BAT VK60 or BAT VK75
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BAT VK250 is 150w into 8 and 300 into 4.
Pass X250.5 is 250w into 8 and 500 into 4.
There is quite a bit of difference in power between the 2 amps. For its first 38-40 watts or so, Pass will provide you with pure Class A amplification that resolves a lot during low level listening, including very textured and tuneful deep bass and soundstage that stays equal in size regardless of volume, even on my inefficient B&Ws. Also, on high levels, this amp sounds like its in retirement. Doesn't really show any signs of strain and congestion.
So I guess my recommendation is clear. But nobody can really know how either of the 2 amps will sound in your system.
On the other hand, if you want an interesting upgrade and something new to try, and willing to wait and spend a bit more, look for a used HD220.
I'll say if you want a spunkier impact the BAT tube amps as said might well be a good idea. however I am pretty sure the Cary/BAT combo you pointed to as being lacluster was due to the match, not the BAT 500 amp.
I've used that VK500 amp with four different pres/procs... each and evertime the whole shooting match changed. Soncally. the control and impact did not. with that sort of useable power and the enormous reserves BAT designs in, not to mention the musicality that SS serves up, it's a real tough hombre to beat. the pre does matter though with the vk500. A lot. One on par with the amp should do quite well.
With SS pre/procs the amp had great drive and depth, with the vk5i AND the right tubes it was intriguing indeed, with the Thor MK II line stage it was fantastic! No question.... and all that with the VR4 JRs, which from what I understand are not quite on par with the speaks you have. Good luck.
thanks for all the responses. I am in the middle of updating all the cables to acoustic zen hologram II, and ref mat 2 xlr/ silver ref 2 xlr. Maybe this will improve the transient crispness, but I suspect i'm just running out of steam. The VT100 sound is really truly glorious but when I push it with these speakers, the impact is not what I know these speakers can do. I bet you are right about the preamp/BAT pairing.
On another note, I am going to be able to try a McIntosh MC402 in a week or so, as the same friend how had that VK500 now owns this 402 and swears by it with these s3.4s.
who knows? now, of course watch the LS 15 be a poor match with the MC402....by then I will have my Prometheus XLR TVC in for some swapping, and maybe a cary slp 05.
the only SS amps I've heard that come close to the VK500 or surpass it were in order: the 402, which is almost the same as the 500 but IMO a touch less musically rich and full... and the 602 which well, is just hands down better all around and beats the 500 outright. Again, IMO.
The preamp is a big consideration in my book. Cabling too as you are finding out. Power cords shouldn't be over looked either while we're on the wire front and are right where I began messing with wires. the preamp changes and wire changes I made over a few years with the 500 proved two things to me... the preamp if chosen properly/correctly can and does make a good amp appear better, AND ya gotta have good wiring in place to realize it.
If I ever get tired of tube amps, and get back to SS, I'd more than seriously consider the 402, but likely the 602. the 6 IF I swapped out speakers. Right now, the pre and speaks I have are keepers IMO.
Either amp in your case (the 402 or 500) with a very good pre can be and are, super matches for power in a system.
BTW, I heard all the Mac stuff at a dealership using the top tier Mac pre... and on Paradigm Studio 100s! Also on the Mac speaks from the 320, 340, 360, and those $12K Mac units with a gazillion drivers. the 602 & 501 MBs really shone on the LS 360 & XR's. Whoa. ..all the wires used were bottom feeders too. Non descript no names.
Huh. I just now thought about that. with better wiring in place at the audition I might.... Oil well. Same thing happend when I heard the SF Cremonas. krell power, Sony 9000 CDP, and monster wire, of which I'm not a big Monster fan. it all sounded OK.... but JUST. Wiring blew me off that speaker purchase most likely... well that and the fact the dealer wouldn't budge off the SF retail price one buck.
the BAT vk 500 was purchased right after that audition. I was never regretful about the choice. If I had more duckets in the bucket, that 402 might well have been the pick, and still more? Well...
BUT with a mediocre preamp, I doubt any of the aforemetioned amps would sound stellar. Pres should defintiely be on par or above one's amp. Such is my experience... and wires are indeed what will elevate even super systems. Sad, but true.
TOo bad I can't get that MC402 in for a listen sooner than next week, as there is one in fine shape here now. I get the Hologram II's on monday, and the TVC, as an extra gadget to play with (but secretly i'm hoping it beats the LS15). I can't seem to find any Acoustic Zen Ref Mat II XLR, and Silver Ref 2 XLR now, so i'll be patient.
