Shouldn't done that...

I have a home office that has a head phone rig. I had been using a DAC Magic fed by a dedicated Windows 7 laptop running JRiver MC17 via USB to a Stello U2 via SDIF then into the DAC Magic.

Well, I just "had to" try my Stello DA100 Signature from my big rig in my basemenet listening area in place of the DAC Magic - feeding the DA100 with the I2S out of the U2 - not the SPDIF.

WOW! Without going into all the gory details, this move resulted in a substantial difference. Geez.

So, I am selling my DAC Magic set-up (see classified here on A'Gon) and keeping the DA100 Signature in my office. I need a DAC for the big rig.

I can come up with no more than $1,500 - I am seriously considering a W4S DAC-2. The opinions are positive, the price at MSRP fits the budget and Rick Cullen has been doing great things for a while.

Thoughts? Other new or used DACs that should be on my short list?
Ayre would be my first choice. You can probably get one used for under $1500.
Another vote for the Ayre.
The DA-160 can be had for under 1k. It would be an interesting choice in your system.
Thanks for the suggestions.

Who makes the DA 160?

I looked at the Ayre DAC. While universally accalimed, it has only one digital input: asynchronous USB. I will be using the better DAC I am looking for in my big rig in the basement listening area. The DAC will be fed exclusively by a Logitech SB Touch digital out, which happens to be SPDIF on RCA.

The Stello DA100 Signature has multiple digital inputs, so it is not an issue. However, I would like to use the "better" DAC in my big rig, not my home office head phone system (though the asynchronous USB out from my laptop does sound appealing).
W4S a good choice. A used Bel Canto 2.5 should be thrown into the ring as well.
DA-160 is made by Burson Audio. A couple of friends are using it with their Squeezebox touch.
The W4S DAC 2 is exceptional, and exceptionally versatile. Would be much more expensive if sold through dealers or if it were gussied up.

I've heard the Stello DA200, on which the DA100 Sig is based, and really liked it. I doubt there's be anything to "blow it away" sub $1,000.

That being said, $1,500 is a bit of a dead zone for coax based DACs. The value curve seems to peak just below (up to $1,000), and the next step up comes nearer to $2,000.

Anyways, here's some ideas for auditions/research:
Bel Canto DAC1.5 - voiced similar to Stello
Anedio D2 - Sabre based; more contemporary sounding
M2Tech Young - as the Anedio
NAD M51 - outside your budget, but have seen people compare it to the Berkeley Alpha, suggesting it would be a step up from the $1,500 bracket offerings