I have not heard the DACs you have mentioned but good alternatives are the Audio Logic which uses tubes and the Chord 64 which is SS. I thought that both represent the best value in their price ranges.
You may want to look into non-up/oversampling DACS. Audio Note and Shigaraki (47 Labs) have good information on their sites about the concept. Both have good products as well which I looked at closely before deciding on an Audio Mirror DAC available here on Audiogon for $499. Plays like 3 - 4x the price. From a tube component builder but this is a solid state. Very analogue if that is what you are looking for.
Mang53, I had a Plantine Koetsu combination a few years back and know the sound your getting and don't think you will be satisfied with a lower cost Dac, as the Audio Mirror, Flatfish etc. I have heard both the Zanden and the Stax Dacs and found them both very anoloque sounding with out any loss of information. The Oracle transport is absolutely gorgous, however; at that price level there is major competition, as in; MBL Dac and transport, although the MBLs oversample, they are the most analoque sounding combo other than the Forsell. If your mind is made up on the Oracle, than I would get the Stax Dac, which edged out the Zanden in my system.
Dear Mang53: My advise is that you can go for a top CDP ( integrated ) like: Linn, dCS, Meridian, Simms Audio, Burmester, Classe, Mark Levinson, etc....
If you go for separates the signal has to pass through additional connectors and cables and this fact always do a heavy degradation on the signal. Maybe you think that the external DAC is a better choice and outperforms the internal DACs of a CDP, but is not. As a fact many manufacturers of CDP and DAC use the same DACS for both units. Here it is a marketing business.
Regards and enjoy the music.
Film @ 11
After, VERY careful listening, and budgetary concerns.(No BURMESTER, or MBL 1611's ) The winner is the "Zanden" MKIV. I ordered it on Sunday, May 30th. It should arrive by the this next weekend Friday, June 3rd. I will of course be unavailbale as I plan on going into a audio coma!
Again thanks to all.
Dodson 218, Stax X1T (really liked it) Levinson 35 w/HDCD, Wadia 27IX 3.0 and of course the Zanden MKIV. Again, the budget was a pivotal turning point for me. If I decide to get out of the digital thing? at least I can sell of the Zanden quickly, But if I really make a commitment to this media? then the Zanden Transport will be the next addition. As I understand it the Zanden/Zanden combo KILLS when placed together? ...SO to sum it up, I really don't have the time to sample all the stuff I want to (EMM Labs,MBL, etc)Nor the dealers. So, time is just as important in the final equation.