unattached newbie seeks compatible dac

I like vinyl and continue to buy records. But I play a lot of music (classical, jazz, country) on my Imac. I have a decent but not exalted system - BATVK20 preamp, Odyessey dual mono amp, Acoustic Zen Adagio speakers. I have a Perpetual Technologies P-3A dac. I download audiophile music (flac to lossless) from, among others, Linn. I'm not getting the sound I would like - good, nice, but not stirring. First candidate for replacement seems to be the dac. What to get? Budget is flexible - I can pay more if I want to, but don't want to overpay given what I already have. I don't need a preamp, so don't see why I should pay for one. I don't need volume control because the BAT will adjust the volume for each input. I hear all kinds of things about USB versus toslink, ideally would like to see for myself by having both inputs. I used to have tubes, liked the sound, so would be open to a tube dac. I've read very positive user reviews of the tadac, but no professional ones (are there any?). I see a lot of used higher end dacs here for 25 to 50% of the new price, but most are from 5 to 15 years old. Have there been advances such that the new ones are better for the same price as the used ones? I live in the wilderness. Electricity is available, but audiophile stores are not (there are compensations). So, I have to buy it to hear it. Suggestions?
Well, I love my MHDT labs Havana DAC. Relatively inexpensive at $800.00, it's very good.

It's not an up or over-sampling DAC, and I use the USB input to drive it with an iMac 24 using non-compressed files ripped and stored in iTunes.

Fantastic sound quality in my opinion..
I dont see a dac changing the sound much,be it a Benchmark,BC3 the above MHDT,etc. etc.But what the Heck,hopefully fun to try.With the mentioned dac's here you wont have to worry about getting your money back when you change.Good luck,Bob
I'm using the MHDT Labs Paradisea. Very simple. Very nice with a WE 396A output tube. I use an AX and Toslink with Mac Mini and separate hard drive. Not even thinking of anything more. Cost of Paradisea was $620, shipped. Go here..
I dont see a dac changing the sound much,be it a Benchmark,BC3 the above MHDT,etc. etc.But what the Heck,hopefully fun to try.With the mentioned dac's here you wont have to worry about getting your money back when you change.Good luck,Bob
Hi twilight.

You already have a good DAC. A tube DAC might give you what you're looking for, but I'm thinking a high end clock to go between your IMAC and your DAC. Something like the new Bel Canto USB or the Empirical Audio Off-Ramp TurboIII w/ Superclock 4.

You might log on to the Empirical web site and send an e-mail to Steve N asking his advice. You might do the same with Wavelength and w/ Weiss.
Look into an Apogee Mini DAC w/ Firewire. It has a volume control, just adjust to max. It also has it's own clock thus reducing jitter. I sure like mine.
I owned the Apogee, and while good, the Havana was superior to my ears. The Perpetual 3a is good, but frankly in my setup it also fell short of the Havana. There is something MHDT does in the execution of this piece that is unique. Now, in case someone might think I'm claiming that this is the best DAC going, no, I'm not. There are numerous dacs that sound better to my ears. In my own experience, the Electrocompanient ECD-1 sounds better in the big stereo rig, but for my iMac application the usb enabled Havana is amazing.

Just my 2 cents, the value of which drops dramatically each time little Timmy Geitner opens his mouth.
Thank you for the responses. I still wonder about new versus old. For example: a new Havana costs about $900. A new USB Benchmark about $1300. On Audiogon there is a used Bel Canto for $1750 (current model) and a used Mark Levinson 36s for the same price. Do you think there have been advances in DACs such that the new ones are better for a lot less money than the old ones cost when new? Also, re the Havana, for what I want to do, what would be the advantage of a non-upsampling DAC?
Well, non oversampling, oversampling and up-sampling dacs all have their lovers and detractors. I have owned many, and I must say it's all about the design philosophy and execution and how that meshes with your system.

Some feel that non-upsampling dacs yield a less digital sound, while others feel the upsampling brings higher perceived resolution.

Every dac you mentioned above has it's merits. The Levinson, in my experience, is quite different in it's delivery of a smoother, rounded sound. But side by side with the Electrocompanient ECD-1 I owned, the ECD-1 yielded a little more detailed yet "airy" presentation. Neither of those units have USB input, but of course there are plenty of options to meet that need.

I guess to summarize, I don't think you'll learn how these units "sound" from our responses. You will really need to test drive.
Thanks. Good advice. But as I said, I live in the deep wilderness. Feel fortunate to have electricity. For me, test drive means buy. But it's quiet here.