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I've decided it's about time I got with the times and bought some kind of decent software for recording on my laptop. In the past I've just used a four-track and microphone, then edited it on Audacity which is an extremely free but pretty limited editing package.

I'll be mainly recording vocals, guitar, midi keyboards and synths, perhaps the odd drum track here and there. What should I buy? NB: I'm technologically ignorant.

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fair enough! for just recording, i've been most impressed with cool edit (now sony audition or summat) cubase is pretty standard for recording/editing audio/midi - less detailed audio editing facilities (though you could use another editor like soundforge), but loads more scope for messing around with virtual synths and other things. 90% of most of them will duplicate 90% of each other's functionality. probably. Microphone(s) and soundcard're the next order - just have a look at sound on sound's back articles and google around. USB2/firewire, loads of companies make basically the same cards- guitar/mic/whatever/phantom power (for some condenser mics) combo inputs are very handy. If you're only going to be recording rather than performing, those alesis combo mixer/soundcards look tasty as fuck.

Wait, sorry, I did that wrong. If you're using a 4-track, you obviously won't understand this technology and won't use it properly, probably on account of your political opinions and taste in music. Give up, go home and don't attempt to better yourself ever again.

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