Very useful thread. Thanks to all. I was in the same boat as OP, using CDPs, primarily with the TDA1541 DAC. I was happier than OP however, because I liked the sound of my players. I wasn't looking for a DAC, didn't think it mattered. I saw an Adcom GDA-700 DAC at my local Goodwill, for the staggering price of $7. Perfect condition. The improvement was dramatic, far more than I expected. It took another quantum leap when I made a proper 75ohm cable. Far better than even a high-end IC, this is one case where a wire alone makes the proverbial "night and day" difference. My digital music is now sheer pleasure. $200 is common for this DAC (the earlier 600 is even less, and just as good, lacking only a feature or two you don't need). I think it's the "kind of sound" you'll like, judging from how you describe your preferences.