DAC finalist please help

Hi all,
hope everyone is doing well this holiday season.
I’m back on the DAC hunt and I have narrowed down to these different but compelling DAC’s.
Unlike a lot of you guys on Audiogon I’m not a millionaire : (  My budget is only 1,500 bucks but I think there are some good choices in that range.
If any of you folks have experience with any of these pieces I would greatly appreciate your thoughts.

I’m replacing a McCormack DAC-1 that I have owned since new.
I still listen and continue to buy Redbook CD’s so something that would be kind to those is important.
I’m trying to make the determination on overall what would work and sound the best.
NOS with tubes is intriguing as is R2R as is just a good chip set.
I’m looking at a Aragon D2A used $600 for redbook playback and maybe teaming it up with a Xiangsheng 05B to handle modern formats DSD etc, less than 500 bucks the two together would be just north of a grand.
On the NOS front the Audio Mirror Tubadour III NOS w/tubes, new $1,500.

The Denafrips Ares II R2R used about 800 bucks, or the Musician - Pegasus, new around $1,100.
And then there is the Line Magnetic 502CA tube, used 700-800 dollars.
I love the look of the LM and it's got a great tube stage, I definitely have a bit of a crush on this one.

I realize I’m a little bit all over the Map here, but again if anyone has thoughts or has /had one of these DAC’s I’m all ears...Many thanks and Happy Holidays!HG
I have seen that Aragon D2A here on Audiogon for $599, so I think we're on the same page. This ad has been re-run a few times. Unfortunately, it is being offered for twice the Audiogon Bluebook price. That's typical for that seller. Also, that's a pretty dated piece. DACs have evolved quite a bit since then. I think your $1,000 would be better spent on a used Benchmark DAC, but it's your money so you decide. You have a lot of good suggestions from other members already. I just don't think the Aragon is a step up from your McCormack DAC 1.
about once a month, every month,  a new 'what is a good, natural sounding dac' thread comes up... obviously, this is ground that has been previously covered... 

i did a 30-dac shootout earlier this year and in prior threads i reported the following -- i repost these 2 comments i made in the past couple months for the benefit of newcomers who don't search back to slightly older threads covering the same subject matter

remember the search bar above is your friend...


of the dacs mentioned so far which i have tried i would break into the following groupings - for your benefit in system matching for tonality

smoothest/most analog/warmest mids-midbass: mhdt, audio mirror, a-n - bear in mind these dacs can have tonality tuned with tube choice as well

slightly brighter: denafrips, schiit mb (gumby and yggy)

brightest/leanest/’fastest’: rme adi2, mytek bb

others to consider which are exceptionally natural sounding and great sq for $ -- metrum and ayre codex (fitting in 1st group), ava valve dacs (second group)

i won’t say which is my favorite, it so depends on rest of system and synergies desired - but here is what i have kept vs gone (have 3 systems across couple homes so lots of duplicate gear)


audiomirror tubador 3 se
sonnet morpheus
metrum jade and amethyst
mhdt orchid stockholm paradisea istanbul w mods
chord m scaler and hugo tt2 mojo
van alstine fet topp/hybrid dac
jolida black ice glass fx (upgraded)
dena pontus
auris d1d
ayre codex


chord 2qute qutest
neko d100-2
schiit bifrost mb gumby yggy
border patrol se-i
psa directstream
topping d90
rme adi 2
dena ares 2, term
metrum octave
mytek brooklyn
benchmark dac2
w4s dac 2-2
smsl vmv d1

many of the dacs sold are good, just didn't work for me tonally, or didn’t seem better to me than less expensive ’relatives’ or alternatives for a similar sound signature

a few others out there i will try over time, like a holo, a lampizator... not in a hurry, as the ones i have all clear the bar for being very listenable with the tonality and resolution i seek to enjoy streaming and files served

I have the Gungnir multibit 5 and I love it.

Warm and big sound stage, with very good detail.

Could not be happier.