I have owned a VK-60 and a VK-500w/bat pak and have listened to the VK-200 on a few occasions. I have yet to hear the newest BAT family of amps. Here's my take, the VK-60 will give you midrange with texture and detail no solid state amp will, it will have a natural presence on the higher frequencies. Where it will fall a little short is its control of bass, which ironically is what the ss amps will do better. I ran a pair of avalons(86dB at 4ohms) with the VK-60 with no problems at all, so you will be fine for a long time if you don't want to purchase a second amp for some time. These SS amps are good for ss amps, the smaller bat's are slightly more musical then the larger ones(that seems to be pretty typical with ss amps), they will control the speakers, power them with aplomb. You will lose some of the "magic" tube amps deliver, the euphonious glow(the texture, body and palpable sense) that simply will not be there with out the use of a tube amp. There is no maintnance to concern yourself with using SS, you don't have to think about tube rolling, or replacement. If your dealer has a VK-60 take one home and try it, for the prices they are selling for on the used market they are real bargin these days. I can not think of an amp that is as good for that kind of money- just make sure you get a later revision- board E or F I believe were the last two revisions made. If you really want to blast your speakers and let them crank, then tubes may not satisfy you the way SS amps will but its worth trying.
This is kind of ironical because I was talking to my dealer last week and we were discussing that the VK-60's are so good and are a steal now. He even felt they are better then the vk-75, in terms of transparency and musicality.
Is VK-60 better than Nelson's Aleph ?
I've owned a vk 200 and a vk 60. At the time, I was using a vk 50se pre and Audio Physic Virgo speakers. Tireguy is pretty much right on. The vk60 will give you a midrange to die for. In terms of transparency, depth, image, tonality, etc.... The bottom will be a little looser than with the vk200. The vk60 on top is pretty darn good, the vk200 is close, however I pretty much had to leave it on 24x7 to get the top end close to the vk60.
Neither amp you'll go wrong with. However, the vk60 gives you some great upgrade paths. you can run them mono, double your power, which will increase your dynamics, bass control, image size and this set up will beat the solid state amp on bottom. You can also upgrade it to SE status, which dramitically improves the transparency through out the mids, bottom and top end, tightens up the bottom significanty, and better image size and depth.
VK60's are a steal used right now. The front 2 6sn7's are critical to sound quality, spend some money there on NOS, the other 6sn7's don't yield the same improvement...helps, but not worth spending a ton ...
The upgrade path is a nice option, what do the upgrades usually run?
Cdma I have never had an Aleph though they have always interested me- one day I'll get one and give it a shot.
Some thinks Aleph is the closest ss amp to SETs in sound (but without their euphonic distortion). It definitely worth a trial! Just wonder how it compares to VK-60 since it is also highly praised.
I think the vk60 to vk60se is about 2k...maybe $2500. I just has my vk50se preamp upgraded to a vk51se for $1300. It was definately worth it. Ditto when I traded my vk60 in for a vk75se. Paid a extra 4K to get a new one. The 75se and 60se are close, like very. I should have just updated my 60...
I had an Aleph 3 in my home for a month and was able to compare it at length to my VK200. It's interesting, because in my many ways especially tonally I thought they were quite similar.
The VK200 presents a noticeably wider soundstage than the Aleph 3, but I feel the Aleph 3 does a better job of layering front to back. So with the Aleph I got a better sense of the musician's placement albeit on a narrower soundstage.
The Aleph 3 had a more delicate nature, while the VK200 was far more dynamic. I think much of this had to do with the low 23Kohm input imedance of the Aleph, which my Blue Circle BC21 apparently had a tough time driving.
If it weren't for the impedance issues and to a lesser degree the narrower soundstage, I would have kept the Aleph 3. But six months later, I am still quite happy with the VK200.
The upgrade from the VK-60 to the SE is $2500 unless you have a circuit board prior to revision E. Then the upgrade is $4250.
On the other hand, changing it to a monoblock only costs you $200. THAT is a deal.
I've owned both.
1) Given that you listen to R&R exclusively
2) Given the admirable penchant of the VK-200 to produce a small degree of the musicality of tubes
3) Given the 'medium' sensitivity of your speakers at 89dB
4) Given an assumed desire to retain as much weight and punch in the bass region as possible
5) Given the known costs of maintaining tubes in power amps (less acceptable to me than for tubed pre-amps)
I recommend the VK-200. If you go this way, make sure you run the serial number past BAT (email works fine) and confirm that you have the latest protection circuit configuration. An early to mid-production design had issues of blowing a fuse at very high volume/output level.
