Although both are excellent products, I would probably choose the Quicksilver because of it's ability to accept a wide range of tubes.
The BAT VK-60 is capable of running ONLY the 6C33C output tube (which I dislike) and the Quicksilver is capable of using KT88, 6550, 6L6 and EL34.
The EL34 and 6L6's are at the top of my all time favorite list with KT 88 and 6550 not far behind. There are lots of choices, with both NOS and current manufacturers offering a wide range of choices in glass, making it easy to "tune" to your speakers, power needs and personal preferences.
I will admit that the driver circuit of the BAT is potentially superior with it's multiple octals, and if you really want more power, the KT88 is the likely candidate for the Quicksilver as it produces the most power.
Any chance of hearing the Quicksilver before deciding on a swap?
unfortunately there aren't any Quicksilvers locally that I could hear. I would keep the BAT & audition the Quicksilvers. Whichever one I liked better I would keep.
There is a QS on sale today by seller thatpreviously owned by a BAT-VK-60 owner. You might be able to speak with him/her.
You may also want to consider the Quicksilver Triode, a much less publicized
unit which Sanders doesn't even have up on his website and sells by word of
mouth. It uses the same 6C33C tubes as the BAT and is built on a similar
chasis as the V4 (but is a completely different amp). Rarely seen used, I
believe the retail is around $5k for a pair so it is in a different price league. I
know at least two A'gon members who own and love these amps: Boa2 and
Jordi. Contact either or both for input on them. I have no direct experience
with them, but have owned four different pairs of Quicksilver amps and have
loved every one of them in their own right. Mike makes some damn good
products. Be aware the Mike (Quicksilver) is moving his business from Reno
to Denver over the next month, but I'm sure he will respond to any queries.
Over the years of dealing with him I've found him to be a man of tremendous
integrity who stands behind everything he makes.
As Jax2 mentioned, we do have the Quicksilver Triodes, and absolutely love them. They have a purity and musicality to them that is startling. Given that Mike Sanders does not advertise them (or any of his products, for that matter), none of the $5800 you pay for the Triodes goes to anything but materials and labor costs. In other words, Quicksilver products represent a ton of performance for the money.
Unlike Albert, I happen to love the 6C33C tube. They have a rounded, robust sound to them that I find to be quite natural. Not too exaggerated in any regard. I also like the sound of the KT88, but it does not IMO have the same depth of musicality that the 6C33C does. I don't much care for the EL34 tube either, though with music more oriented toward midrange, they can sound nice. The thing is, however, that you listen only to rock. So you're not likely to be hanging out with the midrange too often.
The Triodes would work beautifully. The V4 would work quite well, especially with the KT88 tubes. And yet, if I only listened to rock music, I personally would opt for an Audio Aero Prima Hybrid amp, which is now available (I believe) in a 100W version. I think it is under $4K, though I'm not positive about that. With the AA, you have a level of musicality that few amps approach, the warmth and emotion of tubes (it uses hard-soldered miniature tubes that are cheap and last 10,000 hours), and you will have the tight, defined bass presence that is so characteristic of solid state. If 50W is enough (probably so), you could opt for the current MKII version, which has remote. It is an amazing amp, one I have recommended to quite a few people, and they are all amazed with how good it sounds, as well as how loud it plays. I only say that because I do believe that the 50W version would do the job quite well. They can be found used for around $1300-1400.
If you listened to jazz, vocals, classical, etc., I'd have a different response. In that case, the tubes would be a slam dunk. But for rock only? The AA hybrid amp plays all genres beautifully, but is particularly stunning with rock music.
Best of luck,
Like Howard, I am also a really big fan of the 6C33B output tube. To me, in most every application I have heard it in has been a most wonderful sounding amplifier. This most certainly includes the BAT amps. For me, I think the BAT would be my heart's choice.
However, the "mind's" choice would probably go along with Albert...
The Quicksilver offers a great range of tubes you can run, which will allow you to tailor the sound a significant amount. And, both the price and long term reliability of the 6C33B put it at a disadvantage compared to what the V4 can run. Also, remember that the Quickies run twice as many output tubes which provide the double edge sword of offering double the power, but also double the cost when you go to retube compared with a two output tube per side amplifier. Though, the BAT does run a whole lot of those 6SN7s, and if you are buying prized ones, that can also get expensive.
If the V4 can run KT90 tubes, then you may be a happier camper with rock music than one might think.
The Quicksilver Triode monoblocks run a 12AX7 and a 12BH7 tube, so it cost me about $150 total for NOS versions of both types. A quad of 6C33C tubes can be had for under $80, so retubing these amps is a pittance when compared to the pricing of the NOS versions of other power tubes, including a nice quad of Golden Lion KT88's, which will set you back a pretty penny. Don't get me wrong. I'm not one to flinch at spending the money on NOS tubes, as we do have a pair of WE300B's, as well as a couple pairs of NOS Svetlana 2A3's from the 50's. But as long as we're talking the cost of re-tubing, along with the expected rate of failure, the Triodes are downright cheap in that regard.
