How do I decide on a CD player or adding a dac?

I have been trying to figure a way to find a solution to my fatigue from my digital and SS rig. I run a Pair of Odyssy Stratos Plus Mono Blocks from a Odyssey Etesian (Passive or Linestage) to a pair of Apogee C Minor hybrids. My room is very small 14 ft by 9 1/2 feet and 8 ft tall. Hardwood floors with an Inca wool rug in my nearfield listening area. No room treatments yet the wall are bare because we just moved and I wanted to have a fresh start. Nothing else is in the room, but me and my seat. Pics are on my Budget system.

I need to know if anyone has any suggestions for a source, I use a Pioneer DV 578a universal player for now and have thought about running it as a transport with an external dac, but am a bit overloaded to make a good choice. I have looked at the Dac Ah and Audio Mirror units as well as the Cal Audio Dacs. Others that have been suggestions were CIA Dac and power supply and a van Altine OmegaIII. I know just enough to get confused.

Should I get the dac and use the pioneer as a transport or should I get a new one box cdplayer. My budget is only about $350 to $400 at the most, the lite ah could be had for about $150 as can the Van Alstine.

Please help.

Dred..The behringer DEQ2496 Ultra curve pro. I've had it now for about 2 months. Some love it and some don't. All I can say is that if you don't try it you'll never know. I think the low price of around $350USD throws people off. Funny thing is, if it were $3500 everyone would have one.

See if you can get one for a trial Dred, I'd be curious to hear your opinion.
I would strongly suggest you look at the older Monarchy stuff. I have a 22a, and could not be happier. The unit is looped in to my pre via balaned outs, and I can do quick and easy A/B to a standard Denon 2900 universal. There is no comparison between the two on redbook cd.

On the upside, I do like the universal player as a transport, it lets be play my limited number of SACD's as well as DVD's for which the 2900 has very good picture quality. But when the lights go out and its time to listen the monarchy goes into service.

Overall you get a much more open and less stringent sound quality from the Monarchy unit. The 2900 seems somewhat brittle in a direct A/B. Would say things would only improve with a good transport, but like I said, its nice to have the SACD and a good DVD in the mix as well.

The older Monarchy units are going around 250-350 at this point. You may also want to look at the older EAD units as well. Bottom line I think you will get better overall sound from a decent DAC then an upgraded player in the price range you are looking at.
I went the DAC route. I added a Bel Canto Dac2 to augment my Rotel 1072 CDP. Hmm... Frankly the change was underwhelming. Yeah, it was different, but not necessarily "better different". The 750 bucks the DAC2 cost me wasn't worth the differences I heard, which were subtle to say the least. I just sold the DAC to get my money back. It's a fine unit but not necessarily 750 dollars better than my CDP. And considering what the DAC2 cost new compared to what my CDP cost new? Yeah, I sold it.

This was the opinion of several different listeners, too. Several listening sessions proved me right, the differences were almost too subtle to notice. The DAC2 was only slightly smoother and presented a slightly lower noise floor.

I needed the $750 more than I needed those improvements.