Good Luck, John B
D'OH, I pulled the trigger on the VK-60 today. I couldn't resist with the fact that I can return it if I had to. Something tells me I'm going to REALLY like tubes & my wife is not going to like the look of the "new" amp ;)
Based on a long listening session at a dealer, I came away from your dilemma thinking the vk-200 would be a better choice, primarily because you listen (like me) to mostly rock and roll. The dealer suggested that one of the tubed bat preamps would be an excellent match with the vk-200 and give the best of both worlds. It sure sounded great in the showroom......
Hope the VK-60 turns out to be the one-- please post an update once you get some time with the vk-60 in your rig.
Great thread. I currently run a VK-200 with a VK-3i. I love it! Ironically, this is my first 2 years of "high end" audio. I too would like to try the VK-60, but $ issues... Speakers are RBH towers 1266s and CD is Sony XA20ES.
I must say that the sound is wonderful. I have a very difficult time ignoring the call of my stereo room, then tearing myself away is even more painful. Form Coltrane to to Eugene Miroslav, The Beatles to Los Lobos, Mozart to Steely Dan, Aretha to Krall, I am actually content with the bands in my room. Acoustic blue grass- John Reischmann to Bob Wills, just beautiful. The Cuervo Gold, the fine Colombian, make every night a wonderful thing.
Any recommendations are always welcome from this great site.
This is a neat thread. I love the VK-60. I run mine with a ARC LS-15 preamp. They mate quite well, and the sound is livelier and maybe (only maybe) more detailed than my VK-31. KEEP THIS THREAD ALIVE!
Keep this in mind.the VK-60 will increase your room temp by atleast 10 degree.but it s a great amp.
OK, to keep this thread alive, it has been almost one year since I purchased my VK-60. I have been in love, nothing has changed in my system. I finally stopped listening to equipment & started listening to the music. I am in the market for a new home, one that will have a dedicated listening room where I can open everything up & just enjoy.
I have promised myself at that point I will buy another BAT, for the past year I have lusted over the thoughts of another VK-60 but lately I have started to have solid state thoughts. Possibly the VK-220 to power the bass modules & give me the slam I miss at times.
I have finally figured out what I find so apealing with my system & have decided it is the energy of the music, the presence, you can just feel it as it reaches your chest. It is still an incredible experience every time I fire the rig up & melt in the couch for a little.
So, I wonder if an additional VK running in mono producing 120 watts will have better bass definition than a solid state amp? I also wonder if my room could take the additional heat, so I guess at this point I will have to wait until we find our dream house with my dream listening room.
Fishwater, it's great to hear that you've spent a happy year with the VK60.
I noticed your virtual system hasn't been updated to reflect the addition of the BAT. Are any other components different in your set up?
Also, you list a McCormack DNA1 as part of your system. Do you still have this amp or was it replaced by the VK60? Were you able to draw a sonic comparison between the two? I've always wondered how the DNA1 would compare to my VK200.
I just demoe'd the jr's with Granite Audio mononblocks...30 watts a side in triode....this was enough to play the speakers to earsplitting levels....tube or ss...depends on what you like....I've heard both and each have their merits...I'm running an all BAT system.
So, where are all of you with this these days? Anyone using the newer VK-55 with their 4 JR's?
You should really try out a Butler Audio 2250. Tube sound with solid state slam. The best amp I have heard, for $2500 it will outperform any solid state out there for $10,000. 2 x 250 watts of pure tube fury
I am running a vk60 amp in replacing my Biamped Bryston 3BST driving my pair of Norh Marble 9 Speakers (87db). Before I hook up the vk60, I was always concerning the bass may shy from the 2x Brystons. However, as soon as I play the 1st track of Jenifer Warran's Hunter CD, I noticed tears are running down to my cheeks with my draw down on the floor. Not only the vk60 gives the depth, texture and 3D holographic imaging, bass is tighter than my Brystons. Yes, the room tempeture is higer but all I have to do is move the vk60 further away from me and would be ok. Since the vk60, I am totally convinced with BAT and I purchased the VK30SE. Wow, it was another quantum leap to my system.. The synergy is just unbelivable. Now, I know what is sound stage, what is bass and what is 3D imaging. Now, the vk30SE has served in my system for a while, I am on the path to VK31SE or 51SE for futher sonic improvement.
A few years back I was visiting Soundex, a huge (now defunct) hi-end shop in Willow Grove, PA, thinking about trading up from my ARC VT130 to something better, and curious to hear the VK60 & VK75SE. The system in the big listening room was all top Levinson gear with refrigerator-sized monoblocks driving top Dynaudio speakers. This "reference" system was blasting a Who album that sounded so brittle & flat I felt like walking out. The salesman warmed up a VK60 & subsituted it for the Levinson monos. Now the music flowed so supple and inviting that people began drifting into the room curious to know what had changed. The salesman offered me the demo VK60 for $2500, but I decided on the VK75SE. Amps like the VK60 are what 2 channel stereo is all about.