Not a simple question. It depends what you want to do with it.
What are you wanting to record? Keyboards plugged direct into the sound card? A large diaphragm condenser (studio) microphone? A $10 computer mic? Recording a 12 piece soul band? One vocal + Ukulele ?
How much is your budget?
And apols for not giving enough info, just wanting to keep it as simple as possible.
Over the past 5 years, I have been using an AKG dynamic mic plugged direct into my desktop computer (which had a good sound card)
and was using an early version of Audacity with great results every time. Enough quality for demos anyway.
That’s all I’m wanting to do with my laptop, using the same mic, nothing fancy.
I have always recorded all my instruments using just this one mic successfully.
To the point where I have been asked by sound professionals how did I achieve such a great quality recording.
So to clarify, I’m looking for an external sound card that works well with
a dynamic mic and is compatible recording with Audacity. that to me is the most important part.
So it’s quite simple - Dynamic mic to Sound Card to Laptop / Audacity.
No worries about which version, I’m happy to upgrade to the latest if need be.
I just want to get recording again without having to muck around with the big stuff.
As far as budget goes, I’m happy to pay up to a couple of hundred? If a bit more, so be it.
I’m trusting your judgement on that one.
Do you know the model number of your AKG mic?
Does it have a 3 pin “XLR” connector? (if it has a detachable lead, then the connection at the microphone end is likely to be 3 pin XLR even if the other end of your lead isn’t.
Sure I can recommend an inexpensive sound card that is compatible with Audacity. I use a Behringer UCA-202.
It is compatible with Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and Audacity. It is NOT compatible with your microphone. That is why I was asking what you want to use the USB sound card with. A suitable USB sound card for your microphone should have at least one XLR input socket, and adjustable input gain. “ART” make several models at reasonable prices that fit the bill.