CD player or Transport and DAC

Wanting good sound but not wanting to throw money away, how much more do I get for a separates source than for a single unit? As an example, scanning the for sales here, a Wadia 860 weighs in at $4,500 and a 27ix / 270 combination at $10,000. Similarly for ML equipment. So how much more do I get for the extra $5,500? Any thoughts and experience and other ways of achieving similar quality?
In the example comparison ... 860 to 27ix/270 ... what you get is marginally better bass / imaging / depth and significantly better seperation of instruments / voices (when the action gets heavy). Is the improvement worth it? That will always be a personal decision. For me, once you have heard the difference ... how do you go back??
If you're in the southeast, you need to hear my Resolution Audio CD50.
You're probably not making a valid comparison in your example. Rather, compare a $4500. single box CD player with a set of separates that also cost about $4500. together. Afterall, a single box CD player also contains a DAC (built in). In this case, and depending on a lot of variables, the single box player MAY (musically) out perform the two box system just because of probable designed and built in synergy between the transport section and the DAC section. However, I have chosen the 2 box route for the CD player's many features and for DAC flexibility, ie I have 2 CD players and a CD recorder plugged into my DAC.
One could have a religious argument over two boxes versus one and get nowhere. There are trade-offs involved in each design but there are other more significant sources of the differences in sound you encounter with CD players. I reckon you should rule out neither and audition anything in your price range - whether one box or two. If you are really spoilt for choice, Garfish is right to imply the one box player makes things simpler - a good thing.
Your buying decision should also take into account the availablity and possible cost to bring your front end up to the new standard(s) should a concensus ever be agreed upon. Of course if your interests are only in 16/44 CDs then the above will not apply.