The value of a mic preamp
To understand how the best microphone preamps work - you must know what exactly is a mic preamp.
The term mic preamp stands for "pre-amplification."
This is a fancy term for amplifying the input audio - all mic preamps have practically the same purpose.
Some artists think mic preamps aren't important...
But just note that almost all audio interfaces with a multi-channel input structure have their own built-in microphone preamps.
Basically - every interface has mic preamps but not every mic preamp is an interface.
(Looking carefully, even mixers have a built in mic preamp.)
To have the highest sound quality possible - you absolutely need the best mic preamps!
There is a microphone preamp and an instrument preamp for your guitar.
This multi channel setup makes it easy to capture different amplitudes of audio without clipping!
Mic preamps are ESSENTIAL for any acapella artist.
Some say there's no difference between a mic preamp and audio interfaces in general.
(Pssst! Read our blog on Analog VS Digital recording for this blog to make sense!)
What exactly does a Good mic pre amp do?
The best mic preamps out there have a high sample rate and bit depth.
This means that mic preamps not only record the highest sound quality, but they record the low and high frequencies without noise.
Although all mic preamps take in analog audio, depending on the mic pre amp you'll get different fidenity.
If you're setting a mic preamp for recording your band - you'll need to set the mic preamps pretty far away in order to not clip.
This can be an issue, for artists that don't have a pre-amp.
Even if your multi-channel audio interface, there is bound to be clipping without the help of a mic preamp.
You could try multiple separate takes without the help of a mic preamp, but it's not ideal for workflow.
Unless you're using the best mic preamps this means the high input gain will bring an unnecessary noise.
This taints the sound quality buy a lot and you will never achieve studio-quality sound.
That said... If you're using the best microphone preamps, you can avoid this issue.
Not only that - a decent mic preamp allows you to sing loudly and pick up your full voice.
You can stand far away and get LOUD vocals with a good phantom power preamp!
That's how major artists can scream on track without clipping - the secret is in the mic preamp.
Phantom power mic preamps allows your audio engineer to really mess with your audio vocals to get really dope sounds!
Without using the best microphone preamps, Kid Laroi would NOT be famous.
Kid Laroi has an interesting voice, no doubt about that.
You need a REALLY good mic preamp to pick up all the vocal tonation he has.
We're talking tens of thousands of dollars per mic pre-amp... Though, you can do fine with less!
If you don't have that kind of budget for your mic pre-amp, no worries.
Here are the top 5 mic preamps:
Top 5 best cheap mic preamps
Each mic preamp on this list of the best mic pre amps design for multi channel input and the best audio possible!
Now without further ado here are the best mic preamps to get the best audio quality:
- Avalon VT-737sp
- Grace Design m101
- True Systems Precision 8
- Presonus BlueTube v2
- FMR Audio Really Nice Preamp
Check out these best microphone preamps and see which mic preamp is best for you!
The price is high even for cheap... But mic preamps are that expensive to begin with!
I personally prefer the Grace design m101 microphone preamp along with Avalon VT.
In reality, so long as the solid-state mic preamp works then you're good!
(If you're using ribbon mics then you'll need the right mic preamp to get the most juice.)
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Phantom power vs neutral mic preamp
You must absolutely get mic preamps with phantom power.
Without phantom power, your mic preamp is kind of useless.
This is because phantom power allows your mic preamps to connect to a mic with an XLR cable.
You can get higher-fidelity analog audio!
The sound quality for a phantom power connection versus a neutral connection is HUFE for all mic preamps!
Phantom power is important not just for a mic preamp, but for all single-channel inputs.
For example, I have phantom power on my audio interfaces as well.
With the phantom power, I can use a single-channel mic and record good audio.
Without it, EVEN using the best mic preamps, the sound would be unbalanced and contain unwanted noise.
Rather than investing in noise cancellation, just get phantom power mic preamps.
How phantom power and balanced audio works
I'll explain how fantom power works in the simplest way possible.
I want you back to finding cheap mic preamps ASAP!
To make it simple - phantom power XLR cables have balanced inputs.
Phantom power XLR compared to unbalance cables have three channels, rather than the standard two cabled.
This multi channel wiring allows for better sound quality control via phantom power.
A balanced phantom power cord has these channels:
- Ground channel
- Original audio channel
- Copy audio channel
The non-phantom power unbalanced microphone cable only has the audio and ground channels.
The phantom power XLR polarizes the microphone audio for the channel strip inside the table.
After, the XLT then reverses the polarization through the phantom power at the end of the microphone cable.
This allows the channel strip to remove any noise that gets picked up while the audio travels from the tube mic into the mic preamp.
I get that this is complicated mic preamp engineering... Just know that it works!
The best microphone preamps are able to take in the highest sound quality and work in high sample rate.
Some say that mic preamps are the audio engineer's best friend!
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