I have just recently had both the BAT gear you are interested in, and the ARC gear in a direct comparison in my home. It was not even close. The BAT stuff is simply more like real music. It is much more natural sounding, just beautiful. Needless to say I bought all BAT equipment.
I own the VK50se and the VK 60 amp. I've owned ARC tube stuff before, but not the products on the market currently. This biggest diffence I hear is the BAT is more involving, has more emotion, draws you in better. The ARC is very good, but doesn't get your blood flowing. Both are good, the choice should be made on match to your speakers, taste, and what dealer you like better. That's my 2 cents.
Hello Pipes, Wow this thread is right up my alley. Over the years I have compared ARC to BAT and in all honesty to my ears it wasn't even close! Before owning BAT gear I had countless ARC tube pre-amps and amps and I don't want to over state my enthusiasm but IMHO the Bat gear won by a WIDE margin. I now own a VK-50se, VK-60 mono blocks ( hope to upgrade to the VK-150se mono's ) driving Eidolons. My front end is a ML-37 transport and a ML-360s DAC. I don't have a lot of time now to get into the details but if you care to e-mail me direct I would be happy to respond to you sometime over the weekend. Best of luck, Tom
I haven't heard the ref 1 or 2 yet, but I did hear the vk30SE's (jtinn's in fact!) put into my system with my ARC vt100m2. It replaced my solid state preamp. I never heard such a dramatic improvement. Lost a tiny, tiny bit of detail, but the instruments just came alive and the sonic image instantly, unquestionably, became fully three dimensional. You felt like you could get up and walk around single instruments. Amazing. Might just get me one o them.
Has anybody compared the VK30SE's optional phono preamp (card) to an ARC ph-3 phono preamp ? I run the ph-3 right now, and I love it's sound.
Has anyone done a direct comparison of the BAT verses an AR ref 1 or 2 using a vt100 ? If I recall, the ref 1 was actually a little more detailed sounding than the more euphonically voiced ref 2.
Skip the BAT phono cards, they're little transistor circuit boards--and sound like it. Yes it's only $500 more to get the phono, but IMO that money plus a tiny bit more coin would be much better spent on a nice reasonably priced external phono stage like the EAR 834 or Lehmann Black Cube as two examples. Usually, one or the other of these will float your boat, and for the $$, they're hard to beat. If you're prepared to pay more for phono, then that changes things of course, but for under $750, I think you'd be hard-pressed to beat EAR or the Cube.
Whoops, saw that you already have the ARC external phono stage. I don't think it would be a stretch to claim that what you already have will be significantly better than the BAT phono card, no matter which BAT preamp you buy. And BTW, as a former VK-30 owner, don't necessarily assume the VK-30SE is better. To my ears, I preferred the sound of the 30 with premium (high-$$) NOS 6922s to the sound of the 30SE. YMMV
I currently have BAT VK60 SE Monos, VK50SE Pre-amp and VKD5SE CD Player. This stuff rules! My only experience with AR was a previous home-demo with an AR REF 1 into my KRELL FPB 600. I found the soundstage broad and spacious (this was okay) but I actaully preferred the Sonic Frontiers SFL-2 which I previoulsy owned. The BAT is the first time I have crossed-the-line into the "realm". The BAT may be an expensive investment, but it will save you big bucks over the long haul. I highly suggest that you either purchase the BAT or a high-end hearing aid.
Definately prefer my VK3i to my SP9 MKII, feeding McCormack DNA 0.5 dlx
Thanks for all the input. I personally like the BAT equipment, and am trying to set up an A/B comparison, as I think this is the true test for a decision this important. Critics of BAT say its euphonic, rounds off highs, and lacks strong Bass. I thought the BAT was very musical when I listened to it. Others tell me the ARC equipment, while better than SS, is cold and dry in the midrange. One friend called it the Krell of tube amps --all power and no soul. I plan on comparing the 150SE to the ARC 300s. I think they are both great amps with different sounds. Hopefully, when I A/B the two it will be a easy decision. I previously owned ARC 600s II.
