I had been using built in audio and a SWANS M10W Bookshelf Speaker and Subwoofer, 2.1 bought off Amazon. I had previously been using optical on an Maudio unit. The one that buzzes on analogue - great apart from that.So bought this unit to get back to digital sound out as the Swans unit had been a bit disappointing especially at the bass end but all round really despite positive comments about it some places. The soundblaster unit has transformed it. I'd have to agree now that the Swan unit is very good at it's price point - easy to do far far worse. Just goes to show how bad some pc sound hardware really is.I run Linux and no problems so far. Need a new battery for the remote for the Maudio stuff but the signs are all will work once that is sorted. Pity they use a remote on this particular model really.My tastes in sound are clarity and lack of colouration. Might be worth mentioning that as tastes vary.No chance to look at how well the mic input functions yet but would hope Soundblaster have got that right.John-.