I have followed this debate for a long time. I believe that components that change energy from one form to another are the most crucial. So, microphones, speakers and yes, room treatments are the most important. In the old days, phono cartridges were really important. I have a Layla 3g, a Mackie 800r and tube preamp with Burr Brown and a NOS tube in it. They all sound fine. I could use any of them. My microphones make a lot of difference, (as due my speakers, unfortunately). The best bang for the buck: DIY room treatment. The dead giveaway is that there IS a debate about it. Nobody debates the usefulness of microphones. speakers,or room treatment.