The Belles Aria Signature Integrated Amplifier


The Belles Aria Signature Integrated Amplifier has landed at the Audio Connection in Verona, NJ. I think John said 120 watts per channel with a phono stage that supports both MM and MC cartridges. 3 Single ended and 1 balanced input and output. Sounds great even though the unit has less than 24 hours on it.
joey54
cool!

interested to know price point and improvements over the aria, which in itself is an excellent unit

can't find anything on line on it as of yet
I believe the price is $4400 but you should contact JohnnyR to confirm. John would be the best person to describe the differences between the units. It’s only been out of the box since Friday afternoon and John has spent the most time listening.
and how it compares to the same price/same power mono blocks and preamp...
I heard the Aria integrated at Audioconnection, and was very impressed.
You could make a very, very good system with the Aria, Vandy VLR's and Ayre Codex and Bluesound Node for around $5K.
I would love to have a side-by-side comparison between the two integrated amps just to hear the difference.

Bob
@gdnrbob

couldn’t agree more
in fact i voted with my feet (and wallet haha)
my second system is an aria with node 2i/ayre codex driving harbeths (the codex purchased with your suggestion several months back, thank you)
lovely natural rich coherent imminently listenable for long long stretches
bought the aria used for 1500, codex for 850 -- the sq for dollars spent is just off the charts!!!
What kind of speakers are you using?
@jjss49 ,
I am glad you found my recommendations worthy.
But, I have to give credit where it is due.
I auditioned the Codex and Node at Audioconnection. 
If I were truly upstanding, I should have bought them from him, but being a cheapskate, I bought used instead, and saved a lot of cash.
Thankfully, I am now in a better financial situation, and will be buying more from Johnny.
Moral of the story:
Your brick and mortar dealer (esp. John Rutan) knows his/her stuff, and, if possible, you should try to repay that knowledge with purchases.
B
@grdnrbob

your advice is still good, no matter where you buy!
audio connection has been there forever, they are honest, knowledgeable, welcoming - can't say that for many retailers in the biz, esp. ones with a large store and significant overhead 

buying used is smart as a way to try things without losing your shirt
smart hi fi nerds trade that way
definitely tough being a high end hifi retailer, no doubt about it, esp. away from big cities where there are people willing to spend big dollars for good sound
Hello

Ive bought a Belles Virtuoso and Aesthetix and Pallene from Johnny R and have been super pleased.
One big plus from buying from brick and Mortar Store is that you cam take home and audition equipment before you buy.
Its a tremendous advantage. 
@so-al, 
I agree, but more than a few of us have limited dollars to spend, and buying used-which is much easier these days because of the interenet-allows us to get more for the dollar.
Though I do feel a bit of twinge of guilt when I hear something at Johnny's and buy it used elsewhere.
As a self employed gardener, I would take issue if potential clients would take my designs and have others employ them, only because they could save some money. 
(But, then again, my designs are pretty weird, and very few people could implement them besides myself,-at least to my standards).
Bob
I think John can probably spot a non-buyer within seconds...
@jl35 ,
I am sure he can, but I can say that he treats everyone with respect- 
Which is something I can say I haven't observed from other dealers in the NY metro area over the years, and that goes back a couple of decades.

Things are a bit better now, but I can remember being sized up by more than one salesman than I can count.
-One of the reasons I won't buy a Rolex.
B
I won't buy a Rolex either Bob...
I think the Belles Aria is a fantastic amplifier that sounds better than some other integrateds I've recently owned, like Naim Supernait 2 and Hegel H190.  The Aria costs about 50% as much as these amplifiers, so it is a great value, too. I may upgrade to the Signature model but time will tell.  

Going online to the Belles/Power Modules website for more information, I was disappointed not to find any product information for the Aria Signature (other than an image) or the Virtuoso integrated.  So these products are offered for sale and the manufacturer does not provide detailed product information?  Strange.  I know, the administrative stuff gets overlooked with a small company but Belles has been around long enough to do better.   Just my opinion, of course.  Still a big fan.  
For the moment Johnny at Audio Connection can tell you about them.  David B. is too busy cranking out units, for enthusiastic customers...
I need to talk to John Rutan about the differences between the Aria and Signature. It would be nice to do an A/B comparison.
As far as Belles' website, I agree, it would be nice to get more information, but I can understand that Belles probably doesn't have the marketing budget of, say Wilson Audio or PS Audio.
B
Obviously the output is significantly more, 125W into 8 ohms, but my impression is that the biggest improvement is in the preamp section, where he's trickle-downed new designs that were developed while he was working on the Virtuoso preamp.
I recently had the opportunity to compare the Aria Integrated with the Signature with Johnny R. For full disclosure, I spent most of my time there (a few hours with my vinyl) with the Aria and Rogue Sphinx v3 as the Signature is outside my budget. I would definitely say that the Signature was an improvement, but I was very impressed with the Aria. 

I also much preferred the Aria to the Rogue, and as I wait for mine to be built and shipped, I can confirm that Dave B has quite a few orders to fill. 
How fun :-) super gear and a dealer to match

go Johnny !!!
@msafrick,
Mr. B. is building some Aria Monoblocks for me, too.
It seems to be taking longer than expected, but I think that is due to difficulty in sourcing parts due to the pandemic. I have heard of other manufacturers having similar problems.

