EDIT: As you'll read below, I've never owned or used a digital mixer. Can I use a PreSonus StudioLive 24R as a snake and output to my computer in 24-bit/ 192 KHz resolution or better, in Studio One? If that's the case, this idea is actually pointless lol. Otherwise, read on ;)
I haven't really been looking at buying new recording gear since around 2012. For recording, my typical setup consists of mics going into a stage snake, feeding into an analog mixer that I output to a standalone audio interface and then onto a computer, where I'd mix and edit with Adobe Audition.
Recently, I've been looking to advance my professional writing career in a new gig, and the companies showing interest pay pretty well. So naturally, I plan on throwing gobs of cash toward building a new amateur recording studio, getting a new band started up, and recording for funsies.
I'm looking at Studio One, PreSonus AIs, and PreSonus mixers. Two of them really caught my eye: The 24-channel StudioLive Series III, and the StudioLive 24R. I'd get these, pipe them through analog into a PreSonus Studio 1824 audio interface, and then onto the computer and Studio One.
But looking at these two mixers got me thinking about the chain that gets my mics pumped into the computer. Why the **** do I need so much hardware? Why can't I do most of this through a single box?
Think of this as a sort of wishlist, really. But here's what I would consider the ultimate product for DAW use, and surely this could be expanded upon by the community and PreSonus engineers to make it even better. And hey, if PreSonus loves this idea and wants to give me one of these for being clever, I won't stop them, lol.
The actual box is similar to the 24R. It would come in four flavors -- 16, 24, 32, and 48 -- with a corresponding number of XLR/ TRS ins, and phantom power/ mic preamps on every input. Alternatively, users could run mics into standalone preamps and output those into this new mixer. The mixer also has a built-in headphone mixer with 4+ channels, as well as a stereo pair of XLR/ TRS returns (or maybe more returns? That would be even nicer).
The mixer outputs with resolutions of 32-bit/ 384 KHz, 32-bit/ 192 KHz, 24-bit/ 192 KHz, and less. None of this silly max 24-bit/ 48 KHz stuff... this puppy pumps out with scaling resolutions to suit your needs.
You'd run Ethernet (Cat7, Cat5, etc.) or some other cable (maybe even do it wirelessly?) from this box to a second box included in the package. This box has USB 3.0, USB 2.0, and Firewire outputs which plug directly into your PC or Mac. It also has XLR and TRS monitor outs, a headphone mixer with 4+ channels (just like the box that lives in your live room), and a talkback microphone in that leads to headphones and returns. And hey, why not toss a stereo pair of RCA and a stereo pair of TRS tape outs on this end for gits and shiggles?
All mixer controls are handled digitally/ virtually. Your channels have everything you'd expect from a classic analog mixer: mute, solo, British 3-band EQ, on-screen ("virtually motorized") sliders, the works. You have the freedom to group however the heck you want. 2 bus, 4 bus, 8 bus, or even record every channel independently for the ultimate control in your mix. This would all natively work with Studio One, of course. Unhappy with how your snare turned out? edit that channel by itself, without other mics in your mix.
Want to step away from your computer? Want to waste three hours of your life trying to get your levels and EQ perfect for your kick drum? You can do all of that through your phone or tablet. This beast would come with an app that runs on Android, Kindle Fire, Windows, Apple, Google, etc. Some of us will go our entire lives without giving a penny to Apple. I want to remotely control this through my Kindle or even my Samsung Galaxy phone! The "virtually motorized" faders will move around on your computer screen as you goof around with your levels and EQ and whatnot.
Now for the really crazy bit: somehow keep this rig affordable for real people, like most other PreSonus gear is. I might spend up to $3000 max on a mixer, and I'd expect a bare minimum of 24 inputs with preamps out of that.
This setup absolutely destroys the old layout I used to have. There's no need for a snake or an audio interface, because this machine IS the snake and it IS the audio interface. And if I'm using Studio One Professional already, I may as well use up those unlimited channels without ever bussing my entire drumkit into a lesser group (until I get my mix right and create a stereo drum mix at my leisure, hours after the drum tracks were recorded, of course).
This idea might be too technologically ridiculous to hope for, and maybe some of it is catered too much to my own, probably unorthodox and inefficient engineering style. But if someone walked up to me and said "hey, what product could make your amateur engineering life easier?" I'd probably say "shove everything into one big box"), and this suggestion of mine would accomplish that beautifully.