Quest for an external Dac has resulted in me way down the rabbit hole

Hi audio wizards!  I’ve read several articles and reviews about the benefits of a good quality external DAC, and the potential for “real” improvements in musical quality in a current system. I do believe my system might be in line .  I currently have a Rotel 955 CD player I like, a nodeii and a Creek evo 100 integrated amp.  The Ohm 1000 speakers sound a little lean in the top end although I do like them overall.  At this point I’ve been looking for a Dac that would bring a little more “spring and liven up my system”.  However, the more I research, the more confused I get.  I’ve been to a couple higher end stereo stores and I seem to just get the “party line”.  I live in Denver Colorado, and although I like the PS Audio line I can’t afford them.  If any one has any advice for me on a good quality external     
Dac model for under $1000 (new or used) I could sure use the help! Thank you



What do you think you will gain from spending $1000 over the Rotel CDP?  You would be better off sending me the Rotel for an upgrade.  $1000 can sure buy much better parts like Audio Note capacitors and resistors, a good choke, etc., that you won't get from a $1000 DAC.  Just more of the same.


Happy Listening. 

If you like PSAudio, then I would warmly recommend being on the look for a used older PSAudio DAC, like the DL/III or UltraLink II. When they show up, you can expect around 500$.

Do not be put off that they are older models. They play music, and provide substance - which is something that DACs in general very rarely do, regardless the price. Also, when you step up the amplification and the rest of the system to very high level later on, these older PSAudio DACs will be able to keep up. All you need to do is upgrade a few parts, if you dare to go to the DIY road... and you have a DAC for life. 







PSAudio DAC, like the DL/III

I have one. It’s in my bedroom system now, replaced by the Denafrips Aries II in the main rig. Great DAC still, but to my ears, the Aries II is a better overall performer.