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Need Advice - PC Audio Upgrade

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Folks,

 

Would like your thoughts and advice.

 

I am now currently running Foobar/Mediamonkey on ASUS Xonar Essence STX (PCIe) connected to Akimate Mini (Powered Speakers) and getting itchy for an upgrade.

 

Would like to have a DAC with integrated headphone amps so I can connect up the DAC to my active speakers and also use it as headphone amps when I can't use my speakers (late at night or when someone is sleeping).

 

Currently I am thinking of the following.

 

Arcam irDAC - Expensive, No headphone amps .. (not sure I can connect up my speakers AND to a separate headphone amp).

 

ASUS Xonar Essence STU - from what I heard, minimum improvements from STX version, might not be worth the upgrade.

 

ASUS Xonar Essence ONE (Muses) - Expensive, not sure if there will be a significant upgrade from ASUS Xonar Essence STX. (SQ wise)

 

iFi iDAC - no reviews on how the iFi iDAC performs with active speakers, not sure if there will be a significant upgrade from ASUS Xonar Essence STX. (SQ wise). I went STEREO to test the iFi iDAC with my IEMs and Headphones, I thought it's pretty good but theirs is a very ideal setup with the iUSB, iCan (i think)

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Folks,

 

Would like your thoughts and advice.

 

I am now currently running Foobar/Mediamonkey on ASUS Xonar Essence STX (PCIe) connected to Akimate Mini (Powered Speakers) and getting itchy for an upgrade.

 

Would like to have a DAC with integrated headphone amps so I can connect up the DAC to my active speakers and also use it as headphone amps when I can't use my speakers (late at night or when someone is sleeping).

 

Currently I am thinking of the following.

 

Arcam irDAC - Expensive, No headphone amps .. (not sure I can connect up my speakers AND to a separate headphone amp).

 

ASUS Xonar Essence STU - from what I heard, minimum improvements from STX version, might not be worth the upgrade.

 

ASUS Xonar Essence ONE (Muses) - Expensive, not sure if there will be a significant upgrade from ASUS Xonar Essence STX. (SQ wise)

 

iFi iDAC - no reviews on how the iFi iDAC performs with active speakers, not sure if there will be a significant upgrade from ASUS Xonar Essence STX. (SQ wise). I went STEREO to test the iFi iDAC with my IEMs and Headphones, I thought it's pretty good but theirs is a very ideal setup with the iUSB, iCan (i think)

 

Their new ifi idac2 is very ideal budget dac/amp. Slightly warmer sounding compared to my idsd micro.

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