The Classe DAC-1 is one of the best converters available. For $995, do not let it slip away!!!!!!
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In my experience, the regular MSB Link DAC which has been modified by Stan Warren cannot be sonically touced by anything close to $2500, let alone $1000. The great part is that the total cost with mods is less than $700.00. There are quite a few audiophiles that have $25k+ systems that use Stan's modified units for their digital front end. I will say though that if I was to consider an "unmodified" D/A, the Classe would be at the top of my short list (all MSBs really need to be modified to show their true sonic potential)
The Classe DAC-1 retaled for 4500.00, it is one of the most versatile and best sounding DAC available. It uses the UltraAnalog chip which is one of the best sounding chips available. It also has HDCD.I bought one new when they first came out with their transport and haven't had any problems at all. The built quality is excellent. I use it with the transport, DAT player and my CD Recorder. It is a steal at 995.00. Good luck.
I'll second the EVS Millennium DAC II. It uses the higher quality and more expensive Burr Brown DAC chips(MSB uses the cheaper version) and other top quality parts throughout coupled with impeccable design and implementation. It also uses a MosFet output stage which gets rid of all op amps--very rare and a big improvement in sound. I had a Dusty Vawter modified MSB Link DAC and although nice it couldn't touch the Millennium DAC in terms of transparency, dynamics, soundstage, or tonal fullness and clarity. At $1050 I'd put it up against anything, and Ric offers a true 30-day money back trial period so there's no risk in trying one, although I'm not aware of anyone who has sent one back after having it in their system. See reviews on Audioreview.com and Stereotimes.com for other opinions and by all means go to the EVS website at www.tweakaudio.com. Best of luck in your decision.
Also, I agree on waiting for SACD and/or DVD-A. We're still in the first or second generation of players and there are bound to be significant improvements and cost reductions in the near future. In fact, I heard some companies are already working with the newer and more powerful DVD-A chips and should have new players out based on this chip in spring. Lastly, and most important, I'm waiting till they incorporate digital outs into these players before I'll buy any of them, and I hope by that time some of the music I actually listen to will be available in the new formats. In the meantime you'll certainly benefit from playing redbood CDs through a high-quality DAC and may want to continue using it even after you buy one of the new players. By the way, the EVS Millennium DAC II will be upgradeable to the new formats(2-channel only though, not surround) when a digital connection finally hits the market. I doubt that will be the case for the Classe, but the MSB should be upgradeable too.
Depending on how old the MSB unit is, the possibility of upsampling to 192KHz is to be considered. I have a 3 month old model that that does have this feature and when combined with my MSB modified Adcom GCD-750, produces the smoothest and most airy sound I have ever heard from CDs. Some older models of the Gold Link III did not have the 192K cababiliy. Most models do have the ability to upsample to 96KHz without any mods to your CD transport.
I haven't listened to the Classe DAC but Classe doesn't strike me as a "digital" company. They have a few token digital products like a couple so so CD players. Yes, they had their "one hit wonder", the DAC-1 several years ago but keep in mind that the Classe DAC is long in the tooth and newer designs are using newer and potentially better sounding components. I've owned the MSB Gold Link III and it was truly amazing in its price class. The EVS may use a slightly higher grade DAC chip but MSB Gold Link III uses 4 24-bit Burr Brown DAC chips, two per channel, for lower noise and wider dynamics. That in it self can improve the sound more than moving up to the next grade of DAC chip in the same family. You won't be disappointed with the MSB Gold Link III and as someone has already mentioned here, you will have an upgrade path to 192KHz upsampling.