Okay, I got off my lazy ass and did some of my own work on this question. Found this:
"You'll also need to decide whether to feed your speakers analog or digital input. All things equal, digital connections are superior because of their lower noise levels. Furthermore, because encoded Dolby Digital signals are highly compressed, a single S/PDIF (Sony/Philips Digital Interface) digital link can carry a full 5.1 channels of undecoded Dolby content. This enables compatible sound boards to operate in a Dolby passthrough mode, which allows computers with no on-board decoding capabilities to simply forward undecoded Dolby content to speakers such as the Altec Lansing ADA890 and S4 MidiLand 7100 Plus, both of which contain digital inputs and an internal decoder.
This won't work if the Dolby signal has already been decoded by a sound board or DVD-player program, because the resulting 5.1-channel signal requires greater bandwidth than is available from a single S/PDIF interface. The situation is similar when playing 3-D game soundtracks, which also produce uncompressed multichannel output. Speaker systems that target gamers or that don't contain integrated Dolby decoders must therefore be equipped with multiple analog inputs, which results in potentially higher noise levels and additional cabling requirements.
Some 5.1 systems try to cover all the bases by including both S/PDIF and either four- or six-channel analog interfaces. But the most innovative solution is provided by Creative Labs' Sound Blaster Live and Audigy boards, which are equipped with a backward-compatible triple S/PDIF connector that can handle three digital signals simultaneously. When used with compatible Creative Labs or Cambridge SoundWorks speaker systems, this proprietary solution allows up to six channels of uncompressed audio to be transmitted over a single cable. This makes it possible to output multi-channel game soundtracks and decoded 5.1 Dolby Digital content as digital signals."
Okaaaayyyyy. Get all that? Not totally clear on what he's talking about, but he did mention 2 sets of speakers. More interestingly, he mentioned that it'll work w/ any speakers that have both an S/PDIF input AND an on-board decoder.... or wait--does the 8886 have its own decoder?
Confused by all this? Yeah, me too. Definitely not enough PC audio experts on these boards.... Please tell your audiophile friends about these boards...
Oh yeah, here is the link for that full article if you're interested:http://www.pcmag.com/print_article/0...a=20256,00.asp