Years ago I was a semi-contented user/owner of Gigastudio 160. I ran it through a gorgeous-sounding Aardvark 20-20+ soundcard. I used Finale in my laptop, Gigastudio 160 in a desktop, used a Midi 4x4 box to connect the two, and ran RCA analog sound from the Aardvark to my mixer or straight to my stereo system. It was a sensitive, moody setup, but when it worked, the sound could be gorgeous. It was a key factor in enabling me to compose and orchestrate an award-winning concerto for horn and orchestra. A joyful and rewarding experience, but one that carried some heavy price tags.
That was nearly a decade ago. During the years that followed I stepped away from composing until only a few months ago. Upon my return, I've discovered that Gigastudio is gone, Aardvark is gone, and nearly everything I once used to help me compose music--and hear it in my office or my studio--is obselete or broken or simply gone, too.
Yesterday I purchased the latest version of Finale and the best Garritan orchestra. I need serious advice and counsel about what soundcard to run with this system, which I plan to operate out of my nearly new Sony VAIO laptop, which uses Windows 7. I can install everything in a new (and very powerful) desktop computer if need be. My objective is to have extremely low latency, extremely high polyphony, ease of use, and fabulous sound, all in one reasonably priced soundcard.
Please advise. I will attempt to return the favor in some way.