I just put together a very nice PC and would like the most satisfying sound I can get, given the limitations of lossy files. Even with a decent DAC, I'm concerned that if I loosen the purse strings I'll get audio components that are, at best, way overqualified (my usual purchasing tendency) or at worst, expensive and reveal source file limitations with unsettling clarity. I just looked at John Atkinson's MP3 vs AAC vs FLAC from March 8, 2008, and concur: "There seems little point in spending large sums of money on superbly specified audio equipment if you are going to play sonically compromised, lossy-compressed music on it." I would play CDs, but most music would arrive in the form of 128 kbps AAC, streamed using Adobe Flash Player. Of course, that resolution may go up when the vendor chooses to do so.
So my main question seems to be, what is the highest level of equipment can I purchase and still be spending sensibly?
Equipment I've heard using (lossless) CDs: Aon 2 and Tablette Anniversary, both paired with an Arcam FMJ A19. These are almost certainly aiming way too high sonically and budgetarily. I also consider Rega's Brio-r and Dynaudio Dynaudio Excite X12s or similar. Non-Chinese manufacturing is a definite plus but, based on what I've read, NAD amps, Peachtree D4s, and PSBs might be really nice, too.
My logical side (and my wife) think something along the lines of a pair of Audioengine A5+s would do the trick. I love bass, so a subwoofer seems almost mandatory. Thank you for helping me find the right equipment/purchase level. Room size: medium. Auditioning difficulty: 3 hour trip w/small kids. Size preferred: bookshelf or very small full-range.