I have to agree with both Hesperis and JustaPicker. I used the AWE64 for many years and within the last year got myself the SBLive Platinum with the Live Drive. For ease of use the Live Drive is Tops! (just make sure you place it below your removable drives [eg: CDROM drive or swap bays] as the wires get in the way of the opening of these.)
The midi sound quality is excellent if you use the soundfonts (the ones that come with it are more than adequate, though there are many others available on the Web.)
It uses a full-duplex technology, so that you can record on to a second track while listening to the first, and you can record midi as an audio (wave) file simultaneously while you are recording audio input. Fore example, I create a midi tune. Set my recording control to "What-U-Hear" (sic) and then set that playing and record both as I sing along to it. Voila! Music and vocals! Or, special effects AND live guitar.
I believe that it still comes with a copy of Cakewalk's Home Studio as well, which is an excellent first level music program.
Do keep trying the link above. You have more than enough in the budget for this card.
~ Jande (very Picky About Sound Cards)