I have to say....the PS Audio DLINK 3...which can be had here anytime for around $500 simply cannot be beat for the money. Since you like tubes...this unit is right up your alley.... It is warm yet detailed...unlike MANY reasonably priced DACs... One of the best audio values I've ever experienced.
Have you considered a used Modwright Transporter? Seems to perfectly fit your criteria.
I'm using the new Moon D100 - at $600 it's very clean and detailed - I use it for internet radio and ripped CDs. Very happy with it. The Rega is also supposed to be very nice at $1k, as is the Wyred 4 Sound DAC 1 at the same price.
That's the problem when looking at DAC's. They are impossible to tell apart on paper and all become obsolete in months due to new chips coming out. I use different ones for different uses. My computer one is a Musiland MD-10. The sound is great for the money but I won't be upset when it needs upgraded. It does have every input I could want such as USB, Coax & Toslink. Outputs are headphone or RCA and it has lots of other flexibility. It might be fun to mod it myself when I realize I want more. For now, it's way better than any computer card I can buy.
Tvad, the Modwright is way above my budget of less that 1K. Elevick, I was considering the Musiland and won't rule it out. Thanks for the responses thus far.
Bander, you didn't mention a budget in your original post.
Solid Audio Bargain-Emotiva XDA-1 DAC/PRE at$349.00 delivered.http://emotiva.com/xda1.shtm
I went through the same search about 3 months ago. The Havana was at the top of my list but I got tired of waiting for one to show up used. While waiting for the perfect dac I kept seeing the PS Audio DL3 mentioned above pop up. I bought a new DL3 and could not be happier. As the first responder to your question said, it is hard to beat for the money.
I also have been doing alot of research on new DACs. I have several older DACs and have had a hard time finding one that betters them in my system.
I think after reading and reading and reading, that I am going to try the Eastern Electric MiniMax DAC. Uses (1) tube and has the new ESS Sabre chip set. At $750 new, it seems like the "buy of the century". It has received numerous accolades.
Mofimadness - You will be very happy with the Eastern Electric MiniMax DAC. I recommended it to a friend that has a 100K system. I think that he is more excited about the $750- DAC, than either his $22,000 pair of speakers or his Krell monoblocks.
Thanks for the encouragement! Your comments have been the concensus of what I have found.
In the next month or two, Burson will release their new stand alone DAC (including USB input) based on the well reviewed Burson HA-160D headphone amp/DAC. Considering the HA-160D retails for $1095, the stand alone DAC should likely be less expensive.
It's a unit I'm waiting to check out before making any DAC purchase.
I'd recommend giving the Tranquility DAC a listen. I think dbaudiolabs has some for under $1000 previously owned but under lengthy warranty. They have a generous return policy if not satisfied. Eric Hider is extremely helpful.
2nd on the Tranquility. I'm trading up to the Signature edition and returning a very lightly used unit. That returned unit will then be examined and sold at a significant discount. IMHO - exceptional value that has surpassed Benchmark, Chord, PS Audio, and a few other brands I've lost track of. But it's a USB only unit and works best via Mac Mini modified for RAM and SS hard drive with peripheral hard drive.
Well, I've decided on the db Audio labs Tranquility. Eric of db Audio has been very generous with his time and never pressured me to buy his unit when I wrote to him. He actually suggested that I go with something under $500.00 when I told him that I wanted something for internet streaming. I decided that I would most certainly grow with the PC music thing and decided on his DAC. He does have opened box units for $995.00 and for a short time he's offering a free USB cable (200.00 value) with the purchase.
I'm excited. Now it's on to the Mini Mac. Eric was immensely helpful. Thank you all for your input.