Balanced Audio Technology VK-3i Preamplifiers

4.71/5 (14 Reviews) MSRP : $2500.00


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Reviews 1 - 5 (14 Reviews Total) | Next 15

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Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Bob J. a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: April 26, 2017

Bottom Line:   
This is the third BAT preamp I have owned. The previous two were BATs VK-30 and VK-32. The previous two were used with Lumley Signature 150 tubed monoblocks and/or a BAT VK-500 as is the current BAT that has found a new home here, a BAT VK-3i. I will cut to the chase and say of the three BAT preamps that I have owned, the 3i is the best of the three which might seem odd since it is the oldest design. It is not a dual mono like the other the two, nor does it offer some of the other features, such as a balance control. And for some reason, this BAT just sounds better. The soundstage is HUGE, and DEEP. While the 30 and 32 were no slackers in this area, the 3i is, well, just better. Subtle nuances in the music appear to be more readily heard but not in an etched or over-emphasized manner. Nope. It is just what one would expect to hear if one attended a live concert. The presentation is a bit forward but I like that. To me this makes for a more lifelike presentation. I mean, when I go to a concert or the symphony I do not expect, nor want the performer(s) to be 100 yards away from me. While BAT equipment can be, and is often described as dark or lean when pushed, I do not hear that with the 3i though it was slightly evident with the two previous models I owned.
Now, here is the disclaimer: I did replace the four 6922 tubes with four Amperex tubes, and the 6V6 tubes were replaced with NOS RCA 6V6. Too, I have found that BAT preamps take kindly to Nordost power cords and I am using a Blue Heaven one with the 3i, though this not new with this preamp as I used the same cord with the two previous BAT preamps. This is the first BAT preamp I have owned that responded well to NOS tubes, a significant change in sonics as opposed to a lesser difference with the previous two preamps by BAT.
I could go on and on but I just wanted to write a few quick paragraphs to say that a purchase of a BAT VK-3i is a very wise decision which will not disappoint. Frankly, they are worth every dime of their price and a good used one should go for about $1100 or so with remote and you need a remote as it just makes good sense. With the varying degrees of recorded volume levels one could go nuts jumping up and down to adjust volume levels to the proper levels so yes, get one with a remote.
A huge, deep soundstage, palpable performers, layers of music that are easily discernible, excellent remote and just plain musical makes a VK-3i purchase a no-brainer. Try it - I guarantee you will like it.

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   1999



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by WILLIAM C WALDECKER 3RD a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: June 28, 2006

Bottom Line:   
this preamplifier replaces a Anthem pre 1L in my current system. it is not euphonic in the sense that that it is very clean sounding with just a hint of tube warmth. build quality is first rate with sonics to match.it came with the factory Sovtecs installed. i tried tube rolling with this pre and found that the Amperex 7308s that made my pre 1L sing so sweetly did not appeal to me in this particular circuit.i liked the sound of the sovtecs but on a recomendation from a friend rolled in a quad of Ei Elite gold 6DJ8s. these tubes remind me of early Amperex A frame 6DJ8s and sound great in this preamplifier.

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Used product for:   3 Months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2003

Price Paid:    $1350.00

Purchased At:   Upscale Audio



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by William C Waldecker III a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: May 8, 2006

Bottom Line:   
The BAT VK 3i is the second tube preamplifier that i have owned and used in my two channel system. the first one Being an Anthem Pre 1L linestage. i liked the Pre 1L very much and with Amperex 7308 goldpins installed it sang very sweetly indeed.i own a pair of Odyssey factory modded mono extreme SE's for amplification duties using Groneberg TS premium cables and ic's throughout the entire system. loudspeakers are the wonderful Odyssey/Symphonic Line Lorelei's using Scanspeak 8545 midbass drivers and 9700 tweeters and the source is a Symphonic Line Vibrato CD player.my system sounds alot better than it has a right to considering the performance vs cost ratio.i was very pleased with the Pre 1L in the system but the VK 3i takes it to a whole new level sonically.the synergy with the VK 3i in this two channel rig is breathtaking. if you prefer an overly euphonic presentation this pre may not be your cup of tea.if you crave a black background and a smooth overall presentation with just a touch of tube warmth the VK 3 i may be right up your alley.the bass,midrange and treble seem to be in fine balance with each other,as it does everything equally well. what suprised me the most is that in my particular system i prefered it with the factory supplied Sovtec's installed over my expensive Amperex 7308 goldpins. Victor Khomenko is a Genius when it comes to designing audio circuits and i would like to congradulate him on a job well done!the VK 3i is a very Handsome well built piece of Gear and best of all it is made in the USA thanks....WCW III

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Used product for:   3 Months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2002

Price Paid:    $1350.00

Purchased At:   Upscale Audio



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by jandl100 a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: February 13, 2005

Bottom Line:   
As delivered, it is (as others have criticised it) quite bright, with flat sound-staging and quite noticeable upper-mid and treble grain. BUT, swap out the stock Sovtek tubes for something a little better and a whole new world awaits you! The grain disappears, musical warmth washes forth and the 3D soundstage opens up. It really is worth dumping those Sovteks. I use JAN Philips 6922s and Brimar 6V6GTs. These work very well, but I'll be doing some more tube rolling to see if more can be obtained.

With tubes substituted (which is how I have scored this item) there is subtlety and detail and transparency in abundance. No, it's not awash in tube-ular euphonics - it remains clean and pure - but it is very, very musical!

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2002

Price Paid:    $1600.00

Purchased At:   Brighton Hifi Exchan



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by RLB61 a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: September 2, 2003

Bottom Line:   
As a preliminary matter, let me say that I love this pre-amp. Its sound is natural and engaging without being syrupy. 3D imaging is amazing and soundstage is wide and deep. First thing you must do is swap out the stock Sovtek 6922 tubes. This is essential if you want to really hear what the VK-3i can do. Now, I did some tube rolling with Amperex, Siemens, etc., and wasn't particularly satisfied soundwise or costwise. I settled on the NOS Sovtek 6H23-EBs and Visseaux 6v6GTs from Kevin Deal at Upscale Audio (reasonably priced). WHAT an improvement over the stock tubes. I much preferred the sound of the VK-3i to that of the VK-5i(discontinued) and VK-30. The 5i had a tad more resolution but it was so incremental that it didn't justify the price differential. Also, the 5i has no single ended imputs. As for the VK-30, I found it to be a bit lean and just not as much fun to listen to as the VK-3i. This is one sweet pre-amp.

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2001




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