specs: Windows XP SP2 AMD 3500 1.2GB RAM (might double soon -- although past 2GB, I've read, on computer engineer forums, is generally pointless and will actually slow a system) Soundblaster Audigy32 (old) Priority of programs used (in following order): Fruity Loops 5 / Wavelab 5 / Reason / Cakewalk Genre: progressive trance / experimental / rock (vocals sometimes) Budget: Around $1000 Monitors/Speakers: Samson (can't remember model) Keyboard: Ozonic (Driver/Card: M-Audio Firewire 410) question: I've been doing some heavy research over the past few MONTHS on which soundcard to buy. Never anticipated how brutally complicated the whole process would be. But it's a learning process. Along the way I picked up more about mixing and mastering songs as well. So... here are my questions. You don't have to be educated or a professional to answer. I'm just trying very hard to hone in on what I NEED as opposed to just buying a very expensive card. I already know that the difference between 192 and 96 capable cards is almost irrelevant so that factor won't be taken into consideration. I plan on playing in clubs in the future using the new CD turntable machines that are coming out instead of pressing everything into vinyl for over $1000 and spending a fortune distributing the albums to other DJs. (But that's another story -- just a side note.) Bear in mind I am a home user and not a sound engineer or computer technician. Also, save the "depends on what you prefer" answer it only wastes space because it isn't informative (I can already anticipate someone writing, "but it IS informative," lol). So, given everything you know about my situation, WHAT SOUND CARD WOULD YOU CHOOSE? If you need me to elaborate on anything let me know. If I wrote something wrong in terms of the specs it's 'cause I'm not home today. 1) ASIO2... alright, ASIO or ASIO2? Almost no one talks about it in the forums and the few that do give an overly technical answer. 2) DSP? WTF is this... I read the explanations and I still don't get it. Can anyone simplify? 3) The soundcard in my Ozonic Keyboard... do I even need a soundcard if this one is 96 capable? How do I tell whether it is when 'About' doesn't tell me, the manual doesn't tell me, and the driver doesn't (seemingly) tell me? a. What's a good program to use for figuring out just WHAT your soundcard can do or is doing? The one that came with my keyboard driver is s**t -- only turn volume up or down, link speakers, disable/enable asio monitoring. b. Should I use the keyboard soundcard together with the new one I'll buy? c. Should I erase the old Creative SB Audigy driver files (I have the setup CD anyway) even though there are no conflicts just to avoid future conflicts? d. OMG what is the difference between 1/2 and 3/4 and Multi Ozonic Keyboard when choosing your output? All of them sound almost exactly the same. In Fruity Loops the program ALWAYS starts off with Windows MIDI and no specific port -- I put Port 1 and highlight Ozonic Keyboard and there is NO difference at all! 4) I only need 4 inputs/outputs. The only person making the song is me -- using a keyboard and mic. Why would I need more? 5) I narrowed the list down to these products. I'm not sure but is their ability to use ASIO2 or DPS important? And I'm sure every single card has people saying "the drivers are s**t" and "the drivers are stable" so I can no longer trust opinions on that because they're too arbitrary -- the problem might not be with the cards but the users/other programs. MOTU (Mark of the Unicorn), in particular, get more driver complaints than usual so I'm avoiding that one. Aardvark was touted as one of the best in many diff. websites but that one has been discontinued and product support is crucial to me. Again, no "there is no best" or "depends on what you prefer" type answers. There IS best based on benchmark tests and you already know what I'll be using this card for. SOUNDCARD LIST (what should I, progressive trance artist, go for?): a. Lynx Studio One b. M-Audio Revolution (a lot of people laude this one but it's only worth $100 -- what's closer to my $1000 budget that can outperform Revolution?) c. Turtle Beach Santa Cruz (people laude this more than the others) d. Echo Layla (lauded more than Gina and Darla) e. Emu 1820M (although there is complaining about the drivers and bundled software; but there are so many EMU products my head is spinning and I can't narrow it down... HELP!) f. Terratec (which one? Read the Phase28 driver is unstable in Sonar -- but I don't use Sonar so... Lots of good reviews on DMX 6Fire... what do you think? Aureon 7.1 Space?) g. What the heck is an Alesis HD24 -- that's not a soundcard is it? lol... h. Would you just make the jump and get Windows PC version of Pro Tools along with all the Digi hardware necessary to use it? Would it save me a massive headache and provide more stability than a mixture of programs/products that may or may not be compatible? i. Steinberg's Audiolink 96PCI... since I work with Cubase and use a lot of VSTs would it make sense to buy a Steinberg soundcard? j. Creamware products... outdated or discontinued? Don't read much about them anywhere. k. Tascam? Is that even a soundcard? Confused. (i.e., "RME superior internal" product). l. Digidesign Mbox w/Pro Tools... m. Digital Audio Labs CardDeluxe... (no idea) o. MOTU products -- (828 -- some complaints about firewire port and driver deaths) p. RME 24/96 & others -- (awesome support a few have said; warnings against RME Digi 9652 as well as the 9636 & 32) q. Oh yeah... Soundblaster Platinum 4 or Zs or 2 or whatever? A lot of people are saying the improvement is great and bringing it up to par with the ones I mentioned. Answers to ANY of these questions would be extremely helpful. I'm just so tired of researching this for a few hours every day. I could go on for many more months doing this. But I'm simply worn out trying to factor everything in. :roll: I'm ready to buy now and ANY help in this regard would be GREATLY appreciated. I'll answer any questions if anything needs clarification. But if I can't figure this out in a few more weeks I'm throwing in the towel and getting an M-Audio something something from the local Sam Ash store, lol. That way at least I can return it if it messes up and get a new one. (It's sad but the most important thing in electronics is stability rather than quality. Quality without stability is a massive headache and costs more money and grief.) thanks, Chris from ventura county, CA ps: Know any good links for sound card comparisons that aren't market/sales oriented? Less biased? Most of the ones I found on google are outdated by 2-5 years. Misc./Extra Music Production Questions: 1) Do I need an amplifier and real speakers when I already bought high quality Samson speakers recently? Would there be a diff. in quality output? 2) What compressor would you use for MP3s -- Fraunhoffer or Lame? Something else? Does it matter what program you use if it's FH/Lame you're using from within it in order to compress? 3) Is there a reason FL goes into a crackling, ripping frenzy when I use 96 rather than 44.1? Poor soundcard? Can't be the system. 4) Significance of m3u files as opposed to links for simply downloading mp3's? Best m3u conversion/creating prog? 5) Significance of mixing above 44.1 and downsampling for final save? Quality?