Best DAC for 1,000?

Fellow audiogoners,

I'm in the market for a DAC to be used in my headphone system which consists of Senn 650's with Cardas cables, X-CAN V3, and X-PUS. Sources include my main system (DV-9500), I-Pod using Apple Lossless, and my laptop. I listen mainly to Jazz, Rock, some classical and other eclectic stuff like Frank Zappa. There are so many different DAC options that I'm starting to go nuts so I'm hoping to get some different opinions to get me back on track. Here are the units I've looked at so far:

X-DAC - Great reviews, I have the X-PUS, no USB input and I don't believe it does 24/92

Stello DA-100 - Sounded great at CES for the 5 minutes I listened to it. Upsampling can be switched off, USB input, No local distribution, I have to send my money to Korea, scary.

Bel Canto DAC-2 - See them used, good reviews, small footprint, no USB

Benchmark DAC-1 - Good reviews, includes headphone amp balanced outputs (don't really need either of these), no usb input.

Apogee MiniDAC - Lots of sampling options, ugly, has USB on newer model, ugly, includes headphone amp, ugly, level control goes to 11, would have to hide it so my cat wouldn't puke on it.

Grace M902 - Great reviews, looks cool, lots of sampling options, crossfeed, has usb, at 1,500 is over my spousal imposed limit.

Scott Nixon - no upsampling NOS dac, tubes are cool, looks like a kit

Audio Mirror - another NOS dac, right price

I'd like to hear any thoughts or opinions on any of the units above (or any other recommendations). I'd also like to hear throughts on over-sampling vs NOS DACS and throughts on tube dacs vs. SS.

Thank you for helping me out of the DAC MUCK!
1b9b7d7b a939 428b b36c e5b5f157474afzfan
I think Bel Canto has a DAC-3 coming sometime soon and my impression is it will have USB.
For 1K a Kora hermes can not be beat. I have had many DACS
Bel Canto,Musical Fidelity, Calafornia Audio Labs,Assemblege,and many more. The Kora is by far the best.
There is a Timbre TT-1 dac on here right now for under $800. This is a fantastic dac that retailed for $4K. I used to own one and loved it, I only sold it to downsize to a one-box player. I can't imagine better sound at even twice the price. Check it out and happy listening!
The Bel Canto DAC 3 will be out in April. I saw it at CES.

Yes it will have USB, but it also will have an MSRP of $2000 to $2500 depending on options. So forget the $1K budget.

It also will have a volume control, so you don't have to use a preamp. If you have a preamp there is a bypass switch.
I've been enjoying the Audio Mirror for quite some time. I think the non-os DACs in general have a lot to offer, especially if you are looking for that analog sound from your digital music.
Hey thanks for the feedback! I'll check out the Kora and the Timbre. Any others worth a peek (or listen)? Are the others a no-go in your opinion?

Thanks again!

...and I didn't ignore the Audio Mirror, it was already on my list Cloi09!
Call my crazy but I'm pretty sure a John Wright modded Museatex Bitstream or Bidat would trounce everything mentioned in this thread.
Maybe Firestone Spitfire + Supplier PS = $410? Good reviews including reliable purchasing.
Me, too! Me, too! The Audio Mirror is an incredible bargain IMHO. The manufacturer could have put the innards in a better chassis and asked 5 times as much for it. Don't let the small price sway you from trying it.

Jack usb though...
How will you use your iPod with an external DAC?
I recently heard an Ack Dack v2.0 (with high resolution option) through headphones, and it was eye-opening. Extremely clear, black background sound. Very analog sounding. Simply blew away the other DACs present (though most were cheaper). Made them all sound like noisy messes. I believe it sounds so good because it runs off batteries (charges from the wall), so you don't have to deal with any power cleaning. If you have a way to try one out (may be hard), definitely do!
I thought the Airport wifi adaptor would allow me to SPDIF from the Ipod to an external DAC, I was wrong. I guess I'll have to get a small transport for the headphone system or run a digital cable across the floor from the main system.

I was leaning towards the X-DAC (since I already have the X-PUS) but there's not been a single positive word since I started this thread.

I'm still confused although the Audio Mirror and Ack Dack seem to get good reviews everywhere.

Thanks for all the good info, any others?
I would still try the Benchmark. I bought it for a friend, and briefly compared it to my own Chord-DAC64 (3200$). The Chord still sounded better, but only by a small margin.
So, what about Stello DA100?

A used wavelength dac would be pretty sick. I have one that I got from a friend and its beaten the pants out of everything I've heard in the ~1k range.
I agree with Lush!!