I'm currently running a pretty standard HTPC setup - using a PCIE videocard with HDMI output through an Audyssey AVR to my TV.
I originally went with that setup because it allowed me to hook up multiple HDMI sources. However, since then I started using HDHomerun for the overwhelming majority of HDTV viewing. So I'm no longer really utilizing the HDMI switching on my receiver.
So my question is this - is it worth considering a dedicated, high quality 5.1 sound card in my HTPC, with analog outputs to separate amps? If your HTPC is your only source, could you match or improve audio quality with a nice HT sound card just driving amps directly, and the video output straight to the TV, with no AVR? I know I've seen some ~$150-200 sound cards that have daughterboards with 5.1 channel RCA analog audio outputs that seem like they'd do pretty well.
I know that Audyssey is giving me a lot of nifty room correction features, but is there software available to replicate that type of functionality? Obviously, it's quite a bit more expensive to pick up three stereo power amps to run a 5.1, but I'm wondering if anyone has run a similar setup. It seems a little silly that I'm using some little embedded processor in a fancy AVR to make my audio sound nice when I could just be doing that onboard the HTPC itself.
I'm not looking to switch over to that type of setup, just kinda musing on possibilities for a future setup. A good sound card running analog outputs to a trio of power amps seems like a good setup.