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  #21  
Old 08-29-2015, 04:32 PM
Swelfelo Swelfelo is offline
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Arrow The Journey Has Started

My VK-52SE was packed up and shipped off to Wilmington, Delaware today for an update to VK-53SE status. I have inserted temporarily in her place my VK-42SE, and she fired up just fine. The quality, fit and finish, and feel are the same as the VK-52SE.

The VK-42Se has not been used for at least four years (in fact, I never listened to her at all in the main rig) because the VK-52SE was just that compelling that I could not bear to swap her out. I am the second owner and I do not know how long the VK-42SE sat unused in the hands of the first one.

Right out of the box, my first impression is that the VK-42Se is cold and needs some warm up time before I can issue a dispositive comparison. However, comparing my solid state preamp to her tubed sister, it seems that the sibilants are a tad rounded off, there is slightly less dynamic range, the sound is flatter with less detail and less musicality, i.e., it is not as engaging. The soundstages appears to be roughly equal between the two preamps. Imaging is also roughly equal. Please understand that overall, the VK-42Se is one of the better solid state preamps I have ever listened to and my preliminary comments are points of comparison between two members of the same family. I will update my thoughts as the VK-42SE warms up, and I will leave her on for a couple of days to stabilize fully.

I asked Geoff Poor if there is a similar upgrade path for the VK-42SE and was told that one does not exist as the architecture for the VK-43SE is highly dissimilar and would not be cost effective to upgrade. He advised selling the VK-42SE and buying a new VK-43SE. I do not have another piggy bank to break open just yet so I hold off for now.

Geoff also advised that there is a very long break in period for the VK-53SE.

I have communicated both by email and telephone with Geoff Poor and the man is a total gentleman, responsive, and extremely helpful. I cannot say enough good things about BAT and Geoff.
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  #22  
Old 08-30-2015, 11:30 AM
Swelfelo Swelfelo is offline
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Default What a Difference a Day Makes

Wow, the VK-42SE has been cooking for 20 hours and sounds fully fleshed out, warm, dynamic with great treble and bass extension. Some of the inner detail is still being elided but the sibilants are not as abbreviated as before.

Curiously, I am using the volume setting at a significantly lower level than my VK-52SE to get the same volume level to my ear.

All in all, a magnificent preamp and I can happily live with her. Truth be told, I could live with her if the other one never reappeared after her update.
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  #23  
Old 09-05-2015, 11:56 AM
Swelfelo Swelfelo is offline
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Default Still Cooking

I left the VK-42Se on continuously since 8/30/15 and she continued to improve in terms of warmth, dynamism, bass and treble extension. The soundstage is freaking huge and each instrument can be precisely located. I really cannot say that the differences between the siblings are great, but the VK-52SE ultimately has a just touch more soul in my opinion; it sounds less like a piece of electronics and the music just pours forth.

The rest of my system starting at the wall outlet is, as follows. Two dedicated 20 amp lines, two PS Audio outlets, two Shunyata Venom HC 20amp power cords to 2 Equitech Model 2Q line conditioners. The cd player is a Rega Isis. I am using B&W Matrix 802 Series 2 loudspeakers, which have been modified with all new crossovers caps and resistors and the removal of the protection circuit. The loudspeakers sit on Target Stands. Amplification consists of two Hypex NCore 400's on the midrange and tweeters and two Ghent Ice amps on the woofers. The Iceamps are fed into two Krell Bass Alignment models. All power cords are Shunyata Black Mamba CX HC models, most of the interconnects are Shunyata Anaconda Ztron Models (the rest being home brewed cables I made). All interconnects are balanced. Speaker cables are Shunyata Anacondas. There are VPI magic bricks on every component.

Once the VK-42SE warmed up, I have had to increase the volume setting to same level as I used to use with the VK-52SE. I am usually at 68-70 out of the 140 increments.

Today the VK-53SE arrived via FedEx. I should note that when I had attempted to pay for my upgrade with a debit card yesterday, BAT was unable to process payment and shipped my preamp back to me just on a promise that I would send a check! I did not even ask for this treatment and would have waited for my check to arrive. What a class operation. Also, the Production Manager, Vladimir Shutov, spent a good half an hour educating me on tube selection and replacement procedures. This is a stellar company that delivers the goods and has the service to back it up. My preamp was upgraded and replaced in about a week. My next installment will cover introduction of the VK-53SE into my system.

Last edited by Swelfelo; 12-13-2015 at 12:32 PM.
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  #24  
Old 09-07-2015, 12:16 PM
Swelfelo Swelfelo is offline
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Thumbs down Bat vk-53se

As I write this post, I have about three hours of burn in/listening time on my VK-53SE and I am very impressed so far. I am putting the VK-42SE up for sale!

