|Belles Soloist 3 Preamplifier Review|
|Home Theater Preamplifiers Stereo Preamps|
|Written by Andre Marc|
|Wednesday, 21 March 2012|
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Audio products emanate from all sorts of places. Many come from big established multi-national companies like Marantz or Harmon International. Some hail from medium sized, independently owned firms. And some even come from small shops run by artisans plying their trade. One such artisan is David Belles, who runs Power Modules Inc. out of Pittsford, NY.
Set Up & Listening:
I use the Soloist 3 in my second system, with a Pangea AC-9 power cord or an Element Cable Element Cord, to drive my vintage Revox A722 power amp via Transparent MM2 Plus interconnects. I also use the power amp section of the McIntosh MA6600 integrated. Audio Sources include my trusty Squeezebox Touch connected optically to the Musical Fidelity V-DAC II, and Harbeth Compact 7ES3 speakers. In this setup, the Soloist 3 is a neutral, dynamic, and transparent performer (shockingly so, considering the price).
There isn't a hint of mechanical artifacts, or detectable traces of electronic haze that some “budget” solid state preamps leave behind. On the contrary, the Soloist 3 is one of those rare components that is detailed, truthful to sources, and makes beautiful music. I can’t even imagine how good Belles’s more expensive Reference and Statement series preamps must be.
Now on to some musical notes. I had a good variety of interesting stuff at the ready to get started. Joe Henry -- a producing genius, but also a superb recording artist in own right --dazzled critics with his 2011 album, Reverie. It is an understated, and jazzy, meditation that is nicely recorded with natural sonics. The Soloist 3 did a wonderful job of recreating the ambiance and feel of the Henry’s excellent band and his distinctive voice was accurately rendered.