Summary so far:
1) There are the whole range of of devices made for location video shooting: While wonderfully rugged and compact - they are very "mic" centric, and loads of things related to just video - and are very expensive.
- paying too much for more than I need, and not quite suited to music on stage
2) There are some older, now years out of production, larger port-a-studio descendants that would work - but generally not made for being all that portable.
- closer in application, but bigger, and not really made for gigging
3) There are some high-end mixers that do multi-track record, but they are big to haul about and do much more (I'm not running sound at a venue, I'm trying to record the ensemble's audio from the stage.) There are some more compact versions (Qu-Pac, XR12/16) which are seem like the next step up were we need more/play more/run more of our live sound more. Seem pricey for what I need.
- sweet and tempting, but way more than I need
4a) There is the Cymatic (and there is an AH thing like it) that just records. These have monitor mixes that could be used to drive the house - but the UI is pretty poor for that application - and many people complain the metering is the pits. Also, oddly these things can only record 2-, 4-, 8-, or 16- tracks. You can't choose which inputs to record, or which are stereo pairs. UI from 1980s anyone?
4b) There is getting a multi-channel audio interface and recording on the computer. This is much like the option above. While the UI will be better - there is now a computer involved: either another, or one of our performance computers doing double duty.
- while the recording will be a snap... the whole solution with mixing to the house looks like a hassle
5) I found this: QSC TouchMix-8 (and -16). This seems about right. The reviews seem split: Those that are running live sound at a venue seem to don't like it because of the UI and or "it ain't as good as my ol'analog board". Small acts, seem to like quite a bit. Small downsides: only 4 inputs have 1/4" jacks -
the doc isn't clear if the mic preamps can be bypassed on the others - the remote app is iOS only.
Update: QSC has a Android versions of their apps now. The QSC forums (with very active participation from QSC techs, a good sign) have confirmed all the inputs can take line level as well.