Originally Posted by MassDude
The ATH-MX50s are decent headphones for their price point. I'm listening to FLAC off of my laptop; For now, I'm looking for recommendations for a USB DAC/Headphone amp. Later on I can upgrade my headphones. I want to get the source system tweaked first. Adding better/expensive headphones now won't do much for the sound if it is just using the on-board audio from the laptop.
Not sure I entirely agree with this.
Been sitting here surfing the net listening on the laptop with my Meridian Explorer and Sony's current top of the line consumer headphone (~$300). I think it sounds pretty great for what it is.
Based on this thread, I just pulled out the Explorer and plugged the headphones direct into the laptop. Sound is certainly more muddled. Switching back to the Meridian, I'm really glad I have it. It's marginally, but certainly meaningfully, better.
But at the same time, if I had to choose between having the DAC/amp versus better headphones, I'd choose the latter every time. Like, for example, I have a B&W P5 somewhere at home. I'd much rather listen through the Sonys straight out of the laptop than the P5 out of the Meridian.
Assuming your laptop isn't totally deficient (and your DAP certainly isn't), the differences with better electronics is a marginal (though perhaps very meaningful) gain. The differences between headphones is a fundamental change in the character of your sound.
I've been through a ton of gear, both audiophile high end and consumer high end. If I were in your shoes, I'd buy better headphones.
Just my $0.02.
Edited by jjcha - 6/23/14 at 10:23pm