I've bought a new bass. It's not in my hands yet, so I'll wait to talk about it. But actually I've picked up several new bits and pieces of musical equipment lately. After getting free of a fairly heavy tax burden last quarter, I rewarded myself with a set of new microphones--Audio Technica 2020 and 2021 condensers, decent low-end mikes with a lot more sensitivity and a more neutral sound compared to my Sennheiser dynamic.
I got the microphones home, plugged them in, and listened to every creak in the floor, every reverberation around the walls, and the charming hum of my laptop's fan kicking in.
I am, in other words, reaching the limits of what I can do with an ad-hoc project studio. And although it doesn't sound like it, that's a good thing. It will keep me frugal.
Follow the reasoning: there's not much point in spending a lot of money on better microphones right now, since it'll always be located in an untreated apartment with intrusive room sound. Ditto for the preamp--I'm using an old mixer now. Since I only record one instrument at a time, I don't have a very compelling reason to upgrade my audio interface. And while I would love to have a nice Firewire laptop with a better processor and a quality power supply, I already own three computers. I feel wasteful buying one when the actual quality of the recording won't improve in proportion to the cost and the guilt.
I've always been an advocate of making do on the cheap. If the motto of Mile Zero weren't those immortal words of Buckaroo Bonzai, it'd have to be something like Noel Coward's "Extraordinary how powerful cheap music is." I had a short e-mail conversation with Wheat a while back about buying basses. We talked about how you can generally pick up a pretty workable bass as long as you start above a certain price level, where the manufacturers actually start asserting some quality control, somewhere around $500. Beyond that, more money certainly does mean better instruments, but the instrument has stopped getting in the way of the player. Likewise, at this point the problems with my recordings can't really be blamed on the equipment anymore.
At least, not without new real estate to contain that equipment. Which is a bit more of an investment than just a box to sit on my desk.