I can say that I started at a college (NPR) station, recording on 1/2 inch mono, which sounded pretty darned good through the gear they had (Neve board, on down). The rest of this is from the hip, not particularly sensitive, but I'm retired and just don't give a damn. Suck it up buttercup.
I've used a less than 20 dollar rat shack cassette for capturing song ideas. A Tascam 644 midi studio, Fostex 8 track R to R, 16 track 2 inch Ampeg , edit Ampex my bad, @ 30 ips with no dolby on any to them. Dolby sounded like crap. Adat black face, that was rough, and a bunch of different daw interfaces. Now I have an Audient 880, apollo twin duo, focusrite pro 40 with a black lion mod, and an old Alesis AI3 from the cubase 3.7 if ever needed. I'm patching the converter/pre's to a rme raydat.
Yeah, you can learn on a cassette, but a $20 cassette machine should teach you everything you need to know about a medium designed to be a phone answering/recording solution. Good sounding recordings can be made on the better units, and they got my self/ bands a lot of work (back in those days). Money for this is hard to come by, and even harder to pay off. Pay cash, and buy when you can pay cash. You'll need outboard gear and a lot more going to tape, that would pay for a reasonable starter daw system. Reaper is pretty damn good and very cheap. It comes with good plugins, and all you need is a fair used set of pre/converters, and you can crank out pretty good sound, without buying over and over to get to where you should have started. Save yourself a lot of money and time. Buy that $20 mono cassette machine, or even better, 2 of them so you can bounce while making noise live, and see what I mean. It'll be a cheap lesson. A good mic and decent monitors are really important, as well as proper sound treatment for your space. Lots of research, and learning how to spot the bs and sales pitches will go a long ways.
More money is made selling than making music, and all the promo crap you read is to continue the trend.