One more thing---you can a DACmini from somewhere like Audio Advisor and they have a generous 30 day return policy. Just keep it in great shape. I got mine direct from the source and feel no need to give it up.
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I would look for a dac with an excellent power supply, an excellent analog section and from a company that has a history of developing products for the digital domain industry.
Or you can just look for any DAC that is promoting the latest chip-set by some random chip maker which appears to have great numbers and has been stuffed into a "get this product out the door fast" box by a company that has little to no research and development history in the digital domain. I am sure you can find some "jumped on the bandwagon Class D amp manufacturers" who will have products that meet this criteria.
Me, I would take a 5-10 year old DAC that has a well designed and implemented power supply (you're going to have some weight for that) and a well designed, implemented and proven analog section over something with the latest chipset only. Remember, the chipset is the easiest and cheapest part of most DACs to get and install and still doesn't guarantee any level of performance without the PS and analog circuitry.
Ignoring the basics necessary for good performance will just result in your listing the DAC for sale in the following weeks - as you see so many of them that you will have to compete with. They are great merry-go-round products, it surprises me Audiogon themselves haven't come out with their own version! to drive ad revenue and commissions.
Here's a short list of moderately priced DACs (that I would personally take over so many of the $500-1200 current ones on the market today - all in the $500-$1,000 used price range):
Music Fidelity TriVista 21
California Audio Labs Alpha DAC - regular or 24/96
Kora Hermes DAC
Or look at the really good digital companies, like: Wadia, Esoteric, DCS, Meitner, Levinson and a few others.
Another in your price range that is worth a listen is the Simaudio Moon 100D. It's really nicely built and I've been very impressed with the improvement it made over a modded Beresford DAC for not much more money.
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