I use the Bel Canto DAC 1 (purchased used) with a CAL Icon MK II as a transport (I do not know if this qualifies as a good transport, but it sure sounds good to me) and find this combo to be superior to the MF A3CD as a stand alone player. Instruments sound more natural, it is smoother with less of an edge and yet it still supplies more detail. I am currently using an HT Pro 11 PC on the DAC and have been told that by upgrading the PC the sound will get even better. I was not impressed with the DAC's performance while using its stock PC in my system. I had considered purchasing the MF player but opted for just adding the Bel Canto to my CAL. I do feel that the MF A3CR is a very good player, but that it is not quite as good as the Theta Miles (if you like a punchy sound), or the Resolution Audio CD50 (if you like it smoother). I went with the DAC because of my budget, but am glad that I did because the CAL/Canto combination is just as musical IMO as the more expensive all in one players that I mention above. I had thought of trading the Icon for a CAL Delta transport, but what would I do when the DAC is away receiving upgrades that certainly will come with time (there is a power supply upgrade available currently). I originally tried the DAC with a Canare digital cable which was just so so and now use it with the Mapleshade Double Helix digital IC which is both wonderful sounding and affordable at $120.00. So, if you go with the DAC then plan for the added expense of a decent PC upgrade and a good digital IC in your budget. Sam at this site owns both the A3CD and the Bel Canto and perhaps has quite a story to tell if he has the time. If your budget is around $1000.00 and you already have a suitable player or transport then I would go with the Bel Canto (used). If you have double that to spend then maybe look at better all in one players (you save on the digital IC cause you don't need one). If you search under "DAC" at this site you will also find comments on other DAC's in your price range.
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