Thanks for the clarification. What led me to buy the element for home listening is that when I plugged my headphones directly into my computer headphone jack, the sound was terrible. I could immediately tell very clearly that the sound was inferior. When I connected a portable dac/amp that I have, the sound instantly improved drastically. I am not one to generally hear night/day differences in audio stuff, and I am generally very skeptical when it comes to some of the more intangible/subjective stuff that audiophiles tend to argue about. I try to limit my equipment choices to things that address a clear problem (too much treble, audible distortion, clipping, etc) that I can clearly detect.
This afternoon I've been playing around, and it seems like I have to lower my pc volume to roughly 30-40% in order for me to use the volume knob on the Element at 9 o'clock (with my lower impedance headphones). At these settings, I am easily out of the range of the channel imbalance, and I think it sounds pretty good. Easily better than the raw headphone jack previously mentioned, and I can't detect hiss or noise on the amount of casual listening I've done so far.
So I guess if that setup doesn't raise any alarm bells I'll stick it out. It feels slightly un-intuitive to lower the PC volume and raise the volume knob on the amp, but in any case it's an improvement over the onboard pc audio. I just worry I'm overlooking an obvious solution to my problem that doesn't have me potentially neutering this device from operating optimally.