Originally Posted by Sam21
I already know that Sound Quality depends on DAC, AMP and the headphone. Are there other factors that affect sound Quality ?
Does moving from entry-level DAC(like E17) to mid-level or High-level DAC make a huge difference ?
Is it better to buy a better DAC or a better headphone for SQ improvement ?
#1 - Better quality source material. The music itself. Not all albums were made and mastered equally. Some are better than others. And garbage in, garbage out applies big time here. If you get music that is poorly made/recorded, it will sound poor. And even more poor on a higher resolving piece of equipment. Buying all kinds of new higher end equipment doesn't do anything for this. There's no magic. If nothing else, higher end equipment strives to just be more faithful to the recording, and so if the recording is bad, the sound is bad. Plain and simple. One of the hardest things is to be able to find enough extremely well made albums of music that you really like. I find for myself that this often helps me discover new music. It dictates my taste, and my taste is simply anything that sounds really good. This is the biggest source of quality in your entire chain--quality of the recording.
Moving from the E17's DAC to a $1000 DAC will probably not change the sound hardly at all to your ears. DAC's hardly color sound. You'll read all kinds of glowing statements about one being warm or not. But frankly, until you test it yourself, I will say easily that this is the absolute last thing you should be worrying about is a DAC when it comes to quality.
If you have a decent amplifier and a decent set of mid-tier or better headphones, you're good to go with the E17's DAC. You'll get more from high quality music than you will from buying a $1000 DAC.