Getting back into digital. Please help.


Need help on something that can compete with my vinyl. I haven't paid much attention to digital the last several years and haven't a clue what is good or sound characteristics of certain brands other than Naim.

No dealers where I live so used market. Hopefully I can get something with warranty left. Price range $5K or less. SACD is nice but not a dealbreaker.

System is 300B amp or a 45 amp into Altec Model 19s. Preamp is also tube - 76/6F8G based. 300B amp has gain pots and enough gain that can take digital source direct.

Current CD is ten year old Technics player. Smooth but uninvolving and nothing like the Naim CD5/Flatcap combo we have upstairs (awesome). Also tried the playstation...same sort of sound as the Technics.
plinko
plinko: you posed the question as to whether the new USB DACs sound good. the demo I attended at definitive settled that question in my mind completely, which is why I said in my original post that I'd go the hard drive route if setting up a digital front end now (I already have a very nice CDP so I'll wait a bit before switching). I'd strongly urge you to try to audition a HD setup. I realize you said you don't have a dealer nearby, but remember: the HD is just a computer product ($500 or less) and the CD info extraction software is cheap. the only thing you'll need to buy from an audio dealer is the USB DAC. the nicest ones are pricey, but you'll get great sound from redbook as well as future-proofing (the ability to play hi-rez downloads) and you'll have the convenience of an ipod, with your entire collection accessible from a little hand-held device. I believe I heard them say you can get software that allows you to use your iphone to control HD systems. you might just call definitive and chat with them - they're very nice and professional (I have no interest involved here btw).
Consider the Lector line. My 0.6 model has a true tube (12AT7) output not just a tube buffer and gives a near analog presentation for a resonable cost. It is not bright and forward but slightly dark and dynamic with very good detail.
Musicslug, I have nothing against a HD solution but it would be a big change. I'm glad I started the thread because I never really considered.

Do these companies have a house sound or is generalizing going to mislead? Thinking of Wadia, Esoteric, Meridian, Marantz, etc....

I know that what I want is something Naim like. Extensiona and details are not important. Conveying the emotion of the music is what is important to me (dynamics, microdynamics,etc...).