I have listened to a lot of pre amps and the BAT never did it for me, maybe the 6922 driven ones are good but the super tube 6H30's are very dry and uninspiring sounding in my opinion. Pre amps from McIntosh Labs, Manley Labs, Doge Audio, Dehavilland Ultraverve III, and Modwright, I felt offered much more in terms of tonal beauty and top end extension with exceptional mid range and tight defined bass.
I'd have to agree that commercial grade 6H30 tubes leave a lot to be desired. The pre-2000 "DR" military grade tubes ($300/ea from the BAT stash) are totally different animals. Sumptuous tone, deep bass and extended highs. You get what you pay for...
FYI, the VK-3i uses four 6922 and two 6V6 tubes. There are no 6H30s, thank goodness.
Well, I’ve owned one since 1998 so I really can’t tell you if it “holds up” to contemporary products because I haven’t compared to any others in my system. But the fact that I’ve not really been compelled to replace it in 19 years says something about it.
In that same time, been through three pair of speakers, two sets of amps, three turntables, four phono stages, four cartridges, three tonearms, a couple DACs and a couple SACD players—so not as though I am without some a’phile nervosa. FWIW, the VK-3i is probably the lowest priced component in my system today.
As dweller notes, the VK-3i is not an “SE” product and therefore does not use the 6H30 super tubes. You can roll to your heart‘s content.
Additionally, the 3i can be configured with an onboard phono stage. It’s decent, but not stellar. Subsequently, I have had a VK-P5, Avid Pellar, and now a Parasound JC-3, but did use the built-in stage (VK-P3) for a number of years.
More importantly is BAT’s support and service. I previously owned a VK-200 amp which I returned to have recapped, and more recently sent back one of my VK-60 monoblocks for repair (nearly 20 years old). Great to be able to still get service and extend new life after all those years. In both cases, heard directly from Viktor Khomenko (the VK in the model designations) about the repairs, cost and some other suggested work while the “patient was on the table.” Cost was reasonable and turnaround was fast.
@kjweisner ... thanks for the post. I've had my VK-3i for almost 15 years and, in all that time, have not had a desire to upgrade. However, a'phile nervosa rears its ugly head from time to time, and I begin to wonder what component, if any, I should consider upgrading. Thanks for the validation ... the BAT stays.
@rlb61, you're welcome, and sorry if the reply was a little pedantic--didn't realize you were a fellow owner! I too have considered replacement from time to time, but never "got there." And if I did, it would likely be for another BAT tube pre-amp anyway.
If I had more time for listening, and/or a better room, that might happen. But for now, it's difficult for me to find a lot of time (work, three teenagers, house/yard to care for, and boating/skiing from April to Oct). Hope to sell our current home in two years--we bought based on school district and bedrooms so with the last of my kids finishing HS after next year, we can look for something where listening environment is a much higher priority. Maybe then I'd be able to discern some differences, but currently just no point in even trying!
Have you done any/much tube rolling? Any ideas or suggestions on that front?
I did some tube rolling and, in the end, settled on the Platinum Grade Russian 6H23 Rocket Logo tubes. They’re the same as the 6922 (just a different designation), and really sound excellent. Also, I really like the Visseaux 6V6 and the Pope 6V6. Bought all of them from Upscale Audio.
From what I’ve read the real 6H30 properly implemented is very good, lower impedance, dynamic, better drive, transparent, more linear ect, and it seems if you don’t like it, your just being shown what the source sound is giving, without much colouration’s that other tube/s may gloss over.
georgehifi: The tubes that came with my (used) VK-300SE were flaking out on arrival. I called ARC for replacements. They asked "which of our products will the tubes go into". I stated I'd be using BAT equipment. The new tubes arrived and went bad in about two months (noisy and uneven output). That's when I sprung for the BAT NOS 6H30 at $600/pr. Have been enjoying great, problem free sound ever since. I wish I could find new tubes that performed as well (for 1/3 the cost).
I had the 5i, 50SE, 31SE, and 51SE.
The 31SE was the best value. I thought the 5i was overly warm and the frequency extremes ill-defined. I should have rolled tubes, but its a lot of $ for NOS.
That's when I sprung for the BAT NOS 6H30 at $600/pr. Have been
enjoying great, problem free sound ever since.
That's why it's been nick-named the "Super Tube" It's been said that it performs closer to good solid state than any other tube, without resorting to a "cathode follower" arrangement.
If the 6H30 performs close to solid state, then why not just get a solid state component in the first place?
I've noticed the term "super tube" used whenever equipment has 6H30s in its circuit -not necessarily the NOS version.