Hey guys, I've finally decided that I can spend some cash and get a nice audio set up for my computer. I'm looking at spending around 1k for a good audio solution. Note that I'm in Australia and we don't get quite as good value as the rest of the world :(
I'm keen on getting an external DAC as opposed to an internal soundcard. Mostly because I like the idea of using it with other devices in the future, such as a notebook or something and not being limited to PCI/PCIe interface. I'm considering the following DAC's:
Asus Xonar Essence One (I'm leaning towards this because I love the idea of upgrading it in the future)
Cambridge Audio DAC Magic Plus
Anything else I should consider? Inbuilt headphone amp is a plus, but no essential. I've got a pair of Sennheiser Momentums that I use on the tram/in the office, but would like the option of getting a nice pair of open cans in the future for home use, HD650's or something.
As far as speakers go, I've considered:
Swan M200MKIII (leaning towards these)
Swan T200B (love the look of these, but they'll stretch the budget with the more expensive DAC's I've looked at)
KRK Rokit RP5G2/RP6G2 (Or G3 if I can get them...)
My concern with these selections is that although I seem to find good reviews/comments on all these products, they might not be independent. There might be a lot of echoing of thoughts about these products without sufficient independent review or analysis. Groupthink.
The speakers will be sitting on my desk, or on a nearby stand(s) next to my displays. My room at the moment is not that big (bedroom), but in future I plan to use them in a larger living/rec room. I'm a little concerned that nearfield monitors not being suitable for this, which I believe the speakers I've listed above all are. Will they be awful if I'm not sitting directly in front of them? What else should I consider?
I have a fairly wide range of music I listen to. Artists I've been listened to in the last week or so include: Nine Inch Nails, Lana Del Rey, Moloko, Beethoven, Kanye West, The xx, etc etc But this can vary to Opeth, Slayer to Chopin or whatever the latest dance hit is. As far as sound goes, I like the idea of going for a neutral sound, as close to as what the artist had intended to be heard? But I want to avoid a situation where it's flat/dull/fatiguing to listen to. But perhaps I can't have both?
The Swan T200B are the most premium speaker I have looked at, will a cheaper DAC such as the Modi do them justice? is the E1 too much DAC for the other Swans or a pair of Rokits? What is the best performing/value combo? How important are balanced outputs/inputs? What is the consensus on how much they improve quality? (or is it largely situation dependent?) Would it be silly not use XLR cables with speakers that support balanced inputs?
Unfortunately, it is difficult for me to actually test any of the products. I appreciate any and all input. Is there any thing else I should consider? Any questions I should answer before proceeding?