Kerry and everyone else, thanks for this great info. I need more reading about the BluRay Wars.
Back to sound-cards for a moment...
We use rather old AMD dual-core notebooks at our performances, but some pretty high-dollar mix-boards. By the time the signals reach the PC, they're just "data" at that point - there's no bÃ©arnaise sauce to add, no voodoo war-chants that modify anything - it's just sets of signals recorded by whatever channels the mix-board is programmed for. A 386-processor could do as well...
On playbacks, those five-year-old AMDs can't power a PA tower, but run the output to amplifiers, and it does. "Is it live, or is it ___?"
And you KNOW those cheapo notebooks never hoped to have the playback circuitry of a full motherboard. But, gulp, they do - the circuitry just isn't THAT big. Those sound-chips are pinky-fingernail sized.
With the $30 Creative Labs Soundblaster cards, there is some software (WAV Studio) that can do some mighty great things, and can receive some high-end Effects Library Add-Ins for some excellent remastering efforts.
IF you're going to make money off of recordings, a $30 Soundblaster card isn't a bad investment. IF you're making money off of them.
The $100 cards offer some of those add-in's immediately, and once you make a few million from your recording studio, you can start buying the $500 sound-cards and REALLY do fancy things.
I personally like to turn most recordings into Alvin & The Chipmunk songs - separating the instrumentals from vocals, speeding up vocals, then readjusting the keys so New Vocals are in tune with the Old Instrumentation.
But that's just me.
Hearing Frank Chipmunk sing a love song to his daughter Nancy Chipmunk is still sorta creepy, though.