Mac to DAC thats comparable to Linn CDP?

I have tried a few and they sound like crap compared to my old Linn Genki.

My wife has asked to set up a music server to get all the CDs out of the dining room.

I have a Dell Mini running OSX and itunes, USB out and also an external USB to SPDIF converter.

This is connected to a Linn Kolector and Aktiv bi-amped Ninkas with a 10" Sizmik subwoofer.

Compared to a CD in the Genki using lossless Apple format, the (inexpensive) USB DACs I have tried have a tiny sound stage, the bass is all fuzzy and the treble sounds like glass breaking inside my ear.

I searched up all these posts where people say this or that DAC sounds good with the computer, but do they mean 'good for a computer'?

My question is, can I get acceptable sound out of the computer or is this a lost cause? If I can get decent sound this way, what is my wallet looking at, and how can I figure out how to pick a DAC from the hundreds that are available.

Curious, which DACs have you used?
Tried a Behringer DAC I borrowed from a coworker, and more expensive one he bought (about $100) which I don't recall the brand, and the DAC in the Blue Circle Thingee which is the USB to SPDIF convertor I mentioned. That's apparently some garden variety chip.

I wasn't expecting any of these to sound like my CD player, but I expected something tolerable, and cheap, for streaming. I sort of expected that advances in electronics would have eclipsed my CD player even at cheaper prices.

I've also considered that maybe I am just used to the flaws in my Linn system and a different sound is jarring. All this streaming music sounds fine on the $200 computer speakers.

So if I can't get away with a cheap solution, it had better be good, or the CD's stay in the dining room! :) thanks,

I replaced a 10,000.00 dollar Ayre CD player with a 600.00 dollar MHDT paradisea USB DAC, so yeah I'd say it can be done.

Assuming you are playing back lossless files. I don't know streaming music may be low quality and lower quality MP3s sound really bad to me, even on my ipod or in my car. I'd never go back to CDs one at a time uhhgg.
I had a Lector MK3 CDP and went with a Mac Mini/ RWA Isabella with Dac. The Mac setup clearly is a better sounding system next to the Lector.
I had better results with a VDH Optocoupler mini to toslink cable than a USB to SPDIF convertor with my Mac Mini ... if your DAC has toslink inputs this may work for you as well. My DAC's are internal to a Bryston B100 and a Tact M2150x
I've had a Musiland MD-10 that sounds about like you're describing (poor).

Then I went to a Benchmark DAC1 USB (Incredibly detailed and much better, although bright).

Then a Bel Canto DAC3 (similiar to the DAC1 as far as being incredibly resolving, still a bit bright)

Then an Empirical Audio Turbo-3 paired with an MHDT Havana NOS tube DAC (much smoother and much more musical).

Now I'm trying a Redwine Audio Isabellina.

So yes, it can be done. Just buy better gear since you get what you pay for (up to a point anyways).
For this to work, you'll have to spend some $ on a decent DAC, whether it be a USB or Firewire version, although I doubt you have a F/W connection on your Dell. Are you running Windows as well? Or, just OSX? If running windows, you can try Mediamonkey as well as other free players, which might give you better sound than Itunes, although the user interfaces will be lacking.

I also recommend taking a look @ the MHDT DAC's. I see there's at least 1 for sale on the Gon presently.

Also, Wavelength Audio just released a <1K DAC, the Proton, which has rec'd some praise.

Good luck.
Thanks for all the replies.

I am running OSX on my Dell Mini 9, which is connected to my Linn system. No Firewire or optical. The music is served off a Mac Mini in another room.

I see now that Linn made a DAC called the Numerik.

Off to do some more research! Thanks,
if you look into the MHDT DACs, you also might want to look into a USB converter of at least some sort. The MHDT DACs sound great, but they sound much better with a clean digital signal that is reclocked by a capable USB converter.

Examples are -
Bel Canto's 24/96 USB converter (usually go used for $300-400)
Empirical Audio's Turbo-2 or Turbo-3 (they can go anywhere from $400 - $800 used)
Sonicweld's new converter. This one just came out recently, not sure of the reviews on it and it's as pricey as empirical audio's stuff.

Full disclosure - I may end up listing my Turbo-3 and MHDT Havana in the upcoming weeks if I stick with the Isabellina. So please don't take my suggestions as a sales pitch.
The obvious answer would be a Linn DS.
I second the Linn DS. I use an Akurate DS and love it. For $2,000 you can get the entry level Sneaky DS. For $3,000 the Magik DS. The Magik DS is really good. I would guess much superior to the Genki.
Linn DS: I like this idea, but I've read the interfaces aren't good compared to, say the Transporter, and I believe it. With millions of tracks available through the box, I have to say the interface becomes more important than with a CD player.

Does anyone know if you can control a Linn DS from a IPhone/IPod touch like, for example, the Sonus box? I saw this at a friends house and was very impressed with the utility. I was very not impressed with the sound quality, although the owner was very satisfied.
Yes you can control the Linn DS with a iphone or itouch. You just have to buy an app. called Songbook. It's very easy to use. It also shows your album art.