BAT VK50SE vs. ARC Ref 1

I truly wish I could sit $16000 worth of preamps in front of me for a little shootout, but my bank account wont allow. Anyone here who can compare the sonic difference between two of the best balanced preamps made by two of the best companies?
I plan to upgrade my CD player (not sure which player yet) and add a vinyl rig (probably a Linn12 or a MMF-7 w/ a Cube phono stage). My amp is a EAD Powermaster 2000 and my speakers are Revel Studios. I will use Nordost SPM XLR between components and, eventually, SPM speaker wires. I will biamp using addition channels from the same 5-channel amp.
Sorry I can't directly answer your question. I am a happy BAT owner. I will say that matching and balance is very inportant. Either of these 2 preamps seriously out class your current sources. These preamps can't make the sound be better than what the source is delivering. Maybe this is your 1st step on a journey that for most of us doesn't really end. If so, a investment in a top notch preamp is sound.

I'm inclined to say step down a little in your preamp and go for better sources. Both CD and vinyl. Using a BAT VK50SE with a cube phono stage isn't a great idea-IMO. I personally would buy a vk30se and a vkp5 or p10 phono stage, about the same $$'s and your sound will be much better on the vinyl side. I'm sure the ARC lineup is the same way. Pick your poison on the digital side :)...the step down in preamp will still easily do it justice.
I have not compared the 50 to the Ref 1 but have heard the Ref II, LS-25 MKII and BAT VK-30SE in the same system. The Ref II was better but only by a small measure, mostly slightly more natural sounding and slightly moer tube sounding (no edge). You would not know it unless you heard it in direct comparision. All of the componenets in your system have to be up to speed to hear the differences.