First, I want to congratulate Stereophile for offering more reviews of affordable choices in HiFi gear; this is a welcome re-awakening!
I started out looking to replace my old CD player, and find myself hoping for a music server, e.g., Olive, although price considerations may force me to go the music player, DAC, HDD route.
Most of your reviews on media players/servers talk about hooking them up to the Benchmark DAC 1, which retails for $950, a not inconsiderable price on its own.
I recently queried HeadRoom about whether their Micro DAC would provide a significant improvement to Slim Devices SQUEEZEBOX. Josh Heins, a Sales Associate with HeadRoom Corporation replied [excerpt]:
Thank you for your inquiry.
The Micro DAC will definitely improve the quality of the Squeezebox. The Micro DAC is a much higher quality DAC than the one in the Squeezebox. We've actually demoed the Squeezebox quite extensively and find our products very compatible, turning your computer into a high end audio source.
Please reply if any further questions.
It would be REALLY great if Stereophile could do a comparison of DACs costing less than $2000 and rate their sound & usefulness when used with music players/servers in a music listening environment (not computer system).