Thinking about a VK-50SE Pre-amp? Any opinions

Hoping to get a bit of feedback from any VK-50SE or 51SE owners out there. Thinking of taking the plunge and it would be a big purchase for me cash wise. I have a LS-25 MKI w/NOS tubes now and am extremely happy with it. But the upgrade bug calls as usual. I have read all the rave review and BAT sounds like a great company. Just wondering how much improvement I could expect as I would be likely be buying unheard from Audiogon next time one shows up. I am a music lover first and do not want to just gain extra resolution and give up musically over the ARC. Any thoughts, commons, recommendations would be much appreciated. Thanks!
I owned a 30 SE and listened to a 50 se extensively. I have also lived with the VK75 se amp. I have also owned a variety of ARC gear during the past 20 years starting with an SP8,SP9 I- III, LS2/PH1 and have spent time with a PH3. I can't give a definitive opinion w/o knowing about your amp,cable, room and source- but I can say the BAT stuff is bullet prrof and I have loved everything they make- except for the VK20- which is ss and should be dropped from their line- The 30 and 50 se are magical in their ability to retriev detail and retain the natural pace and flow of live music. This is not ARC- hyperrealism/forward/bright- nor is it caramel colored tubes either. It is the best tyube stuff I have heard in its price range- I have experience with ProAcs, Avalons, Spendors, Magnepans, Meadowlarks etc
The big BAT stuff is very impressive..

I have a 50se and love it. The 51se is supposed to be a big step up for only $1400 upgrage. Buy a 50SE used and get the upgrade now or down the road.

I agree with the comments above by Sam. What's the rest of your setup?
Hi, I can highly recommend the BAT 51se. If you decide to buy the 50se you can look forward to the upgrade to the 51se when you can afford it. It's well worth the money in my opinion. I use the 51se with the BAT 150se monoblock amps to drive Eidolons and the system is truly magical! Good luck, Tom
I have a VK-50SE and I love it. But ARC and BAT sound different. If you like the ARC you might not like the BAT. Buying equipment at this level often decided by personal preference rather than clean cut sonic advantage. I think you should borrow one for a home trial or at least listen to it before making a decision.

BTW, when you audition the VK-50SE, make sure it is well broken in. A brand new unit sounds like a bad solid state.
No opinions, but I hear you regarding the upgrade bug, or is just change in system bug. How does one with limited access to auditions choose among:
First Sound
Joule Electra
Sonic Frontiers
and a lot more?
vk-50SE is THE BEST tube preamp I've heard. Staggering transparency with tube 'aliveness'. Most tube preamps trade resolution for this 'sense of life'. Not the BAT.

I use a vk-5i w/nos tubes with my tube amps. Less transparency, but golden hearted and with an exquisite midrange. I've put an ARC ls-25 mk I and an LS-5MkIII against it and it easily won.

I have not heard the new ARC Ref 2, mark II preamp. I owned the Ref1, and the vk-50SE ate it for breakfast, lunch, dinner AND evening snack. I did not hear them back to back, but the 5i might be better too.

Strangely enough, my favorite tube combination is the bat preamps mated to ARC vt100 or vt200. The two house sounds seem to fill each other in. I prefer it to the sound of the vk-5i/vk60 combo I heard. Sounded good, but the vt100 had more punch and this 'bold' sound to it.
Thanks everyone for the input. Sounds like the VK-50SE is a winner. That is what I was afraid of. Now the hard part ($$$) I have yet to hear a bad thing about BAT as a company either and that is important to me. I know the warranty is not transferrable but I am hoping that the 51 upgrade would be available to me as a second owner. I will check with BAT. I will be using it in a ASC designed (sort of)dedicated room with ESP Concert Grands bi-amped with two VT-100 MKII's. A Dodson 217MKIID and Ml 31 transport. Cable hopefully will be SR Designer Reference which I am trying to acquire now and a Orchid AES-EBU digital cable. Power cords primarily are Harmonix Studio Masters (awesome unknown product) and Top Gun Hi-Current. Have Kevin Deal's NOS in the LS-25 and have given it a full marigo dot treatment. It sounds good I think but I have not heard "the big boys" of the pre-amp world lately. My system needs a lot of work in terms of speaker placement experimentation, but the Grands are a handful at 275 lbs ea. Oh well, thanks again to you all and I will keep my fingers crossed on joining the VK-50SE club soon. Need somebody to buy my Von Schweikert VR-6's first. (shameless classifies plug)
Isolate this pre and you'll find a world of happines. Experiment over and over until you are satisfied. If you don't try isolation, even primative attempts, you may get the wrong impreesion of this unit. The softer the material, (ie: wood rack, maple platform) it sits on, the more tubey it can sound. The harder the material, like a rigid stand or granite, the more precise and dynamic it might sound. For some that might not be what they expect from a tube product. The fun lies in the experimentation and system tuning. Just my 1.5 cents.