Have you considered buying a Benchmark DAC1 or Lavry DA10. It will cost you a little more but modifying anything may limit your resale value (should you choose to go another route in a year or two)
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You ought to live with the thing for a while before you have it upgraded. Otherwise, you'll never know if the upgrade was any good.
Your desire to not use a preamp is important. I'm not sure how the SB does volume control, but it's probably not an ideal solution. What I would do is a get a DAC with a good volume control solution and use the SB digital out into it, and don't bother modifying the SB, at least not initially. For digital out, the SB is really quite good as is. Benchmark and Lavry are good DAC suggestions (I own both), but neither will give you remote control over the volume if that's something you need.
I agree with Drubin.
Keep the squeezebox 'as is' and get yourself a really nice DAC. I own both the Squeezebox and the Transporter. The Transporter has a marvelous DAC which is a bit too analytic for me so at first I piped it into my Audio Aero Capitole's DAC for a certain warm musicality. Now I am using the DAC in my Anthem D2. Both the Squeezebox and the Transporter are great ways to stream music over the web and they interface really nice with my G5 Computer's iTunes. While both the Capitole and D2 are more expensive than you are wanting to spend, there are many really good DAC units for a whole lot less money.
I think it's a waste of money.
If I were you, I would pick up a used Transporter instead of the duet. it won't have the fancy remote, but it will be a better performer. And it has XLR outs and built in volume control. It will most likely be superior to an upgraded Duet in every way.
I really don't understand spending this much on the upgrade for SB3 or the Duet. Another option is to leave the duet stock and add a used Bel Canto DAC2 with a decent digital cable, this may be a money better spent.
I really can't imagine how much can anyone improve the dacs in the SB3 or Duet. Transporter has an excellent built in dac, already decent power supply and big enough screen easily visible from across the room.