DAC That Punches Above Its Price Point

I’ll make it short. I’ve spent some hours reading the DAC threads on this forum. I am aware quality of digital matters as superior DACs usually the costlier ones will sound better than cheap DACs, making music sound more analog, lifelike, real, believable with all the soundstage and detail etc. All the good things. There are some who thought it’s the music that matters, and although different DACs may sound different it’s the music that makes the most difference. In other words, the differences that exist between DACs are not that important as it's all about the music. I can see the point that people are trying to make.

Back to the topic. I’ve read great things on the Denafrips Ares II and Pontus II, and other costlier high-end DACs. I’ve read about the Chord DAVE. I personally own a Chord QBD76 and have no urge to replace it with anything else since it sounds splendid in my system, for the money. I may be setting up another system and was wondering if there is a DAC in the lower price bracket that punches way above its price point, sounding close to if not better than the costlier designs.

I presume the Audioquest Black, Red or Cobalt are not worthy of consideration and sound noticeably inferior to the costlier options? FWIW I tried the Musical Fidelity M1 DAC and this one really sounded poor to my ears. Very digital sound and I stopped listening to it after a while. The Chord sounds a lot more analog, lifelike and real to my ears.

I would appreciate any advice. Thanks.

I've owned more budget DAC's than you can count.  Also built a couple from diyinhk.com..... For me without a doubt the SMSL SU9 is the best sounding thing that has hit my system under 1k.  
Beware,  I had to send it to SMSL to get a firmware update to eliminate a minor distortion issue.  This DAC has many settings, the settings seem almost imperceivable differences, but once you go through many and get a combination that works, it performs VERY well.   
the Wyred4sound 10th anniversary dac is extremely good, I put it up against the Sim audio dac here in Canada which cost $15,00 and it was much better, one of the reviewers put it up against his $9,000 cos1 and he said the 10th anniversary dac was better and then he also put it up against Bricasti,Chord and a few other high price dacs he said the 10th anniversary was better, and another reviewer put it up against his VPI turntable with a $5,000 Japanese cartridge and he said the 10th anniversary was every bit as analog sounding, and I have to agree this is the most analog sounding deck I've ever had in my system, and my system is worth $60,000 Canadian.The 10th anniversary deck is $4,500 US. I would love to put it up against DCS to see how good it is, but this thing is so good I don't think I'll ever need another dac.Please go read the reviews.
Audio GD "R28",a true balanced,resistor to resistor ladder DAC/Pre-Head amp with several user programmable Sampling settings including No Over Sampling(NOS) or  
ANY Burson Conductor 3...