Higher End DACs

I am looking for a DAC (potentially streamer&DAC) to be paired in a mcintosh system (c1100/611). Its my first foray into digital streaming and I have no need for a CD player.

I see a lot of love for Esoteric, however, most seems to be around their transports? Are they not as renowned for pure digital streaming and/or standalone DACs? I see DCS (for instance) often referenced for standalone DACs - how does Esoteric compare?
audiotroy here is how i feel about you not that it matters. your responses are highly intelligent and reasoned. you also sound like a great guy. my only comment is neutral in that you, as does everyone, have a bias towards what you sell. If you didn’t have any bias you would be poorly representing your products. frankly i commend you for never getting in the muck. IMO 
ufguy73.. i would not expect Lumin to remotely have the same resale as DCS. the reason in my opinion is that DCS has superior brand recognition and a small dealer network keeping discounts tighter than most. also they follow through on significant updates keeping their models long lived..will admit that i don’t know anything about lumin. i’m sure it’s good. IMO
Dave and Troy,

No, Harley has not heard an MSB in his system. dCS yes, MSB no. Valin did, and guess what, he has an MSB In his system now, even though he’s a hard-core vinyl guy (like I am). And neither has heard MSB’s top of the line, imagine that...
And you mentioned Esoteric. Well, their new Grandioso products are using discrete components, instead of a chip. Call me silly, but for $35k, a DAC should have more than a $20 chip at its core, and Esoteric knows that.
In the end, it’s all about the execution, as there ARE plenty of mediocre ladder DACs out there, mostly jumping on MSB’s bandwagon. While there are decent delta-sigma DACs (the best of the lot, for me, is the Linn Klimax DSM), *my opinion* is that it’s silly to spend that much money on a product with $20 parts in it, that can’t be upgraded easily. To me, D-S makes sense on the entry-level, with a nice and warm output stage, like Luxman does with their digital products.
We don’t carry a bunch of different DAC brands like you do ON PURPOSE. Of course, if we wanted, I’d have the place littered with DACs, but we chose not to. In my view, it does a disservice to the client. I have a clear preference, and we stick with it, instead of shooting in all directions to see what sticks.

Alma Music and Audio

I have enjoyed reading various reviews of these higher end DACs (recognizing the limitations, biases, imperfections, etc. that inherently accompany listening to someone describe what they are hearing).

To be sure, there are very positive reviews of the T+A SDV 3100.  I do have a couple concerns, though:

- on one review (HiFi News) it appeared as though perhaps the takeaway of the presentation was it was not as lively, transparent, energetic (perhaps) as others:

"it rapidly became clear that what's on offer from this imposing two-box player is a sound of great substance, warmth and maturity. OK, at times it may not offer the very last word in sheer bite and impact, but there's nothing remotely mechanical or – to make a sweeping generalisation – 'digital' about the sound here..."

"More raw material, such as Atlanta Rhythm Section's live Are You Ready! set [BGO BGOCD1052], can sound a tad too polite, yet this doesn't this rob the music of its enjoyment"

"It's as future-proofed as you might hope for, and while not exactly red in tooth and claw, it transcends mere sonic fireworks by reproducing the most bombastic musical events with unmistakable style."

I realize the quotes above are all on the whole positive, however, I do also detect the potential for conclusions that the component may be overly relaxed, refined, polite, restrained, etc?

- the other concern is no MQA.  I recognize why...and I recognize that MQA is not the end-all-be-all, at least right now...however, it does strike me as a consideration that one of the differentiators of the T+A is it being 'future proofed' (as much as anything in the this world can be) - and yet it does not cover one of the growing formats that several other manufacturers are going through various updates in order to support.

- lastly (and not really a 'concern' vs consideration of value), I realize the specs (outside of the MQA aspect) on the T+A is through the roof...but in practical terms what is the availability of content at those elevated resolution levels.  I know that shouldn't really matter, all things being equal, because as long as its not sacrificing lower resolution quality who cares that it is capable of playing even higher...but, for example, I think I'd rather have the MQA than a capability that never gets used.

Anyway, still doing reading, etc. but these are some thoughts running through my mind on T+A.

@4425 thanks for the additional thoughts on retention of Luminary's vs DCS....confirms what my inclination has been, also.

@asiufy thanks so much for weighing in (even if late lol).  I assume you have exeperience across the MSB line?  Where do you think the sweetspot is in terms of really pushing into diminishing marginal returns?  Are there one or two levels that represent clear/marked increases relative to a lower model that you would throw out there.  My initial feeling is that maybe one break is at the Premier vs Reference (that is to say, a significant increase in performance between the two that maybe isn't quite as dramatic as Discrete to Premier or Reference to Select...though, truth is, perhaps the Reference to Select is significant...but that Select price point....breathtaking :)).

Im also curious to hear your thoughts on the relative value proposition of the Dual Powerbase vs Monos?

thanks all!

I normally advise people on the appropriate MSB product based on their system. I think it's silly to recommend top of the line stuff if there are components in the person's system that will hold performance back, and thus not give 100% of what the MSB can do. 
I believe @mikelavigne described a few posts back the difference between the models. It's not transparency per se that changes, but just how "continuous" and "realistic" (again, "analog") the DAC sounds. The power supplies help a lot in that aspect, as they add the required weight for some of the music to be truly realistic. The clock upgrades are also quite significant, in that they help with that sense of "flow".
If your system is already "up there", I'd recommend starting with a Reference DAC with clock upgrade. Then, instead of adding the two supplies for the Ref, trade up to a Select. 
This is *my opinion* and *my suggestion*, it might not match other folks' or even MSB's :) That's just how I hear it and how I think the price x performance equation works.
Either way, even a Premier will sound more realistic and natural than most of the DACs out there, in my opinion. For the Premier, you do want the two small power supplies, though.
HTH :)
Alma Music and Audio