So a friend of mine wants to get into recording digtal and wanted my advice for a sound card. I told, as I do everyone else, get th RME Audio Hammerfall. He asked if he would really need 26 channels. I responded with, "not yet." Problem solved. Since the RME is a digital only card, with 3 banks of ADAT and 1 SP/DIF on RCAs, we now move on to the hard part: ADs and DAs. I presonlly bought an Alesis AI-3 when it was all I could afford. They work, but I would hesitate to recommend them since Alesis gear is typically "temporary," meaning it breaks or is obsolete a couple years down the road. So what would you buy if you were on a budget. 8 channels is prefered, but 2 channel SP/DIF would be cool for a start as well.