I would go for the Makie 24-8.
I have used this one, purchased via eBay
for about 1.5 years now at a cost of $900
The best thing about it is 24 direct ins, 24 direct outs.
I run 2 Terratec sound cards at 16 in 16 out -simul.
That allows me the last 8 channels on the board routing
my other two computers for video and other playback devices,
(I use analog tape quite a bit).
You will need lots of wires..
The Makie pre-direct in's are pretty good for all kinds of sources.
They are not the greatest, but a learning curve approach of the beast you are dealing
with will at least get you a solid signal in the chain.
All my stuff on web sights are done through the mackie preamps,
or direct ins, mixed through Sonar and converted through the terratecs.
I had the opurtunity to mess with an older Soundcraft, (we still have it),
but, that one did not have preamps.
I like the soundcraft setup as well with a side car 8 channel
"bus", but mackie has it already there.
I suggest, start doing more homework, and while you do that,
poke around, and see what stuff is selling for.
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