Balanced Audio Technology VK-3000SE Hybrid Integrated Amplifier

The Best of Both Worlds

Equipment report
Integrated amplifiers
Balanced Audio VK-3000SE
Balanced Audio Technology VK-3000SE Hybrid Integrated Amplifier

Power and immediacy are but a part of what, for me, made my time with the VK-3000SE so satisfying. Another aspect is nuance. For without the ability to paint music’s subtlest shifts of phrase, tone color, and dynamic shading, there can be no poetry. Returning to a perennial favorite, pianist Martha Argerich’s recital of Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit [DG], I was again most satisfied with the VK-3000SE’s ability to layer harmonic clusters like a rainbow mist, fully realized yet “floating” with exceptional lightness. Argerich’s gorgeous phrasing and width of dynamic expression were also wonderfully realized.

By the way, I should note that the VK-3000SE is not for those seeking the seductive golden warmth offered by some tube designs. First, this is a hybrid design. But beyond that, unlike my recollection of some earlier BAT (all-tube) designs, which were on the more warmly colored side of the spectrum, the sound here is definitely more Audio Research-like—more coolly neutral—then, say, the golden glow I associate with Conrad-Johnson.

Indeed, for some it might be a tad too cool. Though it isn’t for me, I can fully appreciate some music lovers seeking a bit more sonic warm-and-fuzzy from their systems. And if you’re curious for yourself, and you have the chance to audition a VK-3000SE, by all means be sure that the model you listen to is fully broken-in. BAT’s gear takes a long time—how long, I can’t exactly say but would guess some hundreds of hours—to fully realize its full potential. Before then it will most certainly come across as tightly coiled.

Returning to what I wrote in the second paragraph, the VK-3000SE delivers a remarkably complete package combining loads of user flexibility with a clean, neutral, detailed, balanced, and coherent sonic voice that beautifully conveys music’s myriad aural, intellectual, and emotional elements. I think it’s evident that that formula works well for me.

Specs & Pricing

Power output: 150Wpc into 8 ohms, 300Wpc into 4 ohms
Tube complement: 2 x 6H30
Inputs: 2 XLR, 3 RCA, phono optional
Line outputs: Preamp (XLR), Tape (RCA)
Phono module (optional): Gain, 58dB and 44dB; loading is widely variable via resistors
Outputs: 2 pairs of gold-plated binding posts
Dimensions: 19" x 5.75" x 15.5"
Weight: 50 lbs.
Price: $7995

1300 First State Boulevard, Suite A
Wilmington, DE 19804
(302) 999-8855

Associated Equipment
Rega RP10 turntable and Apheta moving-coil cartridge; Oppo UDP-205 disc player; Sutherland N1 and VTL TL5.5II preamps; VTL ST-150 power amplifier; Magnepan MG 1.7 loudspeakers; Nordost Tyr 2 interconnect, speaker, and power cables; Nordost Qx4 power conditioner and Qb8 AC distribution center; Finite Elemente Spider equipment racks.