Geoff Poor of BAT had written me that:

"Please take note of the fact your unit will now need significant break-in because of the massive new power supply components. Additionally, the custom transformers (which have replaced the output signal capacitors) will need some burn-in as well. I’ve always enjoyed the process, however, because you can really hear the results."

"The burn-in time requirement varies as to how broken-in your 52SE already was. The typical time required to break in a new BAT 5 series pre-amp approaches 500 hours! I’d guess you’ll notice a smoothing in the upper mids after the first week, while the bass region will extend and get more 'interesting' - revealing more of the texture of different bass instruments. The top octaves will appear to be 'sweeter', with more 'air' on the top. Cymbals will seem more real after a couple of weeks."


I had at least 500 hours of use on my VK-52E so I can say that she was fully broken in. Some differences are immediately apparent with the VK-53SE as against her predecessor--the VK-53SE is simply more dynamic, nimble and the instrumentation seems richer and there is greater low level detail. I can hear that the extension of treble and bass is slightly constrained as I remember them from before, but the core midrange is there. This preamp is a powerful, muscular beast and it is impressive to think that she will only get better over time.

When I sent in the VK-52SE, due to noise three of the tubes were replaced with current production Sovteks from 2014. I had not heard any clicking or other noises before sending in my preamp--so maybe shipping took its toll. Part of me cringed initially when I heard this because I stockpiled a very large supply of rare and expensive 6H30DR pre-1986 tubes with the preconception that they would sound better than the newer, supposedly inferior production--after all the internet said so. Vladimir, BAT's Production Manager, stated that in his opinion, that the sound quality between the new and old tubes was equal, but that the discard rate was substantially higher for the new production. Of course the DR rated tubes have substantially longer life expectancy than the newer ones. If I remember correctly, he said they discard 2/3 of the new tubes to find ones that are acceptable. The discard rate for the older stock is closer to 50%. Ouch--half, if not more, of my very expensive tube inventory might be worthless. Tube rolling is not practical in my configuration so if it ain't broke....

I will revisit this thread after another 60 hours of time with the VK-53SE and report any additional changes I can hear. However, I can already say that there is a marked improvement between the last generation and this preamp. The upgrade was worth every penny and I am happy that I took the plunge.

Last edited by Swelfelo; 09-10-2015 at 06:06 AM. Reason: Grammar
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  #25  
Old 09-07-2015, 08:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swelfelo View Post
Greg Poor of BAT had written me that:
I believe that you meant Geoff Poor, BAT's Director of Sales and a great guy!
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  #26  
Old 11-05-2015, 03:49 PM
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Any news?
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Last edited by johndoe21ro; 10-23-2017 at 11:36 PM.
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  #27  
Old 11-17-2015, 07:02 AM
tom_hankins tom_hankins is offline
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Swelfelo, any updates on how the 53se is sounding? I am also a fan of BAT preamps. (31se,51se,42se,REX) and just picked up a used 52se to have upgraded to either REX or 53se.
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  #28  
Old 12-18-2015, 11:08 PM
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it's not personal experience, but see what BAT represents as a user's statements regarding differences in the vk-52SE vs the vk-53SE. The discussion is about halfway down in the BAT FAQs: www.balanced.com/faq
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  #29  
Old 12-19-2015, 07:50 AM
tom_hankins tom_hankins is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Weirdcuba View Post
it's not personal experience, but see what BAT represents as a user's statements regarding differences in the vk-52SE vs the vk-53SE. The discussion is about halfway down in the BAT FAQs: FAQ | Balanced Audio
Thanks for the link! Merry Christmas BAT people!
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  #30  
Old 12-25-2015, 03:50 AM
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Merry Christmas!
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Amp: BAT VK-600SE
Pre-amp/Digital: exaSound e22 w Paul Hynes SR3-12 Power Supply; MacBook Pro i5 13' w Samsung 850EVO 512GB SSD; Squeezelite w Logitech Media Server
Speakers: Triangle Magellan Cello II
Cables: AudioQuest WBY XLR 72v DBS, AudioQuest Everest DBS 72V, AudioQuest NRG WEL 72V DBS, AudioQuest Diamond USB 216V DBS, UpTone ISO Regen
Rack: Solid Tech Hybrid
Tweaks: Omicron Stabilizzatore Armonico & Gold Evolution SE; IsoTek Sigmas GII w IsoTek Optimum EVO3; Furutech FT-SWS (R) AC Outlet; HiFi Tuning Supreme 3

Last edited by johndoe21ro; 10-23-2017 at 04:51 PM.
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