I recommend a stand-alone digital mixer/recorder like the Tascam Portastudio 788 (http://www.tascam.com/product_list.php?cPath=61&nav=portastudios
) or the Fostex VF160
with built-in CDR (http://www.fostex.com/index.php?file=products/digital/vf160
). Both have built-in digital effects and flexible EQ'ing. Either of these will save you bucks compared to a PC with a worth-a-damn sound card, adequate CPU, and a bucket full of RAM, not to mention the cost of useful recording software.
Spend some money on good mic's and monitors, also. A recording studio is pretty much only as good as the worst, noisiest, lowest-fidelity piece of equipment in the chain.
Most importantly, IMHO: Don't be impatient and buy cheap crap because you are in a hurry to get started - you'll hate yourself in the morning.
Hope this helps...