McCormack DAC-1 Deluxe
I recently purchased a near mint McCormack DAC-1 Deluxe for $285 in the hopes that it would cure the "digititis" of my old sony 5 disc CDP 75es. I ran a 1M Sonicwave 280 glass fiber toslink from the sony cd to the DAC and used the RCA outs into my Luxman R-117 receiver. When playing CDs, I used the CD bypass on the receiver which essentially bypasses the preamp controls and connects the CD player to the receiver's amp.
First I noticed an increase in gain which may be due to the short length &/or other properties of the toslink and I now have my volume at the ten to eleven o'clock position instead of the twelve to one o'clock position. There has been an increase in the width of the soundstage and the space between and outside my magnepan 1.6 QRs has filled in and there is slightly more depth. There is a noticible increase in the attack and decay of notes and a large increase in both micro and macro dynamics. It gives the maggies the "sizzle" of good electrostatics. It is as if a few layers of gauze were removed from the speakers. There is much more authority to the bass which gives even these smaller maggies the bass slam I remember of the old tympanies. On recordings well known to me, I am hearing details I never heard before. I have heard these speakers being driven by Classe electronics with a Classe 1.5 CD player and I have heard the speakers with a Krell 300il and Meridian 508 CD player and the sound was not even close to what I have, although I'm sure some of the perceived differences are due to the different room acoustics. That said, if you want to keep an older multidisc redbook CD player and still have great audiophile sound, look for a Deluxe McCormack DAC-1. I can't think of more bang for the buck than this DAC on the used market especially when you take into account that the upgrade from the standard McCormack DAC-1 alone cost $250.