What is the best DAC under $3000

I am looking to upgrade my Sony CDP-XA7ES cd player. I have a couple of options for a transport and haven't tried any ooutboard DAC's for years. Last one I had was a Theta Pro Basic IIIA. Not familiar with any of the modern day digital. Any help would be much appreciated.
I had an XA7, fine unit. PLATINUM has a unit that upsamples to DSD, not sure on price. I wish the new Sony HAP-Z1ES had a SPDIF, but it does not. If you can live without DSD upsample, the latest BRYSTON dac, and the NAD M51 are very strong choices. Your XA7(as long as the Saphire platter bearing isn't worn)is an excelent transport.
I currently have the SCD-777ES, Oppo105 and the PSAudio PWDII DAC. Of the three, the PSAudio is probably the best sounding DAC for the money.

exaSound e20 mkIII with .082 clock upgrade.
Try the BMC Pure Dac?
You might want to look at the NAD M51.
The Ayre QB-9 is a very good DAC in your budget.
+1 for the PS Audio PWD mkII, phenomenal piece. I have been through countless Sony CDP's then an Oppo BDP-95, replaced that with an Esoteric DV-50, but the PWD tops them all. If you can afford the PWT the combo is magical but even using the PWD with your existing transport will be an upgrade.

there is no best anything in a price range. there are on compromises. if you want richness fin a dac with a sensitive tube circuit. I suggest you listen to many products in your price range. you will learn what is possible.

just a reference point, the mhdt products are nos dacs--rich, but lacking in bass. the modern tube dacs, which are oversampling, like the eastern electric, are extended , top and bottom, but lack liquidity and bloom.
Sacman, ignoring value--which sounds best?
DACs to consider are:

Wyred4Sound dac2 SE
Auralic vega
Benchmark DAC2
Start with Rega's stand alone DAC.
These can be had used for $650 or so.
I have been very happy with the Benchmark DAC2. DSD is a lot of fun and rivals analog, IMO.
Ptss, ignoring the value, the PWDII sounds the best among all the DACs that I have owned.
I really like the Triode TRV1-SE DAC, $2500.

Preferred it to the NAD M51 and Benchmark-1, which were a great DACs too.
I picked up a Wyred4Sound DAC 2 and it is better than the stand alone Sony XA7. Now I am really curious about the PS Audio PWD II. I see a lot of them for sale. Is this an indicator of the performance?
i did something similar (ditched CD and build a PC based system) and listened with my speakers, similar amp, and my music to 4 or 5 dacs from 500 to 3600 bucks. two findings for me. first was that all sounded different. did not expect the difference to be quite so noticeable but it was. second was that with my stuff the "best dac" ie the high rated expensive one, was not the best sounding to me or the witnesses present. I would suggest getting as close to possible to your system in a trial environment and see for yourself. if you cant do that well I guess see about making sure you can return it if you dont like it.
The Bel Canto DAC 3.5 MK II is excellent. It might be slightly out of your price range used. There is one for sale right now on the 'Gon with the VBS power supply for $3,200.
Your budget seems to be at the lower limit of some very nice sounding DAC options you could consider if you can swing $500 to $1,000 more. Some choices include; Metrum Hex, Auralic Vega, and Lampizator L4 G4, to name but a few. At about your price range, one for you to consider that is off the beaten path would be the Yamamoto Soundcraft YDA-01 or YDA-01B.
Ditto Savjam. Had the DAC 3.0VB in my system for a while and it was sublime. Read the reviews of the DAC 3.5VB if you want more info. Best of luck.
The "best" DAC under 3 kilobucks? If you can find it, quite possibly the new Mytek Digital Stereo192-DSD-DAC @ $1600. Mytek has for years been one of the most respected names in professional studio ADCs and DACs. I use them myself. The unit is apparently a little quirky, and clearly shows its pro ancestry, but it's very unlikely you'll find clearly better at any price.
PS Audio PWD MkII. I have beem listening to digital since the Magnavox CDB 650 (the first 16 bit player), and the PSA is a superb piece. For the first time, digital doesn't do anything to bother me. This is a sweet machine.

I am well known for mucking around with a lot of DAC's, as well as owning quite a few.

Sub $3k I like the Chord Qute with an upgraded power supply, Metrum, and NAD M51.

However what you feed it is critical and I suggest a Syncromesh from Empirical Audio.

I also have to say if you lift your budget to $5-6K you will be able to get a much better DAC - it is not small incremental improvements at the $3k price point. In that price point I suggest the Phasure if you want to go full computer audio, a PDX, or a new DAC I have recently got called a Killer. Although I personally haven't heard it people tell me the Lampazator is pretty good.

Hearing those DAC's however will likely be a problem (although the Lampazator isn't too bad). They are made in minuscule quantities basically as hand made items for the enthusiast market. The reason I don't mention the usual commercial stuff at that price point is, and this is based on hearing a LOT of DAC's, I don't think they are worth the dosh. For example I am aware of a shootout between the Killer and a much more expensive DCS stack. Most preferred the Killer.

Chord Qute HD (now EX) and probably better will be the upcoming Hugo.

BMC PureDac is also highly touted. All of these are around $2000 new retail.
Hi Bill,
What's up with the Killer DAC website?
On the homepage, it indicates a person has to register before they are allowed to access the website but when trying to register this message displays:
"Sorry, registration is currently disabled."
Is there somewhere else to access information in the event someone wanted to learn more about the DAC or to purchase one?
What's up with the Killer DAC website?

Blowed if I know.

Works fine for me.

If you want to know more drop Stevenvalve, or Kajak12 a line via Steronet

What's up with the Killer DAC website?

Blowed if I know.

Works fine for me.

If you want to know more drop Stevenvalve, or Kajak12 a line via Steronet

Don't know what your top priority is (USB, flexibility, etc.). In terms of pure sound quality and hard core music lover criteria for Red book , the Yamamoto YDA-1 DAC is a gem. True musical beauty and emotion, as Mitch said, it's off the common path in terms of awareness.
I ended up buying a new PS Audio PWD II at a very good price, and I must say it is sweet. Looking into getting into digital music with the PWD II and the bridge. Seems kind of complicated.