Any recommendations for a sound card primarily used as a DAC rather than amp as well as an external amp? Budget: 250$, to use with Sennheiser HD650s
I like the think the Asus Xonar DX sound card (used, $60),
with a Schiit Magni ($99) or Schiit Vali ($119) or even an O2 ($130) headphone amplifier makes a good value for the features.
Or get the Xonar DX and spend the whole leftover $190 for an amplifier.
I use an Essence STX for a few years, then replaced it a few months ago with a $300 external DAC/Amp (NFB-15.32).
The STX could drive all of my 20 headphones (From 32-Ohm to 600-Ohm), comes with a nice PCM1792A DAC chip and replaceable op-amps.
I think the amplifiers in the Magni, Vali, O2 are a little more desirable, then the STX's, but it not a big difference.