DACs are the future and provide the most flexibility and value. I especially concur with the folks who have discussed the benefits of adding computer audio into the mix. The ability to have your entire library at the palm of your hand and listen to anything you want without having to get up and find a CD and load it up is priceless. If you get a good streaming solution like a Squeezebox Touch you can even run hi res files. The time spent ripping your collection is a PITA, but once it's done and backed up, it's all there, lossless. DACs are of course "outdated" the moment you buy them, but they make a huge impact on the sound of your digital front end. There have been a lot of advancements with the digital processors and clocks to reduce jitter to negligable levels so that is part of your decision process. And there is oversampling, upsampling, and non oversampling to consider, along with DACs that offer multiple filters that you can adjust. Or not. Make sure you pay attention to the analog output stage and power supply of the DAC, and not just the digital processor part. Both are important but the analog output stage shapes the final sound a great deal and determines how the DAC will drive and interact with the other components in your system. Here, consider especially, is it a discrete output stage or does it use op amps? Many DACs can be also be used as a preamp to drive an amp directly (with digital domain volume control) as well as run into an analog preamp with a fixed output. For example, I use a Bel Canto DAC3 in my system and have run it as a preamp direct but greatly prefer the soundstaging and dynamics that my preamp provides, as well as greater flexibility for adding more analog sources such as a turntable. Of course you need to find the right cables and find the connections that sound best, but once you do, it's all good, and you can continue tweaking down the road. Enjoy the ride. I wouldn't purchase a standalone player again.