for those who freelance, we all build our own stashes of gear - choice investements since facilites have the main tools to work with, yet could one be comfortable enough to go in and use all the tools given to you to get the sounds in your head? I for one am not, yet - for that reason, I have my small group of mics and outboard that I know inside out, and rely upon to get the sounds needed.This is also a matter of buying whats unique - or something that is really versataille. I have been pondering some of the similar points as of late. As someone that feels he can hear the difference (depending on degree of focus), I often stress over the signal chain - and what types of sounds or images I can get from the gear. When not having a huge chunk of change, and having a huge sweet-tooth for premium sound receptacles - you find yourself going for a smaller amount of really usefull things (or at least I do). In my case, I've actually developed more nicer mics, and varients of them - rather than varients (or multiples) in the preamp department. I for the last year have been using an all-in-one apogee box for my 2 best preamps and a/d's. I've always wondered what I could have instead of that, and now feel it's time for a chance. The piece is a great A/D, yet aging fast - and I can get close to 2k for it now - so I'm selling! I'm now left to buy at least two channels of pre, and a distressor or 1176 possibly. I'm battling back between spending cash on 4 channels of API, vs two channels and a distressor - I'm going to do one of those things. As someone who is starting to make his knack doing work in our people's places, bringing in my own rack that I use no matter what - along with selection of mics, pedals, black lights - etc. I'm finding that the investment in a premium a/d less valuable - especially when facilities I'm working at are either tracking to tape, or have good conversion. I'm just in the market for some more strong additions to my rack that will hopefully be worth the time given to learn them to their fullest extent - and will inspire me to put microphones on things that emit a noise. anyone else have a tiny collection of pieces that they value oh so highly and know then better than your woman?