My DAC is the weak link in my current rig and I hope to upgrade it to meet the level of the other components. It also broke down on me recently, and while I may be able to have it fixed by a buddy, I'm still thinking about a new DAC. I currently am running a Super Pro DAC707 DIY paired with a KICAS amp and Sennheiser 650 cans. I use the USB rather than optical, and the DAC is only connected to my desktop PC. To give you a price range, $400 is at the maximum. I'm generally looking in the $150 to $350 range.
I don't know about you, but I like to experience the music as the artist intended as much as possible (no eq or excessive colorization), so I seek a neutral sound, although I'll admit that I enjoy a little warmth overall. The KICAS amp is setup to be the "vanilla" version, which is supposed to be extremely neutral. I could set it up to be the "caliente" version, which is warmer, but given the fact that the 650's are already slightly on the warm side, it's too much, so I keep it "vanilla" style.
My ideal DAC would not color the sound in any way. I hope to buy a DAC that is simple and clean. While I would appreciate the options for connecting optical and others, I really only need USB. Also, I am not too familiar with different DACs, and I am wondering if upgrading to one of the ones I mention below will improve upon the my current Super Pro DAC707 sound, or if it will be a waste of money and just stick to the cheap $100 DAC options. Any ideas or suggestions are welcome!
Some options that I have come across: