Hagtech Chime DAC!! Made in USA!
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Stay tuned - It appears that Alex Peychev of APL HiFi will be coming out with 2 standalone DAC versions based upon his highly regarded NWO 4.0 player, 1 of which supposedly will be pretty identical to what's in the Esoteric based 4.0, minus the transport.
I currently have a Denon 3910 that he modified for me last December with 4 32-bit 1st generation AKM Dac chips, Class A tubed output stage, digital input, etc. Using my UX-1Pi as a transport, it sounds better than the Esoteric's DACs plus my G-0rb rubidium clock most of the time (except on SACDs).
His new DACs supposedly are much better than the modded Denon, but I won't know until I receive mine, hopefully within a week or so. I've been waiting over 1 1/2 years for this piece to be done, and it has apparently gone though several different iterations to get to its present form, now using lots of second generation AKM 32-bit DAC chips. I will hopefully know more shortly.
Jadis JS1 MkIII and Zanden 5000 MkIV Signature are both in the $15-20k range new (I believe) but whether you will find any of those used at 1/2 remains an entirely other question. Also, second Accustic Arts Tube-DAC II SE as one that would have to be on your shortlist.
Echoing Racamuti's thoughts in respect of price vs. quality, I would lend Yamamoto's brand new YDA-1B tube dac an ear (appr. $3k in Japan, haven't seen a price in the US or Europe yet). Here's the - sort of "poetic" as usual - description on Yamamoto's website