AXPONA Preview: Belleson Brilliance Phono Preamp

Continuing with our AXPONA gear preview, today, we next turn our inquiring eyes and ears toward the Belleson Brilliance phono preamp, which itself made an earlier, initial splash at the Capital Audiofest back in November.

Some company background first. Belleson — currently based in Greer, South Carolina — is probably best known for their high-performance voltage regulators. Founded by engineer Brian Lowe, the company was first incorporated in the Chicago area in 2000, and the name Belleson is a mash-up of two French words that translate to “beautiful sound.” Back in 2009, Lowe began working on a phono preamp design that has now finally seen its official embodiment in the Brilliance, following a more intense, more recent two-year development phase.


According to Belleson, the custom discrete amps inside the Brilliance — which the company calls “Top Amps” — have a discrete JFET high-impedance fully differential input. Stage 1 is a trans-conductance amp, direct coupled to the virtual ground input of a trans-impedance amp (Stage 2). This combination is said to provide 50dB of current gain to “give the lowest possible noise and distortion.”

RIAA frequency adjustment is tailored with high-accuracy 1% C0G capacitors with a low-temperature, low-voltage coefficient, and no microphonics. Input loads and output gain are switched with custom optically isolated high-voltage, low-distortion, low-capacitance switches.


Top Amp has a Class A+B combination bipolar+MOSFET diamond buffer-type output stage to drive capacitive loads without oscillation, with up to 70mA output current. Current is limited by a feedback protection circuit, so that users can plug headphones directly into Brilliance’s outputs or, in their words, “whatever cables you like, with no concerns.” Top Amps have a 4MHz unity gain bandwidth.

The Brilliance phono preamp can be controlled via Wi-Fi by using the browser-based remote control that runs on custom software written specifically for Brilliance. Remote selectable options for the Brilliance include input, gain, moving coil (MC) or moving magnet (MM), resistive and capacitive loading, and mute.

 040424.apnews.brilliance4.png Other Brilliance features and specs include balanced or single-ended input options for two turntables or dual tonearms, remote gain as being selectable from 31dB to 71dB, THD of 0.005% at 5mV, dynamic range >100dB at <1% THD, maximum output of 27V, S/N ratio >87dB (IHF A-weighted) and >67dB (unweighted),

Finally, the Belleson Brilliance has an SRP of $8,500. Again, we are undaunted by that price, and we are very much looking forward to experiencing this phono preamp in person in Room 709 at AXPONA.

For more about Belleson, go here.
To find out how to order a Brilliance direct, go here.


Anton D's picture

To big of a pain in AX to attend in person right now!

Glotz's picture

Is Vandersteen with their new $16,000 preamp. Really transparent and non-additive.

I just heard a demo on the only copy extant of this model currently at my dealer Ultra Fidelis- and it will be at AXPONA this weekend!

dial's picture

For the price they could have put RCA WBT jacks (Cardas or Furutech accepted).

Belleson's picture

@dial, we use silver plated RCA connectors like this
They are PCB mounted inside the rear panel to allow ground isolation of the shield, allowing balanced input via RCA for moving coil cartridges.
Also silver plated OFC wire connections to main PCB.

mogayak50's picture

Baltimore is looking forward to hearing more about its performance at AXPONA!