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Vatic Pro Alchemy Review 13.5mm & 16mm (Power, Spin, Control, etc)

Vatic Pro has become a big name in the pickleball paddle space in 2023. The owner, Daryl, is an impressive solopreneur. Vatic Pro is known for impressive paddles that push the bar for affordability.

Vatics original paddle line was a well-received thermoform line. It included the Vatic Pro v7 and the Vatic Pro Flash. Vatic followed up their thermoformed line with the “thermofoamed” Prism line comprised of the Prism v7 and Prism Flash. The Prism line has absolutely blown up in popularity with its combination of high performance and affordability.

Vatic’s Alchemy is their newest paddle line. It’s pro player Spencer Smith’s signature paddle and the most unique paddle yet from Vatic Pro. It features a distinctive v-shaped throat hole alongside its Gen. 2 thermoforming technology.

The Vatic Pro Alchemy comes in two shapes – a 13.5mm and 16mm model.

Vatic Pro Alchemy Technical Specifications

  • Price: $179.99 ($169.99 with code DASHPB)
  • Shape: Hybrid
  • Face: Raw TORAY T700 Carbon Fiber
  • Grip length: 5.5″
  • Core thickness: 13.5mm & 16mm
  • 13.5mm Average weight: 8.3-8.5 oz (8.0-8.3 oz without guard)
  • 16mm Average weight: 8.5-8.7 oz (8.2-8.4 oz without guard)
  • Swing Weight: 113 (13.5mm) 121 (16mm)
  • Edge foam: Yes
  • Grip size: 4.25″
  • Core: Optimized C7 Polymers and high-grade performance Honeycomb
  • Total length: 16.5″
  • Width: 7.5″

Vatic Pro Alchemy Quick Summary

The Alchemy is a Gen. 2 fully thermoformed paddle. This means it’s made with hot-molded, unibody construction and features foam-injected edge walls that support control and improve sweet spot performance. It’s Vatic Pro’s first signature paddle, with the sponsored pro being Spencer Smith.

The Alchemy’s most unique feature is its aerodynamic hole on the lower area of the paddle face. Vatic has referred to it as an airflow channel. We’ve seen paddles with throat holes before, ex. Selkirk’s Power Air. But this is one of the only Gen. 2 thermoforms with a throat hole, and the only paddle I know of that features a modular clip-on guard that goes into the inside of the hole.

Performance-wise, the Alchemy has great power (partially attributed to its higher weight) and great pop with a unique springy feel that I haven’t encountered elsewhere. Plenty of plough-through on drives and pop for hand battles at the kitchen. Combined with added length that gives more reach over the Flash line, it’s become my preferred Vatic Pro paddle as of late.

While not as controllable as the Prism models, the Alchemy does feel good in the soft game and is easy to dink with once you get used to its springy feel. The sweet spot is a bit smaller due to the throat hole.

About that removable throat hole edge guard. It’s cool, but seems more like a quick fix than a feature. The paddle surface is really rough without it due to how it’s manufactured, which is why they added it. It’s not smoothed out like Selkirk’s throat holes. I just leave it on.

Aesthetically, the Alchemy looks good, especially with the edge guard on. I’m personally not big on the moon graphics at the top with Spencer’s signature. It looks sort of like a generic Canva graphic. But I know some people really like it.

Shape & Feel

Paddle shape

The Alchemy has an “arrow curve” shape that’s similar to the Hyperion and Pulsar paddles. While similar to the Flash shape, the Alchemy is slightly longer in length than the Flash (full 16.5″ instead of the 16.2-16.3″ of the Flash). The Alchemy also features a slight taper on the sides that the Flash doesn’t.

Handle

Vatic’s handles have always been really nice. The Alchemy’s grip features a couple of polyurethane inserts that help performance and absorb shock, reducing vibrations that can lead to tennis elbow.

The Alchemy’s handle dimensions are 5.5″ in length and 4.25″ in grip circumference. The 4.25″ circumference is good for most players, though people with smaller hands might prefer something smaller, like 4.125″ or 4″.

The 5.5″ inch handle is a first in a Vatic Pro paddle. The V7 and Flash models have been 5.3″ to 5.4″ in length. The Alchemy’s elongated 5.5″ length is right in my ideal range. It’s great for two-handed backhands and adding some extra whip onto your shots.

Balance & weight distribution

The Alchemy is on the heavier side. Mine came in at 8.6 ounces, which is noticeably heavier than all of the other Vatic Pro models I have. Most raw carbon fiber paddles are around 8.0 oz. You can remove the Alchemy’s modular edge guard to shave off 0.2 to 0.3 ounces.

In spite of its weight, the Alchemy feels quite balanced and not head-heavy. It also plays lighter than what I expected considering the weight. Both factors might be because of the throat hole giving more airflow.

How the Alchemy feels contacting the ball

As you might expect, hitting with the Alchemy feels different due to its unique design. It has a feel that I really like.

The most noticeable quality of the Alchemy’s touch is its springy feel. It has a springboard feel that’s unique and, to me, desirable. The only paddle I’ve played with that feels comparable is the Power Air.

When it comes to stiffness, the Alchemy is less stiff than the original Gen. 2 Vatic Pro V7 and Flash models while being stiffer than the plush Gen. 1.5 Prism series from Vatic. After breaking my Alchemy’s in, they feel less stiff than most other thermoformed paddles that I’ve played with.

Note that there’s a bit of a break-in period with the Alchemy. I’ve noticed that it softens up from its initial stiffness after a few days of playing.

