BALANCED AUDIO  PHONO STAGES

 All-tube zero-feedback designs that combine the benefits of balanced operation with complementary vacuum-tube current sources, dual-mono construction, enormous energy reserves, differential RIAA network for improved common mode noise rejection, and second-generation step-up transformers that provide improvement in signal-to-noise ratio.

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MADE IN THE USA

 

BAT VK-90

 

 

Engineering Enhancements Make VK-P90 BAT’s

Finest-Ever Phono Preamplifier

Balanced Audio Technology’s VK-P90 touts numerous engineering improvements to offer the finest information retrieval ever offered in a BAT phono preamplifier. From its third-generation hybrid SuperPak to the improved second-generation inter-stage oil coupling capacitors and revised step-up transformers, VK-P90 is devised to anchor the world’s most revered playback systems. In addition to its transformer-coupled output stage, the all-tube design incorporates four high-gain 6C45 tubes.

 

They provide high-current and low-output impedance, as well as superb drive and crystalline transparency. These design elements result in an ultra-quiet phono preamplifier that's on intimate terms with dynamic ease, grand scale, and musical honesty.

 Third-Generation SuperPak Provides Utmost Transparency

VK-P90 features Balanced Audio Technology’s new, third-generation SuperPak in its power supply design. It represents a significant rethinking of what is possible from an energy storage device.

 

For the first time, the BAT SuperPak features hybrid construction that incorporates two capacitors built and potted into each individual shell. An additional silver-in-oil capacitor—the finest-quality capacitor offered at any price—is used as part of the Gen 3’s construction.

 

The two capacitors are then assembled into a new low-resonance shell. The result: Low-level detail is revealed in a clear and unforced manner, while the overall sound takes on a beguiling sweetness and naturalness from top to bottom.

 

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Transformer-coupled output stage for superior purity

Like the elite VK-80, VK-90, and REX 3 preamplifiers, VK-P90 features a transformer-coupled output stage. The result of countless prototypes and tests, it proves substantially superior to any capacitor in maintaining a purity of signal transmission.

 

Electrically, the output transformers significantly enhance every measured respect, while sonically, they offer improvements in all areas of musical reproduction.

Fully Balanced, All-Tube Design Offers Analog Bliss

With VK-P90, you get an all-tube zero-feedback design that combines the benefits of balanced operation with complementary vacuum-tube current sources. Its dual-mono construction and enormous energy reserves are matched by extensive cartridge-loading flexibility. The first gain stage achieves a very low noise floor via premium Vishay bulk foil resistors that replace metal film resistors in critical areas. An upgraded power supply joins the transformer-coupled output stage in contributing to immersive transparency and responsive, visceral bass. Vacuum- tube current sources further improve the linearity and produce a wide-open, textured sound. In addition, a differential RIAA network ensures all your records will sound the way the recording engineer intended, all the while permitting ease of adjustment and improved common-mode noise rejection. Plus, the VK-P90’s second-generation step-up transformers provide as much as a 20dB improvement in signal-to-noise ratio in comparison to direct mode operation. With up to 80dB of gain available, no signal is too small.

Analog bliss awaits

Specifications

Output
Transformer coupled

Inputs
1x RCA + 1x XLR

Outputs
1x XLR

Power Supply

Third generation SuperPak : 8x50uF with internal silver/oil hybrid construction

Silver gold oil bypass caps

Signal Path

Silver gold oil inter-stage coupling capacitors

Step up transformers for increased gain

Second generation step up transformers

Global Feedback

None

Gain at 1kHz

Direct - Low: 45dB

Direct - High: 60dB

Step-up low: 65dB

Step-up high: 80dB

Signal to noise ratio

Direct - low: 73dB
Direct - high: 76dB
Step-up low: 86dB
Step-up high: 93dB

Cartridge loading Resistance (ohms)

Selectable from 100 to 47k
Capacitance (pf)

Selectable from 0 to 1000

Tube Complement
4x 6922, 4x 6C45, 2x 6SN7

Absolute Polarity
Switchable

Power supply energy storage
200 joules

Power Consumption
150 VA

Dimensions
19" x 5.75" x 15.5"
Weight
40 lbs

VK-90 w/ GEN 3 SuperPAK

$12,995

 

BAT VK-80

 

 

6C45 Gain Stage Delivers Superior Musical Insight 

Balanced Audio Technology’s VK-P80 uses a similar gain stage configuration to that employed in the company’s reference VK-P90 phono preamplifier.

