I've honestly never thought about my computer audio setup before, But after I got some nice speakers for my home theater, I think it's time to conduct some upgrades.
Right now, this is what I have:
Speakers: Logitech x-230 (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002SQ0A4/ref=oh_details_o04_s00_i00)
Sound: Realtek ALC888 (http://www.realtek.com.tw/products/productsView.aspx?Langid=1&PFid=28&Level=5&Conn=4&ProdID=135) - onboard audio from my Gigabyte motherboard
My usage is 100% music - no movies or games (I've got my HTPC/Xbox for that...). I'm starting to re-rip my music to FLAC, but most of my music is higher quality MP3 at the moment. I listen to everything, but mostly Alternative, Rap, Jazz and Electronic, This is kind of my audio chain:
foobar2000 > Wasapi > headphones (sorry, I have never done this before).
Right now, I'm running both my speakers and my headphones through on-board audio.
For upgrades, I'm thinking the absolute extreme max I would want to go is $400. But would rather go for the best value at this time and spend less.
1) For my cans, should I be looking at a better sound card (Asus XONAR DG/Sound Blaster Audigy SE), or a USB DAC/AMP? To be perfectly honest, I knew nothing of DAC/AMP's three weeks prior, so are there any leading ones out there that wouldn't break the bank (if this were the option)?
2) My speakers cost $30 around 8 years ago, so they're due for an upgrade. If I went the way of upgrading my speakers, would you suggest passive or active? I asked this previously, and was suggested the AirMotiv5's along with the AKtimate Micro's I'm presently considering. But that is going to run just at my budget.
3) Would you suggest upgrading both my speakers/headphone setup and splitting between the two, or going one at a time? I'm thinking the DAC/AMP combo could represent the best value, as it could be used for my headphones and for a future set of better speakers.
All opinions would be much appreciated. Thanks.