Microphone preamps use special circuits to amplify low signal levels up to the standard operating level of your recording equipment. Preamps prepare your microphone signal for processing by various recording devices. Many computer audio interfaces and systems have internalized preamplifier circuits, but you can also use a dedicated external preamp. Microphone signals are usually below nominal operating levels, so mics benefit considerably from the added gain provided by preamps.
Benefits of Using a Microphone Preamp
A dedicated external microphone preamp can boost the sound quality of your recordings considerably. You can add high levels of gain while maintaining crystal clear sound. Preamps can reduce noise levels, helping you achieve a clean, professional sound. Depending on the type of preamp you choose, you can customize the sound of your vocal recording if you need vintage or distorted sound.
Types of Microphone Preamps
Before deciding on your mic preamp take a look at the different types available, to ensure you choose the right one for your needs.
Stereo Tube Preamps
Tube preamps feature glass tubes, and use transformers to help voltage drive your sound. They offer a richer midrange, greater texture, and excellent realism.
Solid-state preamps use transistors to boost your mic signal to a voltage level that your amps can magnify, offering greater detail and faster sound.
While single and dual-channel preamps are ideal for recording with one or two mics at a time, multichannel preamps are necessary if you're building a professional studio, as they enable you to record with many mics at the same time.
Using Preamps for Instruments
You can use preamps for a variety of musical instruments. Guitar preamps often take the form of pedals, and can be used to achieve different EQ points and adjust your pre-gain tone. Using a preamp pedal also provides you with consistency if you switch guitars or travel from venue to venue.
If you like to play vinyl records, you can also use a preamp to significantly boost the sound quality of your turntable. Turntable preamps can increase sound levels for a more accurate and detailed representation of your favorite music.
B&H Photo and Video has you covered for microphone preamps and other pro audio equipment.