Well, my Windows installation went belly up, and my 1212m is finally driver-dead. I recently came into (a little) cash, and was thinking of reterminating my HD580's back to SE so I could upgrade along the lines of:
Asus Xonar Essence ST
Only problem is, after listening to my "backup" SE setup (onboard audio > old Pioneer receiver headphone out > HD202's), I was reminded of how electrically noisy my listening environment is. My previous setup was balanced from source to phones. I fear an upgrade to the SE components I listed might be prone to interference. I don't know that I could tolerate the intermittent artifacts/digital noise that crops up (and by intermittent I mean maybe 5 instances over 2 hours).
Problem is, it seems balanced external DACs are clearly the next level of magnitude beyond my $200 (O.K., maybe $300) dollar budget.
I also wanted to upgrade from my diy balanced a47 amp. I had the boards built for an alpha-20 based balanced amp, but I overbiased one of the four and fried it (didn't have the multimeter hooked up right ) , so to finish that project I'd probably need to get at least a new quad of transistors from AMB.
Still, I was thinking *maybe* if I went this route I'd have a balanced amp worthy of a better DAC, and possibly could string together Twisted Pear OPUS for around $200? I know it would be a pretty basic build. The catch here is I see TPA's USB receiver modules are out of stock, so I'd be stuck using the SPDIF directly off the motherboard--perhaps another concession .
EDIT: I guess what I'm asking is, are the DIY options I'm considering plausible, and reasonable alternatives to the over-the-counter solutions I listed? Or are there better options I'm not considering?
EDIT II (Sorry it's been awhile): I listen mostly to classical, jazz, classic rock and TV/movies (stereo only, no special processing).
Edited by Zaubertuba - 12/2/13 at 8:32am