You might want to write to member Jordi about his experience with Quicksilver. I believe he's had only one tube blow--ever--and he's been using Quicksilver since the mid 80's. He has also used them with a variety of speakers. I don't know if he listens to much rock music, but he'll tell you.
The Triodes and the V4's can certainly rock. But if that's all I listened to, I'd opt for the AA hybrid because it captures the heart of tubes, and the kick of SS.
And I am NOT a fan of SS, just to put that recommendation into context.
Everybody have a great weekend, especially you Daddies out there.
I guess I should chime in here too. I had the Quicksilver Triodes for a while on my Quad 988 system, and I wasn't super jazzed. I thought they were a bit forward in the mids, not very delicate when it came to resolution. That being said, I've heard them sound awesome in Lamm amplifiers (Lammmmm... Yummmmmmm...). I would go with the flexibility.
I'm curious - can the Quicksilvers run in Triode? Can they be modified with a switch to do so?
I meant- can the Quicksilver V4's run in triode!
Hey Peter - I do know Mike did a bunch of experimenting and built several prototypes of different designs in Triode form back in the late 90's I think it was. That EL34 amp I had of his was one of those triode prototypes from that period and of course the SET amps I have. I think he made many versions of the EL34 as I've seen several come up on occasion both here and on Audiogon. They were built on his early 8417 chasis as I recall. That amp sounded great. I sold it to a local guy who I've sold several things too - we should go take a listen to it sometime, he's a nice fellow. Used to be a regular at those Seattle Audio Society meetings you've been to. Anyway, you should pose that question to Mike Sanders to see if he did experiment with putting the V4's into triode. I do know Mike is personally not a big fan of Triode because of the second order harmonic distortions. I believe the 6C33C was the only triode design he's actually put into production.
I agree with Albertporter about the BATs. Great design, and great sound I might add, but you are stuck with 6C33C-B tubes (me too). And they run so darn hot in the BATs you may think your house is on fire. But you know that. What you may not know is that the 6C33C-B sockets may have to be replaced once in a while partly because of the heat.
On the positive side, the BAT sound is not such a bad thing to be stuck with. It's a bit dark but you can tweak it with the two 6SN7 input tubes. You can have lots of fun with Sylvania, Tung-Sol, RCA, CBS NOS for not too much money (except for the Mullards). Even the inexpensive Electro-Harmonix with gold pins don't sound bad either.
One huge advantage of the Russian 6SN7 and the 6C33C-B tubes is that they can be bought inexpensively (from Europe) if you do not care to match them--BAT says it's not necessary thanks to the auto-biasing circuitry. For three hundred dollars, you can have two new sets of 6C33C-B plus two new sets of 6SN7 Sovtek which should last you for quite a while. If you're afaraid the single source of 6C33C-B may dry up, you can buy 100 (!) of them at about $8-10 each. Your BAT will turn to dust first before you run out of tubes. If you insist on matching the 6C33C-B, they cost about $160 for a matched set of four or $300 from BAT.
Converting the BAT VK-60 from stereo to mono is a snap. There is a kit (4 wires and a jumper cable) that BAT sells for $50 which you should have had already if your amp was converted from mono to stereo before. You open the back of the amp (Torx wrench T10), stick the jumper in (there is only one place it can go) and solder the 4 wire across the LR outputs and you're done!
Check carefully. With a new tube amp comes new a sound--that's a good thing--and a new set of problems--not such a good thing. Get the whole story for each amp before buying, not just the pros but also the cons.
PS: Two BATs are better than one, or was it two heads?
I agree two BAT's are better than one but with my new home purchase I am a little short on funds. My new listening room is larger than my old, I haven't measured it yet but it is above my two car garage so it is of decent size. I am concerned about not having enough power, there are times when the BAT will strain if pushed. I need more power but really want to stick with tubes, if I was going back to solid state I would probably have a pair of mono DNA .5's or Mac's.
good thing that I hang out in this sub-forum regularly 'cuz I had a very poor image of Quicksilver. I always thought that this was wanna-be audio gear. I've learnt that I'm mistaken & if I chose correctly I can actually get pretty damn good sounding Quicksilver amps. Thanks you former & present Quicksilver users I leanrt something new about this outfit.
Has anybody heard the new Quicksilver speaker cables and interconnects? What do you think? Thanks
No question, the Quicksilver products are outstanding. If you're anything like me, discovering such a reversal of impressions is pretty exciting.
Elb, I have used the Quicksilver IC's and speaker cables for coming up on two years. The speaker cables are simply absent in the chain, meaning they do not cloud or color the music. I've tried several other brands, all costing the same or more, and they were all less transparent/lively than the Quicksilver.
