Thanks guys for the tips!
JOHNnDenver, I do plan on playing them pretty loud about 50% of the time. But the rest of the time I'd use them as computer speakers and have them fairly close (a meter away on either side, like monitors.) I'm having a hard time finding a place to demo them in Utah so I may just have to do the 30-day trial thing.
Smitty2k1, Can you please give me more information on the Panny XR55 + Ascend 340SE setup of yours? What you use them for (AV, Music, etc) and what kind of room are they in, how they compare to other's you've audited, what kind of music you play, and what are your likes and dislikes about the setup? I'm very curious because your setup is very similar to the one putting together. By the way, thanks for the tip on the X-Fi card, I'm considering working that into my budget if the on-board audio is messy.