Well, if you're doing music professionally, here are a few tips I've picked up: 0. Expect to spend quite a bit of money. Hardware ain't cheap. Software is just expensive. 1. Latency is an issue in midi. You might not think that 20 milliseconds makes much of a difference, but it does. So you want a system that will minimise input/output latency. I can't stress this enough: Avoid Creative Products at all costs. The SB Live/Audigy range are gaming products. They are totally unsuited to professional music needs. The same goes for most USB devices, though there are a few that are apparently increasing in quality. Check out Turtle Beach sound cards, they come very highly recommended. Their MIDI in/out support is unparalleled at their particular price point. 2. Latency in software is an issue as well. Avoid Windows XP. Try to avoid Windows altogether. BeOS is the best multimedia OS, and QNX is pretty good as well, but software and driver support is problematic. Linux with the 2.6 kernel and the new 1(0) scheduler is an increasingly attractive option, as there are a number of increasingly profession sequencing and sampling tools. If you do go the Windows route, Windows 2000 seems to be the preferred option. Disable as many services as possible whilst your machine is still capable of running. It's often a good idea to go with an entirely separate installation on a clean partition and only use it for music production work. 3. Use software you're comfortable with. Most professional sequencers do the same things, so it's up to you which one you use. Download trials, experiment until you're happy. Reason is a fantastic piece of software, as it emulates all of the rackmount sampling/processing hardware you could ever need. However, I know at least one person who can almost always tell when a piece of music has been produced with Reason. It just adds a certain je ne sais quoi. Whether this is a good or bad thing is entirely a matter of choice. Cakewalk Pro is the midi sequencing software that most of my musician friends use. It's just part of the standard audio toolkit. Soundforge is great for editing samples. Don't be without it. As far as getting finished audio out of your system, you've got a few choices, but generally you'll want to work with *at least* 48KHz sample rate. 96KHz sample rate is better, if you can. Do not work at CD quality. Work at studio quality and downsample when you're done. 1. Get a soundcard that supports 48KHz 24bit digital out, and master to DAT, or Minidisc. 2. Just write a WAV file and record a CD. 3. DVD Audio, is beginning to catch on. Of course, you need a decent home cinema system to appreciate it. 4. Analog audio out to tape, and a time machine to find someone that will want to listen to it. ;) Hope this gives you a few pointers. - seb -- http://poked.org New Year, New Journal.