Sorry to interrupt but I am wondering about DACs, speakers and to a lesser extent headphones... mostly as an upgrade in sound if/when I upgrade to a new build - I think the sound in a new build will be inferior for two reasons:
1) I currently use a discrete sound card - BUT, it's PCI-based slot - Audigy 2ZS - so, it's likely I won't be able to move it to a new system - I'm not basing my choice on whether it has a PCI slot - that's not wise, right?
2) the new builds - well, the majority have ALC887 or ALC892 onboard - so, unless, I went with the higher profile boards (AM4 X370 or Intel Z370), I think that sound chip(set) is inferior to my current setup?
I use Logitech 2.1 speakers and a Logitech Clearchat for my headphones (it's for language learning - primarily - so I'd consider a separate set of headphones with a new audio setup)
What I have isn't ideal so the choices are to buy a new sound card or look at DAC / pre-amp(?) options with speakers?
I looked at FiiO E10K - I know that is basic but would that do what I want? I want it for movie/video watching, basic sound but would like to use headphones on occasion, too.
Is this a better option than a new discrete sound card (PCI-e)?
I looked at the Schiit Modi 2 but seems impossible to find or unavailable - and I just don't know about this stuff, anyway. I wouldn't know what to look for or what's a good price. I wouldn't invest much, initially, just something basic to start with since I'll have to spend on the build already.
It comes down to budget I think so far as I understand what you're posting. To get a Schiit combo I think you just need to buy it direct from their site, contact them there or call them, that's what I did and they had stock last year, no idea now. If not that, then the JDS unit is similar in cost and performance from what I've read from those who have used both. IMO though you'll need to spend at least a couple hundred to get headphones that will make getting a DAC/Amp even worth it.
PCI-E sound card may be a better option for you, as you can get away with a bit lest costly headphones/headsets and still enjoy the benefits that a stand alone sound card will give you. I have the latest Broadwell E and 370 Asus motherboards, $400+ MB in a bunch of systems, and even the $100ish Creative cards I got used are a big improvement in sound quality IMO in those systems. If you care about RGB there is a Creative RGB card for around $200, but IMO the Sounblaster Z or Zx is a better value if you don't care about blinking lights. In fact there is a SB Zx for sale here in the forums for $120(iirc), which is a good deal for a new card, external volume/plug in comes with the Zx which is nice too. I think your best option is grab something like that, it'll cost less than a DAC/Amp, and give you more options with headphones. That said if you can afford it, and want it, by all means get a Dac setup, it's about the same increment of improvement IMO that going from on board sound to a PCIE card, going from a PCIE card to a DAC.