DAC on Universal player

would a DAC improve redbook and/or sacd 2-channel playback from a Denon 2900? Thanks for any input.
Yes it would. Check out Sam's space in the new Stereophile.. Jan 2004
Thnaks, I'll try to get that. I'm trying to understand specifically how I would benefit from this addition.
You would only benefit from this if the DAC were of higher quality than the internal DAC's in the player itself and there were minimal amounts of signal loss and jitter introduced via the digital cable used. You might be better off having the player itself modified. This takes advantage of a shorter signal path with less connections while taking up less space on your rack. Sean
Yeah, what Sean said....but, not SACD because, I dont believe the 2900 can output SACD in digital.
If all I'm trying to do is get smooth sound on redbook, wouldn't it be cheaper to pick up a Cal Labs Ikon MKII or Shanling CDS-100 and strictly use it for that?
Yes a DAC can improve your redbook, but will definetly do nothing for SACD as this is output , only from the analog outs of your Universal Player.
what DAC's would improve the redbook on a Denon2900?
I would have said the Tri-vista 21 which might be a bit steep for your taste or not. I was looking at the same solution as you, that's why I was drawn to this thread. I am interested in SACD as well as good redbook playback which seems to be a nomenclature at this point. The trivista SACD appears to do both well but at 6.5K. I have also been looking at alternatives, and thought this might be a solution.. Use a DAC to get reasonable Redbook performance. I just read a link about a guy who bought the new 9000 Sony SACD and the tri-vista 21. He could tell little difference with it in and out of his system (the tri-vista)... a little disconcerting... I hope we get more responses to your query... Real world examples would be nice...
Audiotumbler and Arthur I think very few thinks that
modification does not do much.
These are the reason to modify,you will get a stunning
result for less money,its cheaper,so many parts upgrade
that in my case,Like Sean said take advantage of short
path,My Sony 9000es for $1700 fee,its worth at least 5k,
maybe more,because I heard a cd player 3k, did not even
come close.I hate to mention brand,You can email me if you want to Know.
I needed an outboard dac for other reasons and ended up with the MF Trivista 21. I also wanted to delve into hi rez digital and have the Marantz 8400 (decent redbook playback but not at the same level as my Naim CD5) therefore I connected it as a transport to the trivista 21 and that, to my ear on initial impressions, is better than the Naim CD5 (without flatcap). As stated above the SACD output is only analog, no digital DSD stream, so you are left with the universal player's DAC for SACD. However, the DVD-Audio stream can be sent to the outboard DAC for potentially enhanced digital-analog conversion. Overall, I think the outboard DAC can enhance your listening experience if you have a marginal redbook player(the trivista 21 may even outperform an excellent redbook player such as my Naim CD5). My understanding is that the DAC will have no role on SACD playback and may or may not improve your DVD-Audio playback. Hope that helps.
BTW after an extensive A-B comparision I thought the MF Trivista 21 DAC connected to a transport played back redbook CDs better than the MF Trivista SACD player-but not by much. Hopefully, it will do so connected to a music server.
Is there a used DAC for $400 - $800 that would be an improvement over what the Denon's internal DAC's do?1
I don't think there is a usd DAC in the price range you just mentioned that would improve things enough to be worth it. I agree with the folks who said that modding the player will make the greatest improvement, and not only to redbook.
Sell the denon, buy the marantz universal (dv8400 or SA12v2). That will give you a very appreciable improvement on all formats for very little money. Denon doesn't make music very well at all with any of their players, they can only seem to get video right while leaving the musicality out....That said, if 2ch music is what matters most, having a DVD player in a seperate box is the only way to go if you have less then $6K to spend....
I recently purchased the Tri-Vista 21 and it made a marked improvment over my Denon DVD-3800. I now use the DVD-3800 as a transport most of the time exept for DVD-Audio. I think the biggest difference is in the smoothness of the midrange and treble regions. Also, the bass seems to be more solid and defined. To help you gage this response, I am in the middle of a major upgrade cycle so I still have a lot of tweaking to do to get things just right. Right now my system consists of...

Revel M-20
BAT VK-300x SE
REL Stadium III
Denon DVD-3800
MF Tri-Vista 21
Better Cables Digital Coax and SE RCAs
Kimber Kable 4PR Speaker cables

Hope this helps.
Arthursmack, you just beat me to it! I was going to ask the same question just about now. The only difference is that my universal player is Sony 999ES and my Pre-pro is Bryston SP-1.7.
I was reading good reviews about Channel Islands DAC with upgraded Power supply. There was one, modified by ModWright, for sale recently.($450).
I am wondering now, would it be an improvement over your Denon or my Sony? Regards.
I'm doubt that stock Marantz 8400 would have any significant advantages over Denon, I'd rather get it modded or, indeed, would consider good outboard DAC.
BTW, are you sure you really have to deal with universal players at all?