It seems strange that the transport and DAC that I use on a daily basis qualifies as vintage - I only bought it in 1992
If you are looking for some good older kit, why not keep your eye out for a DPA PDM2 DAC - bitstream implemented in two boxes, and a separate transport - say a Meridian 200 or 500? I know of a company that will maintain and upgrade the DPA gear (even though DPA Digital have long gone) so sorting out a unit in disrepair would not be a problem.
Rob Watts of DPA Digital took the Philips 7350 chip and did things with it that really impressed Philips (and the audiophile press of the time). To quote from the technical bumph I have:
" The digital processor contains SPDIF extraction, low jitter clock recovery, digital filtering, a (Phillips) SAA 7350 to generate the bitstream code and processing for the delayed right and left data. The analogue processor contains the DAC7 reference circuitry, passive filtering and de-emphasis EQ and the output op amps..The connection between the two units is via 6 high speed fibre optical cables. The PDM2 utilises 2 DAC7s and operates with 16 times oversampled digital filtering with 384 times total oversample."
Add to this a Deltran conversion of the transport and you remove the clock jitter . The Deltran facility generates the clock within the DAC then feeds this back to the CD transport, instead of the DAC regenerating the the CD's clock.
I don't pretend to understand the technology, but the sound is stunning and whilst Duncan's CD850 is a performer. the Meridian/DPA setup eclipses it. I remember auditioning both setups in the early 1990s - but I chose the 3 box route.
Should you find a PDM2, I have copies of the manual and technical briefs as well as articles from HiFi World should you like to read what was said about the DAC.
Null, sorry to have wandered off your thread a little, but I was intreagued with Duncan and Mecano's posts - the CD850 is a very good inplementation of bitstream technology - the rig I have is another variant of this technology in use.
I would argue that the bitstream players from this era still hold their own against modern counterparts. Certainly I find my 3 box setup is streets ahead of a Marantz CD6000Ki signature I also own.