CDP / DAC Advice required

I'm looking for a new CDP/DAC. I heard my friend's Wadia 581 last week, I like it so much but would like to have something less serious, less powerful than it. Can you all advice me some?
under 3K for CDP/ inder 2k for DAC
electrocompaniet EMC-1: CDP
Kora Hermes II DAC
Benchmark Media DAC 1 is very popular right now($1500). You could get the USB version and a mini mac for about 2K.

Is it going to be as good as the 581 ... no(the Wadia is a superb player), but how big of a difference depends on how resolving the rest of your system is.
I agree with Dungn.
For 2 grand I'd pickup a used Electocompaniet EMC 1UP and not look back. Very analoge in sound. I just picked up a very good sacd player but I still keep the Electro hooked up as it has a sound I very much like and don't want to lose,particularily the mid and low bass body.I prefer it in redbook to the SACD unit I'm using.
The electro has a very good and reliable transport but for some reason (perhaps the connection out)didn't work well with the external dacs I tried.
In your price range, I really love the Benchmark DAC3, and you can usually find them here for around $1600 used.

Audio Research CD3 MKII for around $3k used
The finest audio component I have ever owned

I'm sorry, I meant to say that I really loved the Bel Canto DAC3 for $1600 used, not the Benchmark DAC3 which doesn't even exist.

Based on my experience:
Benchmark DAC1
Bel Canto DAC3

their performance are far away behind my friend's Apogee mini DAC on the same system set up with varity set of cables tested. And Apogee mini dac stil far away behind Wadia.

Just EMC that I never heard, thanks you all guys.
Hi Uglystupid,

Wow, I'm a little surprised that the Apogee mini beat the Bel Canto DAC3, head to head.

I found the Benchmark to have excellent low level resolution, a wide soundstage but not a deep soundstage, it is analytical, brighter, and more forward sounding than the Bel Canto DAC3. The Bel Canto DAC3 is a little warmer, more Analog-like, less digital sounding, and it has a deeper soundstage, but not as wide as the Benchmark, and the sound is set back behind the speakers

Just a heads up, the Bel Canto DAC3 takes 100 hrs just to warm up and stabilize, this is also listed in their Owner's Manual on page8.

Initially the Bel Canto DAC3 sounds; cold, distant, and un-involving for the first 2-3 days and then on the 4th day, all is good in the world. If it's possible I would suggest that you demo it again, after it's plugged in for 4 days. I'm not kidding, when I first plugged mine in, I was so disappointed, I thought something was wrong with it.

Furthermore it also sounds better through the 110 ohm AES/EBU Digital inputs and the XLR Analog Outputs. I had also noticed that if you have 2 digital sources plugged in to it at the same time, than that also decreased the sound quality, I'm not sure why this occurs, but I have found this too be the case with some very expensive DAC's as well.

What type of transport are you using? and Are you using a preamp, or were you running the DAC3 directly into an AMP?

Hi Rich,

The place i tried Apogee and DAC3 is my local Bel canto showroom, but I'm not sure about their on-off and warm up. Our objective is actually to find something to kick my friend's Apogee out but we got conversed result.

The system contains:
Transprot: Bel Canto CD-2
Power Amp: Bel Canto 300
Speaker: T+A CRITERION - TS 350
I'm not sure about the Digital cable cuz the staff don't allow me to change it by myself, and I didn't bring other digital cable there(we brought just analog). English is not my primary langauge but I'll try to describe.

Both my friend and I agreed that Apogee sounds much wider and much more detail, well how much?... much enough to make one of Bel Canto staff ask me about the Apogee's price. Apogee can seperate each instrument into piece by piece which each individual detail. The biggest difference we noted was when we play Andrea Borcelli's. When played with apogee we feel like Andrea is standing and sing in front of a big orchestra band, each instruments were seperated. But with DAC3, we feel that now Andrea 2-3steps more forward from the stage, but singing in front of a speaker which playing his backing track not a live band. Stage is small and we can't identify each instrument.

Can you guide me something I missed with the DAC3? I actually hope much more from it and would like to back to try it again for the best result.
You speak very well, don't worry about it.

Certainly, I don't think you missed anything. If you and you're friend had the same observations, than either the Apogee is phenomenally better than I thought, or the Bel Canto DAC3 wasn't warmed up properly. The fact that this demo occurred at a dealer, I would think that I would have to give the dealer the benefit of the doubt, that he knows what he's doing, unless the DAC3 was recently sitting on a shelf unplugged, prior to your demo.

Although, the set-up that I had recommended, will definitely improve the sound for maximum results, it is not necessary to hear how good the DAC3 is.

I will say, however, that if the DAC3 wasn't warmed up for at least an absolute minimum of 2 days, then the test was totally flawed, and I would recommend that you re-demo it.

The Bryston BDA-1 is phenominal. With all the praise the BCD-1 has been getting, the BDA-1 is at least just as good, if not better.