You're putting way too much emphasis on something that ultimately isn't as important as you think it is. That's the same THD as the LCD-2 and I can honestly say that the LCD-2's are amongst the best headphones I've listened to, given they sit in your quoted $800-1000 price range I'd take them over the likes of the Sennheiser HD800 (and I'm a huge fan of Sennheiser) and many other options in that range. Honestly spec wise these are remarkably similar to the LCD-2's and are funnily enough less expensive, I'd be very interested in how the two compared in a side by side test. Edit: Seems the LCD2 Classic is less expensive. Why the automatic assumption that the people buying this will be connecting it to cheap/poor equipment? Not everyone sticks with onboard solutions, there's a wealth of extremely good external DAC and AMP combos out there. Regardless, the DAC segment of the audio chain is one that's often heavily over rated by many. Most modern motherboards with ALC1150 or higher have perfectly functional DAC's, in fact a bunch are sporting 32 bit Sabre solutions which are often used as selling points in higher end gear. The AMP section of the chain is generally the most important, and is where most motherboards are still lagging behind. Although in fairness it's hard to find a one for all headphone AMP and people buying higher end headphones are liable to opt for an external unit anyway. As for 'digital samples', digital isn't necessarily bad as a storage medium. The problem tends to come from how it's managed, this is mainly a problem in music recordings (the loudness war is a good read for anyone interested) for various reasons. There's an infamous case regarding Metallica and their Death Magnetic album, the studio album actually sounded worse than the version on Guitar Hero (the game). http://mastering-media.blogspot.com/2008/09/metallica-death-magnetic-sounds-better.html When properly utilised digital is absolutely fine.