Best used DAC 500 or less, need help

OK, I want to get a DAC. I really know next-to-nothing about 'em, but I think I need one. I would love to buy the Wadia that I heard at Music Lovers, but my gardeners income precludes that. My comfort zone is $500 or less. What does your experience tell? Thank You, Martin
Hello, You might try an Adcom 700,MSB PS-1{Mark Brassfield, a single-ended Timbre DAC or a used Birdland{$1000 new}.Happy hunting and don't skimp on the digital cable {Mapleshade,Silent Source}.
A used EVS Millenium DAC would be in that range (if you can find one).
Check out a Meridian 263 or 563. You can get the first for well under 500 - just as important is the cable. Illuminati D60 is excellent and used by many but there are other good ones to...
Enlightened Audio designs 7000 Mark III is very musical you won't do better for $500
How about a DAC that sounds just as good as the Wadia? Believe it or not, a Stan Warren modified MSB will do just that! Currently there are over a dozen audiophiles in the US using Stan Warren digital front ends in $30k+ systems. These guys (and myself) could spend much more on digital, but we've found it very hard to get better sound than Stan Warren's modified gear. I think that many audiophiles don't take his work seriously becuase its so damn inexpensive.
I'll second Phild's EVS Millennium DAC recommendation. The parts in the DAC 1, if it were produced by a major manufacturer, would mandate a $2000 price tag or higher, but if you can find one used you can probably get it for around $400. The DAC II upsamples and I believe reduces jitter, but that will probably run more in the $700-$800 range, which is still an outrageous bargain if you can find one. I had a modified MSB Link DAC that was good, but the EVS DAC 1 just walked all over it in terms of transparency, dynamics, tonality, and soundstaging--not even close. Obviously it's important to get a good digital cable, but if you don't want to spend a bundle you can pick up an Apogee Wyde Eye at Guitar Center for around $30 that will get you started nicely. Best of luck.

Look for a Cal Audio Sigma.

It doesn't have the lastest D/A chips, but
it's tube audio stage blows away the opamps
used in all the DACs above.
Just to fill in a couple pieces of info. from the Kana's post above, the EVS DAC II does not use op amps(Ric doesn't much like them so designed the DAC to not use them--I believe it uses a FET output stage). Also, although I'm sure the CAL DAC is a very good piece you may want to consider that CAL is all but out of business at this point and its future is at best unclear. FYI...

Tim is right...the Millenium DAC 2 uses Ric's own output cheap op amps. It does use the Crystal Upsampling chip which must reduce jitter, because I'm using mine with a Studer CDP from the late 80s and it sounds amazing. I also second his opinion about the Apogee Wyde Eye Digital Cable for $30-$ matter which DAC you choose. They're incredibly musical and unbeatable at that price. I honestly think you have to spend more than $250 (or maybe $150 used) to buy a better digital cable.

I also second the opinion on the modified MSB DACs, and I'm sure the Meridian are good too. I'd also keep an eye out for used Assemblage DACs.
Audiolab 8000DAC or even better the DAX. This is not a bright DAC but gives a very nice natural tone with good stereo. As a bonus it reclocks the input data to remove jitter ... this is probably essential unless you have a high end transport.
New they were about $1000 but for some reason they seem to come up used for $200-$300.
Depending on your transport's jitter reclocking will be very important .. either get a reclocking DAC (most older DACs do not !) or budget for a Monarchy DIP between the CDP and the DAC.
I found an EVS Millennium DAC 1. I'll let you know how we did when it arrives. Thanks for the help!