I was also looking into a VK250/500 or Pass X250.5. I auditioned a Pass X150.5 to get a sense of the Pass sound and despite its reputation as sounding lush for a SS, I found it very bright and sibilant. I decided to go with a MC402 used based on what I read here. For the first week, it sounded very underwhelming and a little more sterile than I was expecting. However, after that initial phase ended, the amp was everything I wanted it to be - lots of power, dynamics, musicality and detail. Having said that, the Pass may have come into its own had I also given it the appropriate amount of time. I guess even used power amps need a considerable amount of time to acclimitize to a given system. From the 'audiogon forum research' I conducted when deciding on a musical, powerful solid state amp, it seems as though those who have heard both find the pass to be more powerful (despite the lower power rating) with a wider soundstage while the mac is more forgiving but not the most detailed. My guess is you would be happy with either and only a personal audition would allow you to arrive at the correct decision.
there's always the cable co for just trying out wires... and quite often they'll have deals on their cable library wires. That might prove out a way to investigate a good many wires without a big outlay right off, and increase your choices and perhaps, alter your perspectives. I've been quite pleased with the wires Synergistic builds regardless the piece... Cardas comes highly regarded for both BAT & MC. I dearly loved the MIT Mag IC. There's loads of choices for sympathetic or complimentary ICs... and it'll take some listening to decide which is best, though many like the AZ wires will work very well.
Auditioning is just usually a problem for everyone... at some point or other. My rule of thumb on that is simple. If ya can't hear it or it didn't come off well at the audition, then just buy the best in quality of the short listed items I can afford. With amps, and all things being equal or almost, I'd get the heavier one. Sounds silly but those power supplies are key in amps.
Something that is currently supported is a plus too. Even if the exact pieces you want are around to listen to, they might not be setup as well as they could be, which is often the case... e.g., above. They might not be run in well, or matched properly, or the room can be off too. Sure it's nice to see and touch and hear something of it... but quality pays off down the road, and likely I'd be changiing things in the set up anyhow, so as to more suit my preffs.
If bought rightly, yet things aren't suitable after some massaging/tweaking, the resale shouldn't hurt too much. If at all. Thinking of the aspect of resale ain't how I approach a piece, but it does play into the mix to some degree. Even if it's a new piece.
It's on hold until I finish a preamp shootout: TVC vs LS15 vs Cary SLP 05..although I'm really more motivated in just learning about the differences in my particular system. From the given price points and company histories it is easy to generate biases about what "ought" to be better, but i have found that more expensive sometimes does not equal better sound (in a given situation that is).
Anyway the X250.5 is continuing to amaze me with its immediacy, detail, dynamics, and transparency. I really dig this amp with my speakers. Just the other day I was listening to the Mc402 (the exact amp I will try) on the same speakers, and I have to say it was outstanding. I can't wait for a lengthy review of this in my quarters.
How much you want to wager that the Mac bass is better? The bass on the Pass is at a level that is hard to match. Don't assume because the outputs are MOSFETs that the bass is not tight. Nelson Pass has been a master amplifier designer since the 70's who can run rings around most any whippersnapper designer.
The bass response i'm getting from the x250.5 with the s3.4s is outstanding. It really is the first time I have experienced such well defined and deep musical bass from these speakers. At the moment I don't see how it's possible to improve that, but we always hold that illusion that there is better!
Jim I think this may be a personal preference and may come down to the type of sound you prefer.
At this level these 2 amps may sound more similar than different and it may take a while to start hearing the differences, but to me, the 402 is a bit behind the Pass in musicality. I heard this amp several times with different speakers and one time with my speakers at the dealer. Never was impressed with the sonics of this amp. It is a good amp though, but as I said, I'm just not a fan of McIntosh sound. Although I did like the MC501 monoblocks driving my B&Ws.
As far as bass...I really don't see how the 402 controls things better down low. The 402 was slightly running out of breath at elevated volumes driving the B&Ws, or so it seemed, and the meters showed it too.
Pass is effortless on any volume and never becomes congested. Keep in mind that 402 provides 400w/ch into any load. Pass doubles. So into a 4ohm Dynaudio S3.4 you are probably looking at about 500w/ch out of Pass.
But I do agree, the preamp and the overall system synergy may become a determining factor in this comparison.
The shootout will clear things up. Should be interesting!
I'm looking forward to the results.
Hmmmm, good points.
Personally, and I think I said it here (or surely elsewhere here), my fav in the Mac line for the money was the 602. Although I do feel the 402 is good. ...and in fact my fav overall 250 wpc SS is the BAT 500 w/BP.... again, for the money it's got a lot going for it. IMO.
The pre is key in my book. If you're of a mind to use one. I'm grateful to have mine, despite it's functionality shortcomings, being manually switched and all. Past that point, it's stellar.
Perhaps I've shortchanged the Pass. Dunno. but on the SS amp front, I'm just no longer a strong proponent or advocate... which for me is kind of weird given my background.
... yep it'll be interesting, subjectively so, anyhow.