Best DAC Mac Mini with HUGE soundstage?


I'm setting up a Mac Mini as a music server and looking for suggestions on the best dac to partner with the mac for a smooth sound and big soundstage for around $500 to $1000.

Ideas?
cdc2
There is no definitive "best" of anything. There are way too many variables involved. The "best" you can hope for is to find something that works well in your system. You can then say it's the "best" for you until you find something you think is better !!!!
True, but all things being equal, some dacs are reported to deal to work better with digital feed from a mac than say a cd player and some present a thin soundstage and others a bigger one.

Anyone have any suggestions?
Get a used Eastern Electric or Metrum Octave.
haven't heard it yet, but in that price range, I'd definitely want to check out the new Schiit Gungnir. I'm using a Wadia 121, which is a slightly above your price point, but not much. I like it a lot.
I use the PS Audio DLIII with my Mac Mini and am happy with it. It's not a new design but for the price they go for now they're a bargain.
Is it the best? It's the best I've heard but my only other dac was a Musical Fidelity X-10V3 which I didn't care for at all.
I would avoid using the Toslink out on the Mac Mini. USB would be a better choice. You can get a DAC with USB support directly, or get a USB to spdif converter. That way you are not limited only to DACs with USB.
Hegel HD11
I'm enjoying a Centrance DACmini using USB to a 2009 Mac Mini. I suggest you try the Centrance, but no matter what you choose I highly recommend an upsampler program such as the $89 Wave Editor at www.audiophile-engineering -- it uses the highly acclaimed izotope program. Upsampling to 24/96 seems to give the best results, especially if you dither first and then upsample using the gentle setting.

~Tom

I would avoid using the Toslink out on the Mac Mini. USB would be a better choice. You can get a DAC with USB support directly, or get a USB to spdif converter. That way you are not limited only to DACs with USB.
Zd542

Not in my experience. After testing each, I much preferred the toslink out. I feed it to a Monarchy Audio Super DIP which converts it to coax output which in turn feeds the PS Audio dac.
09-14-12: Timrhu

Not in my experience. After testing each, I much preferred the toslink out. I feed it to a Monarchy Audio Super DIP which converts it to coax output which in turn feeds the PS Audio dac.

Completely agree. The USB is by far the worst way to take audio out of a Mac Mini. Toslink or firewire are the way to go.
The Centrance is a nice DAC. I have a Centrance DACport (portable DAC and headphone amp), which I carry in my headphone case with my laptop. It's a miracle how good this thing is considering its price and ridiculously small size. Those guys know what they are doing.

I don't agree that USB is inferior -- IF you have the right DAC. Some of the newest USB DACs are outstanding. The older ones are not. Just curious, which USB DACs have you tried?
The dB Labs Tranquility was voiced and designed to be paired with a Mac Mini and only has a USB out. It is a steal at current used prices and the best bang for the buck if you don't want to buy a lot of cables, converters, etc.

MHDT Havana DAC is another one in your price range with great qualities.

The fact of the matter is, there are tons in your price range that are very good. There is no best, just the best one that pairs with your system at this time. The only way to know is to buy, try it out, and tweak your system till your satisfied or you sell it, then start over!
Cdc2, shoot me a message (or add gmail to this user name) if you are interested in a Tranquility DAC. Selling one on another site.
I think the way to go is Asynchronous USB. At $500, the Halide HD is a new Class A Stereophile recommended component. Today I picked up the newly rated class B AudioQuest Dragonfly, and am having loads of fun with it. The Stereophile review compared it directly with the Halide, which was judged to be superior in smoothness, musicality, and especially imaging. Even so, at $250 the Dragonfly is a kick in the pants.