It seems that creative has released two pro-geared products this holiday season right under my nose, the X-Fi Titanium HD (PCI-E sound card) and the X-Fi HD (USB DAC). As indicated by the reviews, both appear to use higher quality components, with the Titanium HD going as far as to offer swappable op-amps.
I seem drawn to the X-Fi HD, though, because I feel like I'm really doing my ATH-M50's a disservice by sending them through my motherboard's audio. At $99, the X-Fi looks to be a proverbial drop-in-the-bucket compared to most DACs out there, and offers an integrated headphone amplifier, phono pre-amp and more connections than you can shake a stick at. But then again... this is Creative we're talking about here. While not as infamous as Bose amongst audiophile circles, it isn't exactly the most celebrated company either. What do you think? Here's a link to the Amazon product page: http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Sound-Blaster-System-SB1240/dp/B004275EO4/
Edited by Dragnerok X - 1/8/11 at 12:04pm