The Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro looked pretty much what I needed, so I asked Creative's support if there were any known issues with Linux and here's what I got:
Thank you for writing in to Creative.
With regards to your enquiry, I regret to inform you that Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro is incompatible with Linux and none of our current sound cards are compatible with Linux.
If you still require assistance, please reply to this email and include any previous correspondence to ensure a quick response.
After reading that I did a search and found that many people in forums are successfully using that piece of hardware (or at least things with a very similar name). I also found that Creative itself back in 2008 released open source drivers for the X-Fi series. Wth? Am I missing something, to who should I believe? Anyone got some advice or an experience with Creative products to share?