DAC attack ?

Looking for experiences where brand new and less expensive CDPs with state of the art DACs smoked your older expensive players or combos ? Who is on the cutting edge here? Can the fresh off the press Philips or Sony for example, sometimes beat last years hifi darling?
Don't overlook an Audio Research DAC 3 Mk2. They are a steal for what they go for on Audiogon and they can be modified for even further performance. My modified unit bested the Audio Reserch CD-3, in my system, in all areas except the extreme bass ,where the CD-3 had slightly more impact.

I second Gmuffey on the DAC3 II which I had unmodified. It was a very musical product but after hearing the Electrcompaniet ECD1, the ARC was a bit too fatiguing and forward for my taste. However the ECD1 lacked some of the harmonic richness of the DAC3. Now with a Manley DAC, I have a presentation and extension in the bass that neither of these can touch.

And now that I have sold off all my ARC pieces, LS5 III, PH2, VT130, CL150s, DAC3 II, for greener pastures with BAT and Aesthetix, the sound I described for the DAC3 is very much the same for much of the ARC lineup. Your mileage may vary.

Muse makes DVD players, which are very good for playback of redbook CD's. My Muse Model 9 Signature sounds as good as the CD-only players I have heard, plus you get the benefits of DVD video and DVD-Audio playback. Tonal quality and soundstaging are very good, bass and dynamics are strong, mids are textured and realistic, and the highs are grainless. Although the initial price of these units is not cheap, they hold good resale value, and you gain an added benefit that Kevin Halverson of Muse offers an upgrade path to current models for virtually all Muse products. The current Model 10 plays CD, CDR, DVD, DVD-A, and SACD (but unfortunately only the std CD layer). The build quality is excellent and they offer balanced and single-ended operation. I am also very pleased with their preamp. At this point, the only other CD players I would consider (outside of upgrading my 9 sig to a 10) would be the Cary 306-200 or a transport with the new Meitner DAC. I will more likely hang out and see if Meitner comes out with a player, or whether Kevin can upgrade the 10 to play SACD. Sorry, but I cannot make a direct comparison with Audio Note, as I have not heard their dac's or players.