BAT VK-32 tube preamp or stay with BAT VK-3ix

I have ordered a BAT VK-55SE. (I was using a solid state VK-220). I currently have a BAT VK-3ix which I really think is a nice preamp. I haven't been able to find much on the VK-32 and am curious to know if you think it would be a big step up from the VK-3ix. If I do this I'm probably looking at the non-SE version of the preamp as I kind of like the idea of the 6922's in the chain. (If you think the SE version is the better option plse say so).

Would prefer to not have recommendations for another brand of preamp as I really like BAT and the synergy I got with the VK-220 and 3-ix. I just got the urge to try a Tube amp for the first time, so any thoughts on the VK-32 or 32SE are appreciated.

Source is Ayre C-5xe and speakers = Harbeth M-30, and I don't have a local dealer where I can audition.

Thanks, Mark

I am a Bat dealer, and feel the upgrade is definetly worth the extra expense. If you are looking at used, try to find the discontinued 51SE truly a ref piece. Good luck,

Hi Mark,

From my experience with BAT I do find the SE models to be more accurate and true to the source. They also have better extension at both extremes, dynamics, with better resolution of detail. All very good things!

I would think that VK32se gives the user plenty of control tailoring the sound to one's taste and system with the other options in tube choice. I advise going with the SE version.

Word has it with regards to performance that the 51se vs. 32se scenario is a give and take situation, where the new 32se has a more natural organic rendition of texture/timbre of tone. I don't know this from first hand experience.

I agree with your choice of sticking with BAT as I also have found their sonic virtues to be so well balanced and on target with my taste on how I hear sound.

As far as BAT the company? I cannot praise them highly enough! Good luck with whatever you decide on.


I also have a VK-3iX. I upgraded it with Super-Pak, Six-Pak, and larger SE transformer so that I can stay with 6922s. It is a bit more expensive this way, but I like the idea of tube rolling.

I just got a set of Amperex Orange Globe 6DJ8s made in Holland. They are awesome!
Thanks for your responses so far..

51se vs. 32se scenario is a give and take situation, where the new 32se has a more natural organic rendition of texture/timbre of tone.
Tom, I really liked the 51SE and if in fact the 32SE does the above that's what I'm looking for. I have to say I'm in no way disappointed with the 3-IX. I think it's a very nice preamp.

I had a 51SE once - best pre I've owned. I like BAT's service, build quality and am very anxious to try my first tube amp. The BAT equipment I've had just sounds 'right' to me so any other thoughts on the 32/32SE would be appreciated.
Thanks - Mark
Hello Mark,

Congratulations on the new BAT VK-55se amp! May I suggest to take your time and enjoy the upgrade and the break-in process. Give yourself time to discern the differences you'll be hearing and to learn your likes and (possibly) dislikes from the change to the VK-55se.

Once you feel that you have thoroughly absorbed and lived with the sonic impact from inserting the VK-55se into your system, only then would I look forward to the preamp.

Mark, my reason for offering this advice is that you may have different feelings and opinions on what you'll want from a preamp upgrade until after fully experiencing the changes the new amp has made. For example you may find yourself wanting a more lively upfront presentation or one that is a little more laid back and allows you to listen into the music. From my experience these types of things take the investment of time to surface, until fully appreciating the differences the amp has made my advice would be to wait on the pre. Wish you all the best in this process ....



Thanks for the sound advice, which I intend to heed! I was planning on using the 3ix upon arrival of the 55SE and might likely find no need to upgrade :)

It makes sense to just use some frequent flyer miles and go listen to one if the time comes, but would still be curious to hear from a VK32/VK32SE owner as to how you like your preamp.


i audition both 32se and 3xi for my vk55 power amp.

i returned 32se the next day but kept the 3xi / 55 combo for a week.

they just somehow sound more right - airy - delicate than the 32se/55 combo which sound more solid state to me ...
Hello Art,

Congratulations! I'm sure you made a great choice and that the BAT combo will give you many years of wonderful sound.


hello Tom, actually

i am divided between the vk-32 or vk32se or vk52se as a pre amp now... am deciding to get a new preamp and then a used power amp....budget constraint

any advice...

Hello Art,

I haven't heard any of the ones you are thinking of. However I do have some advise.

First, my experience with any of the BAT "SE" vs.non -"SE", amp or preamp, is that I find the "SE" variants to be more tonally accurate, resolved and articulate of detail, better extended, and more linear in dynamics.

If the sonic difference between the 51se vs.31se is any indication of the differences between the 52se and the 32se, then .... if it were me, it would be worth it to go for the 52se.

Another reason my pick would be the 52se is that down the road you could have it upgraded to the (IMHO remarkable!) REX without having to sell. Also, the fact that the 52se can be upgraded to a REX I think would be a desirable selling point if you ever need to sell the 52se.

Art one of the online magazines gave the 52se a stellar review. If I find it I will send you an email with the link of the review ... ok

Art, here is the link for the 52se review.
Mama-mia this VK-55SE is nice. Still not completely broken in, but as I said elsewhere, I was fearful of trying a tube amp and now I wish I'd done it earlier.. As a newbie I like the fact that there's no biasing to do.

