Are DAC's overpriced?

External DAC's are pretty expensive imho... BUT I don't know that much on how to choose one. I want mostly cd's in my small two channel system... I am rebuilding after selling my Logans and Mac amp to go back to "drivers"! The Logans wore me out with Maintenance.  Should I buy a new cd player or get a new DAC for my old player?  
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I run a Peachtree DAC iT, which is their older model.  Picked it up about 5 years ago and paid full-ticket of about $500.  Sounds awesome and you can find them on EBay for about $125 or so.  The newer iTx model does 192 khz whereas my older beast only does 96 khz.  But since I only use it for playing back Redbook grade files, it's fine for me.
OK, I'll try to provide a little less rant-ish reply ;_) (although i stand by what i said).
If your question is really "what should I do about my digital?" - that's a very different question.  let me first emphasize truths that have been stated here in different places that I support:
1. A DAC is only as good as the jitter of the signal it is sent.  Jitter directly impacts the analog output by determining the points in PAM on a horizontal axis. SPDIF is NOT a pure digital signal when only bit recovery matters.
2. Anyone's ability to resolve and appreciate DAC differences is therefore depending on the transport signal.
3. Similarly it is dependent on the rest of the system (duh, but often overlooked when someone ways "i didin't hear a difference" (through some god-awful or simply inexpensive system)
4. SPDIF is synchronous, with the source as the master clock. USB is asynchronous withe the DAC as the only clock.  Therefore USB frees DACs from the tyranny of jitter (but picks up USB noise). I don't mean jitter doesn't matter, just that the jitter is now under the DAC's control.
5. The law of diminishing marginal gains lives. This is why "are they overpriced" is such a fraught question. To some yes, To others no. They cost what they cost.
6. Pay little attention to the chip used.  Worry about jitter, power supply design, digital (pre/up filtering), analog driver and post-filter - you know, the analog stuff :-)
Two new thoughts:
Digital - like all formats is more compromised by the recording process than decent playback. Listen to a regular old 44/16 recording "ella and louis" on a good system - not crazy good, but pretty darn good. 60 year old analog recording, competent transfer to digital, glorious.  We don't necessarily need high-res, we need competent, pure sound obsessed, recording and mastering engineers.  Note: if you are a 50 year old rock and roller with hearing loss, you may demand treble boost.  Bzzzt.

I have some very old but good DACs that stand up to upper-middle competition of today's very well, with my compromised transport (yea, my bad). I plan to switch to a ROON server and move away from SPDIF as much as possible to fix this ( and use a very good low jitter USB--> SPDIF for the legacy stuff, maybe my own frankenbox, maybe the new Schiit - Mike's smart).  I do have a frankenbox today - tandem PLLs that helps. Some.
Have fun. Sorry if i was a crank earlier. My point is that there are facts we can use - and a bunch of opinions, with no assumptions listed, are like signals with floating grounds.  Yikes!


I look at it this way:

I only listen to my stereo about 5 hours a week (about 280 hours a year). Let's say I buy a $2k DAC and keep it for 5 years.  That's about $1.50/hour.  I can easily cover that cost if I buy my wine by the case instead of individual bottles.  The more expensive your wine, the more money you will have saved to buy an even more expensive DAC.  So if you have a glass or two of wine while your listening, you can buy the DAC of your dreams without denting the household budget!
I remember when affordable DACs like Audio Alchemy and Theta Chrome were popular, the average blue collar guy like myself could afford one.   I had several early DACs and most were pretty least better than the average decent CD player at the time.  There were always killer dacs like dcs and MSB among others but then DACs fell out of fashion....

My first DAC was an Audio Alchemy 1.1 , shortly after that I bought a like new California Audio Labs Alpha for half price.  It was a great DAC but like a fool I sold it.   I've had a few others si ce and my current DAC is a NAD M51 which still sou ds pretty damn good.   

I was blown away at the quality of MQA streams through my Bluesound Vault 2i, it's hard to say what sounds better, the M51 decoding the 24/96 stream or the player unfolding MQA but for most MQA I've listened to sounded better than it's redbook version....  not that I'm in the market for a new DAC but one thing is for sure, I'm not replacing the NAD until DACs with dsd and MQA are mainstream and somewhat within reach.