If you are planning on getting in the land of Pro Tools, you will faced with many options for a preamp/digital interface. The most common choice is the Digi 002/003, which gives you 8 input channels (4 mic-pres). Other popular choices include M-Audio and PreSonus models.
The main consideration for making the proper preamp/firewire choice is your primary tracking method. Will you be recording a full drum kit? Many musicians/instruments at once? Or just one instrument at a time?
Basically, if you are going to mic up more than four instruments at once, you will need the M-Audio or PreSonus series, since they have eight mic pres. The Digi 002/003 has only four.
The next consideration is the quality of the mic-pres. Many of the top engineers don’t like the “sound” of the standard Digi 002/003 mic-pres. For an amazing sounding modification for the 002/003, Black Lion Audio offers a killer upgrade.
There will likely be many more players entering this field in the coming years with the mass adoption of home recording. A brand new preamp/interface with a special tube configuration by PreSonus looks very interesting.
There are other considerations, such as sampling rate and analog/digital converters, but those features probably won’t mean much to the average DIYer. Once you get into the arena of producing material for TV/Movies/Major Labels, then there’s a next level of equipment to enhance the sound landscape.
Here is a tutorial on how to setup and configure your pre-amp with any version of Pro Tools.