I'd never really heard holographic like sound 'til now and there is more 'air' and a greater sense of 'space' between instruments. The mids are more natural sounding and I don't notice any lack of slam compared to the VK-220 or an Ayre amp I had.

After another 100 hours I'm going to replace the (2) stock 6922 tubes- haven't yet removed the cover but imagine they're Sovteks. Also, as the amp only has (2) 6H30's I'm thinking of trying a couple of 6h30-DR tubes.

Art, thanks for your thoughts on the 3i-x and 32se. I still would be very interested in hearing the 32 series, but in no hurry. Another pleasant surprise is how quiet the BAT tube combo is. I'm really liking this.
Your impression of the VK-55 is no surprise at all. After 17 years with my previous tube amp (Beard), I was awestruck when I tried the VK-55. This was the first and only amp I auditioned I was so impressed. At some point I may consider a VK-3iX to complement the VK-55 as I expect the synergy is outstanding.

If you would like to take your pursuit of the holy grail another step consider an analog front end. The dynamics, transparency and presence (realistic reproduction of a live event) will astound you. It is a major commitment and a MAJOR pain in the neck compared to digital however, you will immediately understand why this Kool-Aid is without peer. In fact, I don't own a CDP!

Good luck, Mike
Congrats Classical1. I said the same thing when I 1st heard the VK55 (non SE). My VK200 had better bass slam but thats where it ended. It was paired with the 5i preamp. This combo has been the most musical my system has sounded.

Thanks so much for your timely assistance...with guys like you around, this forum then is able to make all the differences .....
ALLn rave reviews about VK 55 and VK 55SE ....

Any one can share soem thoughts about VK75 (non SE)???
as after what 'Trcnetmsncom' said, seriously thinking about the

52SE / vk75 combi :)
thank u classical!!!

seems like the undisputable winner in BAT are the vk75 and or 75se depending on ur love for 6h30....

INTERESTINGLY, a friend came over this morning and we talked a bit about same topic and he remarked that for same amount of money, one would get much much more value with CAYIN / MELODY in their top top range .....

and that he has heard both BAT and these 2 brands, though sonically v different - but still comparable...

I refuse to believe / argue :)

I see in the brochure of VK 55SE in BAT web which is with two 6V6. However the VK 55SE I bought from ThanhTung Audio Hanoi is with two 6SN7 instead; is it error with BAT web brochure or is it further modification? Or different standards for different countries?

Is your VK 55SE with two 6V6 or two 6SN7?

Tungvu - The VK-55 uses 4 6SN7 tubes. There are none in the VK-55SE. The 6V6 is found in the 55SE, not the 55. Are you sure you got a 55SE?
I upgraded from my vk 55 to VK 55 SE with additional fee. and the new coming VK 55 SE is with 4 6c33c, 2 6SN7, 2 6H30 outside.

Tungvu -
E-mail Victor at BAT regarding that "upgrade". Was that factory authorized?. Not being stock, it may affect the re-sale value in the future.
The standard 55SE uses 2 6V6 tubes, not 6SN7 tubes.
I think you're mistaken.. I'm doing a remodel & can't check my amp (VK-55SE), but I checked my manual from BAT and mine has the same tube configuration as what Tungvu has. (two 6SN7 tubes).

Are you thinking of the VK-3IX? It has 2-6V6 tubes.
Classical1 - Maybe I am mistaken, but if you check the BAT website, the 55SE tube complement shows 6V6 tubes, not 6SN7 tubes. The 55SE is based on the 150SE which also uses the 6V6. If BAT has made a change I'm not sure why they show the 55SE listed that way on their website. If so, I stand corrected. For those concerned, I suggest you e-mail Victor for the truth. If you do, please let us Audiogoners know. Thanks.
To whom it may concern:
I checked with Victor about the 55SE tube complement. Contrary to what is stated on the BAT website, there are 2 - 6SN7 tubes in the 55SE amp, NOT 6V6 tubes. No explanation given for the discrepancy.
I stand corrected.
I checked with Victor and he said it is only mistake with BAT's website. Supprise is that he did not put it right sisnce then.

from Victor, VK 55, 55SE is push pull design, however vk 60, 75 etc. are with single-ended bridge design. As price of vk 55Se and vk 75 more or less the same, the decision can be hard.

strength: 6h30 tube
weakness: push pull

VK 75
strength: single ended bridge design
weakness: no 6H30 (6Sn7), higher power

Any comments?
hi tungvu,

the vk75 family are very very different with the line of vk55 / vk55 se.

the top and bottom end of the vk 75 are much much more distinctive and likely one will easily be able to make a decision after A/B audition.

i know somebody whom refuse the vk75 after doing a home audition with his tannoy speakers while gladly pair the vk 55.

i owned the vk 55 monoblocks and prior that the vk 55 stereo and did EXTENSIVE A/B comparision with both vk 75 and vk 75 se and vk 55. vk 55 BLOOMS in the mid range with simply renders vocals better ..... hence i was willing to give up the top/bottom ...
I plan to add LP to my system and now need to upgrade the phono part in my VK32SE (buying some part from BAT and insert into the pre). The cost is about 600$. Pls let me know if it is better solution than using separate phone with similar price from other brand.

Thank you