I know these posts were over a week ago, I just wanted to note...
The 'common perception' is logical. You can construct a DAC section and amplifier section on the same circuit board, or you can construct a DAC section and amp section on two seperate circuit boards, with two enclosures surrounding them, so what is the difference? The difference is... if you get a nice rectangular piece of circuit board and connect them again... nothing. ;) This is also known as a cable, unless cables have some sort of issue.
So back to my situation - I'm not looking for the ultimate DAC or a DIY project right now, I just want something that doesn't have hints of colour or tint in the signal path for experimentation purposes and peace of mind. For example if I want to try the OPA1611 versus OPA827 in my DIY amplifier, I wouldn't feel right with the Lite-DAC with 2x AD847 supplying the signal, let alone the TeraDak if it improves with film caps and fancier resistors.
I know NOS sounds pretty weak compared to modern OS chips, and if you scored them in 10 different categories from 1-10 OS would easily win, but NOS does win in at least 1 category I am fairly certain of (via my listening, not specs), which is why it's still used today in various high-end projects.
I might be chasing a ghost asking for advice on a 'pure' DAC which is just a lonely chip with nothing around it, but I hope my clarification makes sense that some DAC's are purer than others. For the end result it may not be very important factor, but for evaluation purposes you need as little colour as possible.
In other words a pre-amp might be technically better to have in some situations for the end result, but if you're building or evaluating an amplifer you don't want a weak sounding pre-amp supplying it right...
I like your thinking, I support this question