tell him to get a remote controlled pre.
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d99: what's the budget? if it's in the $15K or more range, he'll find nothing better than the boulder 1012, unless he's willing to go to, say, $36k. plus, with the boulder rig, he can dump his unidentified pre. (BTW, the 1012 has an absolute KILLER phono stage as "standard equipment"; maybe you can talk your buddy into the glories of vinyl, too.) 'course he ought'a dump his carousel, as well. unless he wants to add a few horses that go up-n-down. -kelly
David99: I have a GCD-700 and had the opposite problem a year or so ago where the fixed outputs would intermittently shorted out. I wasn't entirely thrilled with the overall sound of the 700 anyway (I've had it for 5 years - time for a change), so I chose to use it as a transport and purchased a used DAC. For what its worth, the sound of the combo was pretty poor, and my first thought was of course that the DAC wasn't very good. To test this, I swapped in my Pioneer DVD player (503C) and things sounded great. After going back and forth for a while to ensure the differences weren't simply in my head, I came to the conclusion that the 700 just isn't a very good transport. I'm not sure why the digital output should be as poor as it is, but Adcom apparently didn't design this guy to be a quality transport.
Just some food for thought before you attack the system with an external DAC. That said, there are some affordable external DACs I know of that do have volume controls without remotes (Monarchy comes to mind). Is he averse to getting up and adjusting the volume?
The performance vs. convenience issue is as old as it gets. If your buddy could consider living without variable outs and figure out another way to attenuate volume, the Anthem CD changer will likely outperform almost any DAC he could add to the Adcom. My experience with this unit has been the same as Ken's, where the Anthem on the other hand is surprisingly good. It's the only changer I've ever heard that produces real quality sound and is available for around a grand or so. It has a tube DAC stage and unless he leaves it on around the clock, the tube should last him for several years at least. Good luck with whatever you choose.