Audio Research Ref 3 vs BAT VK51 SE

I have narrowed my search for a preamp down to these 2 preamps. Has anyone listened to both and have an opinion? I have a Pass 250.5, and Ascendo C8 Renaissance speakers.
I just sold a BAT VK-42SE pre-amp (no longer needed). I had an A'Gon poster write to me during the sale to give me their side-by-side impression of the 42SE and the 51SE.

"Are you aware that this sounds better than the top of the line tube preamp? I had both SE versions side by side and they were not even close as to transparency and resolution. They are sleepers in terms of price"

I loved the VK-42SE and it is cheaper than the VK-51SE.

make certain that you audition whichever piece you are considering for purchase. The pre-amp is the heart of any system. Stated, I would get a comparison between BAT & ARC.

If considering ARC, I can tell you that the best piece is the Ref5 SE preamp. If this is out of range for you go w/ the Ref3 SE, in the least.

I have always wanted to demo BAT gear- so keep me posted &
Happy Listening!
I haven't heard the Bat preamp, but I'm an original owner of the ARC-REF3. My system is very musical, three dimensional and has a "reach out and touch it" quality. Even though ARC upgraded to the REF-5, and then the REF5se, I felt no need to make the upgrade. I run the preamp in the balanced mode using Audio Research ICs. I've kept after tube replacements and have recently upgraded the fuse to a SR Red fuse. After the first of the year, I'll be getting a new REF-6 ... but until then, the REF-3 plays on. Bottom line: keep fresh tubes in the preamp, use good cables and change out the fuse ... then be amazed/
Hi Pal, the ARC Ref 3 remains an amazing linestage, years after its introduction. When I purchased it, I did a number of comparative listenings, including BAT... And easily selected REF 3 because of the depth and harmonic richness of its bass, the musicality of its midrange, and the sweetness of its treble.

As I am no longer using a linestage, My lovely REF 3 in black livery is looking for a loving adoptive parent. If you are interested in a well kept unit with all packing materials, and attractive terms of adoption, send me a PM.

I did try to send you a PM myself, but for some odd reason was not able to do so.

Saluti, Guido