I've been looking to make a better portable set up recently since my Clip+ broke on me and my current Sony Walkman doesn't have enough memory for me at the moment. I was looking into what type of source gear would be good if I'm looking for a warm sound that goes well with energetic music. I listen to a lot of genres of music such as rock, folk, jazz, hiphop, pop, etc, and I would really like something that offers a good sense of clarity. My budget would be around $400 but I really prefer not to get that close if possible.
My potential ideas were to either get a dedicated source player such as an iPod or Cowon and then pair it with an amp. However, a "problem" is I also have a laptop with a really bad DAC which is why I would like maybe a DAC/amp instead. This means that my budget would run a bit higher which isn't something I'm willing to do at this point in time.
I don't really like the Sansa Clip since it is pretty small for me and I've had two of the jack's break already since I generally don't treat them very well.
The second option would be to get a US Galaxy S3 (since I am due for a phone upgrade) and just get a DAC/amp (maybe something like an iBasso D-Zero) to bypass the hardware inside. This would also bypass my computer's shoddy sound card as well. The problem with this is that my selection of amplification becomes a lot more limited but shouldn't be a problem as long as I find something that is known to sound good.
I do 50% of my music on the go and 50% at my laptop throughout the week so this is why I'm a bit torn on what to do. Any experiences or opinions are very much appreciated. Thanks in advance!