Review: Balanced Audio VK P10 SE w/ Super Pak Tube preamp

Category: Preamps

Sorry, this will be a brief mini review. I recently upgraded my BAT VK P10SE to the SuperPak version. I have gone from the VK P5 to VKP10, then upgraded that to the SE version and now the SuperPak version.

I run a DIN to XLR phono cable, Purist Venestas. It sits on a Symposium Ultra shelf, ditto for the SME 20/2a and motor controller. I use a Purist Dominus-Fluid AC cord to power it, plugged into PorterPorts. Tubes are Amperex USN 7308's, RCA 5692's, then the stock Russion 6c45's.

Break in time was minimal. I guess this is mostly a power supply update and nothing in the signal path was seriosly changed.

The Superpak costs about $2k. The first thing you notice is the massive silver caps added via a 3rd board. On further inspection, it looks like BAT also replaced several resistors on the main board and took out a few caps. 4 board traces were severed. Guess something else was re-wired. Looks very very professional. Top rate mod by BAT. In fact, unless you really knew what to look for, you'd never know this wasn't a brand new unit.

The sound, is WOW. Much much much more depth. Vastly better dynamics. Textures and decays are more noticable. Vocals more real. Bass deeper and tighter. Top end extends and is real. The impact on the sticks on the cymbals sounds like wood on metal. The best thing is the most hardest to desribe, just how the music flows and a sense of ease, but with power. The noise floor is also lower which let's out more detail.

If you own a BAT VK P10SE, this is a very worthwhile upgrade. Worth every cent, just like the VK50SE to 51SE update!

Associated gear
BAT VK51SE, BAT 75SE, SME 20/2a, Lyra Helicon, SME IV.Vi, Purist Venestas Interconnect and Tonearm cable

Similar products
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Wow, you've really been a devoted BAT owner with staying current on all their product refinements. I too thought very highly of the P10 which I owned for about year and the 31SE which I had for 2+ years. The value of these BAT products always impressed me.

When I tried the Aesthetix Io, and then the Io with Telefunkens, the P10 was at quite a distance behind. I had both products for a couple months before I sold the P10. I never heard a phono stage do the instrument and stage dimensions and decays like the Io. The cost to change to the Io was the same as switching to the P10SE and this is why I went this route. But now from what you say with the latest updates, the BAT appears to have much of the Io's qualities. It would be interesting to hear how this compares to the Io Standard and Signature models.

I have 2 good friends in Dallas with I0 sig's-dual power supplies. I suspect they are still better, although this has seriously closed the gap.

I'll try and have a head to head demo at some point...
Thanks for the review. As you progressed from the p5, p10, se... what improvements did you notice with each move up??

Hi, p5-p10 was queitness, some detail, better bass imaging. The P10SE was a bigger deal, much better bass, much more depth, imaging detail.

The p5 was a great phono stage for it's price, especially used. You can add the a Superpak to it for $900 (I think). It essentially closes the gap between the p5 and p10. That's a good price performer.

The thing I liked about this was I was able to update it as my finances allowed. Very nice policy on BAT's part.
I have the Bat VK-50 preamp, not the SE. Just wondering what your opinion is on how far down the chain I am compared to the long run of upgrades the BAT pre-amp has had. Thanks for your advice.
The 50 is nice in the fact it uses 6922's. You can change those out to your choice and get a different sound. That said, the 50SE and ESPECIALLY the 51SE are a totally different deal. Huge upgrade in all respects on the 51SE. I'd skip the 50SE and if you have the $$'s go for the 51SE.

But, your sources maybe a better choice, not knowing anything about your systems. Doesn't matter how great the pre is, if above and below it there is a weak link. BTW, your VK50 is still a killer preamp-just we're a little spoiled around the site.
Thanks for the good review. I bought a p10SE and haven't got it up and running yet (I'm in the middle of some system changes). I have been shopping for tubes to replace the stock 6DJ8's in the p10se. I saw you are using the Amperex USN 7308's. Did you ever try the Siemens / Telefunken CCa's? I have read good things about these tubes, although they are scarce (and pricey).
Hi, no I haven't tried the cca's. I've read the same things. The amperexs are pretty big improvement for me. I called BAT, and they say the middle two 6922's are most critical, not the outer two. You might get 80% of the benefit with 2 cca's, not four.

Call them, they are very helpful. You will have to bias it as well with a tube change. It's pretty easy and will cost you $20 at radio shack for a meter.

Send me a email if you want BAT's instructions on biasing.

Do you still have BAT instructions on biasing the P10SE after rolling tubes? If so, could you please send me the info.

Hi, sorry no they are long gone. I'd email BAT, that's where I rec'd the orginally...maybe someone else here might ...