upgrade DAC/Amp for Peachtree Decco65?

I'm wanting to sell my Peachtree Decco65 as I've used it for a long time now. The only disadvantage of selling it is that it eliminates the convenience of all-in-one.

I've been looking at DAC's and I'm trying to get a grasp as to what would be comparable or better than the ESS Sabre 9023. I've noticed that there are lots of cheap options for DACs these days. I see the the 9023 is found in this little cheap device.

Can anybody give me some input on how these "DIY" DACs compare to some more expensive names on the market? Would there be any significant disadvantages to buying a cheap DAC with the same chip?

Also, any suggestions on an integrated amplifier that would be an upgrade to the Decco65? My budget will more than likely be whatever I can sell the Decco65 for, so probably around 700-800?

Thanks in advance?
You're questions are valid, but difficult to answer. They're too general. Most of what you're asking, you really can only get from experience. If you said something like this: "I have DAC A and I'm looking to improve on (whatever quality). Its a much easier question to answer because there's a clear focus on what you're after.

I do see one thing that I may be able to help with. You talk about different DAC chips. Nothing wrong with that; the chip has an effect on SQ. But the digital portion of a DAC is only half of the equation. I see way too many people ignore the analog portion of the DAC. Even if 2 dacs are very similar on the digital half, they can sound very different depending on how different the analog stage is designed. For example, I like Ayre very much. Ayre digital products have the "Ayre" sound just like their amps and preamps. And that's because the same person designed all the components. Its just something to consider. You should be able to use your Peachtree gear as a reference to whatever new products you audition.
Completely understandable. I've been reading a lot of articles along the lines of what you're saying. A lot of people are saying that a chip is barley half of it, and its implementation is a lot more important. I could see where my questions are rather vague.

I guess I'm looking for something a bit more detailed. I want something that can help provoke depth/transparency. I'm not sure DAC's even have as much of an effect on these things in comparison to other components (speakers, amps, etc).

I'm pretty happy with the DAC I've been using, and I guess I just don't want to end up with something worse in terms of detail/transparency.

Do you have any suggestions as to where I can find used DAC's? The classifieds here are a bit high end for what I can afford (college student), Craigslist seems to be filled with junk, and Ebay is a tad bit overpriced.

I've been looking heavily at the Cambridge MagicDAC XS, but I'm really not sure how I feel about it being powered through USB, and having to use a Y cable (RCA to aux) to listen to it. I've also been looking at the Musical Fidelity V90-DAC, which seems to fit my needs but is a tad bit pricey for what I'm willing to spend right now.

I sometimes feel like a bother demoing equipment at stores because I rarely buy new, so I try to make a good educated guess from reviews online. Its unfair to them for me to take up a bunch of space/time at a shop when I'm more than likely not going to buy from them.

Thanks for the well thought out response. I sometimes feel like I'm going to start up a bunch of flaming due to my lack of experience, its good to see that there are some coherent/helpful people on these forums.
What speakers are you using, and what's the room like?

I'm a Peachtree user - I have both the Grand Integrated X-1 in one system, and a Dac-itX in another (with the same 923 DAC chip that you have) - so I know what they sound like. If you're looking for more detail, or transparency, etc. I'm inclined to look at your speakers & room before trying to upgrade the amp & dac in the same price range.
Very good questions, also something I should have added in the first post. I'm using some Epos ELS3 speakers, I also use a pair of Sennheiser HD650's for listening. These speakers are in a pretty small room. The majority of the room is covered by my desk/system (imagine dorm room sized).

They are about 3 feet from the wall, with the left side being in the corner and the other speaker being near the door.

How do you like the Grand Integrated X-1? It looks amazing from what I've read/heard.
I'm a big fan of the Grant Integrated X-1, it allowed me to build a really sweet system with very few components...computer to Grand X-1 to speakers, nothing else needed. It has tons of power, I like the Sabre dac, and the X-1 is built like an army tank. Best of all, Peachtree's USB implementation in the X-1 is really well done - I get nice sound out of the USB connection.

My room is a lot like yours, very small, 10x11, so we're dealing with similar challenges.

Your ELS3 are fine speakers from what I've read, though I've never had the pleasure to listen to them. Honestly, in a room as small as yours the real obstacle is speaker placement and taming reflections. Not that you shouldn't strive for whatever transparency you hope to get, but chasing it via an amp upgrade in your price range may not yield worthwhile results. Do you love your speakers? If not, I can imagine finding something on the used market for $500-800 that may prove an upgrade. My personal strategy has always been to focus on the speakers first - make sure you love those before looking at anything else.
That is exactly why I like my Decco65, the convenience of having it all in one place. The only reason why I'm striving for separates now is because its kind of a pain to listen to my Schiit Valhalla using the preout found on the Peachtree (have to disconnect the speakers/sub, etc.)

Your suggestions are very good and its given me some insight as to what I should be focusing on to achieve my sound goals. I think I'll just shop for a DAC for my Valhalla separately, and try to upgrade my stereo system by replacing the speakers.

From what I understand the Epos are quite a head of anything else in their price range. So I guess i'm wondering what would be the next "bang for your buck" upgrade. I do love my Epos, but I'm very skeptical of getting different speakers now.

I've read on the Dali Zensor 1's, and they look promising. Do you have any suggestions for a tiny bookshelf that could help me achieve my sound goals? (emphasis on help, not achieve)

My budget for speakers would probably be around 400-500 in the near future. I barley started my new job, and as a college student its sometimes hard to save up for audio equipment, hah. I'm used to buying equipment at a very low price, and selling for more, then upgrading. With the EPOS I'll be able to draw $140 at most, which might make it a little bit more difficult to aim for something better.

Thanks again for the suggestions, I'm hoping I'll be able to find a worthwhile bookshelf that will help me move up in the audio chain.
It's hard to make recommendations because I have never heard those EPOS speakers so I don't know, with my own ears, what they do well and what they lack.

There's been a lot of positive talk about new speakers from Elac, the Debut line, designed by Andrew Jones. They'll be in your price range, and there seems to be a lot of excitement about them. I think they're due later this year - definitely worth some homework.