A Visit From the Batmen

Solid-state power amplifiers,
Tubed power amplifiers,
Solid-state preamplifiers,
Tubed preamplifiers
A Visit From the Batmen

It’s been quite a few years, more than I might care to remember in fact, since a Balanced Audio Technology piece of equipment landed in my listening room. But since I’ve been something on a tube amp tear recently—the powerhouse VTL Siegfried was recently here, an ARC Ref 75 graced my room briefly a few weeks ago, Octave amps are currently here, and a pair of new Doshi KT-120 amps is on the way—I was most eager to embark upon a review for TAS of BAT’s latest offerings. So when the nucleus of the BAT team—Victor Khomenko, Steve Bednarski, and Geoffrey Poor—showed up with multifarious boxes containing the new Rex II preamplifer and Rex II monoblock amplifiers this morning, I was, as you can imagine, mightily chuffed, as the Brits like to say.

Even earlier—almost at the peep of dawn—the indefatigable Michael Taylor of Nordost showed up, at the request of BAT’s Poor, with some very excellent Valhalla II wire and power cords. The Rex II amplifiers can be daisy-chained, so they require a set of jumpers as well as male-to-male XLRs to tie them together. The result is you get gobs of tube power—about 2 kilowatts, according to Khomenko. As you can see from the picture, I have four total of the amplifiers in situ. A lot of heat. And a lot of muscle.

Do you really need it? Well, no. You could drive the Wilson XLF with a single pair. But two pair does help to create an even more spacious and dimensional and effortless sound. We listened to a variety of music, including a 45 rpm Classic Records pressing of Fritz Reiner conducting the Chicago Symphony playing the Moussorgsky/Ravel Pictures at an Exhibition. Plus a smattering of Leonard Cohen, Shelby Lynne, and another Chicago Deutsche Grammophon recording of Lt. Kije—with Russia making so much mischief these days, it was nice to be able to focus on its illustrious cultural accomplishments, all of it delivered by an imposing array of 6C33C tubes.