Hey guys! This thread is hopefully more a motivator for people than anything else. So my story is as follows: I am a professional bass player and I mostly gig around and occasionally teach upright and bass in music schools. 2 years ago I finally found a hobby to replace my primary hobby which was playing bass before (you know, the kind of hobby to relieve from work stress). I found studio recording to be my happy heaven. I simply enjoy tweaking the knobs and producing something that sounds pleasant to my ears. Started mixing live gigs (brought my recording gear to the gig, took all channels and started mixing at home), recording stuff at my small studio, bought recording gear, bought logic pro, yamaha hs8 etc. Thing is, all of my mixes and especially recordings sounded really thin and muddy when I listened to them on other sound systems, especially the bigger ones. My biggest challenge was to separate drums and bass so that they both have weight and clarity. You know what I mean So I kind of got into a depressive state because everything I did with the plugins (pro logic stock ones) it didn't improve things much "weight-wise". I could alter characters, true, but for the love of god I couldn't do anything impressive to my ears by mixing my recordings recorded straight into my Focusrite 8i6 Scarlett. I went through countless tutorials on how to mix, how to do it, and it just didn't work. Started thinking my ears and understanding of studio business are severely lacking even though I tweaked every plugin in my Logic for hundreds of hours. Friends that I know, who are studio technicians, kept telling me that I should definitely invest into some studio preamps and other analog gear since they can and will do wonders if you record through them. I didn't really want to believe it since I thought hey, what they get through the preamp, I could simply get by tweaking digital EQs enough right? Boy was I wrong. I caught someone selling his TLA 5051 for mere 150eur (sub 200$?) and yes, while you might argue this isn't among the best preamps out there, oh boy oh boy - I recorded something for fun today, spent like 10 min on the mix, didn't even touch the digital EQs in my DAW and everything sounds like 100x better than anything I've ever mixed before and spent hundreds of hours on. It literally sounds good enough for me to happily send the mix to a quality master service, which was definitely something I was very hesitant to spend money on before. Like, how is this even possible? I am a believer again lol This little thing, this preamp literally saved my studio crisis I have had for the past few months. The downside of this is that I have just found another money sinkhole to waste my money into (instead of building a house or something). Oh well. What can I do What we could do in this thread though (if you bothered reading so far into this text lol) is maybe share what you think should be your idea of the critical list of components one should own if he/she wants to really get into learning to make professional mixes and recordings (we can exclude the mics since this is a a whole another debate, just the analog and digital equipment you deem necessary). What I mean by this is critical components needed to "eliminate" hardware as a potential culprit for someone giving up on studio mixing because his/her mixes never sounded right no matter what (getting a decent, solid raw recording material to start working with).