So I'm basically looking for an external audio solution for my laptop and Sennheiser HD 595 (50 Ohms) headphones. I was originally looking for external soundcards, but I've been noticing more and more mention of so-called DACs and Amps. I still don't know what DAC actually means (maybe digital-analog-converter but that seems to be a more general concept - all records are scrapped), but from the usage it seems to be a kind of soundcard whereas the amp, does what, simply amplify? So the quality of the amp is still dependant on the capabilities of the internal sound-hardware, it only provides thorough headphone output?
Anyway, I'm looking for the best external audio upgrade with my headphones and I've already tested the Behringer UCA222 and the Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro. I've read that the Behringer is actually better for headphones of 80 Ohms upwards, and it sounds kind of backgroundy but nonetheless warmer and more pleasing than the Creative soundcard, which sounds very "clean", and is therefore a step up from my onboard card, but also rather cold and unpleasant.
What I'm looking for shouldn't be more expensive than the Creative and I found mention of the FiiO E10 which is only a little bit above. Will this provide the best external audio quality for my headphone or should I consider the FiiO E11 amp as well, or do you have a different recommendation (maybe another external soundcard with better headphone output than the Creative)?
Edited by MattFH - 10/27/12 at 1:29pm