Bellari VP130 Tube Phono Preamp
Bellari brings the BlingBellari have just released the MT502 moving coil step-up transformer. It’s a brilliant piece of kit. Fully passive, this moving coil step up transformer allows you to play a low output moving coil cartridge using a moving magnet phono preamp. The transformers are hand wound and their covers are 24 karat gold plated. It has two impedance settings (a/b which are 50/100 Ohms) and a ground lift.
It mates perfectly with the VP130 and VP530 phono preamps, but don’t limit your use of it to Bellari products. I’ve been getting great results at home mating it with our Music Hall PA1.2 and have field tested it a wide range of hi-end MM phono preamps and am always dramatically impressed by its performance. Beautifully designed and built entirely in the USA. It’s a real recession buster at $499 retail. And hey, if times get tough, you can always melt down those gorgeous transformer covers.
Brian at Needle Dr reviews the Bellari VP-130Though the Bellari VP-130 comes in at $250, don’t be fooled - this thing can sing. It comes supplied with a 12AX7 vacuum tube, (which can be upgraded), and is ready for use with MM or high output MC cartridges, though when I tried it with the Dynavector 10X5 (2.5mV), I found it less than ideal. The Bellari’s strengths certainly lie in the midrange, where strings and vocals sound buttery and sweet. Acoustic guitars, especially in smaller ensembles, sounded wonderful and accurate. Modern rock music got a nice jolt of vintage warmth with an ever-so-slight coloration - a dark orange or red maybe. What I really found useful and fun was the built in headphone amplifier. With separate volume control, and a signal fresh out of the tube, it sounds absolutely lovely with a nice pair of headphones. I used Grado SR-80s with great success. Cartridge wise, my favorite pairing with it was the Nagaoka MP-500 (MM - 3.0 mV). The liveliness and attention to detail was a perfect pairing with the Bellari’s warmth, and as we all know, balance is everything. All in all, I’m completely ready to call the Bellari VP-130 a giant killer - ready to take on phono preamps well above it in price.
Ratings & Reviews
when I first received this unit I was stoked to give it a go...and when I did I was less than impressed. yes, it was a vast improvement over my NAD PP2 in terms of meatiness to the sound, but like many other Bellari owners it suffered from an insane amount of hum. I tried everything from different cables to placement to messing with the ground wire...had no idea what to do. more than once I was ready to return of throw through the window until after reading some online solutions did I come to realize the problem all along was the total shit power supply that comes with it. I bought the 'universal AC to Dc high Power Adapter, set to 15V, hooked up an M plug, plugged it in, and bam, what a difference! There is a very slight hiss at high volume that you only hear with music off but otherwise I couldn't be more happy. Bellari as a company seems quite douche and reading the owners manual attests to this because they fully know the thing makes tons of noise and their solution is to NOT contact them and to get 'creative' with the ground wire...Nope. replace the awful power supply and you are good to go. 3.5, 4 stars just because they are D bags. Needle Doctor on the other hand rules! oh yeah, replace the crappy Chinese tube while you are at it
This is a fantastic tube preamp. I use it with a pro-ject Carbon debut and audio-engine 5s and it sounds amazing. It's warm and smooth and super quiet. A superior product for a great price.
El Jefe 651
by El Jefe 651
This unit made a very noticeable improvement to my mid-grade set-up. Upgraded the tube to the Tung-Sol. Sound gets even better after 2 or 3 records during a listening session. Love it!
Can't comment on the unit stock. I bought the unit after reading a lot about it and have only ever listened to it with a Mullard tube and the Radio Shack wall wart, but it beats the hell out of my sx780 phono stage and that unit comes from an era when, I assume, phono stages had some thought put into them because the medium was so dominant. Anyway, I am giving it five stars despite the upgrades simply because so many audio products require upgrades to really shine....it is a shame but in this area it seems to be the way it is.
Just received the VP130 with a Mullard tube. This is an awesome preamp and Brian at NeedleDoctor was very helpful in helping me choose this bang for your buck tube preamp. It definitely takes the edge off high piano and guitar notes that made me wince when using the built-in phono input of my Marantz 2245. I don't perceive any hum or hiss when playing music, but it's an inherent nature of tube preamp to have a slight hum or hiss. My equipment: Technics SL-1200 MK2, Ortofon 2M Blue, KABUSA Fluid Damper, Cork slip mat, Marantz 2245, Jamo Cornet 165 bookshelf speakers, and now a Bellari VP130 preamp. Thanks Needle Doctor!
I am very pleased with the VP130. Extremely low noise even with the output level turned all of the way up. It provides a rich warm sound that is expected with a tube pre-amp, even with the stock tube. The headphone jack is a nice addition. The VP130 does very well with rock music but, really stands out with acoustic and vocal music. It has a very wide range from solid low bass, musical midrange, to clean clear highs. It’s a solid phonograph pre-amp.
I'm using this preamp with a Music Hall MMF-5 and the sound is great and, for the money, a vast improvement over my lower end solid state preamp I was using. I haven't tried a Mullard in it yet but have tried a Telefunken 12AX7. I went back to the stock tube as I thought it sounded better. My only complaint is that there is no power switch so I unplug the power at the unit when not in use. I don't use the mute so that would be a good place for the power switch.
I chose to combine this phono stage with an analog amp and an Ortofon 2M blue, if your looking for the most bang for your buck, look no further the VP130 has phenomenal warm tube sound, deep lows, clean mids, and crisp highs. Out performs other phono stages that cost twice the $$ Highly recommended. The Mullard will lighten the base a little if thats what your looking for.
I love my tube driven guitar amp sound so figured I would love the Bellari. Had to return the first one as it was nonfunctional. NeedleDoctor was very supportive and sent the replacement right away. However, I found the output of the Bellari was weak even turned all the way up. Through my Pro-ject with a Sumiko Oyster and MartinLogan speakers, I felt there was less clarity though overall the sound was very warm. I did not go to the effort of trying different tubes. I retuned it for a Pro-ject Phono Box II which I have found to be much more accurate and clear.
Upgraded to a Mullan tube to use with Naim NAIT 5i-2 integrated. Spectacular sound. Headphone amp is good feature too. Only complaint is no on/off switch--must unplug from wall wart power line.
I concur with most of the reviews, this is a nice phono stage for those who like the tube sound and don't want to break the bank. However, it can perform with high-output MC carts, but not very well in my opinion. Backgound noise and tube hiss is readily audible. This was the reason I upgraded to the Jolida that the Dr also carries. However if you are content with MM carts, you can't go wrong with the baby.
by Brad Barlow
Worth every single penny and then some.You would have to spend a ton more cash to do better than the Bellari VP130. A great thing about the Bellari is you can experiment with different tubes and tweak the sound the way you like.
by Mark Raymond
I have the previous iteration VP129 for the last few years and I love it. No problems. The headphone out is very sweet when I listen with my Grados. Highly recommend regardless of the fact that it has such a competitive price.
Nice warm sound, takes the edge off. Looks cool and guarenteed conversation starter. My only gripe is the output level could be higher, have to push amp higher than with other sources.
I love this preamp, it sounds great, looks cool on my desk, and brings out the best in my turntable.
Had this unit for about a year, slight hum but not significant, sound EXCELLENT when combined with my solid state amp, stock tube needs to be upgraded, i settled with mullard 12ax7, great combination. i highly recommend this unit. headphone jack is a great bonus
Used one for a few months now and I still have it.
I have owned a VP130 from Bellari for a few months now. I love mine it works perfectly for my intended use. Very quiet, and I like the sound.