It doesn't take long for DJs and musicians to figure out that internal audio cards are crap for any real work, when it comes to sound quality, features, and performance. So, with a mind-numbing array options, how do you choose a replacement? Native Instruments' new Audio Kontrol 1 could be a good choice, with a $300 list price. It's got a slick-looking, honking-huge knob on the top you can use to control sound level easily, and controls that are neither ugly nor confusing as with some of its competitors. Low-latency (4ms) USB 2.0 audio drivers let you can run your instrument through it or play software instruments without a noticeable delay, specially important on Windows. And a dedicated headphone jack lets you cue through headphones, which is handy not only for DJs, but when you want a separate headphone mix for recording or performing. There's stiff competition in this field from other terrific, cheap interfaces, but the Audio Kontrol 1 ought to be on the short list.

Native Instruments Launches Audio Interface: Big Knob, Low Latency, Headphone Out [Create Digital Music]