"Bargain of a Lifetime" Revisited
With its fire engine red finish, the Bellari VP130 promises hot performance. And it really delivers. This compact phono preamp bristles with classic audiophile features. The vacuum tube circuitry is based on a design from 1937 for golden-age stereo sound.
In fact, the Bellari doesn't just offer quality. It excels in affordability as well. Writing in the January 2006 issue of The Absolute Sound magazine, Jim Hannon calls the VP130's nearly identical predecessor, the VP129, "the bargain of a lifetime (tube) phono preamp," praising it for its "highly listenable and engaging sound."
Jimmy Hughes, writing in Issue 37 of England's Hi-Fi+ magazine, marvels at the sound quality. "The Bellari seemed to create a sound that was rich, natural, and appealing. Surface noise was low, and the music emerged from a crisp quiet background. It was an excellent sound by almost any standards."
"Highest Recommendation" from Stereophile
The nearly identical VP129 won "Recommended Component" status in the April 2006 issue of Stereophile. "It surprised Michael Fremer with its 'golden-sweet' midrange, 'nicely extended, fast, and clean' top end, and 'satisfyingly punchy' bass." Says Michael Fremer, "The Bellari VP129 gets my highest recommendation, and is the budget phono preamp I will now enthusiastically recommend for every genre of music."
Built-in Headphone Amp with Level Control
The Bellari is designed to amplify an RIAA equalized phono signal and works with magnetic pickups and high output moving coil cartridges. Its smooth, natural sound is surprising enough considering the low price tag. But there's more! It includes a built-in high-quality headphone amplifier with level control for the ultimate in private vinyl listening. It also incorporates a variable output level, a rumble filter, and a mute. That's a lot of capability from a compact phono preamp.
But let's not forget the sound quality. "The bane of cheap vinyl reproduction is excessive brightness/harshness. The Bellari sounded focused and articulate, but rich and warm too - with an attractively full bass and sweet open mid-band," reports Jimmy Huges in Hi-Fi+