Impressions of the BAT REX

Category: Preamps

I am starting this as a thread instead of a review in hopes others will contribute.
I thought some of you might like to have another take on the BAT REX preamp.
I do think that M. Fremer did a nice and accurate review of the preamp and would refer you to that review for consideration. I have been into this hobby for over 30 years but still do not do well with audiophile catch phrases so please take that into consideration. Of course, we all have our preferences and biases on our way to reproduced musical nirvana and so my listening observations will likewise be biased. I do not participate much but enjoy reading the threads on Audiogon. I admit to being taken aback sometimes when I see others giving dogmatic opinions, e.g. when I read a recent answer by someone I respect and enjoy reading who said that one (equally respected speaker as compared to another) was better “hands down”. Different, yes. Prefer one over another, yes. Hands down” or “no contest”….hmmmm.
So off of my soapbox and on to the REX. I do like BAT preamps and owned a VK51SE before the REX. I did like what the 51SE did in my system and could have continued on with it for many years. The REX, however, is a whole ‘nutter matter, altogether. There are some distinct family resemblances. The control module has the same menu and functions as the 51SE and the appearance is essentially the same- on the outside.
Both modules have nicely engineered fit and finish and give the distinct impression that great care was taken in both design and manufacture. To the sound:
My system is very resolving and sensitive to even minor changes in setup, positioning,
tweaks and equipment both upstream and downstream. With this in mind, the REX is without audible flaw to my ears. I guess I gush as much as others over equipment that produces the positive changes in music that I enjoy hearing and so consider me gushing.
The REX is very, very quiet and my speakers are 108dB efficient. It does dynamics exceptionally well and transient attacks are many times better than the 51SE and at times (good) scary, regardless the type of music. Bloom? in spades. Glare? nada. Soundstaging? top notch. My wife asked me to mute the sound more than once because she thought someone was in the room and she ain’t the paranoid type. Microdetails? hearing things that I would swear were not on the recording, and sorry that I had missed before although a lot credit has to go to the Raven TT and Air Tight PC-1 . Yet, it still comes through on CD’s. Too bright? no way. Evenly balanced across the spectrum? excellent. If there was a couple things that I would have enjoyed more about my 51SE is that it could have just a bit too much lower midrange/upper bass energy and perhaps a little too slow on transients and then release. Not with the REX. Bass authority? authoritative. Sheen over the treble? –No, “sheenless”. Dark? No way- my wife called the sound “rich” and that is her highest compliment and not “rich” as in too much chocolate icing. Pace, rhythm and timing? Now here is where the REX took a giant leap over the 51SE and is just world class IMHO. If it doesn’t have PRAT, I’m probably not going to like it. It does. This machine just got it all right by me. I considered several other preamps, whittled it down to three and bought the REX. Are there other world class preamps out there? Yes! Buyer’s remorse? None. The BAT guys got this one sooooo right. Bullseye. Are there any drawbacks from my perspective? Yes, they will probably come out with a REX II sometime –but I don’t know why. Oh, and a backlit remote would be nice. This one is a keeper. Disclosure: End user/audiophile/music lover only. No connection to any manufacturer.
Most excellent review. It's obvious you love this preamp. I've been curious about the BAT pre's and now I'll have to add this to my audition list, unless of course it's well beyond my means - and I bet it is...
Thanks for the review!
Inman, I to have a 51se. And VK150se's, P10se super pak. I am considering the Rex or a Aestheix Callisto Eclipse. They are about the same price.

I recently tried a Nagra PL -L in my system. That is one super preamp. More transparent than my 51se, but looses something that the 51se just does right. In the end it's 6 of one, 1/2 dozen the other.

What other pre amps did you listen to before you bought the rex? I read above you have the raven table with air tight cartridge? What are your amps, phono stage and cabling/speakers?

Does each rex box get hotter than the 51se?

Anyway, thanks for writing your review...
Hello Inman,

Just wanted to write to say thanks for the good review and that I'm glad you are also enjoying the REX. I've had the REX for over a year now and it still amazes me.

IMO the REX has a unique way with texture that I have not experienced before. It seems to be able to dig deep into the nooks and crannies of the instrument or voice in question that brings out the timbre and texture of tone giving each one their own individual character and vibrant personality. I find this "real" human quality to be uncanny and breathtaking every time I listen to the system.

