Since I posted this thread things have changed though - My FW-1814 did not return from service, so dealer is giving me a
Fast Track Ultra 8R as a replacement.
From the review of its little sister, the Fast Track Ultra in SoS I believe I can live without a big-format mixer, since the preamps in this one should suffice for my needs.
I'm still considering some form of valves, and the 8R has spdif so a two channel preamp with spdif looks like a good option.
There seems to be a rather large number available, so I'm a bit at a loss about to which one to consider.
There's a deal on the "Universal Audio 710 Twin-Finity & UAD-2 Solo"
at the moment.
While the 710 is a single-channel it does indeed look very promising. The added bonus of a "free" UAD2Solo card is indeed tempting. It would go nicely next to my UAD1 :-)
* wossname * ...if .sig's were fish, this would stink *