Hello everyone, its been a while since I've posted on this (or any) forum. I've been very busy. But I'd like to share a few experiences I've had in the past few months that has completely changed my perception of this whole GAS problem we face. For those who haven't heard it GAS stands for Gear Aquisition Syndrome. It's why forums like this one are always so heated! Granted I love this one because there seems to be far more openness and just plain ole common sense than other forums (*cough* gearslutz *cough* *cough*) who said that? Wasn't me! There's always so much talk about what Mic Pre to use and what AD Converter sounds the best. It becomes this huge focus point to everyone and after about a week of reading threads on various makes and models you will become so disillusioned into thinking that to have any semblance of a good recording you have to have 2 different API pre's, a Vintech, an Avalon, and an Aurora. Now I'm not knocking any one of these pieces of gear. We all know they're great. But just how much better are they? I used to think that the performance of a piece of gear came down to one simple truth; price per component. Now in a lot of cases this is true. How can a behringer 8 channel pre with its own conversion sound at all good when its only 200 bucks? But a very smart and practical friend of mine help shed a new light on this "truth". He explained how that's not at all the way the economics of this situation work. He used Apogee as an example. Apogee is constantly refining their high end products, while trickling down their old technology into their budget line. This ensures they don't ever undermine their high end, while still making an appealing budget product. Case and point, the Duet. Its not taking a whole lot of customers away from the Rosetta's is it? But yet its still one of the most appreciated interfaces in its price range. If not THE most. Now for this field of high end audio gear, Apogee is rather large. That means they can manufacture and produce at a much lower cost. Many of the companies we hold so highly are tiny. They make 100s or maybe the low 1000s of these pieces a year, often with only a handful of very skilled employees working out of a garage or small office who have families to feed. I think that alone is a better selling point to me. But because all of this hand made high quality stuff costs so much more to make than the assembly line budget gear, the strides in quality are going to be less and less the higher up you go. If a 400-600 dollar pre-amp gets you 75% of the way to the perfect audio quality, doubling that price may only get you to 80%, and doubling that price only to 85% and so on and so on. That is speculation obviously, but you get what I'm saying. Now the difference between the pre's on an mbox vs a pre in that 400-600 range is likely going to be a much more dramatic difference, maybe 45% to 80%. We can argue all day long about transformer vs transformer-less preamps, but the difference between two good preamps is going to be so much smaller than the difference between either of those and a bad preamp. I think this can be said about converters too. The difference between an RME ADI-2 and a Rosetta 200 is going to be much smaller than the difference between either of those and the converters on an M-Audio FastTrack. I recently did a pre shoot out, on a fairly small scale, with what we could easily find around us. It included an API 512, a Martech MSS 10, a Summit 2BA-221, a MiniMe, and whatever pre's are in an SSL C200. All the pres were running to a 192, except the MiniMe which we used its own converters. Not the most scientifically perfect shootout ever, but again, goes straight to my point. We spent about an hour or so matching gains prior to recording and about 15 minutes matching them after in PT. To my amazement the ones in a blind test that I thought sounded the best were the Martech and the MiniMe. I also thought they sounded extremely similar to each other, with the Martech having a bit wider image and fatter bottom, but I thought the MiniMe had smoother mids. This by the way was the general consensus of pretty much everyone else in the group. Now there is a HUGE price difference between a MiniMe and a Martech. And yet they sounded so similar I don't believe the difference is truly justified by the price. Yesterday I went to Universal Studios and toured there sound department with Doc Goldstein, who is btw a fantastically funny person to be around. But one of the very first things he told me was to stay away from the forums about gear, because in his words, "Its all a bunch of bull* written by bull*ers who don't know what they're talking about because they haven't actually done this work." He took me over to their ADR CR and told me about when he first built it he had some GML's for Pres, but swapped them out for... wait for it... wait for it... ISAs! WHAT?! THEY USE TRANSFORMER PRES FROM FOCUSRITE?! OVER GMLs?! So anytime you here ADR on desperate housewives, heroes, or any other shows produced there you're hearing focusrites?! I'm not trying to put anyone down here who thinks those pres are terrible. I have my own hates and biases. I don't like AKG mics other than the one C12 I was able to try, which pared to a U47 wasn't a whole hell of a lot different to my ears. So sue me. But here is a man who has been working at this for years and years and years, you've heared his work countless times, especially if you love Empire Strikes Back. And yet here he is saying its all a bunch of crap. So whose word do I take? A faceless forum member who swears on his life that a vintech is the only pre in the world that sounds good? (you can replace vintech with whatever you want. API. N64. Whatever.) Or do I trust someone with a resume to back up everything he says? I'm gonna go with the guy who actually makes money in this business. And all of these arguments are completely trumped by the fundamentals of recording. Anyone remember the good rule? Signal path is only 1 part of that rule. You can have the nicest signal path in the world but if everything else is bad its all for nothing. Alright yell at me all you want. I'm just trying to spare the newbies reading this board from becoming so discouraged that they either a) give up or b) take a second out on their house to buy gear.