I'm sure you guys get these questions all the time, but here goes my specific little situation... Okay, so within the next month or so I should have about two grand to spend on a starting up a home/project studio. Eventually, I would like to sink some cash into a modest tape machine(Otari 5050), but for now I realize a DAW is a much more cost friendly option for me. I have had some low end gear in the past and have worked with some decent gear at friend's houses, but now I want to start working out my own tracks at home. Here is what I have: - I have a decently fast laptop computer(Thinkpad T42)... - a slow old desktop that I could upgrade the motherboard, chip, memory if needed - I can get a copy of Pro Tools, and have an older copy of Cubase. - An SM58 - two of the Tape op home made condensor mics - a great guitar amp, a few great electric and acoustic guitars, a good bass(no bass amp), a few keyboards, and a crappy drum kit. Here is wat I am looking to do: In the past I have recorded stuff rather crudely on a Korg D16 and then upgraded to recording on my computer. I want to start working on bringing my mixes up to par and really making something worth while. I sold all my previous gear and have been recording songs into a small tape machine(great for the songwriting process by the way) - one track. I would like to record guitars, bass(direct mostly, maybe some reamping if needed), and keyboards - drums I am still learning so we will leave that on the backburner for now. Vocals are a plus, but that's something else I am still working on so a mic that I could record vocals on also would be cool, but my primary focus for another mic is the electric & acoustic guitars. One more thing - My style of music is more sparse and atmospheric indie stuff. Something like M Ward, Devandra Banhart, Okkervil River, Velvet Underground, Smog, etc.. Kind of rawer and more melodic without tons of tracks(under 16 tracks preferably). I was thinking of getting a SM57, and some sort of condensor for the acoustic/voice(maybe a cheap ribbon mic of ebay?). I'm looking to get more bang for my buck by going the ebay route and buying used. I was also thinking of a cheap Tascam interface to go into the computer, and a good outboard mic pre(maybe UA 2108, LA-610, or a Langevin DVC). The cool thing with the LA-610 & the Langevin is the compressor & modest EQs thrown in. My thinking with these pres is they will color the tracks a bit and also provide a good input to DI my bass into. I am looking at this like the 2k I am going to spend is going to get me started recording stuff, exploring compressors(don't particuraly care for EQs that much), etc - but it will also give me a good place to start building a modest little home studio from. In other words, I would like to buy quality stuff that I can grow into rather than will grow out of. Maybe I'm asking too much for my buck but what would you guys do? Another wrinkle, is to upgrade the desktop and go with a couple of UAD-1 cards and a decent computer breakout box but I'm not sure about the quality of those plugins and if I would be stuck buying 8 of these cards just to use all the plugins on let's say 16 tracks. Obviously at $300 a pop, a few UAD-1 cards can add up to a used piece of the real things from universal audio. Anyway, enough babling - what would you do if you were me?