Re: DAC recommendation (with XLR & pre-amp)
If your open to used items (didn't see in the post where used was off the table), the Benchmark DAC1 is a nice unit. Headphone amp, well received D/A Converter and can be found on the used market for $600 at times. I sold one in the past 3 months for $650 shipped. I'm a bit biased however, I own a Benchmark DAC1 HDR. For my needs it's as source accurate as they come.
HDTV: Panasonic TH-42PX80U | Preamplifier/DAC: Krell Showcase 7.1 | Digital Source: Squeezebox Touch | Sources: PS3, Squeezebox Touch (24/192 Mod) | Speakers: Ohm Walsh 5, PBN Audio Pennywise | Subwoofer: Sunfire TruSub Signature | Power Conditioner: API PowerPack V | Cables: Signal Power, MIT, Frozen | Accessories: Homebrew x2 Isolation Platforms