Ahhhhh! You're flipping my world upside down It's a good thing though. Thanks! It really makes me think about where I should put my money.
You mentioned the tracking being the toughest part. That's interesting to know. I always thought the mixing and mastering were the steps that took the most expertise. I guess the initial appeal of getting my own gear was that I could take time with vocals and guitar and that if the other instruments were overdubbed in a real studio and everything was mixed and mastered professionally, I could get fairly good results.
I feel like I have a decent understanding of mic placement. Setting appropriate input levels between pre, compressor, converter, etc. is something I need to learn more about. But to get the basics down, does it take a real long time? The other piece would be room treatment. So, I'll give it some serious thought. I'm in the process of selling a violin which would buy me a pretty sweet set up. Maybe I'll take some of that $ to a studio and track a few songs to see if it gives me the results I'm after. Thanks so much!