Advice on source needed

I’d appreciate if more experienced members could give me their opinions about my next purchase.

I have finally decided to upgrade my source. My dilemma, not original at all, is to DAC or not to DAC.

My system:
Musical fidelity A3.2 CD
VTL 5.5
VTL ST-150
Thiels 2.4
Power by Shunyata
Signal cables by Transparent

I find MF CD to be ok with genres like pop and rock but most of the time I listen to classical music and that’s where MF has been failing me.

Ideally, I’d like to get a DAC as I am planning on purchasing squeezebox in the near future and DAC would complement it very well, I believe.

My budget: ~1.5 K used or new.

DACs I’ve been considering: Benchmark or Bel Canto dac3
CD players: Rega Saturn, Ayre cx7e, Marantz SA11

My main question: is buying a dac going to work well if I keep MF CD as transport or that is not going to offer any significant improvement? I will consider other brands and models but would rather stick to well known ones.

Thank you for your opinions and advice!
CD players are known to stop reading discs. A DAC will allow you to buy a new CD player (or transport) while keeping the DAC, rather than tossing the whole thing away and starting over.

Also, a DAC will enable you to tailor the sound.

So, I'd vote for a DAC/Transport (CD player) combo.

There are many excellent DAC options. You've selected two that are among the most neutral. There are other options as well, including somewhat older, but excellent used DACs that have moved out of the spotlight (Dodson, for example).

I have Benchmark DAC1. I use it with inexpensive Sony DVD player since Benchmark is jitter supressing and transport does not make a difference. I'm not afraid of transport failure anymore and saved money I will spend on speakers.

Bel Canto DAC3 is also jitter supressing (if I remember correctly) and you can find review comparing it to Benchmark in Stereophile online.

If you decide to go with Benchmark get the new one - possibly USB. You'll avoid problems Benchmark had before and USB driver has better output opamp (LM4562) - lower output impedance of XLR outputs.
Altmann Attraction NOS battery powered DAC
used RWA - hard to find ( one just sold for $1750)
This one looks very interesting as well Aqvox from Germany
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I would be thinking USB Dac and computer as the best concept.The specifics[units] can be found above or elsewhere here.The nice thing about USB DAC's is you can go both ways[or either] when your ready.The BC3 is real nice and in your budget,good luck,Bob
I don't think you can go wrong with either he Benchark or Bel Canto (I have a Benchmark and am very happy with it; thinking about upgrading to the Bel Canto but from all the reviews I have read, I may not get the imporvement I am looking for. I may need to go up to $5,000 or so).

But, the MF is plagued with transport problems, so at one point, it may stop reading discs-with the DAC, much easier and less expensive to get another CD player to act as a transport.