1. Audition CDs can have several different purposes with different aims. School auditions should show your level of technique and musicality. The question is what the school can offer you. A competition or orchestra CD has to show your tone as well. The question is what you can offer them. For a school audition my opinion is that DIY recordings (done well) are fine. The music professors I know will swear up and down that they are not swayed by the quality of the recording (within reason) and frankly I wouldn't pay good money to have my kid educated by someone who could be easily influenced by the quality of microphones and preamps used in an audition recording. For an audition for a professional orchestra you need to present yourself as a professional and that means a "professional quality" recording. Good home recordings qualify, but it takes some equipment and it takes time to learn how to use it. If you have the interest and resources, fine. If not.... 2. Consider having this done by a professional. This is an obvious choice for someone trying to present themselves as a pro, but it should also be considered by someone doing a school audition. The competition between studios is fierce and this is an easy job for even the smallest (good) studio. It may cost a lot less than you think. Talk to a few people and compare prices. It will almost certainly be less than buying even the most rudimentary recording equipment. While (as I said above) I don't think that a professionally done recording should be a big help in a school audition, it shouldn't hurt. It's a lot less hassle and will probably give you a sense of security. 3. Buy a self-contained flash recorder. The Zoom H4n is getting the best reviews at the time I'm writing this. I got another unit five years ago, and the prices keep coming down and they keep adding features. These are very handy units for an avid musician. You can use it to record practice sessions, lessons, concerts. I think you are pretty certain to find it useful even if you go another route for recording audition tapes. The units include microphones, preamps, everything you need to make a digital recording. They use SD flash media for memory. You transfer the files to a computer and edit them with any digital audio editing software and burn the file to a CD. (They usually come with editing software.) If you grew up in the era of cassette decks and the like, the quality of the recordings you are able to produce is astonishingly high. You need to take some time to learn to position the device for the best sound, but this is the same process you go through in learning to position any microphone pair. 4. Going beyond a flash recorder is a question specific to your situation, but a basic recording setup capable of producing something better than the flash recorder requires (a) microphones (b) stands and cables (c) an "audio interface" that includes preamps for the microphones and "converters" will convert the analog signal from the microphones into a digital signal for the computer. USB microphones or any setup involving a computer soundcard that I know of will sound worse than a flash recorder. 5. Editing any recording (including the flash) will be greatly improved by (at least) high quality headphones or (preferably) studio monitors. If you edit using stereo speakers, you will be doing a lot of trial and error playing your recordings on different stereo systems looking for a sound that translates to any playback system.