well here is my eventual chain of equipment....

music is on a WD Cloud drive, AIFF format. I would have gone FLAC, but the music needs to be used by three pepole, and two of them want to use Itunes.

WD HDD---> computer-->TOSLINK-->Matrix Mini --> Acurus RL-11 Preamp --> Acurus A250 --> Polk RTA 11T's.

currently, all of this is right except the preamp... which is currently a NAD 1020.

when i bought the Matrix, i assumed the headphone amp was post-DAC, which it is not, and frankly i hate the sound of it. to use the headphone amp, you actually disable the DAC, if i am understanding the instructions correctly. i am quite new to this aspect of audio.

the Acurus preamp will be here in a couple of days... and here is the rub. i have been using the NAD 1020 because the headphone amp is actually quite listenable....

( that being said, my current headphones are Sony MDR-V6.i know they are nothing special, but my upgrade path has been long and gradual, and i have been concentrating on re-building my crossovers, getting the Polks in shape, and getting better power for the speakers.)...so when i switch to the Acurus preamp, i will have no phone jack except the Matrix, which i know i hate.

i need advice.

the Acurus has 2 sets of pre outs, so i could easily just buy a headphone amp and be done, so it seems. and i have my eye on the Schiit Asgard.

but my question is whether there is a better solution. i know the Matrix is not the best DAC, but for now i am reasonably happy with it...i suppose i could roll the opamp to improve the headphone amp, or am i mistaken? i have seen mods listed....

otherwise, i could sell the Matrix, and combine that money plus what i would spend on the Schiit for a better DAC/headphone amp... but i don't know enough about them ye. i know enough to know i will be in the mid-fi range if i sell the Matrix ... say $400. are there ones where the DAC affects the phone amp insted of getting the straight digital signal from my computer?