Before I begin, I know this is a seriously over-asked question, and if I'm breaking any rules I apologise in advance, but I'm finding myself drowning in a lot of information after spending around six hours reading up on all this. Still, if anyone has the patience to help me out, I'd be really grateful.
So, a few months back, I purchased the Audio-Technica ATH-M50s, and am really happy with the purchase. Overall, I think it was $150 well spent. Now, I'm looking to trim into shape the rest of my audio setup, or really lack thereof. As of current, my listening is provided by a pair of cheap desktop speakers (Harman Kardon HP 5187, they came with the computer, so enough said), plugged into the aux-out of my computer, which, audio-wise, is simply listed as having "Realtek High Definition Audio" (if it helps, the motherboard is the Intel DG41RQ, but I still can't find any additional info. Either way, it's a cheap board, so i.e. cheap audio?). When I use the M50s, I plug them into the headphone jack on the side of the desktop speakers. From there, my first question: would I get better results by plugging my headphones directly into the back of the PC, as opposed to through the desktop speakers? Sorry if that's an obvious/stupid question.
Anyway, my current portable media player is the Samsung Galaxy S II, a great phone, but a terrible music player. From both personal experience and on the authority of a number of audio engineers/audiophiles, I can tell you, the sound coming from this device is rubbish. Just, no. Which leads to my second question: if I were to use an external DAC, if I understand it correctly, would this would bypass the phone's sound processing, and so it wouldn't be the same crap signal, right? Or would I be wasting my time with using a DAC on a device with a terrible output like the GSII?
Next up, I know it's generally said that the ATH-M50s don't/won't benefit much from an amp, but how about an amp/DAC combo like the FiiO E17? I was considering either the E7 or the E17, but from what I've heard, the E7 isn't too great, and the upgrade to the E17 is worth the extra $40 or so. So my third question: Considering everything, for $150, would the FiiO E17 be a worthy investment?
Finally, my last question: in considering a separate PMP, I've heard the Sansa Clip+ is a purchase you can't really go wrong with. Any thoughts on this?
I really do apologise for the essay, and I hope someone could help me out. If not, I understand.
Thanks for your time.
Edited by LDJ6915 - 6/24/12 at 5:48am