I have the CR1604 as well as the VLZ and I like the CR better. It's noise specs are not as good as the VLZ but it just sounds more natural to my ear. The mids are not sweepable so the EQ is actually worse than the VLZ. I do use the pre's but go right back out via the inserts and they are not that bad, IMO better than the VLZ. It's routing options are not as good as the VLZ either. All that said I think it would be fine for what you want to use it for. $300 is the average price for one of these so don't pay more, but you can't beat it for the money.