Digital Purchase Advice . . .DAC or New Player

I'm all over the board on this one. . .

I want to upgrade my digital platform and of course, I want the best performance for my dollar. I currently have a 16 year-old Philips 5 disc carousel and a Denon DVD-3910. Obviously the Philips is sub-par as a player, but can serve as a transport for casual listening. The Denon is a decent player and can also serve as a transport for more devoted listening. It also decodes HDCD which is a must for me.

I've been looking at the Cullen level 3 PS Audio DLIII as an option, but was wondering if I'd get better results going to a new player. On that front I've been considering the stock Raysonic CD-128 or the Moon modified Original CD-2008 MK2. If I go with a new player I would use the balanced outputs to feed a Pass Labs X-1/X250 driving Thiel CS1.6s. My musical tastes are rock/jazz/classical.

Would I get better performance and musicality from the DAC or from a new player?

Any and all feedback is appreciated.
Consider the Benchmark DAC-1 -- has both balanced and single-ended outputs. Many great reviews. Works well even with plain old CD players as a transport.
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The PS Audio Digi Link 3 even without the mods will be a very good choice - purchased one for my second system using my Arcam CD72 as the transport - nice upgrade to my ears
You are going to have to spend a bundle to really beat the denon. If you like its multi-purpose playing, consider keeping it for dvd/a & sacd but get a nice 2 channel DAC.
Another thing you may consider is getting it modded? Partsconnexion or Underwood both can take it to many new levels. You could even get tubes put in it?
My Denon is great and actually sounds better without some external DAC's that should improve the sound. However, my modded music hall wins.
I HIGHLY recommend a MHDT Labs Havana DAC. I cannot believe that for $800.00 the DAC sounds as it does. Simply stunning- and I've had a few Digital front ends in my day.

You may want to check it out.
I use Bel Canto DAC3 and it is very good. It also has its own preamp section with a nice volume control.

You will get more flexibility if you go the DAC route.
You can have more than one digital source with a DAC3, i.e laptop, Squeezebox, transport, etc.
I have a Denon 3930ci in my H/T and have tried it hooked up to a PS Audio Digi link lll with stage lV mods with a V/D David digital cable, I don't think it betters the Raysonic 168. I think you should buy a good used player (ARC,BAT,ETC), what's your budget?
Thanks for all the responses.

Jhold and Bob_reynolds (the president of my company is Bob Reynolds!!!). . .I considered the Benchmark but the modded DLIII seems like it provides better performance (albeit at a higher price).

Elevick. . .I agree that the stock Denon sounds pretty good.

Danlib1. . .the Havana certainly looks nice for the money. What have you compared it to? There isn't a lot of information out on the web. . .

Audphile1. . .I really like Bel Canto products, particularly their look. I was considering the CD2 and/or the DAC3 but the CD2 doesn't do HDCD and it seems like the DAC3 can be bettered by other less expensive units.

Samhar. . .the Raysonic 168 doesn't do HDCD so I would go with the 128 if I went Raysonic. Raysonics look great and seem to be built like a tank.

Anyone have any experience with the Original 2008 MK2? A fully modded unit is only slightly more than the Raysonic 128. . .
I am curious to know which less expensive units(cd players or DACs) can better the DAC3. Could you please name a few? And if they better the DAC3, in what particular area(s)?
Here is one that does HDCD

128 is a nice player too.
Might need some tube rolling (as some suggested elsewhere)
and it is a good candidate for mods in the future , if budget permits.

But I would rather invest in quality DAC.

It is your money & final decision.
Do some research. Read comments, reviews etc.
if you can audition some of the recommendations - great. Do that before financially committing to anything.