Power

The Alchemy has plenty of power on hand with it being a heavy Gen. 2 thermoformed paddle. You also get a lot of plow-through on your drives due to the weight, which makes it feel really good on drives and overheads.

The Alchemy doesn’t hit as hard as the top paddles on my power paddle list, but it’s up there. I get more power with both Alchemy models than my original Vatic Pro Flash models, while the original Vatic Pro V7 provides slightly more power than the Alchemy. The Alchemy’s power output feels closest to my Ronbus R1 Nova.

All in all, the Alchemy is one of the more powerful paddles available on the market and sits squarely on the standard expectation for the power performance of a thermoformed paddle.

Pop

I really like the pop output of the Alchemy. It’s great for blocks and counters and gives me an edge that I’m not used to with that springboard feel I’ve mentioned.

The easiest way to describe the Alchemy’s pop is that you get the nice crisp, fast response you want without the jarring feel that a number of thermoformed paddles have. The 16mm Alchemy feels more springy in this regard than the 13.5mm, though both provide plenty of pop.

Control

I found the Alchemy decently controllable for a thermoformed paddle. It’s less stiff than a lot of thermoforms and has that springy feel, which made it feel a bit easier to control than I expected.

Sweet spot. The Alchemy’s sweet spot isn’t an improvement over Vatic’s other paddles. It’s a bit smaller than most of the Gen. 2 thermoform competition and feels a bit tight/jarring. I assume this has to do with the hole. This makes off-center shots not feel very clean, though the extra weight does mitigate this some.

Soft game. I like the weight of the paddle for 3rd shot drops and dinking. I usually add weight to my paddles to get them to the 8.7-9.0 oz range, so the Alchemy was perfect. Other than that, dinking and dropping with the Alchemy is just fine, nothing spectacular. The feedback on the 13.5mm is good. If you’re used to thermoformed paddles, it should feel pretty solid.

Spin

The Alchemy uses the same high-performing tightly woven paddle face texture as other Vatic Pro paddles, featuring high-quality T700 Toray carbon fiber.

After a considerable amount of testing, my Vatic Pro’s RPM tests averaged out to around 1,739 RPMs. This is a decent result, but not as high as any of the other Vatic Pro paddles before it.

You can definitely rip off a lot of spin with the Alchemy, but it’s not going to top many lists for spin performance. It didn’t make my list of the best-performing paddles for spin.

A big reason why I think the Alchemy doesn’t perform as well as the other Vatic’s in spin performance is its higher stock weight. I’ve always found that I’m able to put more spin on shots with lighter paddles.

Hand speed/maneuverability

Hand speed with the Alchemy is interesting. The throat hole is meant to improve airflow and increase maneuverability, which it seems to succeed in accomplishing.

But the Alchemy is also pretty heavy heavy, which increases the swing weight of the paddle, making it a bit slow in hand.

The swing weight ratings I have are 113 with the 13.5mm Alchemy and 121 with the 16mm Alchemy.

  • At 113 swing weight, the 13.5mm is pretty fast and maneuverable, which you’d hope for with a thinner paddle.
  • At 121 swing weight, the 16mm starts to feel like it’s compromising your hand speed in a noticeable way.
  • You can remove the throat guard to slightly lower these swing speeds

As I mentioned before, the Alchemy does feel like it plays lighter than its weight in my experience. The enhanced airflow from the v-shaped hole does seem to work and improve the swing speed enough to counter the heaviness of the paddle.

Durability

Vatic Pro paddles are solidly made and have proven durable and reliable, especially now that the delamination/core-crush/disbonding issues have been addressed by Gen. 2 thermoform manufacturers, Vatic Pro included.

I play with and around a lot of Vatic Pro paddles, and I haven’t encountered any issues players have faced with the paddles since the early days of the first batches of original Vatic Pros.

Value

The Alchemy is Vatic’s most expensive paddle yet. At the price point of $179.99 $169.99 with code DASHPB, it’s slotted in with other thermoformed paddles on the market like the Six Zero Double Black Diamond and Ronbus R1 Nova.

Is it worth the price? I’d say yes if you’re into a unique thermoformed paddle that’s trying something different. The other Vatic paddles might be better values, but you’re getting a unique premium paddle with the Alchemy. In my mind, it’s worth the extra price if it’s a paddle you’re feeling drawn to.

Should you buy the Vatic Pro Alchemy?

The Alchemy is a high-performing paddle from a great company. If you’re into Vatic paddles already, or looking to explore them for the first time, the Alchemy is a good option worth picking up.

Compared to the other Vatic paddles, the Alchemy is more powerful but less plush and controllable than the Prism Flash and Prism V7. It’s also poppier and a bit quicker in hand while still offering great plow-through on drives.

The best part about the Alchemy is that it’s different from what’s out there right now on the paddle market. A lot of the Gen. 2 paddles coming out now are fantastic, but play very similarly to each other. The unique feel of the Alchemy is fun and refreshing.

Note that there’s a V2 of the Alchemy in the works at Vatic. It will have a cleaner edge-guard hole and maybe a bit different performance. You can expect the revised model to release around the end of 2023.

Should you get the 13.5mm Alchemy or 16mm Alchemy?

The 16mm Alchemy has the better combo of power and control of the two, while the 13.5mm gives a bump in hand speed that could be important to some players. The 13.5mm is slightly poppier, while the 16mm feels a bit plusher and fluid.

You can pick up the Alchemy now at Vatic Pro’s website for $179.99 $169.99 with code DASHPB.

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