Roland XP-80 Keyboard
The Roland XP-80 is 76 key, 64-voice multi-timbral synthesizer. It has a built-in 16-track sequencer and can accommodate up to 4 separate expansion boards, each of which can hold up to 255 additional samples. I chose the XP-80 over my initial choice of the Korg N264 because I found the Roland much easier to use, and I liked the expandability.
I've added the Session expansion board which holds numerous high-quality samples and was designed specifically for the recording studio (hence the name "Session"). Its grand piano samples are supposedly among the best out there. Additionally, it has a number of excellent brass and guitar sounds.
An excellent, powerful, affordable keyboard amp with lots of expansion possibilities. The KC-500 comes with loads of inputs plus a four channel mixer onboard, so I can throw my vocals through here too. At 150-watts, it offers enough power to be heard above the din of, say, a guitarist. Hehe. There's also a special link feature that lets you connect two KC-500s for a full stereo sound.
Shure SM 58
Long the standard for performance microphones, the Shure SM 58 still represents high quality at an affordable price ($120). Other mics, notably those from Rode, might be better for recording applications, but for a jack-of-all-trades mic, the SM 58 is still the king of the hill.
Apple Power Macintosh 7500/100 (with G3 accelerator)
I chose the 7500 over other Mac computers because it was reasonably expandable (3 PCI expansion slots), and I could upgrade it with a G3-based accelerator. I specifically chose the 7500 over Apple's new G3 line because the 7500 has a 10 MB per second internal SCSI interface versus the new G3 line's slower internal IDE interface; the cost of RAM upgrades is significantly less expensive with the 7500; and the processor power available to me via G3 accelerator was substantially greater than Apple's G3 machine.
For the G3 accelerator, I went with the PowerLogix PowerForce G3 275/275/1 MB. Much faster than anything Apple was shipping at the time, the PowerForce card has a MacBench processor score of over 1,100. Because the number of tracks I can record and effects I can use is heavily dependent on processor speed (and RAM), getting the fastest G3 I could was a necessity.
I've also added an IBM 9.1 GB, 7200 rpm, 1 MB buffer, 6.5 ms seek time hard drive. I will be recording digital audio straight to this fast drive, then archiving it to 1 GB Iomega Jaz cartridges. Cost of the drive plus 68-pin to 50-pin adapter was $400.
Mark of the Unicorn's 24i is a 24-bit hard disk-based recording system that utilizes a Macintosh's G3 or G4 power to provide state-of-the-art recording quality. The 24i has 24 professional-grade analog inputs and records at 44.1 or 48 kHz. It's readily expandable, and incredibly powerful.
MidiMan MacMan Interface
I've opted to go with the inexpensive ($60) MidiMan MacMan for starters. There are other options like SMPTE lock which I'll need eventually, but for right now a simple MIDI set up is all that's required.
QPS Que! FireWire 12x 10x 32x CD-ROM burner [link to PDF; 185k file]
As astounding as it seems, for less than $400 a person can get a machine which will burn CDs. Even more amazing is the price drops on blank CDs (from about $7 to under $1) which make burning my own CDs at home feasible.
I opted for the Que! FireWire drive because it handle both CD-R (audio) and CD-RW (computer data) CDs, and because it has a "burnproof" buffering technology which helps the user from make worthless coasters out of his CDs. At $379 + shipping, it was an expensive drive, but given the speed of the drive, I can crank out an 80 minute audio CD in less than 7 minutes. If I end up doing much in the way of home duplication, that will be important.
I recommend buying music equipment from Kraft Music.