Bob
I have MB-200 monoblocs and VT-01 and love the combo but I also have a Aria Int. and love it! It has zero issues running my Dynaudio C2 Platinums or Confidence 20s.. It would be interesting to see what is the main differences, besides modest increase in power. Dave makes great stuff and works of art that make my speakers sing the way I like them. 
I would be curious to know if the new Signature model has the same sound signature as the standard Aria... or if Belles has injected a little more warmth and richness into the highly transparent, clear sound of the Aria.

In my system with Epos M22’s and their metal dome tweeter, the Aria was a touch bright in presentation when I tried it a few years back.


@troidelover,
I own the Aria monoblocks and think they are great, I was considering the Signature, but it was a bit too expensive for my modest rig.
The best person to put your questions to is John Rutan (audioconnection). He would be able to put the differences into words, better than anyone else.
Bob
troidelover1499: You might look Tube preamp, a used one. I have the VT-01 and I got it used for a great deal and it gives the warmth and richness you are looking for, although for a solid-state piece the Aria does sound tube like to me.... It would be interesting to see what the differences are, I did use the Aria with a TubeDac which was beneficial on what your looking for as well. This was a great combo with the Aria, and wish I would have kept it.  https://www.jolida.com/product/glass-fx-tube-dac-iii
Just to mention as I did not see this corrected in any of the posts. The original poster claimed the phono stage is MM and MC. It is not, the Aria Signature is MM only.
@gandalf ,
I am using my Belles monoblocks with an Atmasphere UV-1 currently.
I have a Belles Aria preamp getting an upgrade. When I get it,and have a chance to listen, I will post my thoughts on the differences between the two.
FWIW, I have heard the Aria integrated, and, for the money, it really smokes just about anything you could think of trying.
Bob
I recently got an Aria Integrated and love it.

Highly transparent and clear like previously stated.  It has the most muscular 75 watts I’ve ever heard. The inside looks nice too. Nice looking parts. I need to update my virual system with some interior pics...


FWIW, I have heard the Aria integrated, and, for the money, it really smokes just about anything you could think of trying.


let me comment a little on grdnrbob’s assertion above...

i have had the belles aria in house for some time... sold it to a hifi bud recently who wanted it

-- agree that the aria, and david belles, are the real deal... excellent gear excellent ear, for a loooong time already
-- for $1500-1600 used (going rate) the aria is a great value, quality of sound (strong and clear, if a touch energetic in the treble) and the mm phono stage on board is excellent, if you will use it
-- i would say in an overall sense, a hegel (thinking rost or h90), a naim (nait xs) and a primare i30 are all worthy remote controlled solid state integrated amp competitors that are as good as the aria... all in the same used price range - all have feature set pros and cons versus the aria but all offer as good build and sound quality (though the tonality may be subtly different)

I don't know when the I-30 was discontinued, but Primare's current offerings are I-15, I-25, and I-35, all of which, AFAIK, are class-D based.  A review in Stereophile or Absolute Sound called the I-35 a little lean.
The Primare I-30 from 2007, was replaced by the Class D I-32 in 2011
that is correct, the i-30 was the last class a/b primare - they went class d post the i-30 and the sound character changed... and not for the better according to most
@jjss49 ,
I have no experience with either Hegel or Naim, but I will say that the Belles Aria Integrated with a pair of Vandy VLR's (and with or without a sub) is a pretty sweet combo. In fact, with a Sub 3, it outperforms just about anything in the price range, and quite a few above.
IMHO
Bob
Wine glaring weakness ,knowing electronics very well. Everything in a standard volume attenuator goes through it .. if you have a $25 alps pot it is just a 
carbon coated piece of plastic ,no getting around that . Any good preamp section 
is either a discreet electronic type with relays, or a shunt type resistive ladder type like Khozmo  ,or gold point . David B is a good designer 
to not address’s this and at $4500 not good.
for $4500 the excellent Luxman 505 mk-2  is noticeably  better then the 
$5500 McIntosh and well thought out throughout for something similar in its price class.

msafrick - As a Rogue Audio Sphinx V3 owner I would like to hear more about the comparison with the original Belles Aria. The V3 is an exceptional integrated with a killer phono stage, IMHO.
i am curious to hear from users who have the aria sig and formerly the regular aria whether the sonic character and tonal balance of the sig unit is appreciably altered from the regular aria
@jjss49 ,
I wish I could answer your question, but I only found Belles due to John Rutan. That being said/written, I would PM or call him (Audioconnection).
He would be the one who could give you the best info on comparing the two models. -Other than Mr. Belles.
Bob
Agree with gdnrbob, John would be the best person to answer that question. If you are near his shop you’re u can go listen to them side by side.
got some good input offline... i am good with this question - thanks
Have an Aria Signature en route that will replace a Soloist 1 driving Dynaudio s40s.
Chord Qutest with Teddy pardo power supply and Bluesound node 2i.

