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I have the Belles Aria matched with Vandersteen 1Ci speakers and it sounds spectacular. I've never experienced the Rogue, but have read that it's pretty special in its own right. I had Rotel for years but when I heard the Belles It sounded irresistible and so naturally musical and I have never regretted the purchase for one second!
This Belles Aria looks like a great match for Spendor S3e (had these since 2009) or new Spendor A1 I just picked up; goal is a beautiful sounding system for jazz, acoustic bluegrass, vocals and such. Was thinking Cary sli80, Rogue integrated, or Naim Uniti Atom; To the owners of the Aria, do you think it will be great synergy with the 85dB spendors? They are relaxed and inviting in nature; not in your face or aggressive;
Dac will eventually be Chord Qutest but also looking at TT for this room too;
Owned a Belles Aria in my main system before moving to a class A SET amp. Foolishly sold it and have now repurchased for my second system (the exact same unit at no loss funnily enough). It’s a really solid integrated amp that might underwhelm on paper and looks vs the Rogue but somehow it simply sounds wonderful and very dynamic. Haven’t heard the Sphinx but have listened to other Rogues in my home. The Sphinx won’t sound as good. HT bypass and great phono stage seal the deal.
I bought a Belles Aria integrated after following several discussions on the Steve Hoffman Forum and could not be more pleased with the sound quality. Matched with Harbeth speakers, the Aria sounds more realistic than my previous integrated amplifiers, which include Naim XS and SN2 (too brash) and Hegel H90 and H190 (too dark and fuzzy).
Not so much a criticism as an observation, the Aria does benefit from vibration isolation. Placing equipment vibration protectors (EVP from A/V RoomService) under the amplifier really opened up the sound and seemed to make the speakers disappear. I also added a HRS (Harmonic Resolutions Systems) damping plate to the top of the Aria, which really improved the bass response/PRAT. Together, these tweaks made quite a difference and are highly recommended.
I have no experience with the Rogue Sphinx but either product should be a good choice.
Thanks everyone for all your advice and feedback!
It really seems like most of you have had a lot of positive experience with the Belles. Between the feedback in the discussion as well as the private messages it seems to pretty clearly be the winner.
While I'm sure the Rogue is great in it's own right and all things are system dependent I believe the Belles is the one for me!
Now if only I had the extra budget to pick up some of the Vandersteen's or Harbeth's that many of you have mentioned then I'd really have my dream system!
Yes, irony. I have heard nothing but good things about the Aria. I have a pair of Fritz Carrera BE’s that I absolutely love and when Fritz caught wind of me wanting to purchase a new integrated amp, Fritz recommended the Aria. After researching the Aria, it seems like everyone who has heard it really likes it.
I have been looking for one on the second hand market for weeks now and can’t find any.
I just sold an Aria last week via another popular audio equipment sales forum. It is a great unit but after comparing it to another amp for use in a small system I decided I liked the other a wee bit more.
I talked to Johnny at Audio Connection and David Belles and both were excited about a soon to be released Aria Signature. Johnny is currently taking deposits. It will be higher power output, MC and MM phono stage (current Aria has MM only), thicker faceplate, various other significant upgrades. David Belles said expected cost to be around $4500.
I posted this info in another thread, but in summary, my understanding is this: the Virtuoso power amp is finished and available for purchase right now. The Virtuoso pre-amp is still being finalized but will be available very soon.
My understanding also was that these will be followed by a "blending" of the two into the Virtuoso Integrated (which was supposed to be coming first, but is now last, for a variety of reasons), and only then the Aria Signature integrated.
But perhaps the A.S. has leapt over it in the order of production. We shall see. I also don't know to what extent the A.S. might use trickle-down from the Virtuoso, or to what extent it is a beefing up of the already excellent Aria line (preamp, stereo amp, monoblocks).
I know at least one member of A'gon has a Virtuoso power, but so far hasn't reported back on impressions.
@jackd , interesting that you mentioned the Kinki... I’ve had that on my radar for awhile now, v
before I had the Carreras.
I actually sent out an e-mail to A seller of a Kinki EX-M1 a week ago who resides in Mexico but haven’t heard back yet from him. He has good feedback but him not getting back to me in a timely manner was a bit worrying.
I’m looking at A Rogue Cronus 1 or a Rogue Tempest 2 here on the gon.
I wonder if the Kinki would just be the way to go since I think the build quality is awesome and I think it would pair well with the Carreras and my musical tastes...
I have a few days before I can do anything so I have some time to research things!
The Belles Aria at around $1300 used would be ideal though,but I just can’t find one for sale and have been looking for one for weeks now...
After reading several reviews and posts about the Sphinx v3 (and prior models) and the one review of the Aria and few posts, I finally got the opportunity to listen to them side by side.
In short, I just placed the order for the Aria. I brought along my vinyl to audition the amps, and was struggling to find the words to describe the differences, but basically the Aria just sounds better. Using a digital source and switching between the amps, the characteristics of what was missing in the Rogue were consistently revealed with each track.
To me this just proves the point that you really need to go listen for yourself. I don’t mean to knock the Rogue as it did sound very nice. I guess I just expected it to sound better, and when hearing the 2 side by side, it really wasn’t a difficult decision.
jjss49: I am 100% with you, David been building Amps for some time one, and if he really wanted to get big he could. He makes top-notch equipment at decent prices. I have owned several Int. Amps and Amp by him over the years. Right now I have VT-01 Pre/Amp and MB-200 Monoblocs and I just picked up his new "Aria Signature Int. which I fell instantly in love with when I heard it. I have owned Rogue and Schitt Audio etc.. Threshold/Hegel/Musical Fidelity and David's pieces bested them in every way.