Mineralized top soil is a better way to go, but it depends on application. Some folks would say it's essential. Others would say it's overkill. You'll find both opinions here.
Sand is inexpensive and plenty of people use it. You can go collect your own (check local laws) sand, gravel, dirt. Or you can buy prepared substrates.
It's really going to depend on your intended use, your plant selection, and lighting/fert schedule. Best is subjective, and dependent upon each person's experience, application, and budget.