more later...😊
@ianrmack ,
Oohh, that sounds like a great pairing.
B

@ianrmack
Very interested in hearing your impressions of the Aria Signature sound. By the way, I also have the Qutest with Teddy Pardo power supply :-)

Also, if it’s not too much to ask, could you take pictures of the inside of the Signature amp? I can’t believe how little information there is about this amp on his website. Actually, his website has very little marketing information about all of his products... Strange, to say the least, as I haven’t come across a negative review

Low prob of a pic inside, sorry...😉

My take is that DAve B does not really “market” his products, per se. Hardly any real,reviews on Aria. Just hobbyist stuff. He doesn’t buy media so media not looking to give him ink.

my hope is that the Aria Sig sits in my basement listening room (now home office) for ever and will ultimately drive Dynaudio Special Heritage if I can find a used pair in 1-2 years...😉

The Qutest/Teddy Pardo/node 2i works for me. It’s just so simple and easy and fluid. 
Few days ago I watched Steve Huff’s review of Dynaudio Special Heritage. Steve Guttenberg reviewed them also, but he gets gobsmacked by everything he reviews, so it’s hard to take his words seriously.

I really don’t understand what Dynaudio, as a company, stands for. It sounds like they really knocked it out of the park with this model, yet they’ve limited its production to only 2500 units. Assuming they’re not losing money on it, why not continue production for as long as there is a demand? After all, are they designing speakers just to sell and make money, or their goal is (and should be) to be known as the company, which makes the best speakers?!

After they produce the last one, should those, who want to get their superior model, settle for their inferior ones? I mean, if they don’t want to put on more than 2500 units their marketing BS like "Heritage Special" to drive up the price, then OK, just continue producing them without that plaque! They can even keep the price the same, for all we care. Nobody cares/should care about what it says on the speaker - care how it sounds!

I don’t know if I would like everything about this speaker, but the number one reason why I’d buy them is because they seem to be really great at low level listening. So when I’m finally ready to pull the trigger in a year or two, turns out I’ll be out of luck, because the company, which makes this great product, decided that only 2500 privileged will be able to enjoy them!

Why? What is the point of designing/making good products then?!
On a related subject, the new Belles Virtuoso Integrated amp is now on display at the Audio Connection in Verona NJ. Sounds very good driving a pair of Vandersteen Quatro CT’s.  No meters just a simple faceplate like the new Virtuoso preamp.

I believe that John will be posting pictures on his website soon, Dave has not added it to his website yet. John Rutan would be the best person to talk to about this amplifier.
@audioinfidel 

Dynaudio is now owned by some Chinese company now I think. My view is this is a marketing thing and, if there is sustained demand for these speakers, there will be more.

I always wanted a speaker like this from them as the higher end the monitor you see from Dynaudio, the more I didn’t like the look of the box. the Confidence 1 is just not for me looks wise. The Heritage Special are!

Perhaps the design team had a wager for years over the viability of a conventional box stand mount yet with all the trickle down technology from the top range. 
Dynaudio is now owned by some Chinese company now I think. My view is this is a marketing thing and, if there is sustained demand for these speakers, there will be more.

https://www.whathifi.com/us/news/dynaudio-acquired-chinese-company-goertek

it is more an 'investment' thing... like geely auto in china owning volvo, and tata of india owning jaguar-land rover

more innovative, world class new products out of volvo jag land rover than has been seen in decades before change of ownership...


FWIW: Took delivery of an Aria Signature last week.
Bluesound Node 2i - Chrod Qutest with Teddy Pado PS - Dynaudio S40s - Audience Au24e cables.

VERY engaging.
FULL sound.
WEIGHTY delivery.
Smooth, yet muscular.
Sophisticated presence.
Just LOVE it and it has less than 50 hours on it so far.

Replaced a Solost 1 int amp.
Night and day.

This has potential to be an "end of merry go round" amp for me.
 and I will seek nothing until I see a used pair of Dynaudio Special Heritages...;-)...in 2024!
Interesting topic. I'm in the market for a new integrated amp and my top choice is/was a Belles Aria Sig. integrated. Talked to a well known dealer {not gonna say who it is to prevent a possible argument) who sells the Belles and also sells LFD integrateds. He claims the LFD is vastly superior to the Belles. Pricing is similar but the LFD is a very stark looking amp, has a maximum output of 65 watts/Ch. and no remote.
lfd also lack remote control... that was a deal breaker for me

lemme guess who that dealer is pumping lfd ... 😂😂😂😂😂


I have had LFD amps including the NCSE MK II.
loved for jazz but just had no balls or soul.

I think that same dealer has a pretty clear distribution path with LFD with very few national competitors. Belles has several dealers inc. in NY area.

The Belles Aria sig works for me as I wanted the 125 watts, remote and an amp that can move some air with finesse. I found it. Plus, match in heaven with Dynaudio. 
LFD is more geared to speakers like Harbeth. At the same price point of Aria Signature ($4500) the comp for LFD is a new mistral.....NO CHANCE its in same league as it comes from a UK craft shop (like belles) via a US distributor, then to a dealer. 
The new NCSE MK III comes in at $7500 and that would be the product that compares with Aria Signature.