Here is how I would list audio components by importance:
So first get good speakers, then a nice amp etc. Yes a DAC will make a difference, but it won't make up for poor sounding speakers.
On the software side, I would ignore any kind of EQ or post processing malarky.
my sound got better (less muddy and no occasional distortion) after removing pulseaudio.
Thanks for the replies.
I'm very happy with my speakers, which are powered (ie internal amplifier). I'm not sure how I can improve the variety of mp3, ogg & flac files I have, without ripping or downloading them all again (something for a quiet Sunday methinks )
Pulseaudio has been removed, so the only thing left to look at is maybe purchasing a DAC.
I may very well end up doing nothing because I can't really justify spending a lot of money on this if the end quality improvement will only be marginal.
It's all about the hardware really, though you can improve sound by adjusting speaker placement. Keep them at ear height and away from the corners of the room.
At anonymous. It was ever thus