Best DAC? Electrocompaniet, Musical Fid A324 Or?


Hello,

I'm looking for a high quality DAC, with great sound, for $1500.00 or less (either new or used would be fine to meet the budget). I've read the rave reviews, particularily in Stereophile, on the Musical Fidelity A324. I'm also very interested, based upon what I have heard and read about the Electrocompaniet ECD-1. There have been significant reviews of both that and the associated cd player claiming that redbook cd's sound as good as SACD's through the DAC.However, I have one concern with the Electrocompaniet though. Everything I've seen states that you really must use the balanced connections for optimum sound with that unit and since I will be using this DAC with a dedicated headphone system, there are no balanced headphone amplifiers available, making this impossible.
I would appreciate any thoughts you might have on what DAC would provide me the best possible sound in this price range.
Thanks very much for any opinions, advice, suggestions, or assistance you can provide.
nightfall
Nightfall- Other members has reported that they use an EMC-1 MKII to drive a pair of HD-600s directly off of the balanced outputs. It is also reported that a very simple wiring upgrade improves the RCA outputs of the EMC-1.
There are balanced headphone amps available. I use the Grace 901 and it has both balanced and unbalanced inouts. Headroom also makes a few balanced amps.
05-31-03: Budrew
There are balanced headphone amps available. I use the Grace 901 and it has both balanced and unbalanced inouts. Headroom also makes a few balanced amps.

Corrected, I should have noted that there are simply very, very few. And none that I own or particularily want to purchase. Not knocking your Grace..........just looking at the higher end headamps I have auditioned recently and those I was considering.
Can anyone tell me more about the RCA upgrade to the ECD-1? thanks