Here's what my brother and I used to do in college with very limited budget and the results were not bad at all and we learned a lot:
1) if you can't afford great gear, use as little as possible - minimize the signal path - not a bad idea even with great gear.
2) get an SM58 or one of the decent "performance" mics like that - if you can afford an AKG C535EB, I think it is great for about $200. Use something that you know pros are using - don't try to reinvent the wheel - "Shure is sure".
3) mix with headphones and your home stereo - no sense blowing money on monitors and an amp that are throw aways. Test the mix in your car or at a friends. Even barely OK monitors are going to run you $1500 at least. So wait on that.
4) vocal chain -> mic, pre , compressor, if you have a bass cut or rolloff on the mic or pre, use it. Skip the compressor if you have amazing mic technique. I don't know any inexpensive mic pres, but we used to use a channel in a TAPCO (pre Mackie) board and it was OK; most pres today are probably that good. Short patch cables - just enough to barely reach to connect the gear.
5) look for a used Alesis Q2 or similar for reasonable reverb.
We were going for more of a Martin Birch style thing rather than InSync, which still holds up I think - those guys could probably stand a little touch of Martin Birch as well
Bull Moon Digital
Atlanta GAmusic is a problem for everyone
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