I got some panasonic HTF-600's awhile back because they had good reviews for $20-30, and I want to know whether I'll see an improvement by upgrading from integrated sound on my m5a99fx pro 2.0 motherboard. The sound on it is a Realtek® ALC892. There is an optical S/PDIF out and some analog jacks. I'm currently plugged in to the front panel audio jack.
If I would notice an obvious improvement in sound quality with my current headphones or I could get new ones and be within budget (I know a guy I could give these to for xmas.)
I am considering a DAC but it will likely need to be a combined dac/amp to drive the headphones, right? I'm not especially fond of the idea of getting a sound card because it would take up an expansion slot, apparently not be as well isolated from electrical noise (makes sense), and might not be supported by future motherboards. That leaves DAC+AMP route. There's usb, optical, and coax but I don't have that. Like I said before, USB will probably be supported longer(less sure in this case- correct me), but wouldn't it be nice to still be able to use the features of realtek's software and have it still look like there's only one audio solution going on. Would I lose that going the usb route? Usb is also good for portability so I could go on my laptop too I guess. Is a combined dac/amp the right way to go? What is my best choice & a good product.