Steven, Im in the Same boat as you. I will be getting my zxr soon and I need to upgrade.. I have a set of 20/20 Nearfield (Brand:Alesis).. They are very clean and Flat speakers that cover a wide and uncolored span of frequencies. No emulation I have ever tried (albeit all software) has made even them sound like true multi channel setup with real signaling being played into it. So.. If you have your heart tilting for 5.1, then I would stay 5.1. The only problem, to get a 5.1 setup that tops out 1 or more of the tech specs listed for the card, you have to pay thousands, and to get what seems to be a decent set of speakers, to my knowledge (barely influenced by brand.. almost all tech specs), you must still pay several hundred. I will post with a better answer once I have learned more. For now, I suggest, looking at the specs and matching them with speaker sets. Also, see what you think about Sound bars.. and the possibility of Going 2.0 or 2.1 super speakers, and piecing your way back to 5.1. For instance, I plan to use this card for some at home music production. I look forward to playing with 5.1 recording and mixing.. so I will want 5.2 monitor grade speakers.. which is 6 ish thousand dollars for a set... so I should buy them 2 at a time. Good luck!