For music listening which I guess I spend about 10-15 hrs per week, I use my smartphone mostly. I recently updated from an iPhone 4S to iPhone 5. I mostly listen to Jazz, Indie, and 70s rock plus some classical. While my favourite albums are mostly mp3 ripped at 320kps, I recently Rockboxed an old iPod Classic and have re-ripped many in flac. I can listen to them on the iPhone using Accudio Pro which does seem to offer pretty fair EQ options too. But I also listen to Rhapsody and Pandora for variety. I do have a Fiio E17 DAC but only use this at home. I don't carry with me for airplane use and the like. It seems a good unit but frankly I can't really hear much difference to the headphone outs of my current sources.
Recently, my upgraditis has me wondering if I should purchase a decent DAP. Been considering a Cowon Z2 or Sony NWZ1070. But could also consider iBasso DX100. Trouble is, the iPhone is just so convenient and both it and RB'd iPod sound pretty darn good. And of course as good as the W4Rs are (my favourite IEMs), although some would say get customs, I am unlikely to do that anytime soon.
I've pretty much read most threads on these DAPs and I just don't seem to ba able to draw a conclusion that the sound quality of any DAP is going to be that much superior to my sources. There is just an apparent lack of emperical data and objective comparisons to guide me. Another reason I am skeptical about jumping further is my hearing is no longer what it once was with some serious loss in higher frequencies and about 30% overall.
So, guys, I'd really value some thoughts you might have one way or the other as to whether a DAP is justified by a very noticeable improvement in playback, or is it like using a higher end computer chip. The price seems out of proportion to the benefits they bring...? I mean I just wonder if I will REALLY notice a big improvement or just another way to blow money? Help me please?