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Better Sound from My Desktop: I'm so lost.

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Hi all. I'm looking for advice on improving sound from my desktop computer. It's different than what we usually tackle here, I know, but I greatly appreciate your opinions and advice.


I built the desktop for my home office in 2010. I did not choose to buy an aftermarket sound card because at the time I did not listen to music on my desktop and the sound generated by the motherboard's hardware was fine for games. I have a 2.1 computer speaker system, but I rarely listen through them, opting instead to use my Sennheiser headphones.


These days, I find myself listening to music a couple times a week from websites to decide whether to buy a CD or simply to discover new music. I like good microdetail, but the Sennheisers (both my HD555 and HD600) sound a bit lean for my taste on music. I still play games, but not as often as I did when I first built the computer in 2010.


So, I'm looking for a solution to get better sound from my desktop. Should I just buy a soundcard and call it a day, or for the money am I better off looking for a USB DAC with headphone amp? I've read good reviews of several products under $200 like the AQ Dragonfly 1.2 and IFI iDSD, and with LH shipping its latest DACs in March there should be plenty of Geek Out DACs on the used market soon.


So many options, but I can't figure out how to narrow the field to even a handful of candidates, let alone choose a solution.


Many thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Front ends:

Digital: Sonore ultraRendu or SOtM 200 ultra Trifecta --> LKS MH-D004

Analog: Clearaudio Performance DC --> Rogue Triton

Back end: SMc Audio VRE-1C --> SMc Audio DNA125 Platinum Plus-->Stealth Dream v10 cables --> Ridge Street Audio Designs Sason speakers, dual Rhythmik F12SE subs



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