A few weeks ago I tracked my writing partner putting down a guide vocal for a new song, in fact the guide vocal was so good we kept it. It was tracked with a £1000 microphone through vintage hardware in a vocal booth. When she got home and I sent her the rough mix and she said she didn't like part of the vocal so asked that I send over the stems for her to sing it again. I sent the stems and next morning I had a new vocal take to comp with the original. This new take was through a £200 mic, a £100 audio interface in the middle of her writing room, no special acoustic treatment at all.
Both vocal takes sound great and there's a reason for this - Jess is a seriously good singer and whilst it's preferable to do that voice justice using the best possible gear and engineering skills, the gap between recording her through £300 worth of gear and £3000 worth of gear becomes less apparent - conversely if I had someone who didn't have the talent then it's almost certainly going to be the case that irrespective of what gear I try and use nothing is going to make a significant improvement.
I was sharing this story with Ableton Live Expert Martin Delaney over lunch today and he shared a similar story of a band who booked a top guitar player to come and play some guitar on their album. Before he arrived they discussed what gear he would be bringing for the session; was it a vintage AC30 or 1950s Fender Champ? He showed up with a Pod and as you would expect nailed the guitar tracks.
Anyone who knows me will tell you of my propensity to want to own new gear, it's seductive, of course there's nothing more attractive than something we don't yet own.
However I need to keep reminding myself that talent is the vital ingredient and my ability to capture the moment as well as I can. Too many creative ideas get lost because we got too embroiled in the technology and in that moment rather than help us it has hindered our creative flow.