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The sound card (a.k.a. audio interface, sound interface)
is one of the most important parts in your recording studio computer.
Audio interfaces handle the input and output of audio
(and midi) to and from your computer. A few pieces of advice here on
what to look for in a good audio interface for
The following benefits are what you should
get out of great audio cards:
Support of great audio quality,
input and output.(24 bit, 96000 Hz, high quality audio)
Capability of low latency sustained
recording of both audio and midi.
If you intend to use recording software
like Cubase SX, the sound interface has to support ASIO drivers.
RCA or Balanced Jacks input/output connectors for the audio
have mini-jack connectors and wouldn't give as high quality in the signal
flow). If you have to choose between balanced/unbalanced connectors, the
balanced type will give the least noise in the signal flow.
Midi connectors (input/output)
SPDIF connectors, if you plan on connecting any digital recording
equipment. Then you can sync your digital gear to your audio card and your computer.
In recent years the
Firewire external audio interfaces have grown to be of good quality as well.
So if you plan on using your laptop as a studio computer, or you simply
don't have any PCI slots to spare in your computer, this would be the way to go.