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Q. Which soundcard should I choose?

I'm interested in producing music at a level as near to professional as possible. I have bought a PC, have Cubase, and will soon be getting Reason. At the moment I have a Soundblaster 5.1 soundcard, which produces sounds similar to my sister's Casio keyboard (OK, slight exaggeration). I have a budget of under £200 and have been advised to look at the M Audio Audiophile and the Turtle Beach TBS2000. I have a Yamaha keyboard which I would like to use, so MIDI connections would be useful. Do most cards have MIDI as standard?

Another question: when creating a drum track in Cubase using my soundcard's sounds, I can't change the velocity of individual sounds. I can change the velocity number, but this has no effect. Am I doing something wrong? Or are my soundcard's sounds set at a rigid velocity?

Andrew Wilson

Assistant Editor Sam Inglis replies: Of those two soundcards, in your position I'd go for the Audiophile (reviewed SOS April 2001). The Turtle Beach card is likely to offer sounds quite similar to the Soundblaster's. The Audiophile has no built‑in sounds, but is a professional‑quality recording card, so will give much better sound quality on inputs and outputs. Few soundcards come with MIDI ports, but you can get an adaptor for the joystick port on something like the Soundblaster.

Are you selecting notes in the drum editor before changing the velocity value? Obviously, if you have nothing selected, changing the velocity value will make no difference. The easiest way to change note velocities is to set the editor up to show velocity data for each note along the bottom, then use the pencil tool to adjust that data.