Don't go by what you've heard - go by what you can feel about the suspension. Front forks are not actually bad - just a bit stiff for some riders. Emulators will improve them if you can feel problems. A really cheap mod is just to replace the top nuts with ones from an SV650, which give you pre-load adjustment.
Make sure that you've got the rear pre-load set right for your weight.
Cost wise, fitting emulators, which involves a little machining on the fork internals, isn't that much cheaper than replacing the rear shock, but neither is ridiculously expensive.