To me the REX sounds best if you can leave the covers off ( you may want to think twice about this minor tweak if you have precious little chidren or pets ) both units and benefits from vibration isolation. I recently switched from a Zoethecus rack to the Finite Elemente MR rack that the REX and my digital front end sits on and got a nice step up in performance. I also found the Nordost Valhalla PC works extremely well with the REX in the context of my system.

Like the reviews in Stereophile and Absolute Sound and for the same sonic reasons ( but certainly not to the degree ) I also have found the AC shunt regulation switch sounds best set and positioned for the 6C45's rather then the 6H30's.

Thanks again Inman for posting and I wish all the enjoyment and joy I have from ownership of this incredible preamp.

All the best,

Desalvo55 and Jfrech,
Thanks for your comments.
I listened to the Ref 3 and was also considering the Tron Syren but decided that I wanted a remote (can't be spilling the Martini on the way over to adjust the volume). I also listened to many other preamps but they were at RMAF and they were in unfamiliar systems, often poor rooms and show conditions and not in my system so not a fair comparison. I live in a city with no high end shops so it is difficult to audition equipment in situ. I have also heard the CJ and VTL preamps at length in very good systems and liked them both. I have not heard the Aestheix. In the end, to my ears, the REX brings out the best in my system like nothing else I have heard and may be the single best component I own (along with the Raven). It is not a subtle step up from the 51SE but rather a leap and is much faster, more dynamic, better PRAT, more detailed, luscious sounding and well balanced than the 51SE. Also better transient response with the 6C45 tubes. If you like the 51SE, you will love the REX. Each chassis gets about as warm or maybe a little cooler as the 51SE but they are both on top shelves so get plenty of air and are not too warm to touch. There are 18 tubes, 16 active at any given time so there is some warmth. My system is: TW Acustic Raven Two with Graham Phantom with Air Tight PC-1 and Ortofon 309S with Ortofon Rondo Bronze, WSS Kable Platin phono IC's, Tron Seven phono preamp with two sets of inputs and NOS Telefunkens, Audience Adept Response 12 power conditioner, Audiopax Mono 88's Mark II amps with Ruby and EH tubes, Ayre C5XE universal player, Cardas Golden Reference IC's, speaker cables, PC's and jumpers, Oyaide outlets, Elrod Sig 2 and 3 PC's, Grand Prix Audio Monaco stands and Avantgarde Duo Omega speakers with Grand Prix Apex footers. I also have three Avantgarde Solos and a Shunyata conditioner that I will eventually integrate into the system.
You would be welcome to hear the REX in our system but we are a good distance from TX and I am an Aggie alum!
Good luck with your search.
You must have been posting the same time as me.
I appreciate your comments and wholeheartedly agree. I had not thought about letting the units go au natural. I also think that you should have wriiten the review because your description is both eloquent and spot on.
Postive Feedback has a review of the VK-52SE online now. Compares it directly to the VK-51SE...
REX is an incredible preamplifier. It is absolutely transparent, very dynamic, completely silent and on top of all that - quite functional. It is very difficult to write about it, as it is simply doing everything right. As I am listening to my system with it I am discovering new aspects to the recordings that I've known for years, some even decades. Very worth the money, in my opinion.
The were few things in MFs review that I did not quite agree with, but then again we have very different goals. :)
Bill and Tom,

So how are your BAT REX preamps sounding? I am starting to get the itch. (Tom I know we talked when I tried) I think I am having a hard time moving away from BAT. I recently bought new speakers (Wilson Maxx 3) and they are easier to drive, I took a BAT 75SE amp out (was running 150SE's) and I seem to have plenty of power. The 150SE's sound a little better but I think I can get by. I am wondering if a REX + 75SE beats a 51SE + 150SE.


I owned REX and enjoyed it very much and I agree with (almost) each and every word said in the review...

Until two months ago, I thought the REX is the best in the world preamp but being unlucky (or is it vice versa) I auditioned prototype of Joule-Electra latest flagship - which they show, right now at CES 2009 - Mirianne Electra Memorial Preamp, LA-300ME and.... simpply fall in love.

I can't say a bad word about REX - not a single one - just Joule-Electra is not about this detail or that detail (tight bass, silky highs, wide soundstage etc) - its all about music. When I attend live concert I never think about bass - is it tight on not so much, about highs also - I listen to music and either became deeply involved or not - depending soleley on the performance. The same here - its all about music - absolutely stunning experience.....

