I'm at the point that I want to start learning the art and science behind mastering. I was planning on getting the Bob Katz book, asking a lot of questions here, hopefully start sitting in on mastering sessions, and start buying or building gear that would be useful for both mastering and in my recording/mixing sessions. I don't plan on offering mastering as a service, and if I do it wouldn't be for years after I'm confident in myself and my signal chain. What are some good tools to start with beside ears and the room? (EQ, compressors, monitors, software etc?) I have a good day job, and audio is now just a really expensive hobby. I'd like to turn it into a career, but if it doesn't...oh well. On that note, I am budget minded, but I don't expect something good for nothing. So....what do you think would be a good start for a basic signal chain? **Edit** By budget minded I'm not saying that I want a stereo compressor for $100.....I just can't spend $60,000 on compressor or $100,000 on monitors that sit on limestone.