A Powerful Debut for Bella Sound

At every show, I make it point to visit at least one company making their debut at the show AT PAF 2023, it was Bella Sound, based in Half Moon Bay, CA, and the offspring of Mike and Barbara Vice. Mike Vice described their path to PAF 2023 as having begun around 2010 with what was to be their first product, the Hanalei power amplifier. It had been ten years in the making and wowed everyone who heard it, but Mike decided that it "just wasn't ready". After eight more years of refining the Hanalei and developing a few other components, Mike and Barbara decided that the time was right and created Bella Sound. Add another 5 years and the COVID-19 lockdown, and here they were.

Barbara and Mike were showing the $40,000/pair, 700W Hanalei monoblock amplifiers, the $24,000, 400wpc Kahili stereo amplifier, the $12,000 Hana power conditioner, and the $5500 Kaula 2 AC cord. Bella Sound's flagship product is of course the Hanalei amplifier. It isn't small—about 19" wide, 9' tall, and 17" deep, and weighs 70lb, but not as large as I would have expected given its power output and luxurious build quality. On the other hand, it runs in class-A to only 100W and uses a feed-forward implementation of a sliding-bias approach that further improves its efficiency. The Hanalei also incorporates something Mike Vice calls a "Neutralizing Output Stage", about which he was extremely close-lipped.

The Kahili Stereo Amplifier was, per Mike Vice, very nearly two 400W versions of the Hanalei housed in the same chassis. The Hana Power Conditioner is a very pretty, 44lb unit and built to the same high standard as the amplifiers. It uses a mix of traditional and slightly out-of-the-box approaches. The former include things like a completely passive design, materials and coatings to reduce mechanical and RF noise, and cryogenic treated wiring. An example of the more unusual approaches is what Bella Sound calls "material resonance signal treatment", another proprietary technology.

A pair of the Hanalei monoblocks was powering the system I listened to, surrounded by a suite of excellent components. From start to finish, these were an Innuous ZENith Mk3 server, a Lampizator Golden Gate 3 DAC running directly into the Hanaleis driving Analysis Audio Omega loudspeakers. It's impossible to discern much about an amplifier's performance under show conditions, but I can say that the system felt effortless and had mix of solidity, huge dynamics, and resolution of subtle details that rarely exists without an amplifier that has an overabundance of speed and power.

So far, so good but Bella Sound's products are in a realm where it will be challenging to shoulder their way in. I'm looking forward to following Bella Sound as they navigate the high-end audio waters.

Anton's picture

Who wouldn't have a great time sonically frolicking to an amp from Hanalei?

Ortofan's picture

... one gray night it happened, something inside went puff, and the amp ceased its fearless roar.