Whenever I don't know which direction to go with gear or it's use I aim for the middle, meaning nothing too far stylized in any particular sonic direction. The point for me is to get my bearings for how things sound while not pushing them into any particular presentation outside of where they naturally rest. Also whenever I consider configuring a recording rig I look at the entire signal path and fill in the blanks with pieces that make sense.
In a signal path, with much of today's style of digital recording, you have certain elements that are always present (though the following doesn't represent all that can be used nor the only way things can be done):
-interface (often with converters and analog inputs included)
-computer (with recording software)
Then you have your peripherals of course: cabling, headphones, cue mix system, monitor controller, stands, control surface, etc.
So looking at the above categories ask yourself what you might really be missing from the essentials. Then ask yourself what you might be missing from the peripherals. Then look for adding extras that might work to your advantage.
Since you have expressed that you can't change the location right now then it's best for the moment to move on down the list to the next thing, which would be the source sound. Does the source sound good as it is? If not what can you do to improve the source sound without adding anything to it? Once you settle that matter then move on down the list to the microphones.
You mentioned that you have an SM57 and 58. Those are decent workhorse mics for tracking vocals and loud instruments like close mic-ed drums and electric guitar cabinets. Are there better mics for your tasks? Probably, but you need to experiment to know. To start I'd try a simple condenser mic for tracking your vocals, one that was easy to match to a wide variety of sources and didn't cost too much. To that end I recommend the CAD e100s (around $400-$500). It's an excellent sounding and functioning large diaphragm condenser mic that doesn't cost much (as good microphones go) and definitely sounds great when used properly, and can be matched to a wide variety of sources.
You mentioned this:
...The more that I listen to the Allen and Heath the more I dislike the focusrite. Not to mention the drivers and mixing software. Without the focusrite my computer boots from the SSD in about 15seconds. With the focusrite installed it takes about 25... |
And its not plug and play which makes it bad for live performances. AND it is 1u with only 8 real inputs + 10 outputs of which I have ever used 3 including the 2 monitors.
So I'm ditching the focusrite. I will think about a baby face or a duet...
While it might very well be the case that you don't prefer the concept of the rack mounted, all-in-one interface, I suspect you might actually not fully appreciate and perhaps you even fail to understand it's design.
The Sapphire Pro 40 has 18 inputs at my count (8 on board analog inputs, 10 digital inputs) and the outputs are for the same kinds of reasons mixers have direct outputs. You can connect them to a cue mix device and have live playback while you're recording. You can have each listener have an individual mix too. You can also route them to an effects rack, process in the analog domain and then you can route them back into your interface (and back into your sequencer software) for recording or further processing. It's an excellent unit for what it's supposed to do. You might not need the extra functionality now, but trust me, down the road you'll wish you had the i/o of the Sapphire compared to something very limited like a Babyface or Duet.
Besides that the "boot up" time of your computer is irrelevant if we're talking under a minute here. I have conventional, moving hard drives and my computer takes about 45 seconds to boot. That's a triviality that is hardly an issue with recording. And you can use the Focusrite live, though I wouldn't want to depend on it for mixer duties. It's primary design is for recording. My point is that it's more than whatever you might seem to be writing it off as and when you compare it to a mixer of course you know it's NOT a mixer, so it won't behave exactly as a mixer. Ultimately though it's your own decision about everything.