I've become cross-eyed from running search upon search and reading thread upon thread. All good info, but I think it's time to pose a question and uncover options I haven't found yet.
I need a high quality DAC and I've narrowed down my requirements and haven't quite found the right match. Hoping someone can suggest some DACs that check off everything on my list...
- Budget - I see myself spending around $600-$2,500 based on what I've been reading about and listening to
- USB performance is critical because that will be the only input I intend to use (via 2011 MacBook Pro)
- I listen to roughly 50/50 regarding headphones and active monitors so headphone output quality is important (using HD600)
- Balanced XLR L/R output to go to my Focal CMS active monitors
- Volume control built in for use with both headphone output and active monitors (will not be using a separate preamp, just MBP to DAC to speakers/headphones)
- Smaller the better - this is going to sit on my desktop so size is very important
- Exceptional build quality, fit and finish
- In terms of sound (I know this is subjective) - very detailed, crisp, clear, not too bright, as 3D as possible, huge soundstage, musical.
Let me know if I've missed anything needed to make suggestions.