Thank you Mads for your concern. I tried the condensed solution posted above. I already had the surround sound working, but the "test speaker" buttons in Sound Preferences with the smiley face don't work (when 5.1 mode is selected). After doing this solution, that is still the case. Though the surround sound worked from the get-go this time (after selecting 5.1), rather than having to "activate" it by increasing the volume way high.
And I am all too familiar with the crackling noise (brought up by Hawkwind). I'll see if that is reduced or eliminated by this. It seems worst when the system volume is very low. I can have the system volume way high, and the volume of the end program that I am playing the media file with down, and it's not as bad. But when it's there I can't totally get rid of it. Right now I don't have it. Maybe this fixed that.
Thanks again...a lot.
P.S: Here's the thread I came from where Mads invited me here: http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?f=49&t=76086
. If anyone wants more details to my situation, they should be there. My situation is unique because it involves a sound card not too well supported by Linux drivers, but that seems to be changing (or maybe whatever sits on top of the drivers got better? Or maybe I got better. :p). The highly advanced features of the card that can be accessed in Windows still aren't available in Linux, but I can't complain too much about that - I'm just looking for complete, crackleless 5.1 surround in Linux XD.