If you're looking for something more like the first you'd probably do well finding a forum of sound engineers or buddying up to one to ask about mid-grade options.
If you're thinking more like the second, then it doesn't matter so much. The home PC sound card market nearly killed itself off years ago and has been limping along since. The tech behind them seems to be pretty stagnant - correct me if I'm wrong here audio nerds - and you're better off focusing on the tech you actually want to hook up and buying a card that will support whatever physical ports you find you're going to need.
Last edited by Vindir; 10-01-2016 at 05:10 PM.
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[ Prince Vindir of the OC Crusaders
Holding Boundaries and Breaking Barriers