I just sold my Belles 150A HotRod and REALLY miss it! It just wouldn't drive my Martin Logan CLSIIAs. It's a WONDERFUL sounding amp! One of the best that I have ever tried and that list is VERY LONG.
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There's nothing high maintenance about a tube amp other than replacing (and occasionally testing) tubes.
A self biasing tube amp is the easiest, but even a tube amp that requires biasing is easy.
It certainly doesn't require the end-user to take the amp to a technician for any reason. However, if the idea of changing or testing tubes seems like something you'd rather have a technician do for you, then perhaps a tube amp is not appropriate.
We all have our comfort levels.
By all means listen and let your ears decide.
But as to the question concerning reliability, if you followed the threads in this forum and used them as a reference, the answer is that tube amps are less reliable. There are consistently more questions concerning problems with faulty tube amps than with ss amps. I haven't actually kept track so it's only my impression.
There are consistently more questions concerning problems with faulty tube amps than with ss amps. I haven't actually kept track so it's only my impression.
I'll bet the answers to most of those questions involve tubes and not the amps themselves...and I'll bet most of the questions come from tube newbees who have not lived through a failing or failed tube.
I haven't done the research, but having read a number of these threads, that's my guess.
There's not much that can go wrong in a tube amp, IMO.
OK, this has been helpful. I HAVE lived through failing tubes with guitar amps. However, having grown up listening to music played through tube amps, that's the sound my ears want to hear-- it's what they expect and what they judge as "desirable". However, this isn't the case with audio. And it's not important to me whether what goes wrong is in the amp or in the tube-- I don't want to have to screw around with figuring out which it might be to begin with! I just want to turn it on and focus on the music. Tvad, you hit the nail on the head re: "comfort level". I suspect the truth is that I lack the patience to deal with tubes, period, when it comes to music listening.
I have a suggestion. Buy a used Belles 150 Hot Rod and match it up with a VTL 2.5 preamp and try it. If you think you need to go any further in your quest for the 'right equipment' you won't have any problem selling either of the above pieces. I use the above combination and if I make any changes at all it would only be to upgrade to either a Belles 150 or 350 Reference Series amplifier from the 150 Hot Rod.
I have owned the 150 hr/ the 150a ref and the 350a ref. Each amp is a good step above the other; as you move up their line.
i.e. the 150 hr sounded like a toy; (well almost) after I got the 150a ref----Same exact thing when I got the 350a ref. This is assuming your speakers and source are up to it.At the prices they sell for, here; I say get a 350,ref with the soft-start at around $2100/$2200. (Should save you upgrading two more times)
I have owned a 350A Reference stereo amp, and presently own a pair of 150A Reference monos. IMO, the 150A Reference monos are a significant improvement over a 350A Reference stereo amp...larger image, lower noise floor, overall more refined sound.
This of course was in my system, so YMMV.
The 150A Reference monos also produce double the power of the 350A Reference stereo (500wpc versus 250wpc).
Avguygeorge, I have to admit that I hadn't ever heard anyone refer to the Hotrod as a "toy" before... I suppose it all depends upon one's perspective. The fact is, I'm committed to buying the amp and pre-amp new from a small local dealer who has spent alot of time advising me, who has brought gear out to my house, etc. I can afford to buy the Hotrod and Soloist new-- but not the Reference models.
I am sure everybody here understands and respects how it "is", when your dealer is doing everything a GREAT dealer does.---OK, maybe I was a bit over enthusiastic with the "toy" reference.--BUT--I'm sure you will love this amp. I kept mine for 4 months.---enjoy--!! ----Also I should have read more carefully; I would have noticed you were decided; already--on your amp; my bad--please forgive??