A few thoughts since my OP...
I think the vocabulary these days for what I'm looking for is "DAC". The Delta 1010 is a DAC. However, for those of us who produce as well as consume music we would also probably call it a multiple channel AD/DA converter because we have analog synths we need to feed into a DAW. Also, we can use it to simply playback music from Foobar if we wanted to. Though all those extra input features would be overkill if all we wanted to do was playback music.
I hope that made sense. My OP wasn't so much about problem solving, it was about vocabulary and trends in order to do research on a DAC. Stuff has changed in the past 10 years. In my opinion DAC is mature tech. Therefore its price should be lower.
I'm still skeptical about the M-Audio Audiophile 192 because of its tech. This thing could easily become unsupported in 2 years. Who knows? All I know is trends suggest that.
I found this (funny company name alert):http://schiit.com/products/modi
That thing is driverless. That's a nice feature.