What's most important synergy wise???

I have a VK-D5SE CDP as my source, a VK-20 for preamp and MC501 monoblocks.

I am planning to get a better preamp and am considering both the BAT VK-52SE and the McIntosh c500 tube two-piece combo.

The BAT can be upgraded to the REX, has product line synergy with the CDP and allows me to control both the CDP & volume with just one remote.

The McIntosh has product line synergy with the Monoblocks, but forces me to wield two remotes...

Do you think the synergy between the preamp-amp is more important than that between the source-preamp ...Or... is the synergy between the source-preamp, with all the low level signals, more important???

(Or am I worrying over nothing???)
I think you should get the preamp you like best and not worry so much with the front-end compatability. The preamp affects the overall sound more on its own terms than the synergy question you raise IMHO. The synergy that is really critical is amp/speaker.
I have used a VK-51SE with MC501's and its a very nice combination. As to your remote issue consider a Logitech remote which will run both fairly well (Mac and BAT equip as well as other stuff etc.)
I'm leaning towards the 52SE as it has better specs, has the remote compatibility and is upgradeable to the REX model if I ever want to go nuts.

How are low listening level dynamics and coloration with the 51SE feeding the MC501's and what kind of speakers are you running?

I'm currently running B&W N803S and will most likely be upgrading to the new 802D
C500T and MC275(s) with my Helicon minimonitors are great combination.

You want details, lush mids, and layers and the C500T will deliver. I just replaced the stock tubes with Black Sable Mullards and really improved on more details once again. Fuses were also replaced for additional clarity. Ultra quite microphonics.

I have stock power cords and no power condtioning on my pre amp and power amps. I also don't have the room for big floorstanding speakers or giant monos so synergy is very important in my listening environment.

My two cents,
Although Mac is an older company, BAT has the know how, especially when it comes to balanced designs, which IMHO are the very heart of hi-end audio. One of my friends sold his previous TOL BAT preamp (forgot the model #) and got the Rex. He is blown away!
Amp to speaker synergy , to me , is the most important !
Then tailor it with the source/pre .
Lets put it this way? Your Sound is only as good as Your weakest link.

Synergy must be from power in house, to music out of speakers.

Each individual link is as important as the next IMHO.

We All "Hear" differently, so unfortunately there is no

"Standard" for all listeners. Just think of the links in

a Motorcycle chain, any weakness or breakage could be


Take time, to provide the Best match at every "Link" and

the result, you will "HEAR!" Why spend $80k on amplifiers

and then buy $30 interconnects? You get the idea.

Each link is every bit as crucial as the next IMHO, over the

last 35 years or so, I have found improvements where I

never expected. Is not Your investment deserving the Best

possible match, in every area!

In any Sport, an player must train hard; In Audio, a

listener must listen to different pieces, to achieve

the ideal match. It is fun, a learning experience, and

the final reward is well worth Your effort.

Happy Listening!
What loudspeaker and cables are you using?

Just reading about the BAT VK-52SE seems like one heck of a preamp.
I agree about the weakest link argument, but I don't think that in this case, the source to pre link is going to be a weak one whichever approach is taken - I don't think there will be a "synergy" issue; but one pre may be sound better to the listener than the other based on personal preference.

I'm running Straight Wire Serenade biwired into B&W N803S.

Yes, I agree the VK-52SE is an awesome piece but the C500 is McIntoshs least expensive fully balanced preamp and priced to compete with the BAT.

decisions, decisions...
As above... what sounds good to one listener is just that ,
a personal preference . I don't equate that with synergy .

Synergy is about components that work well together . Whether one prefers the sound or not !

You wouldn't put a 3 watt SET amp with speakers having a wide impedance curve rated at 80db. And you wouldn't put a preamp with a 1k ohm output rating driving an amp with a 2k ohm input rating and so on . While you may get them to sound good to someone , with the right circumstances , it would not be a synergistic match .

Know talent ; you are worrying about the right stuff , just alter your priorities . It all matters , just to varying degrees . I still believe that the amp>speaker synergy is paramount with the preamp>amp coming in second .

Donning flame retardent suit !

Good luck .
Saki70, totally agree with your "synergy" hierarchy. I think the source>pre is not much of a synergy; only if your using low-gain cartridges is it much of an issue. I would choose the pre without too much ragard to the digital source in this case (from a "synergy" perspective).
From my experience-

then the best source you can afford with preamp that will not
get in the way of music and that is also as transparent as possible but if it can add that special sparkle, magic......even better. Of course it has to be matched with amp's input rating.