I was all set to plunk down my credit card down on a Focusrite Voicemaster Pro . . . but then got to thinking: Adobe Audition (the sequencer I'm using) has a compressor, de-esser, expander, EQ, reverb, and even plug-in tube effects in software (all of which can be saved as an "effects rack"), why would I want the VM Pro instead of Audition with a simple (but good) pre and an interface card? Is this just a matter of personal preference? Tweaking knobs on rack gear vs. software controls, or am I missing important qualitative advantages in not using rack gear? My working projects will be mostly voice-overs, so tweaking the vocal sound is important. But for fun, would also like to have an additional channel or two to track guitar. Have a Rode NT1000 and new, fast PC ready to go. Some options I'm considering: 1. Focusrite Voicemaster Pro (proven? single channel, lots of control, will need interface card) 2. Mackie Spike (cheap, two channel plug 'n go, all tweaking in software via USB, unknown new product) 3. Really Nice Pre/Compressor combo unit (2 channels, consistent good reviews, will need interface card) 4. Echo Layla 3G (room to grow, PCI card/breakout box, multiple connection options) 5. Mackie 1220 Onyx mixer with Firewire connectivity (room to grow, seems versatile, unknown new product) Would like to know -- is it essential to have a hardware compressor? Or will the compressor/limiter in Audition software attenuate the signal before the track is ruined? Can a PC really do all that work on-the-fly? If software compression is a real option, then the solutions that provide more channels start looking attractive. Budget is not fixed, but was hoping to get basic components for around $1,000, maybe $2,000. Would rather spend more to get decent equipment and love it for a few years instead of buying crap that will disappoint me and end up on eBay. Recommendations on a setup? Thanks!