Tuesday, May 31, 2005

BAT VK-55 power amp

Source: The Absolute Sound April/May 2005

Sue Kraft and Wayne Garcia reviewed the latest offering from BAT, a 6C33B tube based, 55wpc, full balanced power amp VK-55. The VK-55 can be seen as BAT's "value-oriented" answer to Audio Research's VS-55 and to onslaught of Chinese origin tube amps.

In short, "not the most detailed amp out there...instead, it provides plenty of harmonic, textural, rhytmic, and ambient information, all within the context of the musical whole." And "The midrange is this amplifier's glory...vocals - all vocals - are treat". Kraft found the VK-55 to be a bit sweeter and more romantic sounding than pricier BAT amps, Garcia concluded it to be "toward the warm side of neutral."

Viewpoint: I've always highly respected Balanced Audio Technology. BAT's products are designed with an attitude and reflect designer's, Victor Khomenko, points of view. It's Khomenko who introduced now famous "supertube" - 6H30 - into audiophile designs. BAT as a company belongs without any doubt to top-tier of high-end manufacturers. Personally I haven't seen any negative review of BAT's products. In addition, Victor has a very good sense of the customer service, look into his posts in AudioAsylum.

However, I do have a problem with BAT's pricing in the EU. I understand that beyond transportation costs (negligent), the EU retail price includes duties and VAT, but with the prevailing USD/Euro exchange rate the European price of €5000 for the VK-55 looks - should I say - ridiculous. Yeah, it's $3995 in the US. Unfortunately BAT is one of the American manufacturers who has chosen to be phased out of the European market because of excessive profit maximazation (greed?). Hint for Americans: please see how competitively all Europeans cars are priced in the US vis-a-vis their national markets - or look Musical Fidelity's pricing strategy in the EU and in the US. No wonder products providing superior price/performance like Melody or PrimaLuna have a great future in the EU.

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