Christ this whole thread is a wall of text, needless to say i didn't read it.
Innerfidelity has some great recommendations, and has auditioned many more headphones than most people on head-fi have.
As for an amplifier, the Objective2 amplifier is by far the best amp for the money. I wish i could link you to the article he wrote over engineering this amplifier, but i cant because head-fi will remove the post. (head-fi has something against him). Either way, the amplifier is $144 and he has conducted blind tests in which people cant tell the difference between it and $1000+ Amplifiers. You can learn more simply by googling "o2 Amplifier"
"I compared the 02 with my FiiO E17 headphone amp, and felt both amps are really good, but the 02 wins on clarity, dynamic punch, and bass precision. Voices also have more "body" and sound more natural over the 02. In that sense the 02 sounds almost like a vacuum tube amplifier, but without sacrificing bass articulation."
Edited by Xaborus - 11/20/12 at 5:49pm