My new system is done, and I must admit that it rocks pretty well!!! ASUS TUSL2-C mobo Intel PIII/1GHz ASUS 32MB AGP Video 512 MB PC133 RAM 2 - 40 GB ATA/100 HDs Sony CD-R SB-16 (for non critical audio) W2K, SP2 (with all latest Critical updates and Direct X8.0a) Cubase/32 Tascam US-428 From earlier posts, I have just switched to Cubase from Cakewalk. I recorded one full song using Cubase on my IBM laptop, which worked well. Decided to go with a dedicated tower system for obvious reasons. My first box was an IBM PIII 500 system that I had "laying around". This unfortunately did not play back my one and only Cubase song...lots of pops, crackles, just *yuck*! (My old Cakewalk stuff played fine, on this computer, btw...) After lots of great advice from this forum, I decided to build a brand-new system with the above listed components, rather than buy my new studio monitors... Results: Same problem. The song sounds like crap...same problem with the pops and cracks. I went back to the laptop to see if the original files were corrupted for some reason, and they play back just fine on the laptop through the 428. What the *heck* is going on here??? The only things on this new system that are in *common* with the PIII 500 and *not* with the laptop are the two (brand-new) Western Digital hard drives and 2 memory sticks. The hard drives have been re-formatted, and the memory appears fine everywhere else. I have optimized the entire system using advice from several sources, including llornkcor, Opus, and the document on ProRec.com on optimizing W2K for DAWs. I can't figure it out, and now I am wondering if I should have gone out and bought those monitors after all!!! lol!!! Any advice before I give up and go back to Cakewalk???