What's better? Extra speakers or extra soundcard?



New Member
I would like to connect my Lenovo M55e desktop to a home cinema system. Whenever I connect my pc (WinXP Pro (SP3)) to the home cinema system, I loose my internal audio, which a common hardware feature.
I looked for a solution, and was offered the following two options:
1. Add an extra sound card, preferrably and external USB card. Connect the home cinema system to the external card and keep both outlets active.
2. Plugin a splitter, connect one extension to a set of loudspeakers and the other, to the home cinema system.

Which option (or any other method) will produce sound of better quality and volume?
If the first is better, could you suggest a card, if possible costing 50$ or less.