well, let me start with my previous setup:
Audiosource AMP ONE/A (80 watts x 2 Class D amp)
Speakers: 2 x Infinity Primus P160
Soundcard: Chaintech AV-710
now, to enjoy my first viewing of Star Trek DS9, i've "sidegraded" to:
Amp: Sansui QXR-3500 (wood casing FTW!)
(Franken)Speakers: 2 x Infinity Primus P160, 2 x Sony SS-B1000
Soundcard: Creative X-Fi Xtreme Audio
okay, so, living in an apartment, i fear getting kicked out. as a result i've limited myself to 2.0 speakers (well, and a modest 100-watt Dayton Audio sub to fill the lows).
the Chaintech AV-710 soundcard is a budget audiophile's wet dream... stereo burr-brown DACs at $20. and S/PDIF for when you're ready to upgrade a bit. i'm kicking myself for not buying a case of them, as they're long gone.
the amp was a happy accident i happened across when i stumbled across uBid or something. not sure how i got stuck on an Analog amp, but it's make-you-smile clean and flat (as far as i can tell). and the speakers, which i auditioned at a store, then eBayed later (hey, back then it was about being frugal over a warranty!) bring it all together.
at one point, drivers must have gotten corrupted or something, as the sound got hosed, and persisted through swapping out a spare AV-710, so i went with a cheap $20-30 ShellShocker X-Fi. only a year later, when i was assembling an HTPC to lug to the parents' did i find the AV-710 was still good. however, the X-Fi was louder. well, good enough, as the AV-710 was sometimes too quiet on some AC3/DTS soundtracks.
so fast foward to today. had just finished ST:TNG and had DS9 to start watching, when i noticed "5.1 Dolby Digital" being loudly proclaimed. i recalled noticing a huuuuge amp from the 70s in the basement, going unused, and totally underapppreciated. turns out it was a 4 channel. not just a quad-synthesizing amp, but 4 discrete channels!
to keep it short, all i can say is that i'm in geek heaven! the only thing left is a HQ sound device. i WAS researching DJ equipment, but this may save me!
and that is 300 words, according to OpenOffice!
edit: dreadfully sloppy pic; temp location for amp due to its weight