If you already have a desktop headphone rig based on a Chord Electronics Hugo 2 DAC and Windows source, you have the basis for the most affordable endgame in high end audio. I've been listening for the past several weeks and all I can say is 'Wow' ...the sound of Dan's Hugo2 Endgame bundle is stunning! At a price of $1130 this is far less than what is normally associated with an endgame - and the other pieces of the chain are reasonable: a mid-grade Windows laptop with SSD is about $500 and foobar2000 is free.
Why does this bundle sound so good?
- PGGB. The latest (in beta testing) version is the absolute pinnacle of audio reconstruction quality. It's no contest. I'm not kidding. PGGB produces files of such fine waveform detail that every song sounds anew.
- Hugo 2. This DAC is very transparent and the headphone amplifier is powerful. Also, the battery power (no AC mains connection) means greatly reduced RF noise.
- Avoid USB. Using dual coax input means the Hugo 2 turns off it's USB receiver and all associated clocks. Less internally generated RF noise makes a huge difference.
- Filtering. A well shielded USB cable combined with an inline filter and ferrites cleans up the signal to SRC•DX. Then on coax, adding low pass filtering plus DC blocking gets the digital data to the Hugo 2 with as little RF noise as possible.
- EMF Shielding. Magnetically shielding the Hugo 2 stops any vestiges of radiated noise from affecting the sound. Unfettered small signal processing lets the Hugo 2 reveal its maximum transparency.
In my own case, I have HIFIMAN HE1000se headphones and a 3yr old Lenovo ThinkPad. In total, everything included, my system can be had for well under $10k. Don't been spellbound by industry misperceptions of what is required to get good sound. The approach I offer is the real deal. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed. In fact, you will be ecstatic.