Hello everyone! This is my first post on these forums after quite a while of hanging around and taking in all there is to learn. I'm a university student without much spare cash to throw at this hobby, so I find my progress pretty slow. I must say, at this point I'm a little confused as to where to go with my limited setup.
For a few years I have mainly been listening to music from two sources; my laptop (HP pavilion dv4), and my Sansa Fuze V1. I was getting curious as to how I could improve my SQ on a limited budget, so I downloaded foobar2000, and straight away without any plugins I noticed a slight increase in sound quality. I recently reached the point at which I felt I could only do so much to improve SQ from the source, so I decided to look into purchasing an amp.
Without too much in depth research, and a handful of positive reviews from head-fi members, I decided to go ahead and purchase the Bravo Audio V1 class A amp from Ebay. I wanted to experience the tube sound without the tube investment, and besides that it looks pretty cool sitting on the desk! I immediately noticed an improvement in SQ, but at the same time there was a drawback in that when playing at moderate to high volume, and when the volume is up with no audio playback, there is a slight hiss when using my laptop as the source. When I used my Fuze as the source, the hiss was almost not noticable even at full gain. This led me to do some research, and I have all but concluded that I need to purchase a USB DAC.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I suspect that integrating a DAC into the chain would decrease the microphonics, and at the same time the tube amp would benefit from an analog input as opposed to digital.
I would really like to keep the budget at or below $75, as I have previously mentioned I'm a college student with little spare change. I realize this leaves me with only a few options, but I'm not too worried about that, as this is only my introductory setup anyway. I have looked at the fiio E10 as a possible option, and also the Hifimediy Sabre as an inexpensive option. I'm leaning more towards the fiio though as it would give me a chance to experiment with solid state compared with a relatively equal tube amp. If I went with the fiio I would go laptop>fiio>bravo (via line out)>headphones, and skip the fiio's amp section completely for now.
I am open to any and all suggestions. Thanks in advance!!