Things are starting to come together and I'm finally able to start mixing in a studio I've been building piece by piece for about 18 months. Cool. Not one to be able to leave well enough alone, I think I may have come across a better way to configure my gear, and rather than just try it (I'm on the road, not in the studio right now), I thought I'd see if others had some experience they could share. The goal: be able to quickly and easily get a "killer" drum foundation reasonably easily my my MIDI boxes and libraries, and mix on top of that. My taste in drum kits ranges toward Pearl Jam and Red Hot Chili Peppers, though when tending to Jazz I cannot ignore Steely Dan (of course). Noises can come from NI Battery, an XV-5080 with Dynamic drums, Triton Rack with virtually all expansion cards, and a K2600 for making noises. I figured out pretty quickly that to get closer to "that" sound, I needed to compress my kicks and snares with at least 4:1 using a hard-knee compressor (like my UAD-1 1176 plugin). But I'm still a long ways off. The tools for making this happen (not including ears) are: Venice mixer (4 Group plus master, 2 swept mids, hi and lo shelving). Nice, but simple. 3 XL42s (stereo preamp/eq with 4 parametric bands per channel, variable HPF, basically a pair of XL4 channel strips). These guys have switchable inserts and a mix input that allows for daisy-chaining (so you can build an 8x2 mixer from three units). Very nice. Complex as you want to make it. GML 8900 compressor. Very nice, multipersonality compressor. Dual mono or stereo linkable. EL-8 SX. These arrive tomorrow. Dual mono or stereo linkable. Everybody who has a distressor seems to find a way to get them into the mix--I just had to get mine. Pair of ISA 430s. Nice, flexible EQ and compressor from Focusrite. My first configuration idea: run the "foundation" across the Venice thusly: 1: bass 2: kick 3: snare 4: HH 5-6: Cymbals 7-8: Toms 9-10: Percussion and use the XL42s for "surgery"--typically reserved for fixing acoustic guitar (I need to learn better mic technique!), vocals, etc. In this senario I can of course insert any compressors I want on a channel by channel basis, but my patchbay and wires are set up with the compressors sitting in the send/return loop of the XL42s. Humpf. My new idea: XL42 A: Bass/HH (with 8900 inserts) XL42 B: Kick/Snare (with EL-8 inserts) 1-2: Percussion, sending to XL42-A Mix input, returning from XL-42 B. Thus, tracks 1-2 contain all this as a proto foundation. 3-4: Cymbals 5-6: Toms XL42 C: useful for stereo Guit or Vox as needed In this new scenario, my XL42s are rightly wired for using the compressors for the purposes suggested above (nice), and I really save space across the Venice (more room for EQ'd effects, for example). So my question to the mixing experts out there: which is most intuitive to you, or are both setups so good (or bad), that it's really just a matter of personal preference?