I'm using the Calyx dac. About as good as it gets, as far as I'm concerned.
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I just helped my brother in law, who also has 1.6's, go through an auditioning process to get a DAC that would give the sonic traits you are looking for on redbook CD. The clear winner was the Lector tube based DAC which he drives with a PC front end. It retails for around $3000.00, if you are interested E-mail because I can put you in touch with a dear friend to setup an audition for you and he will give you a great price if it turns out to be what you are looking for.
Just upgrade your USB converter. This will make a bigger difference than a new DAC in that price range, and it will be cheaper. The Master Clock is actually more important than the DAC when you get above about $1.5K.
Read the last 3 DAC reviews in TAS by Steven Stone. He came to the same conclusion.
Thanks so far to all of you...couple things I've learned...
1) There's many many DAC choices out there for us and that's a good thing.
2) It's really hard to find dealers for some of this stuff (some of the imported brands website are deplorable...broken links, etc. Found the website of what I was informed was THE US distributor for a certain brand...When I clicked on the brand...page not found.
3) So far no callbacks/emails from my inquiries. Although some of these smaller operations have unique products...may not be worth the risk.
Anyway...thank you and keep them coming.
If you decide to get a better converter look into the WaveLink HS 24/192 USB to SPDIF converter. It's a VERY good referance class converter. Infact that's what I have in my dedicated 2CH system. The outboard DAC I use is the Bel Canto e.One DAC3.5VB with Outboard VBS1 Power Supply and the REF VB Cable.
Audioengr, I sure did. I have a subscription with TAS. The DAC3.5VB is just an incredible DAC. With that DAC, converter and music server, togather they out performed the stand alone $10K Esoteric SACD/CD player I owned. Infact at this point I think one would have to spend at least 20K to play on PAR with my current digital setup. I love when a plan comes togather!