$1000 maximum digital purchase coming up

Sorry in advance for the cross-forum posting (I asked this question at AudioAsylum, but got minimal feedback).

I'm vacillating back and forth between stand alone players, e.g., the Rega Apollo, Marantz 8100, Cambridge Audio Azur 840C, etc., and an outboard DAC, such as the Lavry DA-10 and the PS Audio Digital Link III.

While I have heard many good things about all of these sources, I'd like to know if anyone has had a chance to actually compare them head to head. I'm especially interested in how the Lavry compares to one of the aforementioned units. Thanks much.
Before a meaningful response can be given, one needs to know what you will be using for a transport. The quality of the transport will greatly influence what results you'll get from a good dac.
Transport, for now, will be either a Sony NS500V DVD/SACD player or an Oppo 970 (I own both).

A better transport would be a future consideration.


Transport, for now, will be either a Sony NS500V DVD/SACD player or an Oppo 970 (I own both).

In that case I would recommend a new DAC. You have the choice of using your DVD players as transport now and later switch to a PC based system which is the way of the future anyway.

The Lavry DA10 is excellent and allows a wonderful insight into the recording, nice separation between instruments. A little unspectacular and missing some life at times.

The new Bechmark USB is much more lifely, better bass, similar resolution to the Lavry. As I only got mine a few weeks ago, haven't been able to diseminate it as much as the Lavry though. The USB input is a breeze and will allow a nice simple setup music server down the road.
It's hard to give a really useful response to questions like this. All of the digital sources you ask about sound really good in many people's systems. An equal number will say that same model was improved upon by something else from the list you mention. Reviews of each of the dacs you mention give ready clues as to where each excels and how their particular attributes might help compensate for or enhance certain aspects of a given system. When I switched from a Cambridge D500se to a Cambridge 640 for a transport, there was a huge improvement in playback with my Assemblage dac, so synergy is important. Predicting this synergy is probably difficult though. You realize though that if you spend $1k now on a dac and you upgrade your transport in the future, you're going to end up with more like $2k invested in your digital front end. You'll spend either $150 at minimum for a good digital cable, or you could get by for $35-$40 on a generic glass toslink that sounds almost as good. So comparison of audio payback with a $1K DAC and a $1k cd player isn't really fair in the long term. One thing to consider, a dac has a long life span. I used an Assemblage DAC2.7 through the lifespan of two cd players that were transports and it's still going strong without a hiccup. Some people have had cd players that function flawlessly for ten years, but that hasn't been my experience. Two boxes take up more room in rack also, that's one reason I switched to a one box player.