Home Studio Upgrade - mobile workstation
I recently made 2 purchases to allow a more flexible, complete, mobile solution to my DAW. I now have the ability to take my studio on the road and use my Sony Vaio.
First I have added a simple E-MU XMIDI 1x1 USB interface ($25) so I can use my midi keyboard with a USB port.
Secondly, I needed a USB audio interface / preamp. After some research I found an excellent solution that offers a substantial "bang-for-your-buck" using an ART USB Dual Pre ($80) which does not require any drivers. When you plug it in you will find "USB audio codec" added to your sound I/O hardware options. However, you don't have to select this for your system if you run most of your studio software on top of JACK. Instead, just change the input and output preferences in the JACK setup and you are good to go!
I also found software designed to be a guitar effects simulator called Rackarrack which also has an on-board tuner and can route your guitar notes to midi events. Although it has limited sensitivity, this may be a good way to score midi data for someone (like me) who plays guitar/bass better than keyboard.