who knows about BAT VK-50se's

Anybody have first hand knowledge of this preamp? Tell me 'bout it.
I have had: SONIC FRONTIERS SFL-2 (1995-97); MARK LEVINSON 380S (1998-2000) and, in the past few weeks have made a move into a full BAT SYSTEM (VK-50SE, VK-60 MONOBLOCKS, VKD5SE CD PALYER) The Pre-amp and Amps are absolutely awesome! I just got the CD player today and it needs to "break-in" befoire any evaluation. At first, I was very concerned with the VK-50SE. It presented a very withdrawn sound. After a few days if broke-in...and blew my mind. It is a very musical Pre-amp having the sweetness of thoroughbred Tubes, but, liniarity of great Solid State. My only (minor) hesitation, it have plenty of Bass, but at the very most bottom, it is not as tight a other Pre-amps. Perhpas, this is also due ot the removal of my KRELL FPB 600 (1998-present). The Monoblock Amps are just as great.
My system also uses the BAT VK-50SE line stage preamp as well as the BAT VK 60 monoblock power amps and BAT VK-5 phono stage. I purchased the 50SE brand new about 5 months ago. Out of the box the 50SE is hard and bright. After a couple of 24 hour Purist Audio CD runs - the preamp blossoms into a stellar performer. The detail, dynamics and sound staging are first rate. My previous line stage (a Sonic Line 3) was lean - surprising for a tube preamp. The lean aspect of the Sonic softened up a bit after I changed the stock tubes to Amprex 7308's. The BAT 50SE I think is quite neutral - neither to lean or to warm. Definitely not as warm as BATs other line stages the 3i or the 5i. If your looking for a real warm romantic tube sound - you might be disappointed withg the 50SE. On the other hand if you want a top notch line stage that does not sacrifice any of the dynamic range I think the 50SE is a great choice.
How do you think these two preamps would compare, using the Krell FPB 600 as the power amp, and Eggleston Andras for speakers in a sizable room? I realize the CAT isn't balanced, so I guess that's possibly a strike against it, especially since the Krell works much better balanced.
Unfortunately, it is worth every penny! You might find that your present cableing hinders its performance -- you need real neutral cable, cable that will deliever an uncolored signal to it, and send its fantastic signal to your amp. This line-stage sucks you into the music, in the right system; you stop listening to your system and enjoy the music -- all music; classical, rock, rap, trios, everything. When your cable stabalizes after being moved to put this line-stage in your system, you must go back and play around with toe-in again; and re-evaluate "tweeks" that you have in your system. My system is all BAT also, BAt phono, line stage, and amplifier; all fed with Aural Symphonics cable (like BAT man does at CES)
this message is for tenniswino i have a line 3 i was interested in your comment about the amperex i was wondering if you could line me up with a vendor where these tubes can be bought as i would be interested in earing the diff i was also wondering if you were refering to the gold pins one id appriciate if you could mail me wth your reply tks daniel
Carl - Ironic you should ask about a CAT/Krell match. I have not heard the "Ultimate" version of the CAT but I am acquainted with numerous previous versions of the CAT preamp going back 10-12 years or so. I've always loved the CAT preamps. Unlike the 50SE they do have that warm, romantic and seductive sound that is so musical and enjoyable. Anyway I was "hot" to but a CAT preamp about 2 years ago. At that time I was using an Audio Research LS 5 Mark II preamp with Krell Audio Standard-2 monoblocks. I wanted to change preamps because the LS 5 was just so restrictive. Anyway I did my homework/due dilegence back then when I considered switching from the LS 5 to a CAT preamp. The problem, as you indicated in your posting is that the CAT only has RCA inputs and outputs. At that time I considered the CAT I re-confirmed my comparative analysis of the output signal from the DACs that I owned which included both the Sonic SFD2 Mark II and the Theta Pro Gen V. Both the Sonic and the Theta sounded considerably better when the signal was fed from their balanced as opposed to their unbalanced outputs. I also called Krell to inquire as to the degredation I could expect if I used an RCA to XLR adaptor in hooking up the CAT to the Krell AS-2s. The explanation was highly technical and way above my head. However, my somewhat simplistic understanding of the matter is that when