Balanced Audio Technology VK-20 Preamplifiers

VK-20

Line Pre Amp

User Reviews (12)

Showing 1-10 of 12  
Jessica   AudioPhile [Jul 01, 2002]
Strength:

Tube like character with solid state bass and delicate control. Best of both worlds design. Great interface and remote.

Weakness:

Needs lots of ventilation room

This is a truely great preamp that deserves to be auditioned. The other posts really sum up things very well, this is a very well balanced highend preamp. It seems very transparent yet very controlled with an ability to resolve delicate detail with good dynamics. The bass performance of the Vk20 is really wonderful. With the VK-20 in my system, it sounds like my bass goes deeper than it did before, yet it's more controlled as manifest by beautiful skin tones and dynamic life of hand drums. Intruments and voices have a very 3d character to them and they are very well deliniate. There is no sense of etch or analytical here, just music. The Vk-20 has really breathed new life into my system. Can't wait to do the SixPac upgrade which the people at BAT say makes the VK20 indistinguishable from the VK40 except on big orchestral pieces where the beefier power supply helps the VK40. The guy I bought my VK20 from upgraded to a VK30se. He really likes his VK30se, but he had to admit that he prefered the bass performance of the VK20. The only problem I discovered was that when the manual says the unit needs 6" on each side, it means it. I placed the unit in a Lovan rack (open sided tripod modular stack) which only had 1" of clearance between the VK20 and the next shelf above it. After 30 minutes in this cramped space it sounded worse than an old NAD I had around. I moved it to the top of the rack and within an hour it was singing again. Even though it's a solid state design, give it the 6" of ventilation on all sides like the manual says. I bought it used, but now that I've lived with it, I would have bought this new at $2500 with remote. I love tubes, but this solidstate preamp strikes me as a perfect blend of tube and solid state characters and works great in my system. System: GoldenTube SE40 amp, Acoustat 1+1 electrostats, Rega Planar3 + Grado, CAL Sigma tube dac, Nordost Blue Heaven

Similar Products Used: ARC LS3
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
theforerunner   Audio Enthusiast [Apr 17, 2002]
Strength:

Dynamics, soundstaging, high quality build

Weakness:

none

This is an absolutely fantastic preamp. It is a smooth assured performer with wonderful dynamics that throws a very wide, well focused soundstage. There is definately no solid state glare or harshness. If anything , this preamp has a tubelike character. It is very easy to listen to yet it provides a wealth of detail and resolution. The unit I have has the six-pak upgrade which is well worth the money. The remote is solidly built. The unit to my taste is beautiful to look at also. I have it mated with a Bryston 4B-ST and they work extremely well together. Though many people call this an "entry level" pre-amp at $3000 retail there is nothing entry level about the price. Believe me, there is nothing entry level about the sound! This is a real high end preamp. If you''re patient and you shop well you can get a great deal on this one.

Similar Products Used: Musical Fidelity
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Jason   Audiophile [Jan 29, 2002]
Strength:

Dynamics, musicality, involving, ease of use, functionality, and the finest user interface available on any product anywhere!

Weakness:

None found as yet.

I'll be brief. I've owned many a preamp in my many years associated with this hobby. The BAT VK20 is the finest bargain to be found in all of audio. I've owned most of the BAT preamps, and the VK20 gives up little, if anything, in the way of dynamics or musicality compared to its more expensive siblings. It must be said that the unit I possess contains the optional 6 pak capacitor upgrade module, which I suspect really helps to bring it to life. I've recently downsized my system, yet I've not lost a thing in terms of musicality. If you've yet to hear a VK20 consider giving one a listen for yourself. You'll bound to be pleasantly surprised. Don't think for a moment that you absolutely, positively have to throw money around in this hobby to acquire a state of the art sound system. I doubt anyone that heard my system would believe the amount of sound it produces from a minimal investment. The bottom line is, what does the music sound like. Not how much money you've spent. The VK20 is the real deal and for a small investment is, for my money, the best preamp bargain in all of audio. Enjoy!!!

Similar Products Used: Pass Aleph P, Plinius M16, BAT VK40, BAT VK50SE, Threshold T2.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
George   Audiophile [Mar 25, 2000]
Strength:

Transparency, detail.

Weakness:

None

I don't understand what all the fuss is about over the VK20? It is a very nice sounding preamp. BAT doesn't make a bad component of any type. The VK20 is one of the finest preamps I've ever listened to. I own it, and have owned preamps costing many times more than the VK20. Everyone has their own ears, and every system is unique given everyones own room. To DIS the VK20 because of some short comings of a dealer set up, or problem with "YOUR" room is dumb. The VK20 is a fine preamp, and you'd have to throw away a lot more money to get 2% more in performance to be had from preamps costing 3 times the price of the VK20. Say what you will, but I'd not trade my VK20 for any preamp in all of audio. It's a KEEPER!

Similar Products Used: BAT VK5i, CAT Signature1
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Howard   Audiophile [Mar 24, 2000]
Strength:

Nice machined remote, build quality, and user interface.

Weakness:

Not emotionally engaging, weak phono stage.

First off, every front-end component or preamplifier I consider buying is auditioned in my listening room using my CAT JL1 or Air Tight ATM-300. I recently auditioned the VK-20 and found that it lacked emotion and transparency. I'm not one to argue about one's personal tastes and biases, but I can say that this pre was not a serious contender in my system.

