All of this stuff ties my head in knots. I don't know very much about recording. I've made a few tracks in the past. The problem is that its sooooo motherloving frustrating. I end up wanting to hang myself with my guitar lead. I start to get in the zone and start laying down tracks and then there's issues with noise and really bad sound and I can't figure out how to make the software work and ... (insert string of expletives here.) My aim: To plug my guitar straight into an external soundcard. To get a nice clear, clean sound without a whole heap of background noise. To program drum tracks via piano roll, and to record some vocals. That's pretty much it. If I can get real time effects processing that would be a big bonus. Basically I just need to be able to compose and write without having to think and troubleshoot. Having said that - I've spent the last 12 hours trawling the net for info. I have a few hundred bucks to spend. Question 1 - USB 2.0 or Firewire? I have an ASUS F3S Series notebook. I'm assuming the little 4 pin plug on the side that says 1394 or something is firewire. Question 2 - From what I can tell - the following cards are halfway decent. I don't want to spend much more than 250US... Presonus Firebox M-Audio Fast Track Pro E-MU 0404 Tascam US - 144 or 122L (what is digital input for anyway?) Can you please give me some pros and cons of these keeping in mind that I just want to keep it simple and I only really need 2 simultaneous tracks recording at any time. Any other suggestions for cards that are well supported and relatively trouble free are also welcome. If someone wants to back one of these on the proviso that if it ends up being a pain in the backside I can come and shove it up theirs, then by all means, do so. I'll most likely be using cubase sx3. Thanks for taking the time to read this. You could save me a hell of a lot of misery by replying. Finally, thanks for the great forum. It's helped heaps.