Excellent sale price for the Cambridge Audio DACMagic XS:
(if it's on sale at Music Direct, it may be even cheaper elsewhere, so search around)
Plug this into a laptop's USB2 socket, install the Cambridge USB2 driver, and dig how much better
everything sounds, especially using high-grade headphones. This thing has enough umph to drive
Sennheiser HD650 headphones as loud as I'd ever want to listen, and comfortably drives
Audio-Technical ATH-M50 headphones or any other low-impedence professional sealed-ear variety.
Note that with the USB2 driver installed, it works in true HD mode (up to 192/24). I figured just
the extra power from a real-deal headphone amp would be an upgrade from the headphone jack on my
Lenovo laptop, but everything immediately sounded much better. In fact I trust the output of the
DACMagic enough to do for-hire editing and processing on the laptop while travelling, using a
known/trusted pair of headphones. The 1/8" output also comfortably drives any line input, so it can
be used as a regular DAC hooked up to an amp or amplified speakers. This is one of those devices
that I'm amazed can be so good for so cheap, and I paid $150 for mine.
-- Tom Fine