A couple from the listings:
No affiliation with either both very good deals and well regarded used DACS under your budget.
The AMR DP-777 is a keeper, best DAC according to me in the 2.5K used range. I went through a lot of DACs in this price range before settling on AMR. It can compete with a vinyl rig of the same price as its MRP (I tested this out), couldn't make out the difference on the same track between digital (redbook on AMR) and my analog rig. I sold my analog and kept the DAC.
In my opinion all these are the best for doing Redbook pcm and the last, and in my view the best of the R2R Mutibit dacs, before they were stopped because of high cost of manufacture EG: laser trimming resistors ect. Now they’er making a big comeback as discrete R2R Multibit.
Mark Levinson No39 cdp hdcd but can be used as dac.
Naim CD555/P555 hdcd most stunning Redbook pcm player I’ve heard maybe also be used as a dac.
Linn CD12 hdcd player very close to the Naim.
Cary 303/200 hdcd for the budget minded.
Are you planning to use it for Redbook CD or streaming/hi-rez file download? There seems to be a general debate that the multibit or R2R design DACs sound better for CD content. I don't recall but there is one brand goes as far as using multibit for its digital coax input and Delta Sigma for its USB. They must be agreeing with the general science and the popular usecases.
Search for PCM1704 and the DACs that use them.
Mytek Brooklyn DAC+
Absolutely beautiful sound playing Redbook. Multiple filters to choose from to dial in your sound preference.
In the future, if you ever decide to play DSD or MQA it will handle that as well.
Also adds a better-than-decent phono preamp, line input, and great headphone amp. Can plug it into a power amp directly, and have your choice of analog/digital for volume control.
Just under $2200 brand new, it’s a steal. Stereophile A rating, and their digital component of the year award 2017.
I love mine.
kalali Search for PCM1704 and the DACs that use them.
Kalali has given great advice if RedBook pcm is you priority, search here on this massive list of just about every dac or cdp made for ones which use the PCM1704 or even the PCM1702 converters, and with hdcd as well if you can get it.
Surprisingly no one suggested the usual suspect, Schiit Yggdrasil. No personal experience but lots of positive reviews and lots of love...
Seeing it was bought up, yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! for the Schiit Yggdrasil.
But I believe the OP wanted "Dated but still A rated DACs" not new but best old school R2R format dac’s for doing RedBook.
Just incase here a link for the OP to follow.
Just FYI, Mytek seems to have some pretty significant growing pains. Sounds like they make a great product, but if they can't invest in the business enough to respond to customers and deliver product you have to consider if this is a good investment down the road. Don't get me wrong, I'm VERY much rooting for them. But the audio trash heap is littered with great products that had no real long-term business plan or financing, which ultimately led to their failure. I'd echo my previous recommendations for Bel Canto or Metrum. Again, best of luck.
I am a HUGE fan of the 1704s and have owned numerous pieces, too many to count, with them. The 63s are something special.Had them both over many dacs and cdp's, and tinkered and modded them to the hilt.
The PCM1704 is top dog for all Redbook pcm, far lower noise, almost glitch free, so it doesn't upset wide bandwidth I/V stages as much.
The problem with digital gear is that it keeps evolving so quickly. Today's $5000 wonder is tomorrow's $2200 White Elephant.
I run a Peachtree DAC I bought several years ago for $500. Still sounds great and I need to make no apologies for it. More than one visitor has proclaimed my system to be of "reference quality". You can pick one of these things off of EBay for $200 or so.
They have both a USB input and an optical input. I feed it a USB line from my media computer and an optical cable from my CD player. Sounds identical both ways.
Go ahead and drop thousands on something else and all you'll get is a very, very rapidly depreciating box you'll eventually drop off at Goodwill in 3 or 4 years.
If you mean by dated...vintage....an older Muse 192 was an awesomely good sounding DAC in its day. No USB....but for redbook it was very sweet sounding. Nevertheless, a PS Audio PWD II is more impressive in every way.....and has loads of inputs. Same with the Benchmarks 2 and 3.....used Ayre QB 9 DSDs are essentially affordable now...along with the CODEX and again are much better than vintage DACs.....I remember the Musical Fidelity 192 DAC and liked it but it sounds dated compared to what was available even 3 years ago. Go new....many to choose from.
Hi, I would suggest the following, I have owned or own most of these:
Museatex Bidat (currently own) simply outstanding even to this day, especially if you have John Wright install the "Plus" mod.
AMR DP 777 SE (currently own) probably the best all around dac I have heard and as a poster above mentioned it is competitive and in many cases better than analog rigs up to around the $7k range.
Metrum Hex/Octave (owned the Hex, the AMR displaced it)
Wada 9 (stunning audibly and aesthetically) extended loan some years ago as I considered its purchase
Newer unit to consider: Denafrips Terminator
As far as dac chips go, the BB PCM-63K, and the PCM 1704 were tops but the king in my opinion is non other than the Philips TDA 1541 S2 Double Crown. the 1541 has a sound that is hard to describe. I have two custom AMR CD 77.1's one of which has already been retrofitted with a genuine 1541 S2 Double Crown and the other is awaiting transplant of my other 1541 S2 Double Crown chip.
I should have mentioned probably one of the best bargains for a dac, the Monarchy NM24. People don't go after it because the name doesn't impress their friends but that thing runs PCM-63's and I have owned it before. It is above the fray and I think you can still get them new from Monarchy before his stock runs out.
I have an "all digital source" music audio system and believe that DACs are the things that are being "most improved" these days.
For the last 3+ years I've been enjoying a PS Audio DirectStream DAC whose unique design (based on an FPGA chip, instead of an off-the-shelf DAC chipset) allows them to publish firmware updates (which seem to be available 1 or 2 times per year), which improve the performance of the DAC.
If the DirectStream DAC can't be had for the money you want to spend, they also offer a DirectStream Jr DAC, for about 2/3's the price of it's bigger brother.
PS Audio is a fantastic company to deal with.
Oops - just realised you are spinning cds (rather than playing files from a computer or streaming). I have only used the Convert-2 briefly for spinning cds -with an Oppo 83 and 105D with coaxial. While the Convert improved their respective sounds, playing downloaded red book files and streaming Tidal HiFi via USB is giving me much better resolution.
[Convert-2 balanced analog out to a pair of Geithain RL906 active monitors]