I have been in this game for about 40 years now , and my first set was anologe ,so making the switch was a trip trying to get digital thing wright. One day I stumbled over a review that a gentleman said that he wanted a cd player to go with his turntable thin it clicked. I had for a long time read about Bat cd player's, mainly the vkd5 because for my taste sounds more smooth. This unit replaced the Cary 303/300, and the Cary is no slouch , but the Bat is High end . With the wright setup,amp preamp speakers ,and great liquid smooth cable's,cd after cd, we're talking all night of the music of your hole collection just sounding so right. The soundstage is natural ,the top end is smooth with inner details and a midrange that is first rate. The bass is very tight,and layered. If I had one word to describe the Bat would be satisfied. All in all this is one sophisticated piece that also look great.
This product has excellent sonics, but tend to work when it wants to.
This is an excellent sounding unit, with a natural easy going sound not found in many other players. What comes out of it is relaxed and very detailed. There is a lot of rich detail without the digital hardness that is endemic to CD.
Fit and finish are impressive, when you by this unit you thin nearly indestructible, so to say the least I was taken aback by the units lack of reliability. I have replaced the transport 2 times, re tubed it twice, and had some difficulty with unit powering up as it is suppose to. I recently had the SE upgrade applied and now have a continuation of quirkiness, it will play, but you have to coax it to.
Even though I will keep the unit for a while yet, I would not recommend BAT CD players, though they sound wonderful they are not reliable.
This review is for the standard VK-D5. Eventually, I would like to compare it to the SE version, though it would be hard to believe that the SE can sound much better than this player with NOS tubes.
When I first got this player, the first thing I did was pull the standard Sovtek 6922 tubes, and replaced them with 3 matched pairs of NOS Amperex Bugle Boy 6DJ8 tubes. Next on the horizon, I will be trying some Amperex 7308 tubes which are supposed to be fantastic.
With the NOS tubes in place, this turns into one heck of a "redbook" CD player, among the best these ears have heard. The player allows me to listen to the music and lets me forget about the equipment. There is no harshness or brightness, and I can listen for untold hours without any listener fatigue. Detail, imaging and soundstage are all excellent, but let me tell you, the midrange is to die for...the palpability and realness of voices is fanatastic. The bass is very good, and I get all the the "slam" that I need. The highs are very good indeed, though this player is certainly tuned to the "warm" side, and if you're looking for the most extended highs, you won't get it here. However, cymbals sound very natural and exhibit a very natural decay with this player, which is good enough for me.
All in all, I'm extremely pleased with the VK-D5. If you like the "BAT" sound like I do, you'd be happy with this player as well.
This review is of the SE edition. I listened to many other CD players when auditioning the front end for my system, and found myself constantly coming back to the warmth and smoothness of the BAT. In comparison to a Levinson No.39, the sound stage on the BAT was less up-front, with less brightness at the top-end and the vocals initially seemed less prominent. Extended listening revealed the BAT to give a more balanced view of the music, with excellent detail retrieval, and very unfatiguing during extended listening. The 39 still had more slam in the bass, but the bottom end was not as musical as the BAT. Krell KAV 280 was a notch below both both these players in overall performance. Overall for some rock music I can see how some might prefer the rawer sound of the Levinson, but for me on all music types the BAT won out, with the possible exception of bass-heavy dance music/reggae, where the control of the Levinson helped to compensate for radio-friendly emphasis on the bass. Compared with the analogue output of a Meridian 598, again the BAT was far more compelling, adding more authority to the music, and noticeably more detail. DVD-A through the Meridian was a big improvement-far better definition overall, tremendous bottom end, and detail, although still lacking the warmth of the VKD5-SE
Mine is just broken in and I am thrilled. This is the regular version, but with the latest, October 1st, updates, including the removal of the HDCD decoding (It, like many of the other high end CD players, sounds better with all discs, including HDCDs, without the decoder, than with, so it was removed.)and new 24 bit technology. Before full break in, it sounded overly warm, loose, and undetailed (had me worried), but after about 75 hours (I just left it on without the pre-amp on for 4 days), it was very much improved, and at 100 hours it was a super-star. I later added balanced interconnects and was even more impressed with the VK-D5’s sound.
I compared this with a huge group of CD players, including some “Class A players”, and tried it in a few different systems. I even compared it to the famed Sony 777ES. The Sony, with regular discs, sounded OK, I guess, but like a CD player. It was bright and, if purchased, would have to have been modified to try to improve this. It seems many people do this to that unit and I know I couldn’t live with it straight out of the box. The BAT has all the clarity, punch, detail, air, space and liquid realism you could want, without over emphasizing brightness, or anything else for that matter. It is very well balanced. It is totally listenable and enjoyable for long periods of time with a sound that is so accurate that it makes you forget. I know piano and guitar. Believe me; it is dead on the money. And by the way, when I say accurate I mean like realistic music sounds from the 10th row center, not like the over detailed unrealistic sound of standing within the band and having your ear next to each instrument. That may be interesting for a while, but in reality is as ridiculous a sound as John Lennon singing out of one speaker while his guitar plays out of the other. It gets on your nerves.
I once was at a Santana concert, alone in the 4th row (I worked in the business for a while.) and almost dozed off. That happened not because I was bored, but because the playing of Carlos was so peaceful and involving that I was swept into an amazing state of relaxation while being thrilled by the music. I get this from the BAT. I forget there are electronics in the room. I don’t hear a CD player. I hear the band, orchestra, or singer. I hear music! As I said, this was all done with the current model with the standard tubes. As all manufacturers of tube equipment, they have to use the best tubes they can that are readily available now and for some time to come. I have heard that the VK-D5 sounds even better with NOS tubes or in the BAT SE version, but I intend to enjoy this version for a while, than surprise myself with a NOS tube or BAT upgrade down the road.
If you think you can afford it (I know it is expensive, but honestly well worth it.), new or used, you owe it to yourself to audition a fully broken in BAT VK-D5. Maybe I just lucked out in my match of gear, although I doubt it, but I bet you walk away with this unit on your short list.
If it sounds like I am very happy with it, I am :). I listened to it in stores for almost a year, then got this new model. For now, I wouldn't take any player over it, and wouldn't give it up for an SACD or DVD-A player. I would only add to it when they finally get their act together..
System: Cary 805C amps BAT VK-30se pre-amp JM Lab Mini Utopias Kimber Kable all around