I just use my computer's standard soundcard. Its worked out well for me. I use M-Audio Av 40 speakers however. Don't use any brands like skullcandy or Beats. Stick with the brands made specifically for music making. They give you the pure sound. As for software, I use FL Studio 10 Producer edition, audacity, and any software synthesizer I find on the internet. www.assemblage23.org has some good downloads if you fish around the site.