BAT or Cary Pre with BAT VK-55?

I recently sold my BAT VK-300x SE integrated (great piece by the way) with the original intent of going to a BAT pre/power combo. The goal was to get a more "toobey" sound than the integrated provided and get the sonic benefits of separates.

I already have the VK-55, and briefly ran that with the pre-out of the integrated, which sounded very good. I was planning on going with the VK-3ix or VK-31 if I could afford it, but have run across very positive info on the Cary SLP-98 (standard and F1 version). I have not heard either one yet, and plan to buy used, so auditioning before buying is not an option.

The rest of my system is Esoteric MG-10 monitors, Esoteric SA-10 CD/SACD player, VPI Scout, and SimAudio LP5.3 phono stage.

I do like the BAT house sound, although it can be slightly rolled off in the treble with a hint of darkness. I don't know if the Cary is more or less extended in the treble and "air" as the BAT. I cannot run balanced connections with the Cary, which is the only minus feature wise when comparing the two.

Thoughts on the BAT VK-3ix or a Cary SLP-98 with the VK-55?
Stick with the BAT. IMO that Cary preamp will give less treble, and air than the BAT.
I would think the BAT-BAT pairing would work out quite nice,but I have no idea if you would like it.
The Cary SLP-98 is a bee-u-ti-ful sounding--& looking--preamp. I have the orig., not the F1. Haven't heard one w/a BAT amp tho.....
The BAT VK3ix is a fantastic match for the 55. Stereophile did a review on both. Look it up and decide :)
I see a bit of competition here. Been looking for vk-3ix or vk-30 with phono and remote to mate with my vk-200.
I've also thought about Cary or other models at lower price, but BAT-BAT matching seems to be the way to go.
Get the Cary SLP-98 with F-1 upgrades and have it direct coupled which will give you more air, dynamics and bass slam. The F-1 is a BIG upgrade to the original SLP-98.
I think you should leave BAT with BAT since you say you like the bat sound.
Thanks for all of the responses guys. I am leaning towards a BAT pre at this point. Probably can't go wrong with either.
Hi Mekong56,

I favor the BAT combo...synergy :-)

found this thread most interesting as i am both a bat and cary fan. the bat vk 5i pre is very nice, even with it's age. recently upgraded tubes for $350 was like getting a new piece of gear. i tried the vk 55 tube amp and was not "wowed" by it. i once had a pair of AES (cary) six packs and wish i had them still as they were as smooth and silky in sound as i heard tubes could be. my gal even noticed...she called it a "creamy dreamy" sound. but, the heat of the tubes was unbearable in the warm seasons so i went to the bat ss vk-220 with bat pac. a very nice combo for the spring/summer. very happy with this pairing. but, again, i miss the tube sound that goes really well with a fire and cold weather. so i am going to find myself a cary tube amp of some sort and have a perfect mate for the full time bat pre and its ss sibling. which cary? well, my cary sli-80 int that sits in a box unused goes for +/- $2k on a-gon so that's my cary amp budget. my speakers are sonus faber strads and the gear above works well enough for me although others might increase their budgets to higher levels. i did have a mac int 6600 and loved the blue glow but found the bat and cary better suited for my ears. hope this helps.
BOB.......I could not agree more!!!! I use an Slp-05 with the BAT Vk-60 and love, just love that synergy.
Just to update those who contributed to the thread, I went with a BAT VK-31SE, and am so far very pleased with the combo.

Congrats and enjoy :-)