This is an interesting question regardless of price ($500 or $5,000). I think what it will come down to is room correction. I can tell you that when my DAC/preamp died, I started to run my music server (through a SPDIF converter) into my Integra Processor. To my surprise, the sound, once Audyssey corrected for room issues (despite the room being treated), was excellent. It may be audiophile sacrilege, but I am wondering if a very average processor with room correction could outperform a high end DAC in a non-perfect room. I am going to test this out over the holidays with Direc software and a borrowed DAC. It should be fun. If anyone has tried this already, please let me know.
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