Buy a new DAC! For $500-$600 you can get a much better DAC than that "lousy" MSB :), such as a Muse Model Two Plus or a Theta DS Pro IIIa.
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Try an Ack!Dack.
It doesn't score high in the "audio checklist" stuff, but it does get a lot "right." Not etched at all; keeps the music "together."
OK, not the best description in the world. But it was free, and maybe even worth every penny. I'll say that the Ack sold me enough on the "simple" approach that I took the plunge with an Audio Note DAC.
It's within your price range, at less than $600 new.
I'm not sure I'm understanding you correctly...
When you say: >"It doesn't score high in the "audio checklist" stuff, but it does get a lot "right."<
Do you mean my checklist? or some other checklist?
And: >But it was free, and maybe even worth every penny. I'll say that the Ack sold me enough on the "simple" approach that I took the plunge with an Audio Note DAC.<
I haven't a clue as to what you mean here...
Sorry. Thanks for the reply though.
Well, I meant my opinion and (clearly) very poor choice of words were free (did I mention our No Refunds Policy?).
Not your checklist but the tried-over-tried audio babble checklists that are flung about to describe equipment.
OK, I'll try again.
The Ack doesn't have "high end extension" or the "low frequency slam" of, say an EVS modded Link DAC (a good DAC, which I use in the bedroom system, and one which you may want to also give a try, as they go for under $400 used). But for me, well, it just did "voices" right. Compared with the EVS Millennium II DAC, which up-samples (which I also still own), it was a much closer. The dynamics and detail in the M2 where better. But the Ack still had that something "right." Again, for me, in the voices. I will say, though, that both my wife and brother in law preferred they M2 DAC, and I have to admit when it came to filling the room, it did beat the Ack.
But like I said, to me it would lose in the "checklist" department, but win overall. I will say, though, that using silver IC's on the Ack seemed to help it in the dynamics.
Thinking this a bit more, I realize we all have our "checklists," so maybe I should have said the Ack caused me to redefine mine, or at least to add a few items to it.
Now, on the "simple" approach: unlike most DAC's, the Ack does not use any sort of over-sampling or up-sampling, nor does it use a digital or analog filter. It's also battery powered.