I’ll share with you my “DAC journey”.
I began in this hobby around 2015. My first DAC was an OPPO Sonica DAC approx $800
For some unknown reason I had it modded by Modwright to a tube DAC+external LPSU.
It was a game changer for me. One of my first experiences in how electronics - in this case a DAC - can transform the musical presentation. Given that the Modwright mod cost $2500. it should have!
My next - and current - DAC is CHORD DAVE.
Again, at $14K it is several cost multiples of even the modded OPPO, the change in detail, timbre, soundstage, in short every aspect of the sound was well beyond what I thought my system was capable of giving.
Next DAC upgrade was to add the M Scaler. I must admit it was not as dramatic a change as the DAVE, but as I recall it tightened the bass noticeably and gave the overall sound a more “cohesive” presentation. And so I thought from this point, additional DAC upgrades would offer only incremental change. Not so at all!
A few months ago I added a $10K Sean Jacobs DC4ARC6 external LPSU to the DAVE. (A while ago I had added a Teddy Pardo LPS to the M Scaler, with not too noticeable effect IMO.)
I cannot express how exponentially the sound improvement was. If a “tweak” can cost $10K, this was the most substantial tweak I’ve ever made. The only comparable changes my system has undergone was changing amps or speakers in a major way (like from SS to tube, or Rockports to Tannoy).
So my journey has been from a $800 DAC to a “DAC kit” costing around $30K. I can’t compare my setup to other comparably priced DACs like Lampi, etc, never mind the wisdom of adding to the DAVE as opposed to upgrading to a more costly DAC. (My budget tends to allow for “incremental” adds, so I often take the mod or upgrade path for a piece of equipment I have). But from $800 to where I am now - and each move up along the way - I have never regretted investing in my DAC. IMO it is crucial to getting the best sound out of your other components.
Good luck to you.