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Thread new to recording

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1 new to recording
Hi all,

I have been playing guitar for quite some time but am completely new to recording. I want to do it mainly for fun and maybe demos.

I am looking at recording my 12 string acoustic with Taylor expression system into an Area-51m 7700 laptop. The laptop has 2 gigs of ram, 3.4GHz P4 and runs on win XP home.

My questions are as follows:

1. I have both a standard guitar lead and one that has an XLR output.The laptop has Intel Integrated High-Definition Audio. I have no idea if this is at all good. Can I convert these cables directly to the laptop? Which would be better to use?

2. I would like to be able to play through the laptop speakers in realtime with simple effects, (phase, delay etc) whilst recording. I also want to some post editing and layering of tracks. What would be the ideal software to use?

Any advice or tips you can give are appreciated.

Sonar 4.0 works really well. It will do all that you said and more.

You will also need a digital audio converter like this one.

You will also need a good mic like an SM-57.