DACs - New vs. Old

The next change I want to make in my system is the digital front end. The system is currently CAL Icon MkII (no HDCD), Classe CAP-150 and Hales Rev 3s. Has anyone been able to do a direct comparison between used sub $1K and new dacs is that same range? I'd like to keep the Icon as a transport if I can so I can plumb the analog outs to the theatre pre-amp. I will also consider a new CD player if I have to. The nature of my current system has me leaning in the used Theta direction - HELP! Any comments are appreciated.
Those Hales are probably begging for some good source material. If you can buy new I'd do it (or check the classifieds for some great deals on used (new) equipment. DACs today are arguably better than old ones. The Icon could probably be used as transport, but a quality DAC will probably cost you as much as a new player. Try the Musical Fidelity CD player. About a $1000 and has great sound.
Try a pass labs D1- It is a dac w/volume control. You can bypass a preamp.

Used $1800.00 to $2500.00

I have an Icon and I've auditioned many of the expensive older dacs (sonic frontiers, Audio Research Dac3, Cal products). NOne of them hold a candle to the EVS Millenium II dac made by Ric Shultz

Do a search here on EVS or Millenium to see just how mind blowing this dac is. Takes up to 24/96 and upsamples to 192. The analog stages of this dac are awesome.

At $1050 it's a steal and with really open up a system musically.


The Icon makes a very nice transport. Plugged mine into a used (for one month) Assemblage 3.1 DAC, and it beats some very expensive transports. If you ever have DAC trouble, you've still got a real nice back-up player. I would get the newest DAC you can afford, as the technology is changing rapidly. By the way, Tara Video Cable (!) makes a very affordable digital cable. I think model is RSC Prime. Don't spend much over $100 on digital cable.
I agree with most of the posts here. I would lean toward a newer "high-value" DAC vs an older so-called "class-a" rated expensive unit that has plumeted in price. I think you'll find that there are significant improvements to be found in modern digital electronics such that a modest DAC of today can outperform a mega buck DAC of only a couple years ago.

I owned the Cal Icon MKII and MSB Gold Link III DAC in the past, both are outstanding products. Some people prefer the EVS Millenium and I've read great things about the Assemblage 3.1 DAC. The theme is the same.... high-value modern DAC over older dated technology. Amps and preamps haven't changed a great deal in the past decade but digital electronics keep improving noticeably.
I don't know about using a video cable for a digital cable. Not downplaying the advice, just curious. If you are looking for a good, cheap digital coax cable try Transparent Cable. Cost you about $100 for 1m. Great sound.