i integrated for a few days now and all I can say is “wow.”
IMHO, this is very similar to the sonics I enjoyed when I had a Pass Labs X150.5 amp coupled to an ARC tubed preamp and Thiel CS3.5’s. Both Thiel and Pass share many opinions of being too bright or clinical, but methinks that those descriptions are better defined as being articulate.
The MMGi’s only reach down to 50hz, but the lower registers are still palpable with this integrated. There’s that pressurization of the bass notes that I actually feel with this setup, and it’s a clean, uncolored, without bloat bass reproduction.
In the near or distant future I will be adding a REL sub to augment the bass a little, but for now this setup is sterling.