I have been reading quite a lot lately about getting a new soundcard and stumbled across DAC's etc. and got extremely confused.
I am an audiofile. I have a pair of Audioengine A5+ with the s8 subwoofer. Right now I have a Asus Xonar DG sound card. It sounds great but I figured if I was spending about 800$ for speakers, perhaps I could shell out a bit more for a decent sound card.
A bit about the needs. I am going to be playing music from a computer only. I use linux. Most sound cards work fine for linux but I don't typically get awesome features. I don't really game much anymore on the PC. It is mostly for listening to music while I write.
I am looking for something which will produce excellent quality sound. I also want extremely good components. If I get a sound card, I figured I would get one with replaceable op-amps. I am also looking for a great DAC on the sound card.
Checking this out http://sound-cards-review.toptenreviews.com/ I am inclined to go with the Xonar Essence but then I found the OMEGA Claro Halo XT. Some claim the Omega has better components but slightly lower frequency range (40-20k as oppose to 20-20k) but who knows if the Essence can actually hit 20 vs 40 and if my woofer can pick that up (almost certain it can) and if I can hear it (not so certain about this).
What do you all think would fit the bill? I did what everyone recommends and bought really sweet speakers. I am looking to spend no more than 250$ to upgrade the sound card. Also, I suppose, is there a significant difference between the Xonar DG and the Xonar Essence? I assume there is just due to hardware but I am wondering. Also, what are recommended op-amps depending on what card is selected?
Thanks for the input. There are too many options and I need some help selecting what to get.