Sorry for no updates. Since I started the search, I've upped my budget to around $200. There seem to be a lot of good offerings around that price point.
I already sold the xonar dx. I hope to get a laptop someday so I'll need a desktop unit anyway. I've literally spent days looking over different manufacturers and came up with this list. What do you guys think? Honestly I'm tired of looking and kind of just want to order SOMETHING.
Being my first, i'm sure it's an enormous improvement over the onboard audio.
1. Maverick tubemagic d1 plus (will probably upgrade dac/headphone op amps to bb opa627 later) -Solid state only headphone amp, tube is for pre-out only which is not needed -107db snr
2. Schiit magni/modi - >100db snr
3. Aune X1 mk2 OR T1 (tube), can't find much on one vs other, no idea which to choose - x1 snr unknown, t1 snr >120db
I was looking at audio-gd nfb-12.1 but after shipping to us, it will be around $250 and I really don't like how it looks with all the switches. It does look slick on the inside though. Similar problem on the magni/modi, after rca/usb cables it will be up in price. Thanks for the advice!
Edited by Justinf89 - 8/18/13 at 10:32am