THANK YOU FOR THE REVIEW, HAVE YOU TRIED THE VK-31SE WITH A CD PLAYER? WHAT INTERCONNECTS DO YOU USE? I'M A BAT USER AND AM LOOKING TO GET THE MOST OUT OF MY PREAMP.
Thanks for the review. I too own a 31SE and have had it for about 3 months. I wish CD playback had been used in the review as this would have focused only on the line stage.
My 31SE was upgraded from a 30SE. The 30SE had a wonderful bass and midrange but the top end was way too lifeless for me after having lived with an ARC LS5 for so long. But I had been convinced the 31SE resolved this and this was indeed an understatement!
I was able to compare my 30SE to a 31SE and the LS5III at the local BAT dealer. The 31SE extended the lowest of the lows beyond the 30SE. And the 31SE had a completeness in the entire frequency spectrum that was clearly lacking with the 30SE. Otherwise the units had a similar soundstaging presentation. 3D and ambience were down with the 30SE due to the less life on the top.
As for phono, I just sold the built-in phono board. I must disagree with the reviewer here. I have a VKP10 and it brings on so much more life and musicality than the built-in board. But the built-in board is quite a nice product. The P10 and P5 have very similar sonics other than the 10's support for lower output cartridges. I use a Koetsu Rosewood Signature and Dynavector D17 from a Clearaudio Ref TT.
To answer other questions here, the 31SE like the 30 series has 2 balanced inputs and 3 single-ended inputs for 5 sources total. There is one balanced output and one single ended output. There is also one single-ended tape loop.
This is hands down my favorite line stage in a long time and I was a die hard ARC fan for years and years....and they are only minutes from my home. I am eager for the dealer to get a 51SE so I can hear what it does compared to the 31SE. Oh how I hope it is minimal so I am not tempted to let this 31SE gem go.
I appreciate everyone's response to and interest in my BAT VK-31SE review. Reading Jafox's response was particularly gratifying since he owned a 30SE too, and he confirms most of my impressions about the 31SE (e.g., compared to ARCs, etc.) Apparently BAT has achieved significant improvements in the 31SE over the 30SE. Like Jafox, I'm tempted to listen to a 51SE. However, I think I'll be able to resist since, as I stated in the review, the 31SE is so incredibly wonderful and engaging, I don't think I'll need to spend thousands more for incremental differences. Of course, that's what this hobby is all about, I know. I just can't rub any more nubbies off my credit card!
I'd like to respond to the built-in phono vs. VK-P5 comments again. I admit it my opinion doesn't make sense, but I encourage anyone considering the VK-P5 to do the same sort of test I did--completely blind with the help of a neutral party. I'll admit that I did not test a VK-P10 which I've heard has a stellar reputation; but I can say for me, I clearly thought the built-in was more natural sounding than the VK-P5. Perhaps it is a combination of my cartridge (a Benz Micro ACE moving coil but high output version), interconnects (Straightwire Maestro IIs), and my own personal quirks. Or maybe I had a poor VK-P5 sample. in any event, there is no substitute for listening to equipment in your own home before purchasing. I'm glad I did, and I'm completely satisfied I made the right choice.
Thanks again for all your comments--Audiogon is a terrific community.