Cards perhaps, I have no experience with internal soundcards.
But there external firewire boxes are extremly good.
I have the Firewire solo : http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/FireWireSolo-main.html
and it works very good and it is stable under Linux with Jack&freebob.
Never had a problem with it.
I have an M-audio FW410. Didn’t work well with my laptops internal firewire, but after getting a PC Card firewire adapter, everything works fine. So I guess the M-audio stuff can be a bit sensitive, and Texas Instruments chipset seem to be well recommended. I have no idea what chipset the PC Card I bought have, neither did the sales person… I just made sure to get a money back within 30-days deal. Was a pretty cheap card but it works.
I have read in music magazines that firewire interfaces (though the bandwidth is smaller than usb2.0) is suppose to work faster because they aren’t loading the cpu of the computer. Offcourse it’s possible that the interface won’t work on certain chipsets but as I have had enourmous amounts of problems with my Usb interface I’m ready to say that problems can occur with all interfaces, no matter if it’s usb or firewire. It seems like at least someone has had bad experience with all interfaces so i guess when it comes to audio and computers one must be prepared that trouble can occur. There are, however, computers that’s said to be manufactured especially for audio and music like Frost Acm and Racktone. Haven’t tried any of them but according to the makers the computers are designed with compatible parts and tested with lots of hardware and software.
The best thing should be to get a simple interface with Analog to Digital converters that are as lossless as possible and a decent separate mic preamp.
I suggest you buy something second hand and sell it for the same price if you don’t like it…
It’s really hard to say which card you should buy. I have an máudio card, it works fine for me, but for people who record for example music with lots of strings in it it could be the sound isn’t good enough.
Same as, either a Emu 1616M or 1820M, I own a 1820M, its an amazing bit of kit, the converters( the same A/D converters used in Digidesign’s flagship ProTools HD 192 I/O Interface) are a dream to work with for playback and recordings and the EMU Patch mix DSP is a very solid bit of software and the drivers are very stable. the 1616m was originally made for laptops but they made a PCI version, I’ve heard the pre amps are a little better on the 1616m over the 1820m, you just lose a couple of ins and outs.
I owned a Delta 10/10 but sold it to get a 1820m, it was a very good change for me, the 1820m is overall the better card, mainly because of its playback sound, recording quality and stability(once setup correctly)