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it's 2 straight choices.
1. he has a mixer on which he can monitor both the pc main L/R stereo mix output (the track being built); and the hardware being played/sequenced - he can then route anything he requires, out via the sub-bus on the mixer and into the L/R record inputs on a stereo i/o audio-interface to capture/record.
he can also sequence multiple outboard units layered, and route those multiple hardware mixer channels all to the same sub-bus feeding the L/R record input to thus capture layered external h/w patches/sounds he's created (or alternatively capture the layers seperately and blend them in the s/w mix).
2 or... as mentioned above (Focusrite Saffire Pro 40, tehLORD) he routes the external hardware audio outs to a multi input audio i/o device, mixing the external hardware on the s/w mixer alongside internal sounds - he can capture and create layers too just as with a hardware mixer if he knows the techniques
i'd say this monitoring "off-tape" route (option 2) requires more knowledge & may cost more than the mixer route to get a reliable solution with a win laptop
I am currently looking into the Motu 880 Mk3 as suggested in a previous thread. Will this suffice for my requirements.. I am hoping this and then a good set of studio speakers would get me up and running.
Was looking for a nice desk yesterday and am shocked at some of the prices... think i may get the hammer and wood out myself.
My own A&H ZED10 is an exception. It is 16bits but very quiet both ways. But then I have only checked out the usb side for interest, it runs into a 2496 as default. In any case the 10 does not have quite enough inputs...Hang on.... No not really, 4 mono mic/lines and 2 stereo line ins.
I really do think 2 Soundcrafts and a Ka6 is about as cost effective as he will get and with intelligent gain staging excellent quality can be wrought.
If you read the OP again he's asking how he can record multiple instruments into Ableton Live, or any DAW. Assuming he's going to be effecting and mixing ITB there's absolutely no need for an external mixer. Having had and used both, the multiple input audio interface is by far the simplest, quickest and (for some units) the most flexible way of doing thigs.
Mixers STILL look cooler though.
In short, mixers are rarely used for "mixing" indeed the OP's requirements could almost be met by a box of pots and switches!
I've changed my mind.
What the OP wants is an A&H GSR24
No wait. That's what I want.