I assume that you are comparing modern cdp's with similar priced older models. Otherwise, it is a questionable argument as a used Sony SCD-1 (or any other reference product) supposedly sounds better than many of the newer players (at around the same price point of the used player).
All comparisons have always to be on the same price point. Yes, if you take a new CDP costing say 25K, a 5 year old CDP costing 100K will obviously sound better. But I also think the gap is becoming smaller. It has already happened in DVD Players and even Blu-Ray players. Something like a BD-83 seems so good that other companies do not know what to do.
I think you are mixing up different market segments while making your argument. If you are saying that the future of CD players are bleak, then I tend to agree with you. But that is because of iTunes and mp3 players. Not because of people using computers as transports with dedicated DAC's. The mass market is driven by ease of use, cost and availability of music. Computer+DAC is way more complicated than a dedicated player for mass market to adopt. So, the dedicated players (in the form of BD players or whatever the latest format) would survive for a long time primarily due to movie playing. I would bet the Best buy sells more units of a single brand of DVD/BD player than Oppo's or Beresford's of the world. The music format would drift towards mp3 cutting the sale of CDs.
If you are talking about the niche market (like the members of HFV or audio asylum or audiogon), then who knows. Even vinyl may be a viable format.
Audiophiles have a habit of sticking to old ideas and resisting change. They are afraid of trying something new, fearing they will lose something they are so comfortable with. Yes, the trend is set my mass market needs, but the trend does continue forward and force even audiophiles to change. How long can you stick to a TT and spend 1000 for each album, when you can get the same quality of music from a FLAC file for 100 Rs.? High end companies have started introducing high end music servers.
You may see the resurgence of LPs but I think this is the owners laughing all the way to the bank. If there is a set of 'audiophiles' who are ready to pay 10 times the price for a CD or FLAC equivalent, why the hell not make some money out of it till such a market lasts.
Availability of music has changed dramatically with the advent of the Net. Today there is not a single album that is not available on the Net in both MP3 and other formats. And, I am not even talking about the illegal avenues.
Music producers have to understand the following:
1. Literally every audiophile will have some sort of hard disk, a CPU and some software. Thus nearly 50 to 60% of what is needed to store and deliver music is already there.
2. One of the greatest advantages of the computer industry is the capacity to deliver a 90% product at 10% of the price. If a Cardeluxe is sold at $800, it does not take long for an Asus to come with a 200$ card that beats the hell out of the Cardeluxe. If companies such as Asus see the market potential, believe me, none of your Lexicon and Ayres can compete. Potentially, a company such as Asus can create a high end music server as they have more knowledge and experience in the computer industry that constitutes 95% of the music server.
I am not convinced about raising popularity of multi-channel music though. If it were true, then there should be a lot more SACD's/DVD-A released in the market. Other than classical music, I don't see a lot of new releases in this format.
I see this, again, as a resistance to change. Today 5.1 recordings of Police, Sting, Diana Krall, Santana, Boyz II Men, Eagles, Steve Miller Band, and Moody Blues have started coming into the market. Even the evergreen Hotel California is being remixed in 5.1. Agreed it is a bit more difficult and expensive to lay your hands on these. Compared to an iPod and simple 2-in-1 stereo system, a 5.1 hardware has a smaller market. But once HTiBs and less expensive receivers take hold, the trend will change. Take a look at HFV itself. There are more threads on HT systems and it's related hardware/software than on stereo music.
I see that a used Museatex Bidat DAC (may be 7-8 years old?) selling upwards of $1500-2000 in audiogon (if and when available which is very rare). Not saying that the current day DAC's in $500-1000 are not superb. But the layman in me does not understand why a used DAC from a defunct company commands a much higher price than a brand new product with warranty if newer, shinier products have better technology and thus are superior. My point is that this niche market is not so easy to predict.
I think audiophiles are like collectors. They think a Rembrandt can be made only once in a lifetime and they keep lusting after that. They fail to understand that, in electronics, modern artists have better paints and more sophisticated brushes. Rembrandt's hand become meaningless. A magazine such as Stereophile which would look at products costing less than $10,000 with contempt has been forced by the market to give a complete cover page to a 200$ product. And there are reviewers using the DaCMagic as their reference !!
The lifetime of the players that the OP was asking about is probably between 5-6 years. I don't think that CD's are going to be out of the shelves so fast. Given that the OP has already setup a PC+DAC set up, the question is if his curiosity about a product he wanted for a long time is worth the hassle of putting up with multiple formats. My guess is that only he can answer that.
I agree on both points and that, ultimately, only the OP can decide. I am just trying to understand myself and help other see where the future lies. But, my friend, you must understand that CDPs are already out of the shelves. You will not find a CDP unless you go to a speciality audio shop. And many of us have already experienced the the look of utter surprise when we asked for a CDP from shop assistants. 'A CDP, what is that Sir?'