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Old 30th June 2015
Lives for gear

The first step is to get a good, basic recording chain; learn that and then figure out what sounds best to you and for you. Since you say you can keep adding money as you go along I'd refrain from dumping too much money in any one item since your taste will change once you are able to hear the differences. That will happen (hopefully), so it is best to get solid equipment that you can grow into and yet aren't stuck w/ (like an 87) because of the price.

1st thing is the room. It doesn't have to be perfect, just OK. You can make a room better just by putting furniture in it, esp. big soft things (sofa, bed, etc). Think about how any room sounds when you empty it to paint? If it is bright and slappy put up some drapes/wall hangings. It will have bass problems, even if you can't hear them. absorption helps. You can buy a prefab kit, or go down to Home Depot etc. and order some rockwool. Comes in 15 inches by 4 foot pieces. Buy some material to wrap it in and sew it up (still waiting for my daughter to do that, tho). Then get some burlap bags (coffee houses that roast their own will sell them/give them to you. That gives you something else to wrap them in to hang them from the corners etc. Voilá, 5 efficient bass traps for sub $100.

Next, kill 2 birds w/ one stone. Get the Tascam UH-7000 interface. Excellent preamps and great converters. Good enough it should take you a few years to spot any difference in a blind test between those and high-end boutique hardware. $400. If you want a more vintage tone than those preamps get a Warm Audio pre - another $400. It will help train your ears to use transformers. The only downside to the Tascam is high latency, but w/ the money you save you can get a low latency interface w/ AES digital and plug the UH7000 sound through the digital in/out (tho you might find the Tascam is good enough latency - 11 ms. on my system).

A single channel strip is a good idea, too, but pricey. My suggestion is the RND Portico II. Can't go wrong, but you may find another floats your boat a little more. But you won't know until your ears get accustomed to what kind of hardware sounds best to you. Plunking down $3000 and then finding out the Avalon is better for you at half the price is a good way to waste money - almost as good as upgrading from the Avalon to the RND. The same goes for a mic. The 87 is a great mic, but you might find the SM-7 is better for you at a fraction of the price.

Get your room ok, get some good speakers (my suggestion w/o spending 30% or 110% of your budget is the Yamaha HS 7), get the Tascam and start working on music. Test some mics (use some of that money to rent studio time at a place w/ lots of mics), get one and you are good to go w/ potential for pro sound. Then learn to sound like a pro. Too many people ask what equipment they need, when they should be asking how many hours do I need to put in before I can make my cheap system sound good. It is really a catch 22, because it is a bit quicker to learn what sounds good w/ high end gear, but if you buy it you may decide later it ain't the best fit.