Amp+Cords or New Amp, best bang for $$$

If I have ONLY $4k to spend on an amp, should I get a less expensive amp and put the rest to Power Cords or should I spend the whole enchilada on an amp. I currently have a BAT VK-500 with BAT PAK and PS Audio Lab Cables but am very curious about the Levinson 333. This isn't necessarily about my specific choices, but rather the wisdom of spending $1k or more on cables prior to upgrading an amp. I sometimes wonder if it isn't a lot like those hopped-up toyotas. Like many of you, I use Audiogon as my listenening room so I'm looking for some feed-back prior to "using my ears" to decide. FYI- Sonic Frontiers T3/P3, BAT Vk5i, Dynaudio Confidence 5, Kimber KCTG ICs and Cardas Golden Cross Speaker Cables.
Metaphysics: The debate is so wide over cables in general, you really should use your ears to decide. I have never upgraded the PC on my amp, because it is still under warrenty and the PC's (two pieces) are integral. I did use an inexpensive PC by Harmonic Tech on my CD player which I recently moved to my DAC. The improvement is a major one in my system, however I also have a poor AC source (live in an apartment building in LA) and am around TV and radio stations as well. You can demo PC's from the cable co for shipping charges and perhaps a small fee (not certain, maybe no fee), I also assume that you would pay for the cord, to be refunded upon return, but check with them. The Cable Company's web site is at ( They will also help you select a chord or chords based on your equipment, budget and taste* (* use the comments box on their request screen). If the chords do not do it for your system, you can move on with having spent very little money to audition the chords.
I'm in agreement with Dekay as to the pc issue - it is all over the place - try before you buy! You have a very nice system now and I think that better amp would make more of a difference than a lesser amp with an aftermarket pc. IMHO, trading your amp for a $3000 one would accomplish less than spending the full amount on a new amp - hey thats just my opinion...
PS: I will be using The Cable Company (as soon as some new stuff in my system settles in) to audition digital cables. My only other alternative is to buy used and sell which I feel is too much of a bother. They also have many used cables as well at nice discounts to choose from (Hit the used cable link on their website). I was ready to chuck my CAL player until I upgraded the PC. Who knows, you may get off cheap and get the sound that you are looking for.
Metaphysics, I'm curious, what are you trying to achieve with changing your amp and/or power cord? On the surface, you appear to have a very high quality system and I question whether a new amp is really necessary.
Hwy: Acutally, I am quite happy with the BAT/PS Audio PC combination. However, I am interested in hearing the Levinson 333 which can be had for <$4k. That's when I started thinking about the cost for an amp+cords vs. a more costly (and *possibly* better) amp. For example, is it typical that a $6k amp hooked up to two $3k King Cobras sounds better than amplifiers that can be had for $10-15k with their stock cords? I know that it is always tough to generalize, but I'm wondering if many of the benefits of PCs could be had at a similar price point. To be clear, my assumption is that PCs can make huge differences, but I am debating whether they are a band-aid and the money could be better spent on electronics. I will probably end up buying a 333 and then keeping whichever I like more (including the power cords).
Meta-ThaT's a tough one. I would buy the best amp, because you can always- down the road -get some cords but it may be tougher to get a better amp, being stuck with your old one. Yes, IME, I bought a used V.A.C. triode amp (knowing the weakness' of this amp) and just fell in love with the voicing. I have been pleasantly surprised in tweaking its sound with both N.O.S. tubes AND after-market power cords; 1st E.s.P. "ESSENSE", 2ND Shunyata BLK Mamba, 3rd Shunyata Sidewinder and finally Shunyata Viper v2. The E.s.P. & Sidewinder I still own the BLK Mamba was upgraded to the V2. So, in the short-term I think you could possibly get a better sound with a nice amp AND a nice PC, over a real nice amp with a stock cord, but that route in the long-term may be more limiting. This is highly speculative, in terms that it is extremely dependant on the choice of equipment, what its hooked up to and listener bias. Make sense? Mike
my 2 cents. put most of the $ into the amp and get a moderate PC. IMHO amps don't(should'nt) need the conditioning that one gets w/, say, a viper or king cobra. thats for your front end. what a power amp needs is plenty of juice,i.e. a cord w/ large conductors. something on the cheaper end like the sidewinder or the old cobra. for an amp cord you could get by w/ 2 to $400.- used. so go ahead and get a killer amp. p.s. check ouy the new belles 350.
Metaphysics, all advice above me is good. Your Lab Cable is is very good and it will cost you much more to get the big improvement you are looking for. A cobra in an amp can sometimes work better than a king cobra. Will you like one of those snakes better than the PSLC? IMO the right PC is just as important as most amps, pre and digital but ya gotta pay. I have listened to a lot of PCs and if you are going to spend big $$$ on PCs, best put them in pre or digital first. Amp last.
I agree with the gist of the above posts. I would not base my amp purchase decision(s) on power cords. If needed, they can come later, and they don't necessarily have to be expensive. Cheers, Craig.
Your equipment is pretty nice stuff already; you'll find that changing to the "right" cords can significantly enhance what you already have. I validated this fact myself when I had assembled some highly-rated hardware into a rig that sounded pretty lame. That's when I realized that "everyone's playing around with AC cords, interconnects, & speaker wire" so I tried it. It takes a lot of experimenting with various cord-combinations. When you finally find yourself a nice musical combination, you won't believe what your present rig is actually capable of. I myself am still amazed at what cables can do! You'll end up with a collection of leftovers that will then go up for sale to the next experimenters. Buy used when possible, so then you won't lose a bundle of $. Cable Co. was somewhat useful for me, but kept suggesting to try the cheaper stuff which just wasn't doing the trick. Taught me a lot about "what I don't want" though. Ended up buying a number of used high-$ cables & cords; sold some, & kept some others in my collection for further experimentation. Have fun Meta!
Meta: Interesting to note that most comments are related to the PC. I think if any of the posters have comments on the current amp vs the Levinson might be useful for him. I have no experience with neither so I can not help here... A PC in my experience could improve (or worsen) a piece of equipment within it´s performance window but won´t be able to bridge a big gap in performance that two units of different quality level might have. Regards
I have found that the FIM Power cords can make a larger difference than changing amps in many cases. I suggest you try a FIM Gold power cord on your amp. I do not hesitate in saying this as my personal experience with these cords made me a believer. I was about to purcahse 4 Power snakes (KC v.2) when I compared them to the FIM. The FIM was so much better, I was actually embarrassed that I had taken the Snakes to audition against the FIMS. They are the REAL DEAL. What ever you decided to do I wish you the best. Regards, Mike
Interesting question, and I have one suggestion. Buy a pair of Transcendent Sound T8 OTL monos for around $4000 and forget about power cords. Bruce Rozenblitz says that his design is such that a $5 stock power cord is no different than a mucho dinero power cord. And I have verified it to my satisfaction. The sound is the same (and wonderful sound it is) with his stock power cords or fancy (read expensive) cords.
Metaphysics: I agree with all the posters who said to put the $ in the amp. You will gain more sonic improvement with a great amp as opposed to great power cords. Once you settle on the amp you want, you can always then by trial an error marry it with the proper pwr cord. P.S. IMHO your BAT walks all over the Levinson. The OTL's Viva mention might be interesting...Lush Mids.
I agree word for word with Mikeam. How u b Mikeam. My best to you and your family