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Need some sound advice - SB Live!

Argh! - HOWTO overload.

I've got a Sound Blaster Live Value.  I'm running Debian Testing.  I've build my own kernel 2.4.17 from kernel-source package.  I did build the emu10k1 module.  I ran modconf and selected emu10k1.  emu10k1 loads fine without errors.  I can cp some .wav files to /dev/audio and hear the sound.  Some .wav files sound ok, some others sound bad.

For what it's worth:

# lsmod
Module                  Size  Used by    Tainted: P  
emu10k1                51008   0 
ac97_codec              9696   0  [emu10k1]
NVdriver              818912  14  (autoclean)
8139too                13152   1 

I'm a bit frustrated by the HOWTOs.  I've found many that show various steps (but not always the same steps), but none that really explain the reasons for all the steps -- so that means I don't really understand if a step applies to me.

I've also seen HOWTOs that show a bunch of lines to add to modules.conf.  Again, I'm not sure if that applies to me or not.

I think I need soundcore, but I'm not clear what kernel config I should use to build it.  I'm not clear if I need ALSA or OSS in addition.

I'm really the kind of person that likes to understand the reasons behind the configurations -- which is why I picked Debain.

Anyone know of a good document that's up to date, and also explains the various components and how they fit together?  It would be a nice bonus if it helped me get my sound working, too. ;)  I would like to get sound working, but I'd like to come away learning something, too.

Then, once I get hardware sound working, it would be very helpful to know what I need for a mixer and CD/MP3 player to make use of it, too.

Oh, here's part of my kernel config
 fgrep SOUND /boot/config-2.4.17 | grep -v ^#

Thanks very much,

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