Hi Pardales, did you audition the Apogee with the USB input? I hear this is the way to go with a PC based system. The Wavelength USB DAC's are also rated highly.
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I did actually. It was a very impressive sounding DAC that I recommend anyone to try. It was just not my taste. I guess what I am trying to decide on is a DAC or a CDP. I am pleased enough with the U24 Waveterminal to let it ride for casual listening and radio. I am trying to decide whether to go for a nice CDP for critical listening or a DAC so I can play all my music through one source.
I I have yet to hear a DAC I could live with (sub 3K) that really impressed me.
IMHO definitely go external DAC. If not simply for the sound, but for the flexibility. I think you will be pleasantly surprised what a good external DAC will do for computer based music servers/transports. I truly believe it's the wave of the future.
BTW, I am running a Squeezebox 2 (wireless) as my transport into an external DAC. These are my main "sources" for my 2-channel and headphone audio systems.
I am using the battery powered USB Select by Red Wine Audio that has been modified by them to just provide the USB output from my computer to the digital input of my DAC (it can also act as a DAC, but I would not recommend it), an Audio Mirror D1 which I highly recommend. I also use the USB Select to transfer files from my computer to my Alesis ML9600 (TRL modded) and record direct to the HD, where I can then edit and use the ML9600 as a transport to output the digital signal to the D1, or burn new CDRs (with extremely low BLER due to the mods by TRL).
The Audio Mirror is a great DAC and great value. Not as good as a Dodson I suspect, but a non-upsampling filterless design that took me by surprise and compared favorably to the Audio Note 2.1x, which is no slouch.