 

As a beneficiary of the stellar engineering used in BAT’s flagship design, VK-P80 also employs 10 tubes in a balanced zero-feedback configuration. Vacuum-tube current sources anchor the design to provide the true-to-life texture for which analog is renowned. Plus, its unique gain stage employs 6C45 vacuum tubes to achieve improved electrical performance, additional gain, and wide-open transparency. When it comes to versatility, VK-P80's dual-mono construction and enormous energy reserves are matched by extensive cartridge-loading flexibility.

 

Your records, system, and emotional satisfaction will be greatly rewarded with VK-P80 in your analog chain.

Duo-Pak and Second-Generation Oil Capacitors Boost Performance

 

Balanced Audio Technology has used oil capacitors in its leading-edge designs for years. The oil provides proper damping to the capacitor so that the signal passing through it does not ring. While a non-oil cap can initially make music sound more exciting, the excitation comes from these ringing artifacts. Such ringing can make a violin sound strident and cause a symphonic recording to sound unnatural and metallic.

 

BAT is pleased to introduce second-generation oil capacitors in VK-P80 for both the inter-stage coupling and the new Duo-Pak output stage. The result: A more open and dynamic portrayal of music that maintains BAT’s hallmark naturalism.

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Extreme Flexibility and Sonic Transparency

E VK-P80 employs a differential RIAA network, permitting ease of adjustment and improved common-mode noise rejection. The completely passive circuit has fewer components than a more traditional implementation, resulting in improved matching of the RIAA curve to specification. With the BAT Flying RIAA network, you can rest assured all of your records will sound the way that the engineer intended. Vacuum-tube current sources further improve the linearity and produce an addictively open, textured sound. And in VK-P80, dual 6SN7 vacuum tubes act as current sources for the second gain stage.

Specifications

Output

Duo-Pak second generation silver gold oil capacitors – 3.3uF per phase

Signal Path

Silver gold oil inter-stage coupling capacitors

Global Feedback

None

Inputs
1 x RCA

Outputs
1 x XLR

 

Gain at 1kHz

Direct - Low: 50dB

Direct - High: 57dB

Signal to noise ratio

Direct - low: 71dB
Direct - high: 73dB

Cartridge loading Resistance (ohms)

Selectable from 100 to 47k
Capacitance (pf)

Selectable from 100 to 1000

Tube Complement
4x 6922, 4x 6C45, 2x 6SN7

Power supply energy storage
140 joules

Power Consumption
150 VA

Dimensions
19" x 5.75" x 15.5"
Weight
36 lbs

VK-80

$6,995

What they say ...

The Absolute Sound

BAT VK-P12SE

Jacob Heilbrunn   July 20, 2016

 

"Once I hooked it up I was quickly smitten by the traditional BAT virtues : a capacious soundstage, rock-solid imaging, and a sumptuous midrange. These attributes were abundantly apparent on a Philips album I recently acquired that features the violinist Arthur Grumiaux and pianist Paul Crossley playing Schubert sonatas. Grumiaux is a wonderfully sensitive artist who plays with a more romantic sound than that favored by modern violinists. Grumiaux’s refulgent tone and suave approach to the sonatas were winningly presented by the BAT. There was no sense of grain or murk. Instead, the ability of the BAT to separate the piano and violin in space was plainly evident. Like other BAT equipment I’ve heard, the VK-P12SE seemed to stretch endlessly into the distance rather than offer an abrupt terminus. Though I definitely heard the piano echoing against the back wall, the phonostage offered an ineffable sense of a limitless horizon. A solid-state unit, I imagine, would have offered a more marmoreal presentation. This, however, came across as more lifelike.

 

That sense of a gobsmackingly wide, even cavernous, soundstage was also apparent on big, powerhouse orchestral works—the kind of thing that the late founder of this magazine would revel in when he wanted to embark upon a wild sonic ride. Take Seiji Ozawa’s Deutsche Grammophon recording of Manuel De Falla’s The Three-Cornered Hat, which features the superb singer Teresa Berganza. For all its sonic richness, the BAT didn’t offer a hint of sonic bloat; it kept her voice firmly in proportion to the orchestra. Was the treble slightly rolled-off? I don’t think so, but anyone looking for a little bit of sizzle in the empyrean regions should look elsewhere. The BAT remains fastidiously controlled in the treble. It isn’t demure, but the epitome of refined gentlemanly restraint.

