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?
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

I have pulled up a chair and am popping some popcorn, this show is about to get very interesting!
all positive and constructive, though...

I've learned a lot about digital just on this thread, alone!  Really appreciate the viewpoints and knowledge being shared.

this was my inaugural posting, here! lol
@asiufy makes total sense and thanks for the additional input!

if I could pick your brain some more, since I particularly liked your suggestion (including upgrade path)...

if I also wanted the ability to spin discs - would you suggest adding a Reference Transport to either the Premier or Reference DAC?  A Select transport, leaving one open for the matching DAC if deciding to update at a latter date?

I had also been thinking about the Esoteric K1x, primarily for the transport, and then using its DAC with outboard streamer...and later on deciding if I wanted to a standalone DAC, though I guess I would be overpaying for a DAC in the K1x that (at best) was only used for spinning if I later on had an MSB DAC...

how would you say the MSB transports (and something like Premier/Reference DAC) would compare to the K1x?