What do we think of the Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC.
The Berkeley is an excellent DAC, but far outside the budget of the OP. It is also best when when as both a pre-amp and DAC and requires a pretty serious computer setup (including expensive Linux soundcard which is around $800) to sound its best.
For a more musical DAC I would HIGHLY recommend the Weiss DAC2. It is the pro version of the Weiss Minerva (different faceplate and feet). You can find many amazing reviews of the Weiss. It is a Firewire DAC and also has S/PDIF, Toslink, and AES/EBU inputs. It is one of the few DACs capable of 24/192 resolution. Beyond that it has the most glorious midrange I have yet to hear on a DAC. Unfortunately, at a little over $3K retail it is outside the OP's budget.
TJHUB, you may want to try the Bryston DAC? I know quite a few people who enjoy it and it fits your budget. Plus you can buy it from Audio Advisor with a 30 day full money back trial