DACS: Meridian 563 vs 566 vs Benchmark vs Bel Cant

Recently, I had a Benchmark DAC1 and Bel Canto DAC2 on loan.
Found the Benchmark OK but too lean and uninvolving.
Preferred the Bel Canto for being detailed, yet rich/smooth.

Ultimately, though, neither one provided quite the dynamics I was hoping for the money (in the UK, they cost about double).

I was wondering how the old Meridian 563s or 566s would stack up against these newer models. Indeed, also how they compare against one another.

Finally, does upgrading the Meridians to 24bit make a big difference (and how much does it cost)?

I use the Meridian 566(20bit version) and had the Benchmark DAC1 for trial. For accessories, I was using the Apogee Wideeye balanced IC, JPS digital powercord and all source equipment was plugged into the PS Audio P300 set to sine wave. Transport was a CEC TL2.

I did a 1-1 swap and my conclusion is : I would think the Benchmark is slightly more dynamic and has better focus/resolution of fine detail. Its like cleaning the lens of a camera. I do not think the Benchmark is lean or uninvolving at all. It is however demanding of its associated equipment.

The Meridians in comparison have a consistently smooth presentation, like music taken from the same fabric. Hard not to like, very organic and musical.

As to upgrading to 24bit, I did a short audition some time ago and felt that thought the music was slightly more refined, the bass punch suffered with 24bit/44.1khz. I'm not sufficiently familar with the current 24/96 converters, so you'll want to have a listen to decide for yourself.
Hey, thanks for your impressions.