The IC's are very good as well, though I find them to sound most pure when used with the Quicksilver amps. I have found other IC's more to my liking with other brand amplifiers. Probably no big suprise there, as the cables are likely voiced with the Quicksilver products.
I have used both cables with their lowest priced amps (Mini Monos), as well as their highest priced amps (Triodes), and find them to be an excellent performer at a very reasonable price.
The IC's are $90/meter. For pure silver, that is cheap! The speaker cables are $340/4' pair, also quite reasonable IMO.
Hope that helps.
I have never used the Bat amps, but have owned Quicksilver gear and can speak a little bit about the company. My amplifier experience was with Quicksilver' first amp, the MX-190. This amp was in the 160 watt range, big chassis, had a cult following, etc. Although I purchased the amp used, and had the amp for years, there was never a problem of any kind. The amp was ultra reliable, and through steady use imparted a Rock-of-Gilbrator-like sense of problem-free behavior. With regard to their later amps, Ive heard from users that their amps shared the rock-steady reliability that my amp had.
The sonics were exceptional for their time. In fact, when I got the bug to upgrade, I discovered that the MX-190 performed better sonically than many of the highly thought of amps that I considered. Note in testimony to my MX-190 and to Quicksilver, I sold my used Quickie back to the person who originally sold the amp to me! Ive only heard of that happening with Quad speakers.
An essential item to me with regard to audio gear is the company that makes the gear. What is the value in owning an amp if it is unreliable or if the vendor does not fix your amp in a resonable amount of time if there is a problem, or if the company ignores you if you have a question? Relative to those categories, some vendors are significantly better than others. Mike Sanders and Quicksilver provide some of the best customer service in the industry. In short, if you audition the Quickies of your choice and are pleased with the sound, I would not hesitate to purchase them.
Re. the 6c33c tube. I like the tube, but that means I like how some amps sound that use this tube--it is not just the tube that defines the sound nor reliblilty of an amp. In some amps that use this tube, the sound is more organic and realistic than I've experienced with other amps. As Justin_time mentioned, the sockets used in some amps that have 6c33c's require replacing periodically. This is not a tube issue; it is a design issue. I known of an amp that required the sockets to be replaced on a regular basis seemingly because the amp was designed with bias levels that were unreasonable. Whereas my amps from Joule Electra, with an obviously much more thought out design, were biased at a more reasonable level and the sockets never required replacement.
On that note (Tubes108), we had a 6C33C tube that was bad when we purchased the Quickie Triodes. We are the second owners of the amps. Mike Sanders informed me that he now uses bias stabilizers so that the tubes stay more easily within the proper bias range, thus lasting even longer. It takes about 30 seconds to bias all four. When I replaced the tube, I asked Mike if the socket should be replaced as well--I also had heard that some amps require this--and he said, "Well, I sure would expect that the socket would last a lot longer than the tube." As you might guess, I did not replace the socket.
Another option worth exploring if you can afford are the cj premier 350 SS amp. This is a great sounding amp with that tube like mids and highs and SS bipolar bass to control the woofers. sounds great with rock and electronic music.
try to listen to one, I think you will be surprised.
Having had an episode with an amplifier company that embodied customer service at its worst, I have to tip my hat to the point Tubes108 makes.
You are not just buying the amplifier, but the company. Making sure you form a relationship with a company that offers good customer service pays dividends not always thought of at the time of purchase. Thankfully, the reputations of both Quicksilver (over a VERY long time) and BAT are quite good, so there should be no worries here.
If you have a new home, a larger listening room and you are a little short on funds, I think the last thing you want to do is to go around switching amps.
The question is do you like the BAT? If you do, the logical thing to do is to sit tight, not "push" the BAT too hard--I never had that problem--and wait unitl you are ready to buy a second BAT. You are not going to get any tube amp that has twice the power of the BAT and sounds as good for less money. You're gonna have to pay more, probably much more or settle for inferior sound.
In the long run, you'll be happier and save money by waiting until you're ready to change your system.
"Wanting is more satisfying than having." Mr. Spoc.
Good suggestion Justin - Keep in mind, not only in considering his suggestion, but in considering any of your alternatives, and someone correct me here if I'm wrong, but doubling your power is only going to give you an additional 3db. You said in your post you need MUCH more power. In my experience I would not consider doubling the power as gaining MUCH more power. That said, if you do like the BAT you have, weighed against the alternatives you are considering and the price you would be paying, I think Justin's suggestion is a good one.
Hey Marco. On paper you are correct about doubling power results in a 3 db increase in sound. But there are no standards in rating power in amps; and keep in mind that this non-standardized spec is derived under laboratory conditions.
