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Amp/Preamp Asylum: REVIEW: Balanced Audio Technology (BAT) VK-600SE Amplifier (SS) by Tyke

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REVIEW: Balanced Audio Technology (BAT) VK-600SE Amplifier (SS)

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Model: VK-600SE
Category: Amplifier (SS)
Suggested Retail Price: £9995
Description: Stereo Power Amplifier
Manufacturer URL: Balanced Audio Technology (BAT)
Model Picture: View

Review by Tyke ( A ) on February 16, 2004 at 14:13:13
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for the VK-600SE

At a recent dCS demo I had the opportunity to hear some wonderful sounds coming through a dCS stack with Spectral amplification. At the end of the evening the dealer changed the amp from the Spectral to the Krell FPB700cx, and the difference was massive: the Krell just gripped the speakers in a way that created a real sense of presence and focus. Exactly the same happened to me when I added the BAT VK-600SE to my system, upgrading from the VK-6200 which is now relegated to AV duties. The VK-6200 is a wonderful amp, with incredible detail, and excellent imaging. At 200 watts per channel it is a muscular amp, which I thought was doing a good job of driving my Wilson Benesch Act 2's. However I had the upgrade bug. With 300 watts per channel, the BAT-PAK and the SUPER-PAK the 600SE is truly an impressive looking beast, with a completely dual mono design, needing two power leads! But as I had not had a chance to demo this amp before purchasing it, I was nervous about the impact it would have in my system. I needn't have worried! Out of the box, it was evident that the 600SE was driving the Act 2's in a way the 6200 never had. The grip of the bottom end, the solidity of the bass line was tangible immediately, and was in an entirely different league to what I had heard before. On Seven Nation Army from the White Stripes album, the bass line was smooth and extended better than I had ever heard it before. Similarly Dave Grusin's Migration album sounded more vivid than ever, the bass notes hitting with a solidness that was enthralling. I was won over, but yet it was only the bass performance that was really impressing me: this amp needed a good burn-in. Over the next 2 months my impression turned from one of satisfaction, to one of amazement. I clearly remember one evening listening to Hotel California from Hell Freezes Over, and suddenly the transformation had happened. The mid range had gained a clarity and presence that was breathtaking, and the guitars had acquired that delicacy that I has only previously associated with valve amps. Near the end of the song, Joe Walsh strums his fingers across the guitar, and the sense of three dimensionality ,of "being there" was staggering. To Lou Rawl's "At Last" album, a duet with Ray Charles that I have played to death over the years: suddenly the sense of two singers in their own space, the mood of the performance was revealed to me in a way that I had not experienced before. Then on to Van Morrison's Veedon Fleece. Lindon Arden stole the Highlights was transformed, Morrison's voice suddenly stark and emotional, the bass clear and tight, yet set way back in a truly three dimensional soundstage. Ultimately it is the mid range of this amplifier that has made the greatest impression on me, three months on I am still frequently startled (there is no other word for it) by the clarity and transparency of music coming out of a perfectly black background. The depth of the soundstage is frequently breathtaking, on Making Whoopee from Branford Marsalis's Trio Jeepy, the sax almost disappears into the next door neighbours lounge! Highly recommended.

Product Weakness: Runs very, very hot!!!
Product Strengths: Mid range, muscle, detail, imaging, build quality

Associated Equipment for this Review:
Amplifier: BAT VK-600SE
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): None
Sources (CDP/Turntable): dCS Verdi/ElgarPlus/Purcell
Speakers: Wilson Benesch Act Two
Cables/Interconnects: Tara Labs The One/Cardas
Music Used (Genre/Selections): As review.
Room Size (LxWxH): 6m x 4m x 3m
Time Period/Length of Audition: 3 months
Other (Power Conditioner etc.): Dedicated Mains Ring Main
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner

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Topic - REVIEW: Balanced Audio Technology (BAT) VK-600SE Amplifier (SS) - Tyke 14:13:13 02/16/04 ( 1)