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Thread Preamp/Mixer Question & Firewire Question

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1 Preamp/Mixer Question & Firewire Question
I'm an almost-complete-beginner when it comes to computer recording, so I'd appreciate answers to the following questions in pratical, layman's terms, rather than sophisticated technical terms. Thanks.

1. I just ordered a desktop computer that I plan to use, among other things, for home recording of acoustic music. It came with a Sound Blaster Audigy 2 sound card, which I plan to upgrade when I get the money. I realize that between my microphone and the sound card there needs to be an additional piece of equipment that produces the analog signal that goes to the sound card, and I have been assuming that this would be a mixer that had a pre-amp in it, but last night someone in my band said I don't need a mixer, because the actual mixing I do will be done with the software on my computer (Cool Edit Pro or something similar). He said I should just get a preamp.

My questions are: (A) What are the pros and cons of getting a mixer as opposed to a preamp (which I assume is cheaper); and (B) what is a good, moderately priced choice in both categories?

2. When I was ordering the computer, I asked for them (Dell) to install a Startech firewire card, because I thought I would need it for video editing (which I also plan to do on this computer). The salesman told me that the Audigy 2 sound card I was getting has an IEEE 1394 firewire input already in it, so I don't need a separate card. Is this correct, based on your knowledge of the Audigy 2, or will I in fact have to get a separate firewire card?

Thanks for any light you can shed on either or both of these questions.

Paul S.
On the pre-amp/mixer question, I would get a mixer at the end of the day it is more flexible. Sure you are going to mix on the computer but you can do a pre-mix with a small desk - or not as you see fit.

Check out the specs on the Audigy2 here: