Another question that I want to ask. People say that DACs don't make much of a difference compared to onboard sound. Is this true? How much of a difference does a DAC really make?
Do you think that it's better just dumping this ~$250 in an amp rather than an amp+DAC combo?
IMO there is no "magic" in DACs like there may be in the audio part. DACs are pretty straightforward in design, and you do not have to step up in price much to get one that is good. For example, I find that the ODAC is more than adequate. I am sure there are others in about the same price range.Some of the more expensive ones may have additional features. I would place your money in the audio amp part, for this is where you will recognize most of a difference. However, I do believe an external DAC is better than the one you will find in let's say a telephone. For that matter, you can always get the DAC part later.