Computers are all about leveling the playing field: By taking advantage of their technologies, it's possible for one person to compete in industries formerly dominated by large conglomerates. But it takes powerful tools to get the job done.
A few years ago, I wrote a magazine article on home recording where I called Cakewalk's first generation of their Sonar PC-recording program as "Abby Road in a box", and I stand by that; it's not total hyperbole: Sonar is the equivalent of a very powerful recording studio, but one that fits on the hard drive of an Windows-based personal computer. Of course, it doesn't come with George Martin, but that's OK: he costs extra when you hire the real Abbey Road as well.
But what you will get (with both Abbey Road Studios and with Sonar) is a first class facility that allows for maximum flexibility with recording. With the latter, the ability to edit digitally, and see what you're doing on a computer monitor is the first benefit, which opens up radical new worlds in and of itself.
Digital Recording In A Nutshell
Back in June, I quoted Nile Rogers, the great guitarist and producer, who brilliantly summed up the benefits (and a few of the dangers) of digital recording:
The old restrictions in technology forced us to do things right. It forced us to have to make decisions. It forced us to spiritually be so in tune with the other people that magic had to happen. It made you step up to the plate, whereas now, when I go to play on someone's record I feel uncomfortably free--and I almost hate that. I can actually play on a record all day long and do ten different solos and take all these different approaches to the rhythm and all this kind of stuff. And then the producer has to look at all this work like a film--they have to go back and edit and figure out which bits they want to use. Whereas in the old days, when a person hired me to work on a record, I had to get it right, right there. You had to play great, you had to be smokin', and there was no way that they could fix it and make it better.