I am thinking about replacing my Musical Fidelity A5 integrated and purchasing something that might have a better sense of urgency. (To my ears, the A5 has been "relaxed" to a fault.)
In this system, I presently own a Wyred4Sound DAC2 customized by the addition of a BNC input, which, if possible, I'd like to keep. I gather from some accounts on the Web that the DAC2 is particularly well-mated to the Wyred4Sound STI series, especially when connected with balanced IC's. I'd probably jump on the STI-500, even without an opportunity to audition it first, because of that. HOWEVER, the STI's do not have phono inputs, even as an option, meaning that I'd need to spend $500 or so for a moving magnet phono stage in order to connect my turntable, which now runs into the MM input on the A5. Not only is that $500 I'd rather not spend (which brings the total up to $2500 or so), it's also one more box to fit on to a crowded rack and another power plug to have to plug in somewhere, anywhere, I can find another outlet.
To avoid the phono stage debacle, I could buy a NAD C3990DD instead of the STI-500 and add the optional $300 phono/analogue input module, bringing my total price to around $2900. At that point, however, I'd have no use for the DAC2, as the NAD has a DAC built into it, and I'd probably move the DAC2 to a computer-based system I have in my basement (making a DAC or two already down there surplus in the process, but that's a whole other kvetch that I won't start now).
Without knowing the quality of the NAD's DAC relative to the DAC2, it's hard for me to evaluate whether the convenience of the built-in phono stage is worth sacrificing the DAC2 in this application, especially since I lose the BNC connectivity from my music server. (I can add an RCA adaptor to the BNC cable to get the server hooked up to the NAD's coax input, but that is kind of a shame, considering that I paid extra for the BNC output on the server.)
In the end, since I am compromising in some respect either way, I guess I'd be interested in opinions about the sound quality of both the STI-500 and the NAD C390DD, especially from anyone who's heard both. I'd particularly appreciate an assessment of the NAD's DAC relative to other decent DAC's if not the DAC2 particularly.
Alternatively, if it makes sense to explore other options (such as another solid-state integrated in the $2000-3000 range with built-in MM stage and balanced inputs), I'd be open to hearing about them. (The rest of the system consists of an Olive Musica modded by RedWine Audio, an audioengine D2 DAC, a low-end Nottingham turntable with ClearAudio Virtuoso Wood cartridge, and Revel F32 speakers, with cabling from Zu and Black Cat.)
All input gratefully received.