The Monarchy M24 DAC may be of interest to you.
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What sonics are you looking for? Different DACs gow quite in different direcion. (Take a look at the reference DAC thread for example) I find myself being very selective about sources in general.
Here is a list of DACs I considered recently for about $1k:
Wavelength Brick (USB only for PC audio)
After long back and forth I decided to get the Lavry and Wavelength Brick. Two very different flavors, but the two looked the most promising. I will be doing a comparison as soon as both are here. Ultimately I have been hoping to switch from my Audio Aero Prima CDP to a PC based system. The AA Prima will be a tough one to beat. Form my first impressions the Lavry is very good but quite different from my Prima. Also, it is unbelievable what differences transports make to the Lavry.
I would have loved to try the Altmann :)
Good luck with your search!
As far as sound, dynamic bass, transparent mids & smooth highs + analog sound, leaning towards the mellow side, definitely nothing bright.
The Lavry probably has the most natural smooth highs, I have heard from digital solid state. It is overall very neutral, not quite as reverberant sounding as the Audio Aero. The Audio Aero is more forward, more colored sounding, but also has more swing. Still haven't explored all transport variations with the Lavry.
Also, if you are considering CD players: The Audio Aero Prima and Rega Apollo are close to your desired sound.
"As far as sound, dynamic bass, transparent mids & smooth highs + analog sound, leaning towards the mellow side, definately nothing bright."
You may find the Mhdt Paradisea NON OS tubed output Dac to your liking. You can find them on Ebay from time to time for $499 plus shipping. They go fast..so you have to check regularly to snatch one up. The Dac is very transport dependent. So the better the upstream clocking.. the better the Dac.