I love music listening—that's all I do, by intent, listen—and I've been an "audiophile" (for some definition of that contentious term) for most of my life—all of my adult life. I'm not a nut about it. Every seven to fifteen years, finances and patience permitting, I revamp my stereo system into something a bit more tolerable than it was, then I fuggedabboudit. When I lived in Woodstock in the late '90s, I actually took out a bank loan to buy a new stereo. It's that important to me.
I've been in the midst of that periodic upgrade recently, and I'm pleased to say it's been going well. I had a great room in Woodstock (best ever) and I have a bad room now, but I've been hearing better sound recently than I've ever had before.
What touched this all off is that my previous system had two sources, one old and one new: vinyl and computer USB audio. But the bare-bones approach I used—it was based around a headphone amplifier as a preamp—was limited to CD-quality resolution for the computer audio. And I wanted to experiment with HD audio.
Surprisingly, perhaps, one of the best upgrades in this whole process has been one of the cheapest. Accordingly, I have a recommendation for you, but I have to warn you, it comes at the end of this post, and it's a bit of a trek to get there...