I recently picked up a pair of headphones, Audio Technica ATH-M50's, and I've been thinking about the best path for me to get into portable hi-fi. I mostly listen at my house, but do a little bit of traveling as well. Even when I'm at the house, I'd prefer not to be tied to my computer. I've seen some really nice reviews out there... A portable amp like a Ray Samuels, or Graham Slee Voyager, look like it could be up my alley, but I don't know exactly how I would feed one with a high quality signal.
I guess my question is... should I be looking at a portable DAC/headphone amp combo? Do separates typically sound better? I'm up for using my iPod (ALAC files) or getting another digital music player like a Cowon, Sansa, even my Samsung Galaxy SIII for playing FLAC files... I'm assuming I will need a line-out dock as well, to bypass the internal DAC on my digital music player.
I listen to all types of music, so I'd like something versatile if possible, with a good soundstage.
My budget can probably go to about $500 USD, give or take a bit... any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. In the meantime, I'll be doing as much research here. There is a ton of information to sort through, that's for sure.