If you want to explore OTB gain staging to add to your mixing arsenal; I'd recommend the following:
- A high headroom mixbus. This can be a desk or a summing mixer
example: Speck X Sum
- at least two (stereo) line amps, preferrably with transformers, with some hands on control (fader, knob)
- a matrix to combine various converter outputs, hardware sources, and of course the amp stages above; obvious example is a patchbay
if you really want to get out and "do it" get a stereo pair of mics, and mic amps and use that to re-amp (record your monitor speakers in the room, or some daft but stomping guitar amp) Added functionality is of course you can use this part to make location recordings.
A good quality "inline" desk would also cover points 1 and 2, and give you mic amps to boot.
But never settle for a low headroom mixer, if you want BETTER, as said, ITB gives you more quality (more headroom).
That said, if you go for "dirt" then the 1202 and 3630 combo will deliver.
A combination of this outboard mix situation and a DAW with good converters will give you the best of both worlds. Very flexible.