So you're out of cash, and your band has these new tunes just waiting to be recording, no way could you buy that new 1000$ soundcard you've always wanted, and yours is too much of a piece of junk. Well, for the cost of just a few hours in the studio, you can setup your own
home studio without having to sell your soul to Satan.
Recorder 300$: If you don't want to dish out 1000$ for a professional soundcard, find a reasonably priced multi-track recorder on eBay (200-400$) (I got a Boss digital 4 track with 32 virtual track, a drum machine, and digital output for about 200$), and get a USB memory card reader (about 30$) so that u can transfer your music to your computer without reducing the quality by using your cheap Creative soundcard.
Mixer 59.99$: Then you should get a mixer because most 4 track recorders only allow 1 instrument and 1 microphone to record simultaneously. You won't need anything fancy here, I got a portable Ki-sound 4 track mixer with a small preamp in it for 30$. But a better one would be this Behringer one for 59.99$.
Microphones 59.99$: You'll want to get some good microphones but since you're on a budget, you can't afford those 300$ Shure mics. Here's your solution, Behringer sells a great package of 3 microphones with clips for only $59.99, they offer descent sound quality for both vocals and instrument recording.
Headphones 49.99$: You might want some real monitors to hear yourself or the playback when recording, so I suggest you search on eBay and at your local pawn shops for used ones, but the alternative to these are a descent pair of head phones. I had two old speakers in my garage, and they work fine as monitors but headphones are always better. Musicians friend has a great deal on two pairs of deluxe studio headphones for only 49.99$.
Audio Editing Software ???$: You'll definitely be needing good software to mix and master all the stuff you recorded with your gear. Now these have a huge price range but you'll always find a smart-alec somewhere who says they'll get you a pirated version for cheap. I suggest you use Cool Edit Pro or Adobe Audition, they are in my opinion the best softwares for this. Now of course, pirating is bad! So don't do it!
All you have to do now is find an empty room in your house (even your bedroom!) and since you probably won't be having a drum set in there, then you won't need to isolate everything. Be sure to have a thick carpet on the floor and put some padding around the door frame and windows (towels or rags should be fine) and if you want, you can hang some egg cartons on the wall, but it's not necessary.
Pay attention to details! The slightest little thing could screw up your whole recording, make sure that you have no air-conditioning system or working ventilation ducts in your studio, the windows should be closed and heck, even neon lights can cause some static with your gear. Also, use good wires to connect everything together and make sure that all your power supplies are grounded!
There you have it! You can now set up your own basic recording studio for under 500$ now that is about half the price of a professional sound card, and you can just about get the same quality! Just remember that when you see a piece of gear somewhere, you can probably get it somewhere else for cheaper, and it's just waiting for you to go buy it. I also found out that if you set up your studio so that it looks very proffesional and have people hear some stuff you recorded in it, they might like it and pay you to use it! Heck, it happened to me. Have fun!