Recently I switched from a notebook + PreSonus firepod (fp10) + cubase
to a Yamaha aw1600 for on location recording of jazz, choir, pop, rock
Since there have been a lot of questions on whether a beginner should buy the one or the other, here's my experience.
aw1600 is much easier, no windows, no software, no drivers, great and a relieve
the aw1600 is also more sturdy then any notebook / firewire combination
these two factors have greatly reduced stress, something I don't need when having 15 minutes to setup for recording some band or choir
the aw1600 is much easier and it is also easier to create a mix while monitoring, you could do live pa mixing on the machine as well, if you had some sound check time to adjust eq and comp
soundwise I prefer the preamps of the firepod over the ones on the aw1600. the aw1600 has a higher noisefloor. this is only noticeable on room/ambience recordings, not on close Micing a snare. the aw1600 is barely useable with ribbon mics on soft sound sources.
the aw1600 is more sturdy and less likely to crash
I once had a crash with the firepod due to someone bending the firewire cable, resulting in loss of sync, therefore no recording.
For static mixes the aw1600 is easier, due to dedicated eq and comp on each track. I find the screen / menu / navigation easy to work with
There is no mixdown automation on the aw1600, bouncing to stereo is done live, so that's hard sometimes.
So for short rock/pop demoes the aw1600 is good enough for me
For long mixes Cubase is way ahead of the game
In these cases I tend to pre - eq/comp the tracks in the aw1600 before working on them in cubase
I like the effects in the aw1600, not brilliant, but not bad either
the aw1600 is very basic,
I prefer to use wavelab (or any other computer based wave editor) instead, since the aw1600 has no usefull waveform overview for anything more then 50 seconds
the aw1600 is of course much more expensive then a firepod
but using it I don't have to worry about some drunk pouring beer over my notebook in a pub. I'm pretty confident the aw1600 would survive, abeit sticky.
feel free to add your experiences or post some questions