Add the Bricasti M1
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I have auditioned three of the DACS you have on your list. I only listen to Redbook CD's and by far the best DAC I have ever heard on Redbook is the Concert Fidelity reference DAC-040. Take a look at my review here on AudioGon for details why it finally replaced the wonderful Accustic Arts Reference Tube Hybrid in my system.
Mceljo, a DAC "shows its age" by being handily surpassed in terms of performance in every aspect by a new generation of products. Ergo the older DAC is "aged" and unable to perform at the anticipated level of expectations. You are correct, however, that the only way to demonstrate that it is older technology/performance is by direct comparison. However, one can deduce from discussion that something of a sea change is occurring in a genre of product and be motivated to investigate.
Teajay is right. I've spent a lot of time looking for the best DAC for my drive MT; I've auditioned top line of DCS, Lavry, Métronome, Emm L., MSB, Playback D., Danish Audio D., GTE, Zanden, AN, Kondo, Esoteric, Reimyo and more...; It will be a matter of personal taste but as soon as I've had the opportunity to hear the Concert Fidelity Tube DAC-040 I've taken it immediately!
Save yourself a bundle of money and get the PS Audio PWD. It took hundreds and hundreds of hours to go to it's current sound, but I am floored by what I am hearing. The detail, clarity, 3-D soudnstage, etc. is amazing. PS Audio hit a homerun with this DAC. And the MKII upgrade is supposed to be even better. Hard to believe the upgrade will be better, but I have already ordered the MKII.
I've decided to settle on the AMR CD77.1.
The digital (DAC) area is changing very fast, thus more opportunities for DSD playback will be available in the future. In which case, I'll just purchase a DAC down the track as the CD77.1 is probably right up there in terms of best Redbook sound quality. In other words, today for all my CD's, the AMR makes logical sense.
I wouldn't get the Playback Designs unless you are into DSD. I have an MPD-3 and its exceptional on that material and easily up there with the best DAC's I have ever heard - but on PCM IMHO is not that good. My PDX simply annihilates it IMHO - and everyone who has heard it agrees.
The AMR is however another matter - it is up there with the PDX 100% for sure - some prefer it - some prefer the PDX.
If you are spending that type of money see if you can make it up to the Gold Coast way and you can get a demo of the AMR, PDX and Playback Designs at Lenehan Audio to make up your own mind - they have access to all those DAC's.