Arcam alpha 7 upgrade/alternatives/useds for 1000

I have an arcam alpha 7 player, considering moving up to the alpha 9 for $1000. Other options are an outboard dac - evs, linkdac, perp. tech, 47 labs, or maybe a used alpha 9 with no warranty, or some other used player for under $1000. And I'm not to worried about the new digital standard, I have so many cds. Is the move to the 9 worth the money? what about some of the dacs I mentioned? My priorities are sweetness, transparency, involvement and great bass (lowest priority).

Purest sound systems passive control or ARC LS3B (interchange)
McCormack dna 0.5
Legacy Protege's
Mit cables


I was in exactly the same position and have decided to get an external DAC. If I had the money, I probably would have gone for the EVS or a P-3 with the Dan Wright mods. However, I got a great deal on a used bel canto dac 1.1 with an Illuminati D-60. The unit should arrive today or tomorrow and I'll let you know how the combination works. Though your priorities correspond pretty well with the attributes that reviewers give the Bel Canto. The transport on the Alpha 7 is supposed to be very good (they don't modify it when you upgrade to the 9, they change only the DAC). I think the price of that internal upgrade is awfully high and with a good external DAC there is a real upgrade path left open.
I made the upgrade move from the Alpha 7 to the 9. Since then I've made many other improvements to my system and have found myself listening to the CD source less and less. I agree with Fineberg's statement that Arcam charges a high price for that upgrade; in retrospect, it was one of the least cost-effective upgrades I have made. Clearly, it is a significant improvement over the 7, but the 9 still betrays a bit of harshness in the highs (especially with bright recordings), which I find very fatiguing. However, it can be an involving player, but one has to be sure to feed it very good production and recording efforts. It's a finicky source that's good with some discs and annoying with others. So I would second Fineberg's counsel and recommend looking towards a separate DAC to retain flexibility. Incidentally, though, if you're looking for sweetness, I wonder if you've thought of the Linn Genki, with its comparable price, but warmer and more mellow sound?
Dac 1.1 just arrived and I can't believe the difference. I'm using it with an Illuminati D-60 and it definately sounds better than the Alpha 9 I tried.
Thanks, guys. By "sweet", I mean unfatiguing, and I'm not sure if I'm using it right. I'm not up on audiophile jargon. I'll look into the bel canto