Cubase Artist 10 and external synths

OK, I am aware that this topic has been covered before but I can’t find answers to my specific questions…

I have Cubase Artist 10, NI Komplete 12 and a Maschine Mk3. I have additional Rob Papen VSTs and everything is working fine. However, I have been unable to resist some of the cheap and interesting hardware synths that are available right now, so I have an Arturia Microfreak, Microbrute, Korg Monologue and Behringer TD-3. I am struggling to integrate them into my system though. I am no technical whizz - when everything was 100% software it mostly set itself up, but trying to figure signal paths, midi/audio connections for my hardware is frying my brain.

In previous posts on this subject many responders talk about using the “External Instruments” tab in the Audio Connections dialogue - but that is only available in Cubase Pro. I am open to upgrading - would this be a better option for someone like me with limited technical knowledge? It sounds a lot more straightforward than some of the daunting descriptions of how to set hardware up in Artist.

In terms of physical connections, my hardware synths are connected to my PC via USB and it can see them - but what about audio connections? Currently my external synths are connected to a mixer which is connected to the audio inputs on my Maschine - is that right? Through much messing around I can just about record and transmit midi to/from the hardware, but that is about it. I believe it should be possible to set things up so I have the same sort of control as I do over my VSTs.

Is anyone able to describe (in really simple terms) how I should connect each external device? And would upgrading to Pro make this more straightforward?