I must admit to being a bit anti-Soundblaster, simply dismissing them as low quality, gamer only cards. This isn't without justification though, since I owned an original Audigy card about 3 years ago and before that a Live 5.1. Both were Average at best and more often than-not, terrible with music reproduction. Having recently bought an RME HDSP 9632 I can tell you what a half decent sound card sounds like but just today I received a demo of friends HTPC system featuring an Audigy 2 ZS card connected to TAG amplification/Pro, B&W Nautilus range speakers and REL sub . WOW the surround playback via the analogue outs is actually better than my RME - no joking. I imagine that this because of the fact that it decodes the streams in hardware rather than software as the RME does. It really is a great choice for those wanting a pre/pro combination HTPC. Oh and it does EX and DTS ES in hardware too It also seems music playback is far better too, mainly thanks to the use of a Cirrus Logic DAC rather than the terrible SigmaTel rubbish they used in earlier generations. Its still not quite as good as the RME in this respect but then again its less than a third of the price. I was impressed enough though. Another highlight was my first experience with DVD-Audio today and again using the ZS. Creative saw fit to include a DVD-Audio sampler with around 18 tracks on there. Extremely impressive stuff listening to high quality 5.1 audio. I don't understand why DVD-A hasn't taken off but I imagine that its because 'traditionalists' see it as wrong to use anything more than 2 speakers when considering 'hifi'. I also imagine that some people think home cinema electronics are inferior to straight stereo when it comes to music. Anyway I retract my preconceptions of the Audigy 2 ZS and for anyone looking for a great and cheap soundcard the Audigy 2 ZS is phenomenally good IMO, especially for HT.