I disagree with a thing or two but GREAT OP! My 2 cents:Please feel free to add and keep the list active...
This is my personal recommendation list based on my experiences and tastes if I was starting over again. I benefit in no way financially from the gear I recommend. YMMV
Great mic pre's, converters, headphone amp, perfect user reviews. Average latency and drivers perhaps. $299usd street
Beyond the Audient I recommend saving up for a UAD or RME.
-JBL LSR 305/308's
Tremendous value for the money. Not perfect but great user reviws. (*NOTE: 01/18 the Mk2 series was just announced, stay tuned for member feedback). Mk1 305's can be found for $99usd ea and $149usd ea for mk1 308's
-Some like the Focal Alpha range as well albeit a bit more expensive.
Monitors can be a a very personal choice. Try and hear and demo as many as possible and choose the ones that appeal to your needs, tastes, and budget that you like the best.
Used, B-Stock, Returned, monitors are generally not a good idea as you have no idea what could be wrong with them or what a warranty covers if still applicable.
Very good value, industry standard, and fairly comfortable. $50-70usd street
-Audio Technica ATH-M50/X
Very good value and reviews, fairly comfortable. X- $149usd street
(*Always use headphones responsibly at moderate to low listening levels to protect your hearing)
DAW: (*A very personal choice, read up on as many as possible, try the free demos if available).
-Logic X $199usd Mac Only
Huge bang for the buck and many content extras (ie Alchemy, EXS-24, Drummer, etc.), Updated every 6-12 months, user communities/support.
Great user community. Unlimited/Unrestricted Demo. User License $60usd. https://www.reaper.fm/purchase.php
-SSD (Solid State Hard Drive's)
Most v.i. control users have had good luck with Crucial and Samsung SSD drives.
*Replace any internal slow 5200rpm or fusion drives with a SSD drive for booting your system. Extra drives for sample and project storage can be added later.
-Keyboard (weighted & semi weighted keys)
88 note semi weighted keys, good reviews, some do not like the way the black keys feel compared to the white keys. $319usd street
Yamaha P-45/P-71 Digital Piano
88 note weighted Keys, very good reviews, $449/$399usd Street (These are the same exact model, the P-71 is sold exclusively by Amazon and $50 less)
-Keyboard (non weighted keys)
Member input please ?
61 notes should be minimum, 49 keys in a pinch
Native Instrument Maschine
Mikro $349usd Street, Mk3 Full model $599usd street
-Knobs & Faders
Korg NanoKontrol 2 (plastic and short throw faders, but gets the job done)
$50 usd street
A good microphone (s) is essential for voiceover, podcast, instrument recording & overdubbing, and sampling custom work. There are many quality choices and I am hoping members will chime in here with some of there suggestions...
My advice would be or try to borrow as many microphone choices as possible from friends and or a dealer (or one with a good return policy) so you can choose what works best for your needs, tastes, and budget.
-Native Instruments Komplete.
So much bang for the buck and includes Kontakt and Reaktor, two of my most used tools. $500usd street (Best to wait for a N.I bi-yearly sale if possible). Comes with some very goes synth vst's: Massive, Absynth, FM8. You can update to Ultimate when possible(again, watch for sales) or cherry pick other libraries as you wish.
-East West Composer Cloud
Can be purchased for as little as $19.99usd a month when on sale, but even when not is a great deal. A fantastic selection of quality instruments.
-Spitfire Audio Labs Sample Range for Kontakt (Donationware $3usd ea)
-Vahalla Effects Plugins. Fantastic value. Start with one that fits your needs best. Both Room & Vintageverb are excellent. $50usd ea
-U-he Synth Freebies: Podolski, Tyrell N6, Zebralette, Beatzille. U-he makes great plugins, There free ones make a good starting point for your synthesis and learning needs.
-FREE: Check out the great free sample, VST, plugin threads and sites.
Free Synth VST's & Patches
Free Audio Plugins
This is a very personal decision, but my vote is the Steelcase Gesture. Not cheap, but I started working from home during the pandemic, and it’s great having a very good chair considering the amount of time I’m at my desk these days for work and music.-A comfortable chair. You spend allot of time sitting in your chair working. User input wanted.