Their not bad.. Your not looking for anything close to "audiophile", your wanting something that sounds better / more comfortable than what you have now.
Curious, are you using a laptop or desktop... (more questions to follow) after your response.
For gaming the Audio Technica ATH AD-700 is tough to top. The soundstage is massive and they do sound very good. They just lack a bit of bass like most other open cans in the price range.
A bit? Define a bit please. I know this is personal preference but Ad-700 had absolutely no bass at all according to what I think. In that matter though I thought even amped AH-D2000's could use a bit more oomphf
Why are you limiting yourself to no amp? You can pick up the Fiio E9 for $28 (!!!) right now
With that you can drive just about any headphones you want. I am using it with my HD600 and the sound is excellent (also using the E7 usb DAC)
It's just my 2c but I'd say instead of going for higher-end headphones go midrange. Have a lot of clanmaets who swear by AD700s. Pair that with an STX and I imagine you'd get a better experience than running onboard with HD598s.
If you spend that much money on headphones and still use your on board audio.......
Get a sound card and a less expensive pair of headphones. Otherwise, it will still sound like crap no matter what headphones you use.
Actually, no. Spend as much as possible on headphones and as little as possible on a amp/dac as those offer the least possible "improvement" in sound. Unless the output impedence is very high, from the RMAA graphs (and my own ears) realtek is completely satisfactory but has a slight fuzz to it. Though if you want to move off onboard, I would recommend a cheap DAC/AMP which has good measurements, or a cheap soundcard.
Well a lot of people prefer the Samson SR850s over the AD 700s, while I was recommended to get the Fisher Audio FA-011 on headfi.
What would you recommend for a DAC/Soundcard?
get the 32ohm variant, you can drive them well from any current media player [smartphones, ipod, zune, etc] which includes your onboard soundcard
honestly if you aren't getting any feedback from your computer and all your hear is a clean hiss at higher volume, just ignore amps and dacs for now - don't head down that path your wallet will thank you
32 ohm dt770s is a nice choice, welcome to the world of better sounding audio