Upping my digital game

Let's say I wanted to significantly up my digital front end. See my system profile- note the Sim 260D (pre-neo) of which I have no complaints sonically.

Here's the features I want-

1- play digital discs
2- play hi-Rez digital sources
3- future digital flexibility

I like the big boned Sim sound, feeling it mates well with my analog front end.

Thoughts- Sim Neo 260D
Naim dac
Benchmark DAC 2

I've heard the Sim 650d which funds permitting would easily be a prime choice. But at what $9,000 MSRP, not happening. Budget is $2,000 - $3,000 including any necessary cabling.

Suggestions? Not adverse to used or as some would say, Pre-owned.


Please clarify what is it you are looking for. The Neo 260 is a CD transport with optional DAC, while the Benchmark and Naim you list are DACs only.

By "play digital discs", are you talking SACD, BluRay also, or just CD?

Knowing these would allow for better answers.

I'll venture to say "future flexibility" is quite uncertain in digital audio. Only two years ago nobody was talking about DSD, and now some people are going crazy for it. The most flexible digital source I know of is a Windows PC, obviously optimized as an audio source, but for DACs we are subject to changes in technology.

Having said this, one has to also ponder the relevance of the new technologies for one's use. Most music today is still on 16/44, and many 24-bit 88/96/192 kHz albums becoming available were derived from 16/44 and many sound just like the CD. Good high rez albums sound better, but there is not a whole lot of content I want to listen to in that format. Let alone DSD...Sometimes high rez is "fun" to try how good a system can sound, but how relevant is this to each user is up to that user and his/her wallet.

My front end is a highly optimized PC > Audiophilleo with PurePower > Metrum Octave mk.I. The Audiophilleo and Metrum added up to $2k when bought new 18 months ago, sound wonderful, and allow playback up to 24/192. While I sometimes think about what would be a next move regarding AP+Metrum, it doesn't happen often, and personally I'm more interested in DACs that sound great rather than the ability to play DSD. Naturally, this is only my point of view, but thought I should put it out there.
The common thread in the items I've listed is all allows me to play my current CDs, either using my current CPD or the Neo (with the optional DAC), and would permit me to explore music downloads

The advantage of the Neo is retention of the Sim sound which I like.
Nice well reasoned post with many good points. Agree on Hi Rez, often more marketing hype than genuine sonic improvement(there are some exceptions).

Thanks for the kind words. I especially value them coming from you, as I find your posts particularly insightful and even-keeled.

I agree with Lew, and Charles assessment of his post. I play disks and Aiff files from my MAC Mini using Pure Music via the Audiophilleo to a Bryston DAC. The Bryston has many inputs and allows me to also use a Arcam DV137 as transport for Disk playback. I do not purchase Hi-rez files or Blue ray disks.