W4S DAC1 / Stello DA100 / Cary Exciter DAC.

I haven't seen much talk about the Stello. It has every output I could use. I read the 6Moons review on it. Didn't exactly praise it so-to-speak. But for a grand I would expect decent results. I listened to the Cary. Loved it. But I only have it and the Music Hall 25.2 DAC to compare with. I've not heard the W4S DAC1 or 2. That seems to be getting more praise than I'm sure it deserves. Usually I take the band-wagon view when everyone seems to want one thing in particular. But this isn't always a good perspective because it may very well be that good. After all my research these three are what I've narrowed it down to. Well, two if the Stello shouldn't be considered at all. Looks like something geared directly to computer music.

I'm looking for a solid, textured bass response. Excellent clarity and resolution. And of course soundstage. Warmth is not a factor. I will eventually be going all tube so it'll warm up later in the chain. Expression and dynamics are very important. I listen to a lot of classical guitar, contemporary classical, and blues. Thanks for any inputs.
"That seems to be getting more praise than I'm sure it deserves."

i'm considering the w4s dac-1 and wonder what made you come to this conclusion.
I would add the new series of Bel Canto dacs to that list. I just installed the new DAC2.5 into the system as a dac/pre connected via balanced output to my W4S ST500 power amp - I am in absolute awe of this combination. No fuzzy warmth to be found here - just tremendous resolution, space, air (add your choice of audiophile superlatives here) combined with the most relaxed presentation I have ever had in my system. My speakers are the new Gallo Reference Strada monitors with the TR-2 sub. The dac2.5 is an amazing value when you consider its versatility - a state of the art dac with multiple digital inputs AND an analog input, unbalanced and balanced outputs PLUS headphone amp PLUS a full-feautured remote that includes functions such as input naming, phase and balance. Absolutely incredible. BTW, I have no financial interest in the company - this is my first BC purchase and I am just sorry I waited so long - my plan is to eventually replace my W4S amp with the BC Ref monos - not that the W4S is a bad amp but the BCs have an indefinable something that just sounds so right.
For reference, I have owned many dacs over the past several years from MSB, Perpetual Technologies and Musical Fidelity. My last was the Peachtree Decco used as a dac/pre (admittedly a pretty steep step-down from my previous dac and pre-amps). The bel canto is without a doubt one the most satisfying purchases I have made in a very long time.
I have a W4S Dac 1, it's a great unit, and not just for the price. But hey it's only bested every other Dac I've had except my PS PWD, and the PWD is 3 times the price, and sure isn't three times better. There really is a reason everyone who's heard the W4S or bought one is thrilled.
Kgturner... Whenever I see what I consider to be the band-wagon approach to products I tend to steer clear. I've never heard this one so I really don't have an opinion to its qualities.

Srama... Thank you for your input. The only Bel Cantos I thought to look at were the 1, 2, and 3. Didn't care for any of them. However, that 1.5 looks like its right up my ally. Remote option is definitely a plus.

Erikminer... Thank you as well. The W4S certainly isn't far off from the pick. I just want to make this purchase count and do it once. For now...

W4S DAC1 at $1k. The Cary Exciter I can get for $1.2k and the BC 1.5 for $1.4k.

Of the revised list here, which way would you go? They all have the necessary inputs I need. I'm strictly looking at sound now. How do they compare? I just want the most resolute one with the deepest bass extension I can get. Which one of these will give that to me?
Just ordered a W4S DAC-1 to replace DacMagic. I based purchased on talking with Walter at UnderwoodWally and reading up on opinions (such as Erikminer). I should have by end of next week.
Very nice. Good luck with that one. Feel free to let me know what your first impressions are of it. I'm about 3 weeks out from picking up a dac so I'm going to keep at this until I finally cave.
Oh S--T.. I sure hope you like it Smholl.. I hope I don't let you down :-)
don't worry it will smoke the Dac M .. what cables are you going to use with it and what source?
Source is Squeezebox Duet with CI Audio power supply. Cables: Zu Cable Ash Digital and Zu Cable Wylde interconnects. I have about 1100 ripped CD's.
DAC-1 should make a nice overall improvement.
Erikminer - You are absolved of all responsibilities.
From what I hear the new SB Touch sounds much better than the Duet, such that the Duet maybe going bye bye. May want to add that to the seemingly never ending upgrade path: -)
SB Touch has better analog output than Duet. Don't know if the digital outputs are that much different between the two. But, I was thinking about getting the Touch and putting the Duet/DacMagic into the bedroom system.
Actually from what I've heard/read the Touch does have much better digital out, uses a different SPDIF output with lower jitter. Fwiw talk on the SB forums is that the Touch sounds pretty darn close to the Transporter.. In any case Duet/DacM would be a great bedroom setup. Sort of what I did when I got my W4S I moved my DacM to my outdoor/porch system.. You gonna love the W4S, give it a good hundred hours ( W4S sez 200 for total break in) but you'll notice right away that the W4S sounds much bigger; wider, deeper, taller, also very colorful not colored but real sounding, dynamic, powerful.. you'll like it :-)
Tiggerfc, I doubt you'd go wrong with any of the three units in your revised list. I was tempted by the W4S Dac2 myself given that I already own their amp (and love it). However, I too am put off by the bandwagon effect and the flavor of the month mentality - there is more to a great dac than the chipset. That said, both BC and W4S are engineering-driven companies that know what they are doing. (No offense to Cary intended - I'm just not a big tube guy - and yeah I know the Exciter is not tube based). My choice of the BC 2.5 was driven by the fact that it also includes an analog input and an headphone amp - it's just a more versatile piece. And.....it sounds sublime hooked up directly to the old W4S ST500. Almost forgot: another major factor was that the dealer offered a home audition of the piece so I could test it it in the context of my system. I think Wyred are hurting themselves by not offering a costless trial period.
Srama, thanks for the post. One consideration i continually forget is the headphone amp which is definitely something I want... decided that last night. I think I might save my dimes for another month and get the 2.5 like you did. For another $600 I wouldnt mind.

Thanks again everybody for the remarks. Its helped a lot.
Glad to be of help! I think the 2.5 is the sweet spot in the BC lineup - I believe the big difference from the 1.5 is in the better power supply (the 1.5 has a wall wart power supply).
BTW, the 2.5 really blooms after about 15-20 hours of playing so give it a few days.

I put the Xciter in my system two weeks ago. My system has a more pleasing sound than previously. So I'm happy.