Similar Products Used: AR LS25, Classe Omega just to name a few.
OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
3
John   Audiophile [Mar 19, 2000]
Strength:

User interface, solid construction.

Weakness:

Less than average imaging and dynamics for comparably priced preamps.

The VK20 is a solidly-built and attractive preamp that has a user interface that's second to none. This unit is very capable of presenting fine microdynamics with the right amplifier, however, the macros need major help in presenting the realism one would expect within this price range. I A/B'b this unit against other "high-end" preamps and found the imaging and soundstage presentation to be somewhat compressed. I am therefore giving this unit 2/5.

Similar Products Used: Lamm model L1, CJ Premier 17LS, Audible Illusions Mod 3A
OVERALL
RATING
2
VALUE
RATING
2
John   Audiophile [Mar 18, 2000]
Strength:

Very clear sounding, great bass, great rythum. Great price.

Weakness:

none

This preamp is very much the same as the more expensive BAT preamps. It sounds as good as the Bat vk5i to me. Very clear, and transparent soundstage. I prefer the new style interface over what the 5i had. You can't do better for the money. In fact, the VK2O is the best steal to be had in all of audio. Anyone who says otherwise is only kidding themselves. Don't let them kid you. Try one out for yourself. I'm very, very happy with my VK20!!!

Similar Products Used: Bat vk5i
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
John   Audiophile [Jan 24, 2000]
Strength:

Looks nice

I've tried at least ten high-end pre-amps in my system with the ultimate goal of replacing my existing $1500 pre when I find one that sounds better.
The BAT VK-20 was about the fourth pre-amp I auditioned from one of the local dealers. I noticed the build quality to be above average. I then removed my existing pre and carefully cleaned the connectors of the BAT before I hooked everything up. I used Synergistc Research Phase 2 and above throughout with active shielding.
Since this pre was already broken in, I felt comfortable listening right away. Soon thereafter, I thought I had connected it wrong. Could it possibly sound this bad? I re-checked all the connections (all unbalabced) and confirmed they were right.
To make a long story short, this pre was at the bottom of all the pre's I auditioned in the $1000-$5000 range. In fact, my "cheap" Parasound PLD-2000 smoked it. The soundstage shrank to almost non-existance, imaging was poor, dynamics became compressed, and it had a nasty edge, or lack of warmth.
Upon returning it to the dealer, they informed me it was in good working condition, and obviously shocked at my dissappointment. I don't recommend this pre-amp to anyone.
But, it sure looks nice.

OVERALL
RATING
1
VALUE
RATING
1
Martin Taylor   Audiophile [Aug 25, 2001]
Strength:

Neutral, silky smooth top end

Weakness:

Lumpy bass, not truly transparent

I review this machine only in passing, since it has been loaned to me while my Pass is being repaired. That's the only reason I would compare it with a preamp costing over twice as much.
Its strengths are a natural presentation, without any obvious colorations, and very smooth and sweet treble (quite valve-like). I also like the user interface and wish the Pass had programmable input names. I'm not so keen on the very fine volume increments, it seems to take an age to reach the level I want. On the down side, the bass is not detailed and extended compared with the Pass. The soundstage lacks that depth and dimensionality I am used to, making the music sound a little flat.
Overall, I doubt that I could live with this machine, but only because I am used to the superb Pass. Is it more than half the Pass' performance? Of course, the law of diminishing returns applies. A very nicely designed mid-fi product.

Similar Products Used: Pass Labs X1
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Greg   Audiophile [Feb 28, 2000]
Strength:

Speed, timbral accuracy, soundstage, tonality, user interface, looks, quietness, price.

Weakness:

None come to mind.

Hello all,

Having previously owned the majority of preamplifiers listed above, I was somewhat reluctant to bring in the BAT VK20 on a blind purchase. I've no local BAT representation that stocks the VK20, thus was very reluctant to gamble on the VK20 after reading the two previously posted reviews.

After speaking at length with the patient seller of the VK20, I conceded to bring it in blind to give it a listen. I've been listening to tube preamps for the most part the past couple years, thus I wasn't too keen on the prospect of owning a solid state preamp, but something compelled me to bring it in anyway. Hey, it's only money, right? Well, no sooner than I'd fired the VK20 up from the cold UPS shipment, was I reminded of that 'Chex' commericial..."Hey Mikey, he likes it!"

First impressions of the VK20 are extremely positive. It appears a tad faster than the VK30SE, with excellent tonal accuracy, rhythm, harmonics, soundstaging, and resolution to boot.

The restyled user interface of the current BAT preamps is vastly superior to the former 5i, 3i genre preamps. One can customize the digital readout and inputs to suit their individual needs.

I'm not one to question anyone elses review, or their motives for placing such negative suggestions about the VK20 previously...But,what I will say, is their experiences don't equate to my experciences with the VK20. The 20 performs wonderfully, and mates extremely well to the BAT VK500 amplifier. The phono card is wonderful too, though a bit more hum than I've associated with phono cards mounted in previously owned versions of the VK30 and VK30SE.

Hey, what can I say, other than I respectfully disagree. My suggestion is, take a page out of the 'Chex' commercial, and "try it, you just might like it", too!

The VK20 is a real find in my book, especially for used preamps under $2k!

5 stars??? That's a given!!!

Enjoy~

Similar Products Used: BAT models VK5i, VK30, VK30 SE, VK50 SE. Plinius models M16, M12. Threshold models T2, T3. Coda models 01p, 02b.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 12  

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