New DAC versus higher end used DAC?

Does anyone have direct experience comparing the previous generation of high end DAC (especially Muse model 2 plus, Meridian 563 and Timbre TT-1) with newer units like the Bel Canto (1 or 1.1) or the PT-3A.

I'm trying to upgrade my front end by spending as little as possible and some of the non-24/96 DACs which were very well received can be bought for1/4 of their original price. Or am I being foolish, are the new units so much better that a new $700 unit outperforms what was a 2-4K one three or four years ago?

I'm planning on using an ARCAM Alpha 7se I already own as transport (it has the same transport as the Alpha 9se). I have the Musical Fidelity A3cr amp and pre. TMC White and Yellow interconnects Analysis Plus oval 9 and 12 in a biwire run as speaker cable to Magnepan 1.5/QRs. Power is filtered by a Monster HTS-2000 and I have a mix of Stealth HAC, Kimber PowerKord and Dedicated Audio pds one power cords.

Help would be greatly appreciated.

The best DAC I've come across is the Museatex Bidat, tested against samples such as both Audio Note 3 ($5,000) & 5 Signature ($35,000) models,
Manley DAC, Meridian, Bel Canto dac 1.1, Burmeister's mighty ($50,000) dac (very technical, cold & harsh), etc. None were as musical as the Bidat, regardless of the price.
Equipment used to audition these converters were:
-C.E.C. TL0 MK2 , TL1x, TL51Z cd player/transport
-Museatex CCD transport.
-Meridian 500 transport
-Cary CD-302 CD player/transport.

Lamm Industries L1 and L2 Tube (both hybrid) linestage preamps.
Lamm ML2 vaccum tube triode power amps
Quicksilver -Silver 60 push pull power amps.
Quad ll 40 tube amps

Kharma Exquisite speakers
JM Lab electra 315 speakers

Kharma digital, analog and speaker cables
Harmonic Technologies Pro Silway interconnects and Pro-9 speaker cables

Linn Axis with Linn Ittok arm and Linn cartridge for comparison.
I bought the bidat for less than $800, and is worth every penny.
I hope that I was of some help.
Instead of hassling with separates, I'd recommend a new cd player. You'd be surprised what $1k will buy you these days.

The Audio Refinement (YBA) CD Complete is about $900 new, and is VERY good. You can do do extremely well if you buy a recent unit used. Better yet, the Cary CD-303 can be had for about $1.5k used. That's a terrific player.

Slowly but surely, the days of separate transport and DAC are fading off into the distance. Don't get me wrong, the approach does have its merits, and a number of the ultra high-end manufacturers are still doing it (e.g. Burmester).

But for those of us that don't have $30k + to spend on a digital front-end, a $1k integrated cd player is really probably good enough. Remember, cd's are not truly a reference-quality medium to begin with. But I won't revisit the old digital vs. analog debate here, as it has undoubtedly been covered ad nauseum...
My advice is to make sure that you get yourself a 24 bit machine. My Stan Warren modified 24 bit MSB DAC has sonically beat up quite a few ot the older 20 bit Levinsons, Thetas and Krells. Stan's work definately brought the MSB into a completely different league, but I think the 24 bit chipset has some serious sonic advantages that the older 20 bit chipsets did not have (regardless of the manufacturer). BTW this is my 9th digital front end in 14 years, and for the first time I am actually content with listening to digital (as opposed to always craving analog, with it's inherent sonic qualities that been so lacking in my digital front end...until now).
I auditioned several nice separates
AUdio Research DAc3, Sonic Frontiers
and the new EVS Millenium II completely blew these already great players out of the water

very dynamic, resolving, articulate, warm
just an amazing dac and at $1050 a real steal

see Ric at
I am in general agreement that modern CD players and DACs that use newer 24-bit DAC chips and recent digital filters will sound better than many older technology DACs now selling for 1/4th original price. Why do you think they are selling for only 1/4th original price? We don't see that kind of depreciation in components that use somewhat stable technology like preamps, speakers, and amps. The electronics used in these components haven't changed much in decades but digital electronics continue to move forward and improve quickly forcing older and very expensive digital components to drop in value more than any other item in the audiophile equipment rack. Many new $1000 DAC's or $1500 CD players can outperform their $4000 counterparts of only a few years past.
I agree with Abecollins above and won't repeat what he already said quite well. Prices don't normally drop to seemingly irrational levels for no reason. I'd also agree with Audiotomb above that you should try the EVS Millennium II DAC, which can be had for $1050(probably not much more than you'd pay for one of the older DACs anyway) and you can return it in 30 days if it doesn't transform your system, although I don't know of anyone who has returned one. Another positive aspect of this DAC is that it will be upgradeable to handle the new SACD/DVD-A formats in 2-channel format only, but older DACs obviously will not be able to offer this capability at all. Hey, with the EVS you've got nothing to lose(except maybe about $20 shipping) and everything to gain(see reviews on and Best of luck.