Currently I have the PreSonus Firestudio 26x26 as my audio interface connected to a 2009 Mac 2.1 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 4GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM running 10.6.8. I have not purchased a full version of any sequencer but have been playing around with Cubase, Sonar, and Reaper. I strictly use the preamps on the Firestudio and have a very small but decent collection of mics. I have been using this setup for about 4-5 years now and wish I had gone the route of a physical mixer with hardware to use. I like stuff. I have my sights on the Mackie Onyx 1640i but need the MIDI options so I figure a MIDI interface is the next purchase. I really like the expandability options from the Firestudio and would be bummed out to lose those but it seems redundant to have both AI's. I want to leave room in the future to add individual pre's as needed and MAYBE upgrade to a better DAC (still debatable) but I want to keep my options open. One of the things that I am cautious of doing is lots of ITB recording/mixing because I feel that I would need to really invest in a top of the line computer and I would still run the risk of overloading the CPU. I am not opposed to OTB recording and honestly I think I would enjoy it more. Now I face the issue of investing in all this hardware. Ideally this is where I think I want to go: analog mixer with some kind of AI so that I can 'see' what I'm recording and edit accordingly but have my audio come back to me so that I can add effects, etc. as I see fit for individual channels and as a whole. I think getting a good synth modular or two would be ideal. I am really into samples and I think the virtual world has the monopoly in that mainly because of file size, so I would use my computer for sampling too. From that point I would like to record to a physical device connected to the mixer but I honestly have very little knowledge or experience with any of those so I don't even know where to start looking concerning those. My goals are as follows: (a) have physical gear because I think it looks cool and I'm of the mindset that that real deal is better than the virtual deal (b) minimize CPU stress so I don't have to deal with keeping my computer better than my software (c) minimize latency (d) I think analog is more reliable than digital minus the final recording. Any thoughts or ideas would be appreciated and I'm all ears to hear how you do it and the pros/cons you've encountered. Thanks in advance!