Hearing and perception is so subjective. I think TMR has an open DAC 1 Reference . They are great to deal with , sometimes they will list something that’s on clearance , or demo units on eBay and it’s less money than through the website
I bought a new integrated amp through them on eBay. I couldn’t do the firmware update and they were super responsive, offered another model as a solution. Turned out to be a simple thing but they were all over it.
You should make them an offer on a DAC , but make sure same terms apply and that’s that you can demo it and return if you don’t like it
I bought mine with the intention of upgrading in a year , trading up to something 2 X as much but after a short time I said “why ?” It sounds great and more importantly it’s tone and overall sound was great synergy in my system so I ended up using that money on a Turntable and phono pre