if you can find a Timbre TT1 Dac for $5-800, do it. It is one of the richest, most analog like DAC's out there but it doesn't shortchange you on detail.
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i second the birdland odeon lite. great sound at a modest price. i a/b'd against p1/p3 with pwr supply. (it did not have the mods....but shame on them for not making it right to begin with imo). birdland gave me a more analog sound. anyway i am running it with an old pioneer combo laser/dvd/cd machine. very satisfying. better than my cal 15 too! fwiw
I'll second the Audio Van Alstine OmegaStar DAC. I've seen them for $500-700 used ($1300 list). The most non-fatiguing digital I've ever heard, yet plenty of detail & bass control. BTW, I use a Pioneer Stable Platter CD as a transport as well, and find it's a great match. I use a Kimber Kable Digital X interconnect. The only drawback to the AVA DAC is that it doesn't have switchable multiple inputs, if that's something you require you might need an external switchbox. Or, do like I do & just switch cables if you want to use a different source.
I second the ModWright/Perpetual Tech P-3A as being an excellent alternative. You get the benefit of 24/96 upsampling and the modded version provides a very rich blend of musicality with low-noise and fine detailing. It's hard to go wrong and you can sometimes score a used piece for well under $1000.
If you can find an EVS Millennium DAC for sale, grab it. I use a Millennium DAC 1 with a Pioneer DVD transport with excellent results. Transparency, dynamics, soundstage, tonality, etc. are all incredible and a HUGE improvement over the DVD's analog outs and my previous modded Link DAC. If you're looking for something warm and tubelike look elsewhere, but if utter neutrality and hearing every last bit of recorded sound is what you're after I think you'd be hard pressed to do better(see owners' reviews on audioreview.com).
Unfortunately these have recently been discontinued, but if you can find a used DAC 1 or DAC II(probably around $400 to $800 respectively) you should jump on it. Best of luck.
For what it's worth I have a Micromega Duo BS2 that was Class C on Stereophile's recommended list in 1996. These do not come up for sale every day, but have seen them sell for less than $300.
So far my Duo BS has "defeated" the following dacs:
Theta Pro Basic II
MSB Link I
Cal Sigma II
Art DI/O (unmodified with upgraded ps)
Some of the above mentioned dacs had deeper bass, some had more inner detail, some were more exciting at first, but none of them had the overall refinement and were as enjoyable to listen to on a long term basis as the Micromega. This was based on in-home trials, using either a Parasound CBT 2000 or Stan Warren modified Aiwa changer and Audio Alchemy DTI Pro. I prefer a softer, richer, more laid back sound than many audiophiles and am more interested in timbral accuracy vs electronic fireworks, so your mmv.