Look at the Chord 64DAC. Nothing looks like it, and definitely high end
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Who was that Billy Crystal character..."Better to LOOK good than to FEEL (SOUND in this case) good!" I get much the same guff from my wife (though I'm no fan of your typical metal boxes that pass for components either) and as a result most of my system is on a rack in the closet in our living room. 6 meter long RCA's connect my pre to the dual mono SET amps (tolerable appearence with cages), and short speaker leads to the Klipsch LaScala's. It all works great and the front end and pre are even better insulated from sound and vibration in our lathe&plaster house. Since a DAC is pretty important I wouldn't buy one for looks alone, though I'm sure there are good ones that look great too. The Chord sounds promising...don't know your budget though. The Bel Canto is fairly small, though plain. You can always house it or camoulflage it in something more appealing to your wife. Perhaps since your wife is calling the blows here you could have her pay for it and have Josh at Electronluv build you a custom DAC. Nothing I could imagine would be more aesthetically pleasing than that! http://www.electronluv.com
Hey Jax -
Josh has talked about building a DAC but hasn't got to it yet. Hopefully he'll soon have the preamp finished to go with the amps I got from him. (wait until you see this preamp...;-) The next thing I want to get him to build is a phono stage... hopefully all DHT, S&B step up and RIAA trannies, battery filaments... should be impressive if he can pull it off. He was actually talking about building a dac and phono stage into one unit.. we'll see what happens. Agreed that a dac from him would be the ultimate (in my book).
Other nice ones:
the Stax X1-T is quite nice looking, the Zanden looks pretty nice too. Or how about the Wadia 790 Powerdac? those look damn cool.