Compare BAT Vk30 to Sonic Frontiers Line 2?

Can anyone offer an opinion on these two preamps when used with a tube amp, such as VT-100, and with B&W 802s?

Some think the SF is too lean, clean. Others think it is very neutral, detailed and musical.

Critics of the BAT think it is too dark, airless. Others think it is highly musical?

What's the real scoop?
With my vt-100m2 the preamps I've heard in order of best->vurst
VK-50SE Best,
VK-5i & ARC Ref 1 (close - didn't own both concurrently)
pass labs aleph P (most transparent)
Adcom gfp-750 (almost as good as aleph P w/vt100)
I currently use the vk-5i. It is transparent, yet very musical and warm sounding. I don't find it dark at all. I use some NOS rca's with some svetlana 5881's.
Hey Kev, you're not getting much help here are you? I am in the proccess of listening to both of the entry level siblings from BAT and Sonic Frontiers. The VK-3i and the Line 1 both in stock form as far as tubes go. I am having a very hard time choosing one over the other! My power amp is the VK-200 driving Thiel CS3.6's, and I know that is not what you were asking about as far as the amp match-up is concerned but this is the judge and jury in my living room system. My reference guide is my main rig in "The Addition" or as my wife calls it "The Crypt". Very high resolution system to me...all Krell, KRC-HR pre, MDA-500 mono's, MD-20 transport w/ Reference 64x dac, running all balanced.

The Line 1 has outstanding features and function to start. The sound does seem a bit lean to me at times but never fails to convey the entire musical "detail" on the recording. It does seem to have a clean presentation without any tube characteristics at all. Upper registers on up to the limits of my hearing are very detailed and open, different types of cymbals are very distinct. Mid-band feels somewhat cool to me, female vocals and violin/viola duets are very cleanly reproduced(lots of detail) but do not give me the warmth of the real thing. Bass is good to excellent in pitch/timbre/tone, attack and release. The Line 1 with stock 6922's does seem lean and clean with a good amount of detail, and from what I'm told tube rolling will make a big difference.

The Bat VK-3i is a whole different story for me. While not being the last word in resolution it HAS showed what people mean by musical and emotional. I have spent my time and money on resolution of information for the greatest of detail,(that's the musician in me) hence the Krell system. As I get older I have come to appreciate the passion and emotion of a performance. That is where the VK-3i has put me in my place. Some of the inner most details of the recording are hard to hear at times, not to say inaudible but not as well defined(detailed) as the Line 1 BUT,,,BIG BUT,,,the ebb and flow of the VK-3i has won a place in my heart and the heart has convinced the head that it's OK not to have too much detail. I do not find it to be dark at all but do notice the upper octaves don't tell me "as often" which cymbal is being used as clearly as the Line 1 or the KRC-HR. Which, by the way, is very hard to hear at a live performance. This to me is a VERY MUSICAL pre-amp. Vocals make me melt and strings have the body I've heard live.

It's been a tough battle here, Analytical vs. Musical Putting each under one heading...Analytical / Line 1...Musical / VK-3i

I hope this helps, if you have any specific questions feel free to email me.
I have not heard the two side-by-side, but I did hear a Line 2 with SF power and Martin Logan's--can't remember which ones. VERY analytical, to the point of losing all musical soul and being just frequencies. I own a VK-200 and B&W 802's, and I currently use a VK-30. There is music in my house now, very close to real music. Not at all dark or airless (where did you get that opinion?). Instruments and voice have realistic timbres, occupying space in relation to each other.
BAT and SF owners? Where are you?
I can't comment on the exact pieces of equipment you mention, but I thought it might be of interest to discuss my experience in upgrading from a BAT VK-3i to a Sonic Frontiers Line 3.

The Line 3 was a pretty significant upgrade, as it should be considering the difference in price. The Line 3 is much better at the frequency extremes -- and capable of much better resolution. It is quite a bit more neutral that the VK-3i. The Line 3 is also a LOT more dynamic.

I agree with Bryhifi that the VK-3i is a very musical preamp. It gives just a touch of warmth to the music when outfitted with NOS tubes. It is also very forgiving as well.

If find the Line 3 to be even more musical. The problem that some may have with it is not very forgiving and will certainly expose any warts. It is going to pretty much pass on the signal sent to it. Depending on the source, this may not always be a good thing.
BAT VK-30 is heaven with my VK-200 and Aerial 10Ts. I didn't audition the SF. Tried a Conrad Johnson and an Ayre, went with the BAT. Fantastic musicality, and a great user interface. The phono option was a surprisingly outstanding bonus.
Kevziek, What are your musical tastes and what equipment would you be using it with?
Sorry Keviek, should have read your post more carefully. I have a line2SE. It is very neutral. It was a bit lean until I put it on Symposium rollerblocks. Really filled out the sound.
i had the vk-30 before moving up the the 30se. i never tried the line 2. the vk-30 is not at all "dark or airless" nor (until now) have i heard it described as such. in fact, i'd say it can even be a little bright when poorly matched with cables and front end. it has good detail and staging with fairly neutral timbre.

the main deviation from neutral that is widely reported (i noticed it too) is a slight chestiness in the midrange that becomes prominent on certain vocals. the bass got a little weak and/or loose sometimes as well. however, note that many of these "problems" can reportedly be corrected with tube rolling, although i never tried it in mine. oh yeah, the interface of the 30 is great and (i expect) better than that of the line 2 as well as most preamps out there.

to me, the best aspect of the vk-30 is that it can be upgraded to a 30se, which turns a very good preamp into a great preamp. everything improves in the 30se: better detail, more solid and 3-dim imaging, more "air", tighter and stronger bass, better treble extension, etc...all improved to a HUGE degree over the stock 30. when the AC current (or whatever) has been perfect, the 30se in my system has produced that amazing and rare sense of 3-d realism on certain vocals and instruments that just grabs your attention. this is an incredible experience when you hear it (which is not often at all).

the 30 is a very good preamp. i would not hesitate to get one especially if you're willing to experiment with tubes.
Get the old VK5 or VK5i. They have better and more robust power supply. The sound can be dramatically improve by swapping in Tungsol 5881, NOS 6922 or 6n23 (baby brother of 6n30). In my opinion, putting 3 6n23 and 1 Amperex 6922, plus Tungsol does it for me.

The VK5/5i series are the only BAT preamp that has tube regulated power supply, and they are really musical. SF uses solid state power supply, not a match. Also, the SF circuits are not truly balanced, nor as pure as BAT where signal goes through only single tube. The other 3 6922 are just followers to decrease the output impedance (or increase the output current whichever way you look at it).

VK3 will outperform any Audible Illusion. Any 5 series will outperform the 3 series, not to mentioned the big leap with tube rolling. The VK5 (no remote) could be the best deal, as the sound is right up there and used price depressed, if remote is not a must have.