My reference system consists of laptop USB->Audiophilleo 1 USB SPDIF converter->dcs 954 DAC. The dcs 954 is the pro version of the dcs Elgar and originally sold for $7k+ so suffice it to say I've never tried running the Microstreamer as a DAC only up against the reference system. It wouldn't even be a fair comparison and not expected to be. I'm using the Microstreamer strictly as an office desktop headphone.
With that being said, I just bought an ifi audio iUSB power supply. AlI can say is wow. The iUSB brings the Microstreamer's performance up a few notches and the improvements across the board are not subtle. This is a highly recommended upgrade for the Microstreamer.
I understand somewhat what you are saying. But in one sense I don't get it. How is it that this puny amp/DAC combo can drive multi thousand$ Audeze LCD3's to induce eargasms in Mike on one hand but on the other the line out is merely "meh"? I've not heard the LCD3's but I assume that they are "good" HP's.
You see what I mean? Maybe there is hyperbole here that I'm simply not getting.
If the unit sounds good on HP's it ought to sound good through my loudspeakers. At least that makes sense to me. I know that impedance matching components can create synergy and without it a good component may sound crap in someone's system. Could that sort of thing be happening here? I'm sincerely asking.