What I have now.
Xonar Essence STX
M-Audio Bx5a Deluxe
I'm looking to solve 3 problems. I outlined them in the picture. I would like to have a physical knob to adjust the volume on my headphones and speakers. Separate knobs would be lovely. A decent pre-amp for my microphone and lastly I've been hearing a lot about how a good headphone amp can make my HD650's sound a heap better than my Xonar alone.
I don't mind having having a separate unit for the pre-amp but I would like the headphone amp and volume controller for my speakers to be the same unit if possible.
I've been looking at a few things but maybe you guys have a better idea. I'm looking at about 300$-600$ for the whole shibang.
So far these have caught my eye as possible solutions. I understand what amplifiers do but I've never been subject to hearing any units personally. I've come from logitechs to what I have now and beyond that I've not heard much. So I'm both skeptical and interested, but I have little idea about what sounds good regarding preamps and amps and that's why I'm asking you guys :)
1: Avid Mbox Mini 3 ~200$
- Pros: Decent price, lots of inputs and controls, good pre-amp, looks attractive
- Cons: Bad headphone amp, no microphone output
2: Little dot MK V / IV + Seperate preamp? ~350$
- Pros: "Very good headphone amp," quality components and good service
- Cons: Not very many input and output options.
3: ASUS Xonar Essence One + Seperate preamp? ~400$
- Pros: Separate volume knobs, lots of input+outputs, looks fantastic, headphone amp
- Cons: Components not as quality as other units in price bracket?
And I know nothing of pre-amp units at all. I don't have any MIDI devices or more than one microphone but I want something that still does a quality job and can be output to my xonar's 1/4 inch jack.