Hello, all. Long time lurker, first post. So, I'm on the verge of overhauling the audio setup in my computer. I'm currently using (and have been using for quite some years) an Audigy 2 ZS outputting to an Altec Lansing MX5021 system. I'm looking to upgrade to the HT Omega Claro Halo sound card and the Klipsch Promedia 2.1 speakers.
My uses are primarily music. I'm a music comp major, it's evident based on listening to music with colleagues that I do have the ear necessary to discern high-quality audio. So, music quality is paramount, because I do hear the difference. Music aside, though, I do minor gaming, but I'm in no way concerned about audio quality there. Movies, as well. I don't watch enough movies at all, really, to be concerned about that, let alone movies on the computer. So, this is strictly being done with high-quality music playback in mind. That all being said, I'm wondering if anyone here has any experience with the things I'm used to and the things I'm likely moving to. How much of a leap upwards in quality I can expect? Are there some alternatives that I've overlooked that would be better? Or as good for less money?
I was trying to decide between DAC or sound card, but if I go the DAC route, I'd prefer to have that output to something like the AudioEngine A5+ system, but I just don't have the money for those and a DAC right now. Though, this is why I chose the Claro Halo. I'm imagining, in the future, I'd use the optical out to connect a DAC. I would love for this whole upgrade to cost sub-$400. The sound card can be had for $200, I'm seeing the Klipsch speakers for $130. So, that's a very satisfying number. But, I might consider just jumping into the A5+ if I can be convinced that those on an Audigy ZS 2 wouldn't be a waste of good speakers. Because I can't afford to configure the A5+ with anything else at the moment, and it'll be some time before I can afford to spend money on audio equipment again. Priorities. Y'know.
Anyhow, thanks all for your eventual input!