I'm putting together a 2.1 system with two active monitors and a sub with my laptop as the source and have a few questions about connecting all of the components. First, here are some pictures of the connections: monitors
. What I'd like to know is if there will be any appreciable improvement in sound quality if I were to connect the monitors directly to a DAC (instead of to the sub which would be connected to a DAC)? If I do this I won't be able to use the sub's built in high pass filter (but the monitors also have a low cut feature...so many variables...what if I use both the sub high pass filter and the monitor low pass filter at the same time??? Ugh!!) -- would this be a real concern?
In the scenario that I should connect each component to a DAC (instead of daisy-chaining), should I opt for a DAC with balanced outputs (for the monitors)? The connections shouldn't be more than 10 feet so I'm thinking I won't really need it but the balanced cables that I plan to buy (yay monoprice) aren't a whole lot more if at all. I'm mostly concerned about the balanced output feature driving up the cost of the DAC (does it? I know nothing about DACs). I'd rather get a better performing DAC that doesn't have balanced outputs than a poorer one with such feature.
Finally, and probably most importantly, I need some advice on which DACs to consider. My budget is $150 -- at this price point, would I be better off saving and expanding my budget? How much of my total system budget should I generally be allocating towards a DAC?