Budget: $160 USD
Music: I really don't have much taste in music, mainly I listen to classical pieces or laid-back jazz.
Perks: Decent positional audio and a relatively wide soundstage. Also, a standalone microphone or headset is also required.
Former products: Samson SR-850, Audio-Technica ATH M30. I don't have an amp or a dedicated sound card.
Usage: Relatively serious FPS gaming, and an occasional bout of Starcraft or Dota.
I live in the eastern coast of the US.
Preferably I'd like to stick to Amazon, Newegg, and eBay, but I'm willing to go with other websites as well, if necessary. Entirely willing to pick up used or refurbished stuff, for the right price.
Essentially, I would like to know; say I got something like the Xi-Fi Titanium. Would my current headphones sound noticeably better than with the built in Realtek 898? Would they sound better than say, a Sennheiser 598 with onboard sound? I'm sure there have been topics like this, but I haven't seen one that directly compares a sound card + lower end headphone to a higher-end headphone standing by itself.
I'm also seriously considering a USB headset, since USB should circumvent the sound card and it should come with at least a decent microphone. That leads me to another topic; the microphone. Usually I find that people don't really care about the microphone, but I am extremely concerned with getting a solid microphone. My last one was an Antlion Modmic which broke after two months of light usage, so I flatly refuse to buy from them again, and I absolutely detest the idea of using a clip-on mic like the Zalman. My default choice is something like the Blue snowball or Samson C01U, both of which I can pick up for about $40. So really, that leaves about $120 for the headphones (and sound card?) or the full $160 for the headset.
Even if you strongly believe that I have to hear the difference for myself and decide, I would like whatever opinion you have to offer before you say something like that.
Thanks in advance for any help.