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Help with correct input levels and best equipment routing

I have an E-MU 1820 Digital Audio System connected to my 2.8Ghz PC. It's connected with the thick cable that comes out of the back of the E-MU (ADAT?). I'm using a Shure KSM27 microphone and Im recording in an isolated room in the basement.

I know that the ballad and sessionvocals effects from the E-MU's DSP only work when you set it up for digital. I seem to be able to switch the settings between ADAT and S/PDIF without switching any cables and then the effects become available. I thought that I needed to run an optic cable to its optical input for digital but now Im guessing that I can run digital through the existing cable (ADAT?)? Which is better by the way ADAT or S/PDIF?

I also own a ROLAND VS-1680 multitrack recorder. I prefer to use Cubase on my computer to do all my multitrack recording because of its simplicity to edit and change settings and effects so quickly and effortlessly. What Im really wondering first of all is what would be my best setup?

Would it be best to plug the mic directly into the E-MU 1820 and route the signal back to the computer through its existing cable or would it be better to plug the mic into the ROLAND VS-1680 and then run an optic cable from its digital out to the E-MU sound cards optical input?

I have also tried to plug the mic into this Tube Ultragain Mic200 pre-amp that I have and running its output into one of the input lines on the E-MU or ROLAND and then finishing the path back to the computer as I described earlier. Im not sure if the E-MU or the ROLAND preamps its signal that it receives if it is coming in on one of its input lines instead of its mic inputs. Thats why Im not sure if thats a good idea or if Im just running 2 preamps in a row which is not good right? I also have run the mic into the EMU and run a cable from one of its outputs to one of the ROLANDs input lines and finished it with the optical cable back to the sound card. Which is my best setup?

My second question is about making sure Im recording at the right input levels so that I can get my best quality.

On Cubase it has a option to switch between Input VU or Post-Fader VU.
When Im speaking in the mic and the setting is on Post Fader VU, the meter is lets say around -6 and when I switch it to Input VU it jumps up to lets say 0. How do I get the correct levels? Do I need to set the setting to Input VU so I can see what my levels are coming in at? What should my levels be coming in at on the VU meter (-12, -6, -3, 0)? Should I set up a compressor on the Input Track of Cubase so that I dont peak past a certain level and clip if the artist gets to loud on a certain spot or just compress it afterwards? What should I set the compressors gate at and how much compression ratio?

Im really looking forward to hearing some responses from you guys who know what your doing and can get me going in the right direction.

Thank You,