A few assumptions first:
1) DACs are following Moors Law. Therefore;
2) Today's DAC will be tomorrows flip phone.
3) It is foolish to buy a high-cost DAC unless you have money to burn.
ChiFi DACS are the best value in disposable tech for now.
I have noticed that many of the ChiFi DACs share components- even cases! I bought a Suncoz LA-QXD1 as my first DAC based on a review by Thomas & Stereo last year. It was so cheap ($199) that it didn't matter if it was an antique in 90 days- It gave me a chance to play around with my old CD collection and stream music through my laptop for poots and gigles. It was a lot of fun tweaking analogue sound out of ones and zeros.
My advice is to get the latest under $500 unit and have some fun with it.
Soon- I think un the next 18 months or so there will be VERY high quality Audiophile grade streamer/DAC/Preamp all in ones that will make our Turntable, expensive pre amp and DAC separates relics. I'm seeing amazing pre amps like the REF5 SE and The REF 10 Anniversary taking 50% asking price drops. The ARC DAC9 are down 40% and falling. Now we know why- relics.
Before some old crabs get all in a huff here I happen to love old ARC gear. It's not contempt for old school Hi fi that motivates me to conclude what I have- it's just that we are (finally) in a MASSIVE techno-shift in HiFi now and the hand writing is on the wall. My beloved tube gear separates are coming in second place now- and slipping fast.