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Walnut shells do a great job of providing a "deep clean", Corncob does a much better job of providing that fine mirror like finish most people want on their brass.
I've found dillon tumbling polish to be the best out there, it has a little bit of wax in it which helps seal the cases after tumbling and keeps them from getting mungy like the frankford arsenal polish. When using the dillon polish you can refresh it with about a tablespoon of mineral spirits, and a little bit of turtlewax liquid wax (about a tablespoon every few times you polish) be sure to let these things distribute in the media well before you add any brass, otherwise it will come out looking horrible.
If you want cheap media, look for a place that sells industrial blasting media, you can usually buy it in 50lb bags for <$20. Stay away from most of the animal bedding products, they are usually too coarse unless you are doing big cases like .45, they tend to get stuck in .223 brass. I usually use 20-40grit corncob for finish tumbling, for initial cleaning, I use 5% phosphoric/sulfuric acid for removing the corrosion/scale from picked up brass.
Walnut works great for a first pass, however the finish always comes out dull. I might also suggest washing your brass before tumbling, as that definately cuts the time you spend tumbling, and also makes your media last longer. There are a number of methods out there, the first one I used was 1 gal water, 1 cup vinegar, 1 tablespoon laundry soap, 1 teaspoon salt. Worked pretty good. Other people use the crystal light lemon powder (which is mostly citric acid). I've given up on most of the small stuff and work mostly from concentrated acids, which work great for me, but probably won't as well for you.