Hi. Recently bought a pair of Etymotic Hf5 and use them near exclusively for PC. The problem is that there is that static sound coming from my regular speakers, which is barely audible, but with IEM earphones on it is very obvious and annoying, nor did it feel the sound was at its full potential but still better than before. Could not solved the likely grounding issues so searched around and found many have mended the problem by using an external sound card with USB extension cable as far away from the computer possible.
Further searching just lead me into more confusion with the endless options. First looked at the Creative Sound Blaster Play!, X-Fi Go! Pro and X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro. Most would say there was a slight-moderate improvement. The PC market based sound cards did not seem good unless you were willing to spend more, like the ASUS Xonar Essence One.
Then I found more niche stuff like the HiFimeDIY Sabre USB DAC and Behringer UAC222. If I remember correctly, the Behringer has a built in amp but the HiFimeDIY does not. Those small earphone and directly powered speakers would not necessarily need an amp right?
These things contain DAC chips, which convert a digital signal to analog, so why would there be an increase in sound quality? Also those Creative sound cards could be considered DACs too then?
Australia, Budget around USD 70(Shipping included)
USB sound card likely to get rid of static right?
Improve earphone quality first, speakers second if possible
Everyday computer usage exclude gaming
Not a professional, so best value for quality would be good
Sorry for the long story, but the more I search the less I understood. Thanks for any help.