ABSOLUTELY!!!! Not a big fan of Mac and can promise either of these DACs will improve the resolution, imaging of the player.
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I'd say yes, but with reservation. I don't know any of the three DACs mentioned. I've used PS Audio in the past with good results and I've heard Mac digital in other contexts and your description of it tending to smooth and sweet doesn't surprise me.
A good external DAC/clock combination (one box or two) can certainly improve on what you've got, but it depends on what you've got and what you're going to. If at all possible, try the proposed DAC in your system, using the Mac's Digital Out. There are much, much better DACs than the two listed.
Trumpetbri - Some external DAC are jitter rejecting and allow to use cheap transport and cheap digital cable. Benchmark DAC1 or Bel Canto DAC3 are the examples.
I use Benchmark DAC1 connected to very cheap Sony DVD player and digital TV. I'm planning to connect my computer as well (music server). DVD players have very good tracking, play DVD and inherently play MP3. I'm also independent from the transport (easy and cheap to replace). Sound wise it doesn't matter what Benchmark is connected to as long as it is "bit transparent" (doesn't have digital volume control etc.)
Second advantage of this setting is that I drive power amp directly from Benchmark (it has volume control) using only one set of IC. I don't have analog sources but if you do - both Benchmark and Bel Canto make versions with analog inputs as well.
I don't know DAC Magic but I believe it is also jitter suppressing (there is a review in Stereophile on line).
Goatwuss, thanks for looking. ;-)
I DO want to build a large room, but the economy put those plans on hold (my income dropped 60% over 2008). Still, I have great sound, with lots of dynamics, good bass, great imaging and very nice upper mids, but all on a smaller scale than I optimally desire.
I DO get to hear lots of larger systems and I'm comfortable that I'm not missing a ton, particularly of those things most important to me (dynamics and accurate midrange). I'll get all the way there one day...
Thanks for your responses they were VERY helpful! I bought the PS audio Dac 3 and can't believe the difference! Immediately the music popped out of my Maggie MG 12's like never before! For even greater resolution, I put on the 196 setting and it's a whole other level in performance. The MVP 831 is good in stock form, however the PS is a MAJOR improvement in imaging and punch/life. Thanks again for your helpful convincing to give a DAC a try. I am using the Cardas digital cable on it. (Model around $109....can't remember the name of it.)