Apogee is a highly respected brand and a recording industry standard for A/D and D/A conversion. They're not the only product out there, but their offerings should sound very good in their price range. I haven't heard many raves for the M-Audio Audiophile DAC. I'm pretty sure the Apogee would be a huge improvement. You might also want to consider your preamp and speakers/headphones. Are they capable of portraying the difference between the $175 DAC and the $1000 DAC? If not, you might want to save you money and enjoy the M-Audio DAC.
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