I am cello player so I listen (much later on) accuracy of cello reproduction and if I closed my eyes - it was surreal experience. I knew somebody is with me in the same room and plays cello and I know, on other level that nobody is here - my head is duzzy...

Exactly the same reaction I heard (and read) from people who have or auditioned this preamp (ao far there was only veru limited edition).

All The Best
Hello John,

As you know I recently made a significant upgrade elsewhere in my system. This upgrade has made me have an even deeper appreciation for the REX. It's simply the most natural sounding electronic component I've ever heard.

If it means anything to you one way or the other, I also have been fortunate enough to have made a living as a professional musician for 35 years of my 51 years of life. Mostly playing live, a fair amount of studio work and teaching, and I LOVE listening to music. Other musician friends who have come by for a listen are also astounded by the unique natural portrayal of the REX's texture/timbre of tone, so much so that it stops them in their tracks, and the reaction is ..... wow! Things just sound so undeniable "right" with the REX.

John, please know I wish you all the best in finding a pre-amp that you feel the same way about.

I second that emotion by Tom. No other component has made such a significant improvement to enjoyment of music in our system than the REX. It is not a piece of equipment that you start to take for granted, it pleasantly surprises every time. Scratch the itch. You are welcome to hear our REX if you like before you take the plunge.
Rafael, good to hear that you have found a keeper in the Joule. I have never heard their equipment but see that David Elrod played a role in the development of the preamp which is a very good thing.
Best, Bill
So my dealer and I put my other 75SE back in today (back to my BAT VK 150SE's) Have a few hours with everything warmed up now.

I also think my Maxx 3's are still breakin in and changing a lil, definately for the better.

The VK 150SE vs the VK 75SE: The 150SE's definately have a blacker background. Better textures and timbre. Better dynamics and more "ease", especially on complex stuff. However, doesn't seem as focused as a single amp. The Maxx 3 is very revealing.

I am still wondering if a REX + VK75SE is my best route.

I do like the BAT sound on the pre and amps so far. Thanks to everyone for commenting! I am thinking (hoping) a REX is in my future :)

I just want to be sure, I've kept my 50SE/51SE for 10 years almost...guessing the next pre is at least that long!
For me the BAT REX makes listening to music a much more intimate experience...real close up and personal.
If you guys like the Rex Preamp then you absolutely need to hear the Rex power amp. Hands down one of the best I have ever heard. The man with the Wilson MAXX's you need to hear the Rex on your MAXX's. I will guarantee that people where you work will come looking for you because you will be at home with a ice bag around your face trying to ease the pain from the silly grin on your face. This amplifier is that good and for $15k you should be arrested for steeling it from your dealer. It has to be about the most revealing amplifier I have ever heard.
Just wanted to add to this thread. I have been using the REX preamp for about two years and agree 110% with Inman29.
Also, when paired with the REX amplifier, as good as I have heard in any price range. I have used this combo on three different speakers I know very well and they all went to another level.

Hi all,

Just came across this thread as a result of Tom's recent post...

Fully concur with each poster's characterization of Rex...hope to have some in-house exposure/experience with additional well-regarded pre's for edification ;-)

Has anyone auditioned other vacuum tube current sources: 6H30 with X-PAK or 5881? Love to hear your thoughts if you have!

Ah, RexPower...I'll take four :-)

Best regards,

Dont be greedy ;)
All I want is one more REXPower.
Thought about moving to more power so I can move up to less sensitive YGA speakers, but freaked once so many people wanted it and pulled the add. Cant imagine not having this amp in my system.

Wow, Tom...I wasn't aware of what transpired!

Truth be known...I considered contacting you, myself, and was fancifully imagining the purchase of a second RexPower from a dealer.

I would therefore have a pair of 150SE's and a pair of RexPower to fuel the Dali MegaLine III's :-)

Now, of course, my nacent scheme has been thwarted, hehe. ;-)

Sam, Drop me a line when you get a chance
You Got It, Tom!

Hi Guys,

BAT is making my pair of REX Power mono-blocks amps for me as I type!!! I'll be sure to keep you informed.

Its been several months since moving to the REX monoblocks from the REX stereo amp. Its true power does corrupt. :)
Not a fault to them, music making machines.