Long time reader, but never registered and posted before.
My current setup: PC --> Denon PMA-510AE --> Klipsch B2 bookshelf speaker & Sennheiser HD598 (connected to the Denon 6.3mm headphone output).
I use my PC for gaming (mostly) and music (mostly Dance, but also some guitar and film scores).
I'm fairly happy with that, but recently the headphone output of my Denon AMP seems a bit damaged: I can hear a small static noise (mostly on the right channel) when wearing the HD598 (note: this does not always happen, but from time to time and can be somewhat annoying). Already verified it is the Denon AMP, as other source devices do not produce this sound. (And already contacted Denon and waiting for their response.)
So I was thinking and looking around if I would need and benefit from a dedicated DAC and a seperate headphone AMP (or a combo). I just received an entry level DAC, the Muse-audio NOS DAC TDA1543. Which is OK (After replacing the power supply), but I don't feel it's an upgrade of what I had before.
Now the main question is: Should I invest in an expensive DAC with 2 analog outputs (2x set of RCA output) and one going to my Denon (for the speakers) and one going to the headphone AMP (to be bought). I searched for this kind of DAC before and could only find 1. (Burson DA-160)
Or should I look for a new DAC with an integrated headphone AMP? (newbie question: if I plug in the headphone, will it automatically mute the analog output?) I prefer to keep my headphone plugged in and possibly mute it (or lower down the volume to zero).
Models that seem to fit my need:
Asus Xonar Essence STU
Asus Xonar Essence One MUSES Edition
FiiO E09K (+E07/E17)
Maverick D1 (but not sure if I want tubes already)
Or am I overlooking something?
Budget is around 200 euro, but can be extended to 400 euro if it is really an improvement.
Any input and thoughts are welcome.
Edited by Knud - 1/2/14 at 8:23am