hey peoples... i am a 25 year old veterinarian in outback queensland, australia - when i don't have my arm up the rectum of a horse (work hours only i assure you!) i love playing and recording music - have done so all my life. i played in a band for 10 years and we did pretty well - supporting some international acts and we were courted by several labels and stuff... but you know the story - you get hitched - you join the rat-race and you kinda face reality and realise this music thing is just gonna be a really expensive hobby! as lovely as this story is - i actually need some advice re gear choices: i have a pro tools set-up, some lovely mics, a great ampex tape machine (mainly for drums), and some lovely instruments. However, i have no outboard!!! My mrs has given me a $6000 (aussie dollars= about $4500 u.s.) budget to get some stuff - as long as i don't buy anything for the next 2 years (ouch)! Heres what i think: i want a great compressor - but something versatile that can be a flavour machine but also transparent: a distressor el8x seems to be a good option on paper: very versatile - they can sound opto, fet, tube, tape sat, 1176 nuke etc...I have played in studios with distressors but at the time wasn't into recording so didn't take much notice - reviews seem glowing and from what i can gather they are regarded a modern classic...that is 1 option. Preamps - once again i need something great but versatile. i am a little scared of getting something full of valves coz they with need replacing - yeah?! i could get a focusrite isa 220 - i'm sure they sound great (good reviews!) with some eq and the 'blend' control is supposed to be very useful - i could still get the distressor. OR the vintech 1073 copy cat looks good BUT - are they a rock pre...once again i have played in studios with 1073 and 1081 pres but never took any notice. if i ran everything thru the vintech into the distressor could i get a nice recording that didn't sound flat and same-y coz the 1073 is so coloured???? i need advice. Everyone seems to be raving about the sebatron pres... i know they're tube but if i get mono i think i could cope with servicing etc + they're made in australia so i could get 1 rediculously cheap and get some other mic or something. Finally - the focusrite liquid channel - has anyone played with one...reviews seem golden - i actually read a review in future music that CRITICISED the LC - saying the 1073, dbx, tl audio, silver face la-2a replicas were pretty aweful... should i buy one of these babies? - they have the potential to continually improve/update them + add tape and eq replicas in the future so should i just get one....what do you think i should do? - if i get a LC then i won't be able to afford RME ad-da 2 channel converter and i would like to be able to monitor at 96k! Advice would be greatly appreciated...i am new to the forum but i think its the best thing since vegemite in a squeeze tube!!!!!