I'm Omer, 22 years old from Israel. I mostly listen to Rock (Pink Floyd, Tame Impala, Arctic Monkeys - just to give you a perspective), Trip-Hop & Chillout (Portishead, Zero 7, J.Viewz) and Dream Pop every now and then (Beach House, Melody's Echo Chamber).
Now I don't bump into audiophiles a lot around here. Most of the people I know use their personal phones as DAPs, and don't have any gear worth mentioning to listen to music at home. I guess it's a matter of culture here - no one is actually AWARE of the possibilities of how to improve your music-listening experience, and don't really seem to care. Well I personally always lacked that experience, and being somewhat an audiophile meant a whole other thing to me in terms of listening standards. To give you a clue - up until today I used a COWON iAudio 9+ along with AKG IEMs (can't remember the model) and always downloaded my music straight from YouTube using those YouTube to MP3 sites, which results in very low bitrates and quality in general, as you probably can imagine. I used to think of that set-up as the ideal music listening experience, besides vinyl and high-end home systems. I never heard of Headphones-amps up until a few days ago, and I was exposed to the whole hi-res music world just recently.
I still have a few questions unanswered, so I'd be glad if you could take your time to answer them :
1. Are headphone-amps meant to solely compensate for lack of volume? Or do they change the way the music is played into your ears and thus giving you higher quality music?
2. Should I invest in a high-end DAP such as the FiiO X3, as someone who uses it mostly for traveling purposes?
3. If the answer for 2 is yes, would that require me getting a headphone amplifier? Or to be more exact - going to my DAP's higher volumes would cause any damage to the quality (aka distortion, clipping, etc.) unless I get an amplifier which does that smoothly?
4. What would generally be better - mid-tier headphones and an amp, or just high-tier headphones?
5. What's the difference between an headphone amp and a DAC? I know any DAP has a built-in one, but those devices that I see people have strapped to their DAPs - aren't they being used as a DAC as well?
6. What's the most basic thing I can do to improve my home-gear on a budget? I currently have 2 okay speakers and a sub.
Thanks in advance.