Old Belles to new Belles?

November 30, 2009

To Vade Forrester,

Thanks for the fantastic review in November ’09 of the Belles Statement VT-01 preamplifier. I own the Belles 21A modded with Auricaps and improved diodes/power supplies and a Belles 350A Reference amp. I thought about upgrading to the 28A, but after reading your review, since I love the sound of tubes, I may consider the VT-01. How would you describe the sound of the 21A Auricap compared to the new VT-01? Thanks for taking the time to help out a fellow audiophile.



Thanks for checking out our reviews. It's been a while since I tried a Belles 21A preamp in my system, and then it was only overnight. And I'm not sure if it had Auricaps. But even with all those disclaimers, I'd say the VT-01 would be a marked improvement over the 21A, which to my ears was perfectly OK, but not really exciting. As you could probably tell from the review, I thought the VT-01 was exciting. The matching SA-30 amp was also superb, and the two make a good pair. Although I've not heard it, I'd expect the SA-100 amp, a class A/B version of the SA-30, would also sound great, and if you're upgrading speakers, you might want to consider upgrading your amp also. The 21A and 350A were excellent in their day, but I'm impressed by how much Dave Belles has improved his electronics in the past couple of years. . . . Vade Forrester

Levinson and Revel reviews

November 24, 2009

To Doug Schneider,

I am looking forward to your review of the Revel Ultima Salon2 speakers. Can you give me a sense as to when this will be published? Are there any plans to review any of the new Mark Levinson gear, specifically the No.53 or No.532 power amplifiers?

Many thanks,

Rich Behrman

The Salon2 review will be published on December 15, although you'll get a hint of what it is I'll say in my editorial that will be published December 1. We have no Levinson amps in for review right now. Obviously, that might change. . . . Doug Schneider

Amp for Cerwin-Vegas

November 17, 2009

Hello Vade

Thanks for your good review on these bang-for-the-buck LOUDspeakers (Cerwin-Vega CLS-215). I would like to know your educated opinion as far as amplification goes. Wyred 4 Sound makes some awesome amps. They have 250W (ST500) and 500W (ST1000) stereo designs. From a power standpoint, what would you recommend? They are in the $1600 to $2400 price range. I see in your review that you drove the the Cerwin-Vegas with 30Wpc.

Also, would you recommend any other amp with good value for the watt? I have a sweet Adcom GFP-750 preamp (great reviews), and a Rotel RCD-1072 CD player. I appreciate your valued input. Thanks.


Thanks for checking out our reviews. I've not heard Wyred 4 Sound amps, but they look like they'd drive the CLS-215s to enormous levels, and their prices seem very good. As to other recommendations, that depends on your room, your music preferences, your listening habits, and your tolerance for pain. I have an acquaintance who blows the fuses on his CLS-215s, while I thought my little 30Wpc amp played as loud as I'd ever want to. I'm not familiar with many of the higher-powered amps, so I'm not the best qualified to advise you. I've heard some of the recent Belles amps and thought they sounded quite nice and were fairly priced, but they may be a bit pricey. Ditto Bel Canto and Bryston amps -- nice, but pricey, although good values. . . . Vade Forrester

Paradigm Signature Sub 25 or . . . ?

November 12, 2009


I enjoyed your review of the Paradigm Signature Sub 2. Did you have an opportunity to listen to the Sub 1? How does the Sub 1 compare to the Signature Sub 25? I have ordered two Sub 25s but I am thinking of changing it to two Sub 1s. I would prefer two Sub 2s but I think they would be too large for the space.


Jon Turesky

I have pondered the same question: The Sub 25 or the Sub 1? The easy answer is that you probably can’t go wrong with either model. Both incorporate Paradigm’s latest driver and amplifier technology and I’m confident that both would exceed your expectations given Paradigm’s excellent reputation and what I know about the Sub 2. However, the choice between the two is a tough one and I will take a guess to try and help you. It really comes down to multiple smaller drivers or one huge one. My gut tells me that having six motor structures (Sub 1) would lead to greater power handling and ultimately more control than a single large driver. But then, I’ve been told by a speaker designer I trust that a larger driver "hooks up" with the air better than multiple smaller drivers.

So I guess the answer is simple: We should solicit Paradigm to build a Sub 0 with six 15" woofers! Of course, it would probably cost $20,000 and weigh about 1000 pounds, but we wouldn’t have to make the choice! Seriously, having never heard the Sub 1, but being thoroughly impressed with the Sub 2, and just loving the form factor of a hexagonal sub, I’d likely opt for Sub 1s. But you might easily convince me otherwise. . . . Jeff Fritz

From Levinson to the Moon

November 4, 2009

To Doug Schneider,

I’ve heard so much about the Mark Levinson No. 383 integrated amp. But that was almost ten years ago. Is there any integrated since then that has equalled or surpassed it? I'm in the market for an integrated and would like a starting point.


Steve Sawicki

I haven’t heard the No. 383, but I can confidently say that the Simaudio Moon Evolution i-7 is shockingly good. Simaudio has recently announced the new Evolution 700i that will presumably replace it. . . . Doug Schneider