I can’t find an official website for Chinese manufacturer Muse, but their “beginner’s” Mini 4 x TDA1543 DAC caught my eye on eBay due to its stupidly tiny price: ~AU$50, shipped to my door. I bought one. I’m now on a mission to find the “best” cheap and cheerful (~AU$100) DAC.
The specifications are anything but terrible: four of the legendary TDA1543 chips (so 16/44 only) and the well-respected DIR9001 receiver chip sit inside. Inputs are coaxial and optical – no USB. For your fifty bucks you also get a switch-mode PSU.
There’s an extensive Head-Fi thread on this DAC right here and an Audio Circle thread here.
Apparently, its performance can be improved by ditching the SMPS in favour of a linear version. TeraDak make such a product, but some internal tweaking of the linear PSU is required.
More controversially (!), this Head-Fi member prefers the Muse Mini sound to both the Cambridge DacMagic and the Bryston BDA-1, through both of which he hears the “artificial sheen” of [one bit] delta-sigma designs.
The Muse 4X TDA1543 can be bought on eBay here.