Recently, I got a new pair of headphone that I really love (Fostex t50rp, modded by zach915m, he did a great job on them, btw).
I really enjoy listening to them at home, but now whenever I use my portable equipment (esp. while commuting to work, or at the office), it all sounds so thin and lifeless in comparison. So I decided I want to bridge this gap and find a way to get a similar listening experience when I'm not at home too.
I bought a Nova N1 player, and frankly, I'm a bit disappointed with its SQ. It's not that it sounds bad. It is significantly better than using my smartphone, but it is still markedly inferior to my listening experience at home. And it's not that I'm using some ultra-expensive high-end audio gear at home. All I have is Headphonia's USB DAC cable (the one with Wolfson WM8740) plus Headphonia's Lyrix Pro amp. Bought them used from ebay a couple of years ago, and payed less than 80$ for both of them together.
At first, I thought it was because the built-in amp of the Nova N1 was underpowered for the relatively hard to drive Fostex, but I tried it with my RE0 IEMs too, and there was still a significant difference in quality. First, it sounds less open and lively, which probably have to do with the amp, but also there is less clarity and there is some background hiss with the Nova.
So now the question is, is there something else I could try? Unfortunately, I don't have the budget to buy the iBasso DX100, the iRiver AK100 or the Colorfly C4. I can spend up to 300$ for either a DAP with a strong built-in amp, or a DAP+amp combo. Any suggestions?