Pipes- I currently power Eidolons with ARC REF 300 MKII's which I found more pleasing than the 600's. Of all the amps I trialed, with my particular configuration this was an outstanding pairing. I've listened to BAT's, but not the 150's. I'd be interested in your impression vis-a-vie the REF 300's if you get that opportunity. In my setup the 300's have soul and bloom in spades, Krell as a comparison is the last thing I would think of. Immensely powerful but extremely musical. The only thing I've heard as musical and lifelike are the large Atma-Spheres, which are also stupendous. I personally preferred the 300's, again system mating and personal tastes must be accounted for. Sounds like win/win whichever direction you go. Have a hoot, and let me know the results of your A/B'ing. Cheers, Mark
I'll post the results of the A/B. While I liked the 600s, many people have told me the 300s sound better. The 600s generated too much heat and had too much power consumption for my small apt. I own Watt/Puppy sixes with M/L front end. I am glad someone finally spoke up for ARC. Mainstream does not necessarily mean inferior. Most people do not have experience with ARC Ref. gear, which I believe is on a higher level than VTM 200s and VT 200s. I am worried the BATS won't handle symphonic passages as well as the ARCs. I loved to listen to piano on my 600s. Orchestral music played on the 600s had extended highs and great inner detail. I need the weight and authority power provides.
It's been said, but it depends on your ears -- I prefer the ARC products.... I have the LS-25, VT-100, DAC3MKII, CD2 and Avalon Eidolons. I have heard the BAT gear (in my home AB comparison with the ARC) and for the $$ IMHO I think there is still trade-offs with BAT... In regards to a poster about REF300 vs. REF600 -- the 300s do sound better on the Eidolons.... BTW -- If you want lush or euphonic out of ARC gear, put some different tubes (KT-88, 90 or 91s and Mullard NOS 6DJ8s) in the ARC products as well as D Type infinicaps in appropriate places and you will achieve a similar effect to the way BAT gear presents its self. My .02
I've heard the BAT 150SE and was very impressed with the low noise floor, which I was told has much to do with its balanced topology. I was also told BATs power tranformers store large amounts of current and this helps dynamics. In addition, the BATs supposably use higher quality parts.
I agree, it's seems there is a knee jerk response to certain mainstream products. I have certain pieces of gear that are eclectic/esoteric, but sound great to me. Some mainstream gear sounds poor. The REF series is superior to the rest of the already very good ARC gear. The 300's bested the 600's in shear sonics without any noticeable power decrement; same weight and authority with an incredible soundstage and lifelike presentation that only the Atma-Spheres rivaled, although the BAT's I listened to were very good also. The 300's midrange is unspeakabley real, arguably on par with the best SET's, but it is at the extremes that the 300's really shine, taut,deep bass and airy, extended highs, and that's what made my decision to nab the 300's as opposed to the aforementioned amps and a host of others I auditioned. To each his own, your ears will let you know what pushes their audio nirvana buttons. Have fun in the search. Cheers, Mark
I believe Mes is right: ARC's Ref series is so superior to much of their regular stuff. The Ref2/Ref300 is very musical yet transparent, and avoids the kind of dry/white/grainy texture of much of ARC's regular series. I think the BAT sounds great-I recently bought one myself-detailed, dynamic, quiet, yet naturally balanced, though it's not in the league with the Ref series in quality(or price). Do your homework: Try both out on your own stuff then buy the better.
I also agree that its at the extremes that makes ARC Ref. gear special. Many argue that ARCs midrange is thin. They conclude that since mid-range is the most audible part of the audio spectrum, its what you should be most concerned about. However, its difficult to give up good strong base and extension, as well as transient quickness, for a warm toned, and admittedly, rich mid-range. I am willing to make some trade offs for the SET mid-range, but I am not willing to sacrifice everthing. I become nervous when tube sales reps. talk about the primary importance of midrange because they lose sight of the entire picture.
Pipes- Thin is not an adjective that comes to mind when listening to the 300 MKII's. Clean, yes, but rich, not warm, muddy or syrupy. I too think midrange is nearly all important, but if you can have your cake and eat it....
Don't get me wrong, I never really noticed a problem with the ARC 600s midrange. However, this was my first tube amp. and I always wondered whether there existed more esoteric products that would bring listening to another level. More expensive equipment usually translates into finer differences and more difficult choices.
