I'm having a similiar learning curve to this as Phil I think I've been using a Yamaha DAW (AW4416) for the last 10 years, but decided to move to PC based recording. I have been using my Pod XT and Reaper for quick clips..but that's about it. I wanted something really simple to start off with and picked up Guitar Rig Session cheap (it's actually discontinued) which comes with software and a compact but pretty sturdy looking USB interface. The interface also has an XLR input and phantom power for a microphone, so pretty easy to record vocals. It came with Cubase and some drum software too. After a little messing about, I decided I much prefer Reaper to Cubase, just seems much more intuitive to me..I actually bought the Reaper licence..I have been using the free version for a while, and I appreciate the fact that they don't handicap the free version at all, apart from a nag screen at startup. So, I thought of the $40 as a "thank you". Although I'm happy enough with the Pod, I'm curious to see what some other modellers sound like, and first impressions of Guitar Rig are all good!...some seriously nice sims in there. Just 5 guitar amps, a bass amp and 25 or so effects. With the ASIO4ALL drivers, there is no latency issue at all. One criticism I'd have of the Pod, is that to my ears, after a while, every amp model..sounds like a Pod. However, to backtrack a bit, it took me AGES to get into my thick head..that the interface IS NOW MY SOUNDCARD! . This pretty key piece of info caused me hours of frustration wondering why I couldn't hear anything. Drum wise, I haven't yet tried the Core software that came with Guitar Rig, but I have been messing about with something called "Rhythm Rascal"..it's pretty cool. The basic kit is very Metal....but any .wav sample will work..and the net is full of good ones. It's easy to programme whole songs, lots of adjustable parameters for each sample and much easier to work with than my old Zoom drum machine..especially for odd meters. The next thing I need to look at is monitors. I do have reasonable quality PC monitors, complete with a woofer, but...any suggestions welcome!