Another plus of the VK-P12SE is its ability to deliver the goods on deep bass. The combination of the SAT tonearm, Lyra Atlas cartridge, and Continuum Caliburn turntable controls the bass region to a degree that I’ve not heard matched elsewhere, and the BAT displayed this setup’s collective virtues with aplomb. Indeed, the lengths that BAT has gone to in order to bulk up its power supply really seem to pay off. I never had the sense that the BAT was straining. Instead, there was always a sense of sovereign ease, no matter how difficult or complex the source material. There are more than a few phonostages that don’t quite reach the outmost extremes of the frequency on bass and treble. Not so with the BAT. On the sterling Count Basie album Kansas City 6, which was released by Norman Granz’s Pablo label, there was a hint of menace in Basie’s deep, growling piano notes, delivered with his inimitable panache. With Basie it’s all about suggestion, not blasting you into submission with thunderous chords. But the BAT provided a fine sense of his piano resonating on the traditional “St. Louis Blues” cut.

 

If you can’t tell already, I’m something of a bass freak. So I wheeled out a couple more bass-heavy albums to see what was going on in the subterranean audio precincts. After all, with two Wilson Audio Hammer of Thor subwoofers along for the musical party, it would seem like something amounting to dereliction of duty not to push things to the max. One of my guilty—or is it infantile?—pleasures is a new MoFi reissue of KC and the Sunshine Band. On “Do A Little Dance,” the bass was simply prodigious and defined. The backing chorus’ “whoo’s” were clearly defined, a sharp burst punctuating the bass line. Then there was one of my favorite jazz upright bassists, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, on a Pablo album called The Viking. Once again, the imaging was beyond reproach and the sound voluptuous. The bass notes emerged from the Wilson XLFs with authority and snap. I’m not going to tell you, however, that the VK-P12SE is the ultimate in overall resolution. The superfine, filigreed detail that the most extreme phonostages produce, take these components to another level. But they also cost orders of magnitude more than the BAT. Furthermore, a word of caution:

 

At the BAT’s level, you’re really talking more about a gestalt, a sensation of sound, than about a lack of performance. The BAT errs on the sound of a satiny finish. It is, not to put too fine a point on it, a music-making machine.

 

It’s not about extracting the last jot and tittle of a musical line. It wants to supply the sweep, the lilt of a phrase rather than dissecting it into its constituent parts. If you’re a detail freak, then the BAT is probably not for you. But if you’re looking for a phonostage that will almost invariably seduce you with its charms, then it may well prove a valuable addition to a top-drawer analog rig".

What they say ...

TONEAudio Magazine

BAT VK-P6SE

Jeff Dorgay   No.74  October, 2015

"Tracking through a fair share of the Slayer catalog, both P6 models reveal more air between the screaming guitars, while simultaneously capturing heavier pounding from the bass drum and bass guitar without losing focus and merely

sounding like a metal mess. Things feel more like you are right in the front row, hearing a lot more of the amplifiers and monitors rather than the PA.

 

Classical lovers preferring large scale orchestral pieces will notice the same thing, instantly. No matter what you choose, the hall feels bigger and more alive, with horns and strings having more subtle texture and greater silence between the

notes.

 

And your favorite female vocalists will kill you. Anja Garbarek’s Smiling and Waving and Julee Cruise’s The Art of Being a Girl are chock-full of breathy, processed, steamy vocals. The combination of the P6 and the Grado cartridge

was so natural and relaxed, that it seemed as if it couldn’t get better

until we swapped places with the SE model.

 

Like all BAT products, both the bass resolution and definition are their strongest suit, though the new P6 series features more refinement in the upper octaves as well. Yet, put on your favorite bass-heavy track and it’s instantly clear that this phonostage delivers sound you may not have heard elsewhere. Thanks to the improved power supply and refined circuit topology, the current crop of BAT phonostages are even quieter than the past models, and considering there are ten tubes under the cover, this is no small engineering feat. If you didn’t see the glow, you’d almost think there weren’t any tubes in these preamplifiers!

 

Everything else notwithstanding, where the P6SE and P12SE models are a

bit limited is that they both only offer one input, so they are more suited to the single turntable / tonearm audiophile. It is worth noting that the VK P12SE model

also offers a balanced phono input for those seeking the ultimate in quiet.

 

This BAT phonostage is excellent, and thanks to its robust construction should provide years of listening pleasure. Our experience with past BAT preamplifiers indicates they do not run their tubes very hard, so you shouldn’t have to replace the tubes that often. The P6SE features a complement of four 6922s and a pair of 6SN7s along with a new 6C45 gain stage with BAT’s Super Pak capacitor upgrade as well. Both the 6SN7 and the 6922 have a plethora of vintage NOS options, so you could probably drive yourself crazy with tube rolling".