BAT VK-52SE VS Audio Research Ref 3

Has anybody compared these two preamps?
I've compared a ARC Ref 3 to a BAT VK-51SE and a BAT VK-32SE, though not the VK-52SE. In my system, I'd rank them in this order:

ARC Ref 3

ARC and BAT are just different. The ARC was more revealing and transparent, while the BAT was more dynamic and powerful. Note that while trying all of these preamps I was using a modified BAT VK-75SE amp. I felt the ARC/BAT combo gave me a taste of both worlds, the speed and resolution of the ARC mixed with the power and dynamics of the BAT. YMMV.

John what cables were you using in this combo while trying the bat and arc? Power cords, interconnects, and speaker cables.
Geez Beerdraft, now you're really making me think and if there's one thing I hate, it's thinking.

As I recall, all power cords were Stealth Dreams. Interconnects were Jade Hybrid Gold and Stealth Metacarbon. Speaker cables were Jade Vermeil and Stealth Hybrid MLT. As I recall I use to like to mix the Jade and Stealth. So Jade Hybrid Gold interconnects worked best with Stealth Hybrid MLT and Stealth Metacarbon sounded best with Jade Vermeil speaker cable. Come to think of it, for many of the same reasons I mixed the ARC with the BAT. The Stealth are extremely articulate, while the Jade are immensely musical.

FWIW, all of those preamps, cables and cords are long gone now due to downsizing.

I second Jmcgrogan2 opinion. I went from 51SE to Ref-3, and couldn't be happier. I found 51SE to be dark and unresolving, with poor micodynamics.
If your system is very revealing and transparent, you might hear the famous "whitish" top end often mentioned with Ref-3/5 so do proceed with caution if you decided to go for Ref 3. I certainly have heard it in my system and others and I am not alone.
I'm sure it's all system dependant. I did find a BAT preamp and BAT amp to be dark and unresolving in my system, like Elberoth2. Same as all Jade cables to some extent. I never heard the ARC Ref 3 with a ARC amp, that may have had the hot, whitish top end that Semi refers to. Mixing the ARC preamp and BAT amp gave me a nice balance, IMHO. Some of the power and dynamics of the BAT mixed with some of the speed and resolution of the ARC. It's OK to mix n' match. You don't have to have all of one brand.
Hello Arthurp,

Well I agree with Jmcgrogan2 and Elberoth2 that the REF3 will have a brighter high end, only thing is that in my view I find it to be unnaturally spotlit. I haven't had a chance to hear the 52se yet so I can't give you a direct specific comparison of these 2 preamps. I do own the BAT Rex and can tell you I find it to pretty unique, it has the most grain free natural rendering of timbre I've heard.

I'm giving you my opinion of the Rex because the 52se can be upgraded to the Rex. You really should try to at least audition these 2 preamps in systems at dealers, of course comparing them in your own system would be ideal.
Good luck with whatever you decide on.

I would encourage anyone interested in the ARC Ref 3 to audition it first. This is one of those pieces where people either love it, or they don't.
I second Tom. The 52se is upgradeable to the REX and the rex is one of the best pre's anywhere. This would weigh heavy in my decision to the point where I would not only audition the 52se and the ref 3 but also the rex because if you get the 52se you may wind up later with REX and be done. I heard people say when I was looking to buy BAT that it was Dark and all but when I heard it and decided I liked it, it was anything but. Now its in my home and its wonderful. I have the rex and vk600se mono. I also heard the 52se when I did my demo on the rex. It was paired with the Vk250 solid state amps I think and running the Wilson Duet speakers with the bat cdp and it was fantastic. I feel that cables that can't keep up with bat performance and speed can cripple the sound. My friend has the vk42 I think it is a ss pre and he has great sound as well and I have yet to hear a bat system that was dark which is what I hear a lot on these audio sites. I find it natural and uncolored and oh so quick and dynamic. Like also that a lot of there products are upgradeable so your path don't end with a purchase.
Arthurp, what it comes down to is there really is no substitute for listening for yourself. Just as with any other piece of gear, or even cables, you will get many opinions, which you may or may not agree with in the long run.
I actually don't think that everyone's taste is that much different here, folks just go about things in a different way. Some will buy dark speakers and use bright cables, some will put dark cables on bright speakers, etc. What it comes down to is there is more than one way to skin a cat.

For example, I know Tom uses Nordost Valhalla power cords on his BAT gear. I'm not saying Tom is wrong when he says he finds the ARC Ref 3 to be unnaturally spotlit, but that is how I feel about Nordost Valhalla power cords. Perhaps these spolit cords help to enlighten the darker nature of the BAT for Tom. Different ways of accomplishing a similar goal, musical enjoyment. Sorry Tom, really, I'm not picking on you. I do believe that your system sounds great.
In my case, my speakers (Verity Audio) are known for being on the darker side of neutral, perhaps this is why I preffered the ARC to the BAT.

So to review, positives ARC more articulate and revealing. BAT more dynamic and powerful. Negatives, ARC can sound bright to some. BAT can sound dark to some. The key is which will work best for you Arthurp. Which direction does your system need to go in YOUR opinion?