Sound Devices has hit a home run with their new USB Pre 2 external sound card. It's really well thought out with just the right inputs, outputs, monitoring functions, VU/Peak 23 segment multi-color LED metering, etc. They use pro quality components like Neutrik connectors, metal case and knobs, etc.
I've done some test recordings at 24bit/192kHz with my MKH416 using a 11.6" screen Acer Netbook running Vista and Sound Forge Studio 10. The most striking thing is almost NO discernable hiss on the mike preamps. Sound Design has put exactly the same mike preamp technology in this $650 jewel that they use in their high end 700 series digital location recorders. So for that price and a netbook running entry level professional recording software like Sound Forge Studio (SFS10 is the first version that will support 24/192 recording) you get a Hollywood quality recording system for about 1/2 of what it would normally cost. In my opinion it's a much more versatile system than a stand-alone recorder since you're using a computer for software and capture.
My first serious project for it will be recording a friend's brass quintet in concert. I'll use my pair of Altec-Lansing C28/195A 1/2" capsule studio condenser mikes and see what I get. I'll use C-stands with baby pin to 1/2"-27 mike thread adapters to hold the mikes up high in front. C-stands at $150 each (or so) work better than almost any mike boom stand setup I know of except for the expensive ones from companies like K&M.
Sound Devices USB Pre 2
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