Better DAC then DA1 module in McIntosh C49 without braking the bank.

I got to the point in my system, when my DA1 DAC module in a McIntosh C49 preamp is the bottleneck. 

In comparison to my vinyl, CDs, files and streaming sounds flat and unremarkable. 

I have an SMSL SU-9 dac but it's worse than the one in Mac.

My system consists of Legacy Audio Focus HD speakers, McIntosh MC352 amp, McIntosh C49 preamp, McIntosh MB20 Bluetooth transceiver, Rotel RCD-1572, pc as a streamer and file player through Foobar2000. CD player is connected to the DAC too though coax.

DAC need to be able to do DSD, have USB, and connect via balanced. 

I like the DAC sound signature to be as natural as possible.



Thank you guys for your suggestions. 

I am not interested in McIntosh dacs since I've heard the DA2 dac and it was a slight improvement over my DA1 module.

I do not need anything extra like a headphone amp or a preamp in the unit. I need just a straight forward DAC that does DSD 128 or higher, USB, XLR connections, remote control. 

I was thinking a $2-2.5K budget. 

Chord just doesn't look appealing to me. 

Used equipment is ok, since I can afford a higher end unit.

I was researching a  PS Audio Directstream Dac. Some reviews rave about it, some state it's very noisy. Since my system is very revealing now, I don't want hum or noises coming through. 

Ah my bad missed the balanced requirement. 
Add Bryston BDA3 to the list. Straight DAC no preamp no headphone out. 

Holo Spring 3 L1 or L2 sans pre-amp would fall within your budget, and is touted as being close in performance to the May.
GoldenSound has a thorough review here:


I have an MA8900 with the DA1 module.  It’s a good DAC but I purchased a Denafrips Pontus II 12th Anniversary and a Hermes DDC and am quite pleased with the outcome.  Those two best the internal DA1 by some good measure in detail, soundstage and imaging.

You might want to consider a Schiit Yggdrasil multibit DAC which, new, is right in your price range.