spdif/USB converter vs DAC upgrade

Right now I am not really using any computer based audio source. I do have my old laptop connected to my integrated amp using the headphones output. My laptop does not have a SP/dif output. This setup is only used during parties when people want to play you-tube/spotify stuff. However I am thinking about buying a NAS and use DBpoweramp to rip my CD collection. But then to get a half decent sound I need to use the USB output of the laptop. That means that I have more or less 2 options.
1) I buy a USB to SP/diff converter like Stello U3/SOTM dx-USB etc and maybe buy something like the ifi usb power. Then connect it to my Wadia 12.
2) Buy a new DAC something like the Schiit Gungnir/Metrum Octave mkII with a USB input.

Both options have their pros and cons. In the far future I might need to upgrade my DAC anyway for high ress audio. But for ripped CDs 16/44.1 is good enough. I am looking for something that is at least as good as my CEC TL51x Wadia 12 combo.

But maybe a cheaper solution like a Schitt Bitforst or the M2tech USB evo will be good enough. It would be great if the future streaming would sound a lot better when compared with my CEC transport. But I am not willing to spend lots of money to gain a slight improvement.
You can screw around buying cheap converters and DACs until the cows come home, but you probably will not beat the CEC transport until you pay for a decent USB converter.

Even most expensive DACs have only mediocre USB interfaces IME. The quality of these vary all over the map.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio

Thank you for your reply. I noticed there a I2S output on Off-Ramp 5. That got me thinking. Why just get a I2S output card for a PC and then use a DAC with I2S input. I know a company that is developing a I2S PCI (PCIe) card. But I there do not seem to many DACS that have a I2S (HDMI) input option. The only one that I can think of is the W4S DAC-2. But I am not too sure about that DAC, not really a fan of DACS that up/oversample without the option of turning the up/over sampling of.
An outboard converter like the Stello is a huge improvement over built in units. I have the Stello and have used it with DACS from $500 to $3k ( metrum hex currently).

Although it might be worth trying the Metrum Octave usb input before investing further.
The Audiobyte Hydra-X (384 KHz PCM/5.6 Mhz DSD) is a state of the art converter, but pretty expensive
"Why not just get a I2S output card for a PC and then use a DAC with I2S input."

Because the jitter from ALL PCI cards is terrible. It's the master clock that you must optimize. This is analogous to the Cartridge in a vinyl system. This is the key part to get a good result.

Its not just that the Off-Ramp has I2S output. Its the low-jitter clocks. That is why it beats PCI cards.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio