A Mic Preamp – Why Do You Need It And How to Use It?

A Mic Preamp – Why Do You Need It And How to Use It?
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This kind of devices is extremely crucial for all kinds of the studio, whether you have your home one or a professional audio recording studio. If you decided to build your own audio studio then, the question you may ask is what the best microphone preamps are. It is difficult to answer this question since there are many models available to you and the one you get depends on what you expect and how much money you are ready to spend on it.

Some models are quite simple and small – they have some input ports and a couple of knobs, buttons, and switches. Overall, such devices do not take much space and they do well. There may be some distortion or anything else that will make the output sound not perfect, but they are great as a starting point. Such models may cost you from $30 to $150.

There are also professional-grade solutions, with different gauges, knobs, LEDs, ports, etc. They not only guarantee the crystal clear audio output and exclusion of any noise, but they also allow you to tweak the output signal and get exactly what you need. Moreover, some model may support several channels. This kind of solutions is quite massive and if you decide to go full professional, then you need a separate room to place everything there. These solutions will cost you around from $320 to $400 or even more.

No matter what class of a preamp for microphone you choose, you need high-quality cables to avoid any noise.

Signal enhancing

You may ask what does a microphone preamp do? Do I really need it? – such pre-amps are crucial for all kinds of the audio recording studio. When you record something using a microphone, it produces a super weak signal, which is not powerful enough to be registered by other pieces of equipment, so the microphone becomes useless. A microphone pre-amp takes the input signal and enhances it so it can be “heard” by other equipment or your computer and used.

A standard microphone used for PCs have small built-in transistor amplifiers, and a PC can boost up a signal, but it may be not what you need. A passive microphone (like stage ones) requires a pre-amplifier, so they output amazing sound without losing any frequencies. However, there are stage microphones with preamps, but they require more power than a common PC mic does.

Using a pre-amplifier

Audio recording setups are different, there are simple ones, which use the minimal amount of devices to record sound and extremely complex setups where you have many devices which are connected with each other or mixers to get the required effects and sound. When you get a pre-amp, you may wonder how to use a mic preamp? – there is nothing difficult about it. Check the manual beforehand – you will not destroy anything, but it helps to avoid any noise. The whole setup is simple:

  • Connect your preamp to the mixer using a shielded cable (1/4-inch) or use a microphone cable (XLR)
  • Connect the microphone to the mic preamp using an XLR cable. Some mixers have different gauges so you can test the mic level and tweak everything
  • Connect the mixer with a recording module (it may be a PC with the required software)

Home recording studio

Getting a microphone preamp is crucial to record vocals correctly and clean, but you should not ignore other components – make sure you have undamaged cables. Software is important as well – there are many freeware solutions for you.

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