Since I am kinda new to the world of dacs/amps I am looking for some recommendations. As title says, I am searching an excellent combo dac/amp (stand-alone dac + amp preferred, I am not that much of a fan of 2in1 options) below 500$ (combined, not 500$ each, it should also include shipping to Slovakia, but its not a must, I guess I can go slightly above 500$ if there is smth really worth it).
For the headphones I am gonna use with it, I just ordered Audio-Technica ATH-W1000x, closed low impedance headphones, I think this is the most important fact to know before getting amp.
The main source will be my laptop, so dac should at least have usb input, but I would highly prefer it to have optical input too. From time to time I will want to listen to my Cowon J3 too but thats gonna be hooked up directly with an amp with line-out cable (I dont think its possible to bypass cowons internal dac).
For the amp, I have no experience with amps, so I dont know which will match my headphones the best, so this is entirely up to you guys :)
As for some early suggestions (I have done some research myself already), I have few options in my mind:
DAC: Little Dot DAC_I (269$) , Matrix Mini-i (299$)
AMP: Little Dot I+ Hybrid (109$ + some tubes, I dont know which one but I guess I will get matched pair of Sylvania JAN 408A for 50$ since I cant find anywhere Sylvania Gold Branch 408A with golden pins), Little Dot MKV Solid State (289$), Matrix M-Stage (209$)
So far, from all I have read about amps, LD I+ would be really good match for low impedance headphones such as W1000x (as its hybrid amp). But I am a bit worried about tube rolling + I guess tubes require some maintenance/replacements from time to time. As for LD MKV/Matrix M-Stage, both are solid state amps, both have two inputs (which I like very much since I wont have to switch cables between dac and j3 input all the time, just one click and can listen to other source, but thats just matter of convenience). And also combo LD DAC_I + LD MK V would look really awesome in shelf as they have pretty much same front (height, width, color, finish...). On the other hand, LD DAC_I + LD I+ is much cheaper combo and by many ppl, the best sounding setup for my headphones (at given price).
What would be your suggestions? I dont know which brands are making the best equipment in this price range so I only checked the most refferenced ones (Matrix/LD).