As a previous owner of the 8300, 8400 and 9500 I can confidently advise you to but a DAC. The 9500 was very little if no improvemnent at all over the 8400. The 9500 did have a better video and the SACD was a bit better. The redbook was just not there on any of the players. I can't say what DAC I would use but I would from time to time use my McIntosh MX135 as a DAC and it sounded quite a bit more open and satging improved but it was still no long term solution.
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