Build quality parts used and where its built.
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I don't know that much about DAC's either, but will say that the Dodson DAC that I own makes a HUGE positive difference in my system. I got it for ABOUT 1800 or so and it retailed for around 5000. The unit I own is a Dodson 217 Mark II D DAC with updated 218-like software and a transformer upgrade It's been replaced in the Dodson line with the 218, which is apparently even better, and retails for more also.
The point: If you can find a used 217 Mark II D DAC with upgraded 218-like software and possibly the transformer upgrade, then I suspect that it's HIGHLY unlikely that you wouldn't be thrilled with its performance.
I could be dead wrong, but I doubt it, at least for this item. It's the real deal.
Check out non-os DACs. To learn more about this design philosophy visit the Audio Note and Sakura Systems (47 Labs) web sites. These DACs are reasonably priced and you don't have to be concerned with bits and the like since they don't upsample or oversample. You can find several excellent brands between $500 - $1000 new or used.