External audio interfaces?

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I was researching an HP laptop and was about to order one when I read the
specs in its service manual. I noticed its audio input jack (line-in/mic-in)
is MONO. This is a big pain for me, since I regularly plug a stereo input
plug into my laptop's existing mic-in jack, and record/digitize LPs and
tapes (record in real time to MP3). Obviously, if I buy this new laptop, I
won't be able to plug my turntable/tapedeck's sterio output directly into
the input jack.

So, does someone on this group ever use an external audio interface? I've
looked at a couple from Roland/Edirol; they seem to use USB. The dongle has
plenty of input/output jacks, and it plugs into the laptop's USB port. How
does such a device "appear" to Windows XP? Does it show up as just another
input, so you select the external device rather than the built-in "Line in"
when you record? Thanks for any advice; I'm new to external audio/sound


Re: External audio interfaces?

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I use the Creative Audigy 2 ZS Cardbus adaptor.  It has Stereo line in and
Stereo Mic inputs.  As a bonus, it also features Optical In and Out and will
decode Dolby AC3 and DTS-ES sound.  When you insert the card, the sound
works exactly the same as the internal sound.

I have found that the USB sound adaptors replace the internal sound, and if
you unplug them, you then get no sound.  The Cardbus adaptor at least
restores the internal sound when you remove it.

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