I've been looking into purchasing a DAC for my computer mainly for the convenience factor because it is quite a pain to bend down to my desktop to plug in some headphones a few times a day. On the other hand, the prospect of improved sound quality is a major plus as well, but I would just like to know how exactly would a better DAC improve quality? I was considering the Fiio E17 and many people say that it is very neutral, and "gets the job done". Those are not exactly good indicators of a significant improvement, especially when my computer does not have the problem of noticeable noise or interference.
What advantages do a good DAC have over typical computer audio that doesn't have noise?
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Lower end motherboards are going to come with low costing audio hardware (low costing DAC feature).
The Asus xonar DX (or D1) sound card, used $60, with a Schiit Magni (or Vali) headphone amplifier should improve the audio quality of whatever headphones you have now and this combo should work with just about any headphones you buy in the future.