Right, I've got a mic coming, I have the Pod X3, what interface do I use? M-Audio? If so, or if not, what do you guys recommend for me?
Cheers and Beers
USB or Firewire? How many tracks do you need to be able to record at once?
I've used both the M-Audio Firewire 410 and the Presonus Firepod relatively extensively. The M-Audio will only record two tracks at a time, but if that's all you need it's great, and was the easiest of the two to integrate with my system (I used it as my primary sound card). The Firepod is way more flexible, with 8 tracks at once and the ability to switch phantom power on for groups of four tracks (a necessity if you need to use a condensor and a ribbon at the same time), but integrating it took a little more effort - the drivers it shipped with were out of date so I had to download new drivers from their website in order to get it to recognize the channels by name, and it can only work at one sampling rate at a time*, so if you're using it as your primary sound card (as I do), then it can only play back audio that's coming through at the same sampling rate it's set to (everything else is silence).
Based on my (limited) experience, if you're looking for something to learn on in a multi-use computer that you'll also be using as a jukebox, for games, and watching DVD's and video on the net, then the M-Audio is probably your best bet. If however it's going for a dedicated recording machine and you expect to be recording 3 or more tracks at a time, the M-Audio is the way to go.
*disclaimer: the last time I mentioned this, we got into a HUGE tangent about whether or not sampling rate matters when recording metal, so let me make it very clear that I'm making no judgement call on whether or not it makes sense to record at a given sampling rate, and only talking about the act of switching.