I've held off for a long, long time on getting any real DAW gear. I'm a pretty old fashioned guy: I still have a Tascam R-2-R 4-track that looks like a computer from the Apollo missions. I've had a little USB pre-amp for some time that was fine for quick "songwriter's notebook" type stuff, but inadequate for making decent demo recordings.
But over the past few months I have assembled some recording gear that is working out well for me, and I got a lot of it used for exceptionally good prices.
Here's the list: * SM Pro Audio 8 channel pre amp is the hardware heart of the rig. Nice, XLR/TRS inputs on well-designed pres, each with its own +48v, polarity reverse, low cut, and pad, plus inserts, direct outs and adat.
* M-Audio FW 1814, perfectly fine firewire bridge, syncs via ADAT with the EP84 and provides more (but lower quality) analog inputs, midi, 2x headphone, software routing, and lots of analog outs for monitoring.
* Mac Mini with lots of horsepower and 30" Cinema display -- 2560 x 1600 pixels.
* Reaper. Friggin' awesome DAW software. Free to try, $60 to buy for individual use. You cannot beat it.
* Hand build near-field monitors from when I worked for a boutique pro audio company (over 20 years ago) building very high end PA gear.
* I have a lot of mikes. Some of them are good.