logical steps up from DacMagic?


As Shazam wisely pointed out in an earlier post, I've got myself in a situation where the weakest link in my 'baby' system is my DAC:

Cullen-modified Sonos 90 >
Anti-cable coax IC >
Cambridge DACmagic DAC >
Nordost Red Dawn IC >
Jolida JD 302BRC >
Rega R5 speakers w/ Rega SC42 cables

So far, on my list to consider are:
- Bel Canto DAC2 (used, obviously)
- Benchmark DAC1 (used, non-USB version)
- Jolida's yet-to-be released tube DAC (I'm assuming a lot here)

A big part of me wants a Bel Canto DAC3, but I'm certain that would trigger a domino effect requiring the replacement of absolutely everything except possibly an IC or two. ;-) For that reason, I'd like to keep this upgrade to <$1500.

This in mind, are there other DACs that I should be trolling these pages for?
soundgasm
Moving from the Dacmagic is illogical in my opinion unless you have the budget to get very serious.
Robr45, that's a great perspective. I've had the same sense - that I'm about to jump off a cliff here. Can you elaborate?
It is a great sounding sounding piece of gear that upsamples and handles 24 bit material. It does everything very well and even offers fully differential balanced outs. There are people who prefer it to the Benchmark too- even one semi professional shootout if I recall.

I dont own it, but I had a friend go out of town for 2 weeks who let me use it and I was blown away by how good it sounded. Very resolving but also had a touch of warmth and sweetness. My first impression was "wow this thing sounds like really expensive digital". Their 640p phono unit is equally astounding IMO. These two products are game changers.

If you had a few thousand to spend than okay,- maybe you can justify but at the end of the day digital sources vary in sound by very small amounts when compared to analog pieces and especially speakers. If you dont like the sound of your system or feel something is lacking change your speakers. Your amp has enough juice for you to have many options.

$.02
I agree with Robr45. Sure, you can go blow a chunk of change on a much more expensive DAC, but where does that leave the rest of your system.

Before you jump off a cliff, ask yourself (and then tell us) what you think is missing, or what's there that you don't like in your system. Is it too harsh? Low end too boomy? Small sound stage?

People will aimlessly throw out DAC options, but at best those represent what they like, and at worst, what they sell and are trying to get you to buy. In the past I've sold off very expensive DACs, and replaced them with humbler units and gotten more enjoyable sound. Then I'll change another piece of equipment, and all of a sudden find things don't blend anymore. Go slow and make notes of your listening, then post your findings.
A friend of mine went from DacMagic to MF V-Dac. He is very happy. Even though V-DAC is an inexpensive DAC, HiFi Critic rated it much higher than both DacMagic and Benchmark DAC1.