My apologies in advance for my first post being so lengthy, but my old recording haunts seem to have grown inactive. I am finally ready to make the move from an all-in-one multitrack box (Korg D1600) to a PC/Software based DAW. I am fairly well versed in PC specs and how they impact the performance of a system, but I have a few particular questions on how they relate to pro-audio production. I have done a bit of homework, and am ready to start making purchases (soon!). I definately don't want to cheap out on anything, as I am looking to produce professional and polished recordings, but my budget is not unlimited, so I am willing to compromise on bells and whistles, so long as it doesn't affect the quality of the finished project. I imagine that I will typically be working with about 20-25 tracks per song, mostly audio, with 2-4 midi, and a handful of basic plugins/effects as needed (compression, reverb, delay). I am experimenting with Sonar at the moment, but havn't made a final decision on which DAW software to go with. Any advice or suggestions from your experience would be eternally appreciated. Here goes: 1. Laptop or Desktop? I had originally decided on a desktop, thinking it would be cheaper and more stable. However, I think the portability of a laptop would come in handy in the long run, and it seems you can get a PC laptop with solid specs for a decent price these days. So, with at least 1 gig of RAM and a decent HD in mind, what type of processor should I go for -- the fastest around, or are there quality, lower cost processors that are optimal (or good enough) for pro-audio? Secondly, would you advise I get a pre-built laptop from a retailer, like Toshiba, HP, etc., or have the specs custom built, as through Dell, or a local computer shop? Which ends up being cheaper or more reliable? 2. Sound Card I know nothing about sound cards and how they affect audio input/processing. Will a quality laptop have a quality soundcard by default, or is this a separate piece of the puzzle that needs attention and investment? What do you recommend for solid performance within a budget? 3. Interfaces I understand that I will need an interface to plug instruments and mics into the cpu, preferably via Firewire. I'd prefer 4 inputs, but could live with 2 if cost was an issue. I've read a few reccommendations for M-Audio boxes and was wondering if these are solid middle-of-the-road solutions. I presume (though I've done no reading on this) that I will also need some sort of 'output' interface to which I can connect my monitors. How does this work, and what are some good options? 4. Sonar I am experimenting with Sonar at the moment, and noticed that "Home Studio" is infinately more affordable than "Producer Edition." Is the only difference between these products the amount of plugins included with PE? Can HS do everything (DAW-wise) that PE can do, without the extra bells? ------ Thank you all in advance for any light you can shed on this mysterious realm I am about to dive into!