I have been swallowing up a whole load of information from this site for the last while and and currently waiting on delivery of my first set of proper headphones (Senn HD598).
I have also been looking a lot at the possibility of a portable amp for my ipod and a dac for when using my pc as I currently output straight from the mobo.
I have been mainly looking at Fiio products as they seem to be well recommended to new users and those on a budget. I am not limiting myself to those products, but focusing on them until I have my head round it and then can look into more exotic solutions.
If only considering portable options, so using my ipod classic, I understand it is not possible to extract a digital signal. In which case a dac/amp combo such as the E7 or E17 would be wasteful and an amp only such as the E11 will do the job.
If wanting to listen from my pc, I would ideally want a dac and an amp to get the best sound.
I was looking at the E9 amp, but I understand that need either the E7 or E17 with it to use the dac portion of those devices.
However both E7 and E17 and be connected to a pc via usb and does not need the E9. So the question is, is there a significant improvement in the amplification from the E9 compared to either the E7 or E17 to warrant the extra ~£100? Except for a lovely big tactile knob top fiddle with of course. :D