Hi Pipes, A thing you might want to keep in mind about the BAT amps is that eventually you can run 4 of them. This would double the wattage, joules, and cuts the output impedance of the amps in half. Im sure this would take care of any concerns about the frequency extremes and dynamic peaks. I recently talked to a dealer who carries both BAT and Atma-Spheres and he likes the BAT more. Posters with Eidolons, please post your opinions of how well the VK-150se drive them in comparisons to other amps you might have tried. Thanks to all, Tom
The ARC Reference equipment is more power than their other products with little or no difference sonically. If you guys want to be impresssed by a company putting the "reference" label on their equipment and fall for it go right ahead. The differences between the VT200 and REF 300 comes from one being a stereo amp and one being monoblocks. There is a bit bigger soundstage and slightly better control in difficult passages of music, but that is where it ends. The ARCs still have the "thin, cold, sizzly house sound." I am not an ARC basher, I actually like the products, but after listening to the BAT equipment, I realize that ARC misses the boat when it comes to reproducing the sound. It is of course about system matching and the Eidilons have a very complex cross-over which makes it difficult to drive. 300 watts may be what those speakers need to drive them effectively where the BATs may be slightly under powered for those speakers. I would bet the farm that if you stacked 2 sets of BAT VK-150SEs, they would spank the ARCS.
Dear Mr. Pipes, All I can say is I envy your ability to afford such great equipment. If you live remotely close to me, I will supply the fine wine in exchange for an evening of music on your system. Is you home anywhere near Wisconsin?
I have the money, but I cannot really afford them. My wardrobe is atrocious, and I have been putting off buying a mountain bike for four years. Having a high end system to home to is comparable to a kid waking up every day and discovering its Christmas morning.
I forgot to mention Audiojerry, I would gladly take up your offer but I live in California.
Hi Jtinn, IMO the VK60 mono's already ( if I may borrow your words) spanked the ARC VT200. When I did the comparisons the ARC had a grainy sand like midrange compared to the BAT. Dynamic shifts from pp to fff and anything between much to my surprise was faster and more startling with the BAT. Soundstage was also deeper and wider with the BAT with images that had AIR which gave them a sense of reality. For me the VK60's had the "magic" the ARC couldn't touch. The only area where the ARC outperformed the BAT was in overall dynamic peaks for a sustained period of time. Even in the bass while the ARC had more punch the BAT had better texture, space, and detail of the instrument in ?. Beleive I wanted to like the ARC it was a little less money and almost twice the power. The new VK150se from what I've heard from a few others is supposed to be on a whole new level. I look forward to the day when I can hear them in my system. All the best, Tom
Pipes- Good luck and much fun in your endeavors, grabbing new gear is always a rush. Jtinn, to assume one buys ones gear based upon terms such as "reference" or "balanced", for that matter, suggests a very shallow perspective on the hobby. As for power being the only difference in the ARC series, nonsense. The VTM-200 are monoblocks, nearly as powerful as the 300's and if actually listened to, sound different.The 600's are much more powerful, and to my ears just don't sound as good as the 300's, power/control notwithstanding. It's about the music, after all, not the names/terms/amps/ ad infinitum, the cart before the horse. One has to be comfortable with what he/she likes and decides to purchase. I'm thrilled with the incredible aray of high quality gear from which to choose, and applaud the differences in taste in regards to those choices. Rationalizing why someone has chosen differently, in my humble experience, is usually more about dollars than sense.Respectfully.
I to believe that VT200 is not comparable to ARC Reference Gear --even when one takes into consideration the house sound of a particular manufacturer. I know this stuff is unaffordable for most people, like I mentioned above I am not sure I have any business buying it, but I cannot help but think that jealousy influences some people's critiques of very expensive high end gear. Everyone has been very helpful on this post and I am in no way referring to anyone who has contibuted.
Mes: I have compared the entire line of ARC. The VTM200s vs. the Ref 600s was the most recent A/B and I hold firm that tonally they are the same... thin and cold. There were slight differences which are attributed to nothing more than 400 watts differnce in power. This is what I heard. The 300s are less harsh than the 600s but again have the same incorrect tone.
I know you have a lot of money invested in your Reference 300 amps and I do think they are wonderful, although not accurate. If I had not heard the BATs, I might have gone with the Ref 300 or the VTM200. Enjoy!