May I ask why it's important that you can control the control panel. If I understand
right, you're only recording a couple of tracks at a time, and I would have thought the
controls on the front of something like the Fireface or the MR816 would be sufficient.
BTW, FWIW the Steinberg MR816 units do have very good sound quality, if you can look past
a few design quirks. IIRC they score well on DAWbench as well.