Other factors such as headroom and power supplies factor into the amount of juice an amp can provide in the real world setting of our audio systems, whose requirements (complex impedances) change by the microsecond. And thus, it is possible that a little under 20 watt Viva SET amp can drive the hell out of power hungry Sound Lab M1s, which typically is an amp killer.
In my view, most specs in audio components should be ignored, at least ignored in the sense that they cannot be used to compare one component to another. It is much better to plug something into your system and verify performance 1st hand.
Tubes 108 you are correct, the added power would "probably" give me added headroom I need thereby allowing the music to sound louder or at least more dynamic. I also agree that spec's are useless.
Justin, you are also correct, one part of me wants nothing more than to wait & add another BAT when funds allow. the biggest thing that makes me love the BAT & want to stay with tubes is the feeling of presence in the the music. It is very dynamic, very similar to a live performance. The bass drum whacks you in the chest, even at low listening levels. While I have toned down my travels, I used to average about 50 concerts a year in all sorts of rooms. As a taper ( I record live concerts, legally of course) I am also extremely intamite with the music I play back on my system because I have usually recorded it. I know what live music sounds like & even better, I know what it "feels" like.
Now, is it the BAT or tubes that gives me the feeling I love so much from my system, I have no clue at this time but I do know I did not experience it with the other solid state amps I have had in my system. You'll notice I mention "feeling" often in my description of music that is because for me it not only has to sound right but it has to feel right, I want to feel what the artist is trying to convey with their music. Ever since I put this BAT into the system, I feel it. now is it the tubes or the BAT???
Ever since I put this BAT into the system, I feel it. now is it the tubes or the BAT???
It's probably the heroin.
Specs is what specs does. Yeah, I didn't mean to imply you should look at specs as a guideline for your purchases. But regardless, in considering purchasing a second BAT to punch it up, again, my direct experience in doubling power (buying a second BAT would quite literally be doubling your power), regardless of subtle deviations and the softer clipping of tubes over SS, tube watts vs SS watts, not withstanding, is that I would never subjectively term that increase as "MUCH" more power. For sure it is a difference to be heard/experienced, but I guess I'm just keying in on the "MUCH" in your original query. Thanks for the confirmation/clarification Tubes108.
As far as a serious answer to your "is it the tubes or BAT"; I can't say since I've never heard your system, nor a VK60 for that matter. I'd bet it was a combination of both. Different tube amps can sound as different as any two amps of any topology. If it is tubes in general that you do like, that will not necessarily mean that you will like every tube amp out there. If it is the BAT, likewise it doesn't mean that every BAT amp is going to float your boat the same way. Why not see if there are other Audiophiles in your area who have gear that interests you that you might go and hear? Seems like you have tremendous experience in music and recording and you are the kind of person who knows exactly what they are looking for. Sounds to me like you have it with the BAT and I'd tend to lean in the direction of Justin's original recommendation to get a (used) second VK60 and see if it gives you the power you need. At least then you will have a known quantity. At worst you can sell it again and likely not loose anything in the process.
My VR4-jr's sound very dynamic with my Quicksilver M80 monoblocks (80 watts per). I am sure with the Quicksilver V4 monoblocks they would be even more so. I think that this would be an excellent combination and highly reccomend checking it out!
Just a side note on the Quicksilver Triodes, for anyone considering the purchase. It was recommended by Mike Sanders (Quicksilver) to use either GE smooth plate or Telefunken ribbed plate tubes for the 12AX7 in these amps. With either of these tubes, I would describe the midrange just as Peter_s does. In fact, I think they sound edgy and somewhat shrill. I went to an NOS Mullard, and that made all the difference in terms of the music having an even balance and warmth to it. The entire frequency range sounds much more pure than it did with either the GE or the Telefunken. YMMV, of course.
Keep the BAT and be patience to eventually buy a second sample of the VK-60.
I have the VK-75SE and it is all i could wish and some more.. yes i'm saving up for another sample to convert to VK-150Se.
I don't agree with Justin quote: "And they run so darn hot in the BATs you may think your house is on fire. But you know that. "
Well i don't know what you mean Justin, as an former Atma-Sphere MA-2 OTL owner the VK-75 is just idling on the warm side.
If you want to experience a real HOT amp try touch the chassis of any Atma-Sphere amps. now that's HOT my friend.
By quotes like "House on fire" things can start buzzing around the internet and within time somebody actually knows (..) someone who had his house burned down.
don't buzz around what started as just a thought in your head.
BAT amps are extremely reliable and yes the 6C33c tube get hot but thats situation normal.
if you happen to consider a VK-31 or VK-51 preamp you need ventilation indeed. for a pre-amp i must say they put out a lot of heat considering others ( and i have had many)
one happy BAT owner ( 75Se 51Se D5Se 10Se 250 )
Oh, True Balanced Rules.