Always, my opinion, underline that, start with the best at the source, whatever is lost there is never again found.
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Depending on what your budget is for one good IC then start with the source to pre-amp. If things get bottle-necked from the source the rest will be hamstrung. If your budget is say, $300 for one pair then I would suggest doing two decent pairs of ICs from the likes of Audio Art Cables, Signal Cable or Audio Envy for that $300. Two pairs of their budget lines will be a good starting point with minimal losses. They all offer level up products that can be purchased at a later date and offer better performance. Best part is they offer a money back trial period.