Thanks for the advice, Evshrug.
I read a guide here on Head-fi about impedance. It started with a nice analogy related to water going through a hose to a sprinkler. I understood what he was saying there, but then he started using algebraic formulas, I then went cross eyed and started bleeding from the ears and nose.
I'm trying not to get hung up on the impedance thing, but the only reason I am concerned about it is wanting to ensure I'm getting decent performance out of what is fairly expensive equipment (compared to what I've used before).
My time here recently on Head-fi has also made me want to get back into buying more music again. I used to regularly buy CDs, but about ten years ago I had a CD case stolen that contained a large chunk of my collection. I'm not sure why, but after that I've barely bought any music. I'm now looking to buy all those albums (not all at once) that I've never got around to listening to but feel I should have. Hence, buying a decent amp is becoming something that interests me :)
Edit: I should note that my average volume on the Omni is between 15-20 percent. I have not noticed any distortion. The only issue I have had was when playing Dishonored, but this issue was present when sound was output through the speakers and I found others have had problems with the audio too, so I'm guessing it's the game.
Ev's advice is sound (no pun intended). Go for what sounds good to your ears more than anything else. If you think it sounds good, why worry about abstract math?
That said... I got my amp in last night (because change is good) and the change with the Q701 is noticeable. (I too was running off the Sound Blaster Omni.) It's really true that you don't know what they're capable of until you amp them. They didn't sound bad before, but they sound really good now!
My point? If you're satified now, don't bother. If you want to upgrade because you're feeling the itch, an amp will definitely serve you well. I'm sure any of the inexpensive ones in the guide will be fine (E12, Magni/Vali, E09K, O2).
I appreciate the virtue of critical thinking, however this is something that can only be done with experience. At the moment my only reference is the equipment I have, so there is no way of me knowing if it is under-performing. You often hear of people who say things like "I thought my old (insert product here) was good until I tried this. I could never go back to it now that I've experienced (insert new product here)".
Dude, I've learned to be really careful of that quote. It's almost always true, and not always for the better. For example, when I finally dropped some real cash on a nice suspension for my motorcycle, it was night and day. I had no idea what I was missing and I could never go back. Now I HAVE to spend money for a nice suspension on every bike because I hate the feel of a crappy suspension. It's expensive!
If you're satisfied with your current sound, be careful about upgrading or you may never want to go back! lol
Edited by Stillhart - 4/10/14 at 9:51am