YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH! Just kidding, I couldn't resist. It took me
many years to realize that there is no "truth" with a capital T --
especially in this hobby. Really, there is a very long continuum between better
and worse, and then you have to figure all of your own preferences and
biases into that continuum.
I think the 7000/9000 would still be very competitive given the used prices
that are listed for. For example, I see used 7000 MK III's for sale often for
between $500-$700. I don't think you can buy anything new for that price
that would sound quite as good. Now if you double that price range you may
be able to find better today. Also, if you are willing to go the mod route: I
have heard The Upgrade Company can do great things with EAD DAC's -- so
for a total of about $600 for a used 7000 III and about 1K in mods, you will
have someting really special that is probably better than most anything you
can get for the equivalent new price.
It depends on your budget, and your comfort level with new vs. used/modded
equipment. You have to take your comfort level into serious consideration. I
am an admirer of EAD and owned the DSP 1000 III for many years.