Sound Card + A/V Receiver

I'm planning on hooking up a "soon to built" PC to my Denon AVR-1708, which I only use to listen to music (and possibly movies if my budget allows to get a LCD Monitor/TV, but I have a separate system for my general home theater needs). Now I was wondering if I would need a sound card to get the best practical sound, or would a standard motherboard optical out be suitable? Will I hear a significant increase in performance, if any? If so, what would be the best price to performance sound card out there. Sound cards are out of my general PC knowledge and I would really appreciate any input.

While I'm at it...what would be the most comfortable and high quality "over the head" headphones (not ear bud). Price cap for this would be approximately 70-100 CAD/USD. I've been looking at Bose and Sennheiser , but I rarely use headphones (and don't know too much either), and now I'm at dire need for it.

Thanks again.
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  1. Grado is usually thought of as the best in that department, but if you do decide on ear buds, as you call them, then for less than 100USD try the Etymotic ER6, if you end up with more then try the Ultimate Ears 5 Pro for 150USD. The UE 5 Pro sound amazing, and have the bass that is usually missing in earbuds, where the Ety ER6s are very clear and clean, but lack bass.
  2. I just upgraded from onboard sound with optical cable to my AV amp to a seperate sound card. I had it for a while like that and it did used to sound awfull. There was no depth to the sound and the high end was very tinny. Especially with mp3's. The amp doesn't hide all the nasty compression like you standard crap 5.1 computer speakers will. Like your Denon AVR-1708 I also have a budget AV reciever hooked up to my pc. The expensive £1000 amp is in the living room along with the expensive speakers. Even though a seperate card adds a lot more to the sound. My card is just a standard cheap creative xfi card (£30) but it still adds a lot to the sound.
  3. If you want good headphones, then you must pay atleast $150, any decent headphone drivers are rather expensive. These are the absolute best bang for the buck, and are really well made and comfortable.
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