you feed an unbalanced signal into a balanced component (without the use of an active device such as a phase splitter,) only the positive side of the balanced component's circuitry will carry the signal in the balanced component. Accordingly, when the balanced component goes through its Common Mode Rejection Ratio "gig" - there is no signal coming through the negative side for the balanced component to balance. I think this adds noise and degredation to the signal. Finally, I have also used relatively long interconnecting cable runs from my preamp to amp. These runs have varied from 16 to 24 feet. I have been advised that balanced signals are better (i.e. the lack of noise) becomes an issue when the cable run begins to exceed 10 feet. For the reasons stated above I decided to pass on the CAT preamp. If your system is primarily digital and if your preamp needs to drive long runs of interconnecting cable and if you are feeding the signal into a fully balanced component such as the Krell 600 amp - I would be reluctant to use an unbalanced preamp. Beleive me I've tried to rationalize it myself numerous times in the past. I love the CAT preamp (I also love the Conrad Johnson Premier 8 monoblocks). But they are wrong for my digital based system that uses long runs of interconnecting cables and balanced power amps. I think that is why so many of the CAT lovers are analog guys. Digital sounds so much better in balanced mode. I don't think the same is true of phono. Anyway, if you haven't already done so, I would compare balanced and the unbalanced outputs of my digital front end and see if there is a difference. I would also call Krell and see if ypou understand what they are saying about using an adaptor for the input to your amp. Oh yeah - one last point. In order to get around the balanced is better for long cable runs idea I also considered going against "conventional wisdom" and begin using short runs of interconnecting cables with a relatively long run of speaker wire. I thought this idea might work for Transparent, MIT or any other network type speaker wire. It seemed to me logical that if the signal was going through an active device such as a network box, then the network box would "correct" the degredation from a long speaker wire run in the same manner in "corrected" the signal from a short speaker wire run and yield no difference. I called Transparent about this and got hold of Karen Sumner. Karen told me that in listening tests they had at Transparent, their test revealed no "audible" difference in the length of their speaker wire up to runs of at least 30 feet. I then called Krell and asked their technical people what they thought. In essence they gave the classic reponse that the longer the wire the greater the impedance and their "agin" the long speaker wire idea - with or without network boxes. Hope this helps a little.
But I'm already fully aware of the benefit of balanced operation, and I don't necessarily agree that it would help a digital component MORE SO than a phono component. There are balanced DACS that don't sum the differential output on the single ended side, and those really should NEVER be used with their RCA outputs (my CD player DOES SUM THEM, and I don't need a linestage with it anyway)...I WAS JUST CURIOUS IF ANYBODY HAD DONE A "SHOOTOUT" SPECIFICALLY WITH THESE TWO PREAMPS AND THE FPB 600, in particular. I think I'll be getting FPB monoblocks before I get a really good preamp anyway...And I'm not so sure tube pre's are the way to go, even though I do like them very much...ON THE CABLES SIDE...I do love MIT interconnects, but don't like their speaker cables. AND I DON'T LIKE TRANSPARENT AT ALL. I have auditioned some of their best in my system, and the affordable MIT has beat the hell out of Transparent Reference, and a TON of others too, like Cardas Neutral Reference!!! I think it's better to have somewhat short interconnect AND speaker cable runs, BECAUSE YOU CAN NEVER AVOID SIGNAL DEGRADATION WITH A LONG TRANSMISSION PATH (claims to the contrary are hype). There's more conductor in series; however "transparent" it might be, it has total effect on the signal's integrity. Just a fact of physics...even superconductors introduce more degradation with a longer run, so how can copper or silver sound identical, whether the run is long or short? The only reason Transparent can claim that theirs are "corrected for length" is that they use a series resistor...not exactly "transparent" after all. At least MIT cables have NOTHING AT ALL IN SERIES...