First off, what kind of music are you looking to make?
Next go here and check out some of the vids....http://malefactor.org/beatmakingvideos/
You will see the different equipment and setups people are using...Also try searching for beat making and MPC on youtube.com
I'll say off the top that hardware is a lot more expensive than software.... But with software a good computer is needed…..I'm running Reason 3 with a M-Audio 02 all on a shitty laptop so I'm planning on moving to a MPC 2500 instead of spending the cash on a PC built for music production...why am i doing this? It's not cause software sucks and you need a MPC to make real beats, but if u watch some of those vids on the MPC, you may see why I'm interested in getting one
Basically with a computer based setup where you are running mainly software, you are going to want a good computer with a good sound card...That’s what I lack lol....Then you will need the actual software to make your music with…Along with the software, you will want to get some sort of MIDI controller….Here’s the one I got for $100 http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/MAudioO2-main.html…
Check some of the other’s when you are on that site…Some sort of MIDI controller is pretty much a must have with any software.
With something like a MPC, the MPC itself is the computer and the center of you studio like a PC with a software setup…I don’t want to give you too much info on this because I don’t have one yet
I’m gonna say Reason 3 has taught me a lot and I think that if I were to have started off with a MPC I would have been lost….How much do you know about this stuff? If you know as little as I did when I first started, I would maybe try Reason or FL 6…I downloaded Reason because I didn’t know anything about this stuff at first…Why spend $400 on something you don’t know anything about? Now that I have learned a fair amount, I am ready to make a major purchase since I have some clue of how everything works…Maybe do what I did….Try these programs out and if you become addicted to it like I did, take it from there….If you want, I could hook you up with Reason 3 if you are interested…My aim is FreeWilley81