Hi, I've been reading with interest for a short time on various opinions on DACs and AMPs and still can't decide plus my head hurts from trying to make sense of it all. Please don't get too complicated as I'm a novice to DACs and AMPs. I may need prodding in the right direction to help get me started on this exciting new road :)
I'm very keen the the HD800s for playing back lossless audio (and gaming) on my PC which features a Xonar Phoebus. I've checked out the £1,000 HD800 for myself and was very impressed despite the hefty pricetag as I intend on looking at this as years of constant enjoyment. After speaking to an Asus staffer, I find I then need an AMP to push the HD800 to its potential and was recommended the £320 Essence One but find the idea of changing components off-putting despite the very attractive pricetag. I've seen good feedback on the £750 Lehman's Black Cube Linear AMP as being very capable and seems capable of matching the hard-to-drive HD800s. Then I'd need a DAC. I keep seeing the Benchmark DAC1 pop up but find that pricey at £850. I'd also be replacing the HD800 stock cable to ensure excellent audio playback.
Total spends at £2600 - I need help trimming that down without skewing the audio potential of the HD800s. If it helps, I should mention that I listen to rock, soundtracks, jazz, house, everything 70/80s plus I'll be gaming as much as listening to 24/96, or 24/192 Flac.
Initially I only planned on the HD800s to replace my old Sennheiser's without thinking I'd need DAC/AMP. I love the sound of the HD800s and will stick with those, the other gear I'm open to ideas but how I'm I going to hook it all up without losing quality?
From my limited knowledge that looks about it. I'm unsure about the output direction from my PC and how to maintain the 192KHz sample rate throughout my system without degrading the quality. The connections available out from my soundcard are S/PDIF optical Toslink, and 3.5mm headphone output with a built-in 600ohms amplifier [Pasted from manual: Texas Instruments 620A2*1 (120dB SNR, -117dB THD+N @ Vcc±12V, RL=600Ω, f=1kHz)].
I hope I've clearly outlined my ideas and would appreciate some assistance in choosing the right bundle - thanks :)