#1
I've been playing guitar for awhile now. I'm self taught so I started with drop tuning learning rock and metal so I'm really heavy on that. I'm learning chords and such in standard though. I have a cheap starter acoustic guitar right now and I like to bust out some metal in drop on it a lot but it just doesn't sound good when I go up past like the fifth fret. It just sound dull and muffled. I've had new strings several times, same dullness.

My gf's dad has this old regal, bought for $50 bucks as a gift for him from his wife and it just sound awesome to me. It projects and doesn't feel dampened or muffled even at the twelve fret.

I really wanna know why its sound just pops and projects and where I can find a guitar like that. I'd love some input guys!
#2
go play everything you can get your hands on. my acoustic sounds beautiful all the way up the fretboard, even when i'm doing chords as high as the 18-20 frets. but thats cuz i spent a lot of money on mine (i actually wrote a review for it on here as well... but i got off topic...)

anyway! sounds to me like your ear has developed enough to tell the difference between a plywood starter acoustic and something a little more "guitar" like for the lack of a better word. if you can hear the difference, and its significant enough to make you not like your own, its worth looking into a new one. but what you want will be your choice and we can not help you. i spent literally 5 years before i found the guitar i fell in love with. and i was able to play some hand built guitars that were $8500+. go play everything. try the tunings you want them to be in cuz not all guitars will handle low tunings well.

a great place to start would be Yamaha. their guitars are amazing for the money, and are usually the ones people i know end up going with in the end. but make sure to play multiple guitars of the same make and model cuz each one will sound a little different (or alot if one is a lemon). sorry if this doesn't make sense. i've been up for almost 20 hours now and i desperately need sleep
#3
It is true -- not all guitars are created equal. I bought my first good acoustic guitar after playing a nasty old dreadnought for years. Although my new guitar has a slightly smaller body, its construction and woods are so good it projects really well and has incredible volume -- so much so I have problems hearing the stereo when I'm playing along with music!

Solid woods and good construction make a huge difference -- now get out there and try out some awesome guitars! It is well worth waiting and saving for a good one (especially a second hand one, as the second hand market is really good these days).