You may want to list your system. You'll need to get an amp that works with your speakers, not to mention your own personal taste. Assuming its powerful enough, Wyred 4 Sound makes an integrated/dac for $1500 that looks pretty good. I haven't heard it, but they have a really good return policy and I'm sure some of the other members can comment on its SQ.
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I suggest you separate your integrated amplifier from your DAC for the best sound quality and flexibility. This means you can select the right unit for your application and upgrade, if needed, in the future. I do not like combining these two devices. For example, the Musical Fidelity M1 A DAC is very nice for around $800 (discounts might be possible).
The M1 DAC has been met with incredible acclaim. Stereophile's review said it "offers performance that is close to the state of the art", calling it "a piece of kit that can transform your system " and "a stunning bargain". Meanwhile, the review from computer-audio specialist, AudioStream described the M1 DAC as "a wonderfully musical-sounding DAC, and one that offered many hours of pure enjoyment."
Someone else needs to recommended an integrated amplifiier. I like the Ayre AX-7e integrated amplifier but it is over your budget (please check Audiogon for sale items).
"Someone else needs to recommended an integrated amplifiier. I like the Ayre AX-7e integrated amplifier but it is over your budget (please check Audiogon for sale items).
Hgeifman (System | Threads | Answers | This Thread)"
Well, since you put it that way, I recommend the Ayre also. Its just a little over budget and doesn't have a dac.
Much better bang for the buck to go with AV receivers."
So is the dollar menu at McDonalds.
Assuming this a piece you'll want to keep for several years, as opposed to changing it in a couple of years, I would recommend along the lines of what Hgeifman posted above. DACs are not a mature technology and as such they are still evolving pretty fast. In two years you can expect current DACs to be surpassed by much. Amps are mature, on the other hand.
I suggest you look at iFi products for the DAC section. In fact, in their case it would be DAC and volume control. For $500 you get a good unit, and you can pair it with an amp of your liking for a grand.
Assuming this a piece you'll want to keep for several years, as opposed to changing it in a couple of years, I would recommend along the lines of what Hgeifman posted above. DACs are not a mature technology and as such they are still evolving pretty fast. In two years you can expect current DACs to be surpassed by much. Amps are mature, on the other hand."
What are you basing that on? In 2 years, exactly how are today's dacs going to be surpassed? That's like saying a dac you bought 2 years ago is now obsolete. Maybe it is, but how?
Also, I think you can make more of a claim that amps are less mature than dacs. I see far more improvements, and far more problems to overcome with class D amps. Those things are no where near as mature as a current, well made dac.
Sorry I didn't see your question earlier.
What I mean is the sound quality you can buy today for say 2k will probably be available in 2 years time for 1k or less. Of course there will be a lot of exceptions and special cases, but that is what I observe.
Then there is the constant flow of digital formats. Up to now I don't care much for DSD but you may like something that comes down the road.
It doesn't mean something you buy today will not operate in two years or will sound bad, but rather in terms of bang for buck. In the last two years I have had, or have now, 5 DACs ranging from 3.5k (exaSound e22) to 0.2k (iFi) and have to say I've been impressed with how much better quality of sound you can afford for less money lately.
Regarding maturity of amps: you are right about class-D. I wouldn't say the same for ss or tubes, though. BTW, I just finished assembling a couple of Hypex UcD class-D monoblocks and think they sound very well for relatively little money vs my tubed McIntosh MC275. But I feel no urge to upgrade the MC275 or the Lamm pre for something newer. Maybe for something better, but in my mind newer doesn't equate to better in that class of equipment.
Of course these are my two cents and by no means I pretend to "be right" :-)
Just trying to watch after somebody else's wallet.
A used Naim UnitiQute appears to meet all your requirements. Other units to consider would be the PS Audio Sprout, and the Sonos Amp. Neither the Sprout or Sonos are "killer" pieces, but both will attach to a Mac. The Naim has much better sound, but will cost about 2 to 3 times more.
Also, count me as a +1 regarding a used Ax-7e. I have one of these and concur with the comments from others. The Ax-7e is a great value, especially if you can find a used one for sale in clean shape. Hope that helps.
This may be perfect for you. Price is even a bit lower than your limit, but it is worth more. It is still a pretty new model. Its from the same people who gave us the high-end Nuforce products ... NuPrime IDA-8
There is an expired add in this forum.. Look here: http://tinyurl.com/o8mhjcj
I want to get one myself.