Suggestions for a DAC

I'm thinking about using my meridian 506.24 as a transport & moving to a separate DAC. Would like to stay under about $600 (used).

Anyone got suggestions? or bruises from their experience?

Rest of the signal path is: ARC LS-7; SMC Audio DNA 0.5 Rev. A, Dunlavey SC-3, MIT cables throughout.

Thanks for putting in your 0.02.

Hello, I think a good place to start looking is with the Bel Canto DAC 1 and 1.1, which can be found on Audiogon for $400-$600 used. I enjoyed a DAC 1.1 for 9 months and only improved on it by upgrading to a unit that cost much more.

It has a detailed yet smooth presentation, and the small chassis makes it easy to place on your rack. The compactness and lightweight can be a drawback if you use thick, stiff cables. Nothing funnier than seeing it floating in air while connected to a thick digital garden hose. I got good results using the Bel Canto with Kimber Illuminations D60 which is thin and easy to manage.
Bel Canto 1.1 definitely!
That Meridian is a good unit. Can you update that to a 508.24? You might get more bang for the buck. Plus you don't have to buy a digital cable and another power cord...

just a thought...
The 506 is very good. I don't know how you can improve it with a $600 DAC. You might get a different sound but not necessary better.
You might be able to find an EVS Millennium DAC 1 for around $400 or so -- very dynamic, transparent, and tonally pure. I also have a McCormack DNA-0.5 Rev. A, and I find its transparent nature to be an excellent combo with the EVS DAC, unless you're looking for a warm and/or tubey sound. Best of luck.
With what you have, I don't think you'll get much improvement unless you go to DAC's in the $1k-$1.5k used range. I had a DAC 1.1 and it is indeed very good and quite different than the 506.24 but it is not clearly better. For that you need to look to a Muse two ninety six, or an EVS Millenium II, or a Musical Fidelity A3 DAC, or other DACs in that range. Maybe even a Bel Canto Dac II (I have not heard it yet)

Good Luck
thanks to all.

sounds like I might just stay put for a while... probably focus on upgrading the preamp next....

look out hovland sellers!

good listening,
I would definately recommend the Bel Canto dac, especially the upgraded 1.1 version that is more dynamic and extended than the original 1.0, but retaining its rich and smooth character. IMHO it's the most musical DAC south of 2K.
Many good things have been said about the new Channel Islands VDA-1. Do a search at audiogon and audio asylum for reviews. The DAC and the beefier power supply cost $500 new, and you can do a 30 day home trial and return it if you don't like it. Can't really go wrong with that. Good Luck,
Before buying a DAC, I would suggest you go to the website of the EVS Millenium DAC ( and read what he has to say about dacs and why he no longer is manufacturing them.
Clearly you should listen to some dacs from your dealer. I think it is obvious that the Bel Canto DAC is a favorite. And I think with good reason. It makes most SS stuff (ahead and behind)sound much smoother and listenable(IMO of course, I have one).
I found Joe_b's link:
EVS link