Suggestions For A DAC

I ask your for your wisdom and comments on finding a good used DAC. With all the new technology coming fast and furious, it seems like there are alot of good deals out there on used DACs. Some that I am considering Cal Audio Alpha, Muse Model 2, Adcom GDA 600/700, Bel Canto. Are tube units as good as SS? Also, is 96k upsampling worth it? I listen to mostly jazz and my budget is around $500-$800. My current system is: McIntosh MA6450 integrated amp, MCD7008 changer and Boston Acoustic A-150 speakers.

Thanks in advance.

i like my birdland oden lite (new like 700 and some change). it is much better than p3p1 combo (i did extensive ab) supposed to be better than bel personal experience. it bettered my cal 15 (ss) on musicality. did not have the detail as cal....but no listening fatigue. it does decode 24/96. tubes in the cal line might better compliment your system. (birdland is the only ss piece of gear in my main system).

good luck
I've owned the Muse M2, and Adcom 600 and 700 DACs. They are all very good, but perhaps a bit "dated" in the fast moving digital world. But they will certainly improve inexpensive CD players. I haven't heard it, but based on reputation, reviews etc., I'd take a hard look (listen) at the up to date Bel Canto if you can find one within your budget. The others are available at very reasonable prices. Good Hunting. Craig
I second the Bel Canto. I have seen used ones on Audiogon ranging between $600-$850. If you want to by-pass the preamp, go with the Birdland Oden Lite. There are discussions that can be found on this site regarding the Bel Canto, Birdland etc. They are both good and you can’t go wrong.
From my experience it's no worth to by modern tech upsampling DACs which most of the dealers are going to convince you. The ideal DAC has no upsampling! Upsampling sonically can enhance or deplete the sound but will never produce a linear real reproduction. Try to shop for Theta Cobalt, EAD DSP-7000 MKII. These are the best SS DACs that I've ever known for the today's price!
Since you listen primarily to jazz, i would shoot for the Alpha ( 16 bit ). Not only is this unit very reasonably priced, the liquidity of tube midrange on vocals is outstanding, the slight warmth and wetness of stand-up bass is untouched and treble shimmers without being harsh. This is besided the fact that you will now have air, depth and width to your soundstage that you didn't think possible. Should you feel the need, you can even alter the tonal and spatial characteristics via doing very simple tube swaps.

As others may note, tubes are for people that want to enjoy music and not necessarily "pick apart" or "dissect" recordings. Typically way more involving without the need to be analytical. The rest of your SS gear should supply the speed and impact that your looking for. Sean
Hi John. While I don't have any experience with most of the DACs you're considering, I do own the Bel Canto DAC1.1.

From what I understand, the original DAC1 and the newer 1.1 have some sonic differences. Choosing between these two may depend on the charactersitics of your current system. If you have an overly strident or lean system, the original DAC1 may be the better choice.

There have been a few people here that had their DAC1s upgraded to 1.1s and they remarked that it resulted in a quicker, more extended sound. For those that felt the original was too polite and dull, the upgrade was a welcome change.

I on the other hand had a system which was slightly lean. Adding the 1.1 extended the freqs. and both widened and deepened the soundstage without introducing any nasties. I'm very happy with this DAC. It's detailed without sounding unnatural.

This unit takes a long time to fully burn in. Around a month. However, used DAC1s are prevelant in the classifieds here for between $600 and $700, while the 1.1s are about $100-$150 higher.

Good luck and happy hunting!
Try the Kora Hermes DAC - it retails for 1500 but is solid and uses 3 tubes for output - it upsamples to 24/192 which gives your CD's a lift in sounding fuller. I have a Mcintosh 7008 hooked to it through a 6450. In time add a Perpetual technology digital engine between the player and DAC for megabucks sound.
Thanks everbody for your input! I've been reading them all with great interest and really appreciate you taking the time.

Upgrade your speakers first. They are your weakest link.
I agree with Ed. Get new speakers first.