Hi I'll start by saying I've been reading this forums for a while now, and it's been amazing, no place makes me feel as dumb (in a good way ) I use my PC (specs below) for gaming (Battlefield 3) movies (just DTS at the moment) and music. I've been looking to improve my experience as well as save those around me from the noise created by my Z-5500. it's impossible to chat mid game with speakers and a mic (ptt is extremely annoying). now It became apparent to me very early on that simply getting Astro's A40 etc is not the way to go for me. I don't know about you, but when I spend my money I like to know I'm getting the best I can from it and not just in hardware terms, but in my use of it - and I game and watch movies a lot. now since I'd like to enjoy it as much as possible (and I am on a budget) I'll obviously have to compromise, and I want GREAT headphones that will perform great both in games - Battlefield 3 to be specific, as well as in movies and music (I listen to anything from Reggae to Rock, Metal, Dubstep, Rap etc). I know it's asking 2 different things, but that's where the compromise begins to make it simple we'll start with my current PC specs: Motherboard: Asus Maximus IV GENE-Z PSU: Corsair AX750 GPU: PNY GTX 580 RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 1600MHz CPU: Intel i5 2500K all cased inside a Lian Li PC-A04 now that we got that out the way we can get to the heart of the matter I was thinking of upgrading my onboard SupremeFX X-Fi 2 with an Asus Xonar Essence STX, and here starts the "trouble". so far in the headphones category I've been looking at: Philips Fidelio L1, AKG K702\Q701, Sennheiser HD 558, Shure SRH840, Audio-Technica ATH-M50s/LE, Fischer Audio FA-003, and of course Beyerdynamic DT880. is the STX amp powerful enough to drive the 600ohm version? on their website Asus claim it can... would I need an external amp? would a DAC do a better job than the STX? would the STX benefit from an amp with any of the other headphones? what hardware would you recommend - soundcard, headphones, amp or DAC wise? I should note that the STX+DT880 is really pushing my budget (I'm a student after all). I'm very sorry for the very long post, but if i'll try and figure this out by myself without any help from the best source possible (asking here) I'll never be able to start that paper I have to turn in on sunday PS- my entire Hi-Fi Experience can be summarized with a pair of $100 Bose earbuds which I thought sounded great until they were stolen a few weeks later and I replaced them with the far superior sounding (imho) Shure SE210. THANKS!!