Mmmm... not many people here in Hawaii have them. But in anycase what would be a cheap amp/dac that I could run from my laptop? I run mostly lossless. =)
Have you considered the Audio Technica ATH-AD700/900? They are very comfortable and play well with classical. The e9 would be more than enough amp for them as well.
Static can be caused by a lot of things...
- low quality files - try playing a cd or some other higher quality source and see how it sounds
- it could be electrical interference - are there any nearby devices that can generate electric/magnetic/etc fields that can interfere with the sound?
- it could be power supply issues/ground loop - this is very hard to diagnose; try a different usb port, plug the computer into a different outlet, unplug other devices or appliances from the same wall outlet, etc.
I'm not really sure what would cause the pitch change. My best guess is that if you're maxing the volume that you're basically pushing the amplifier into clipping range which is distorting your music. This is probably entering unsafe listening levels... you might be better served with a closed can which can isolate you from outside noise so you don't have to turn the volume up so high.
Unless you need the miniaturization, any regular receiver will do the job. Pick up an older model from a garage sale for way cheaper.