What are Mic Preamps Used for

In case you are new to the world of microphones and just trying to learn everything at the moment, in the following article, we will tell you what are mic preamps used for.

Let’s start with the fact that the microphone signal themselves are extremely weak. And usually making the recordings in the studio requires lots of gains, around 30-60dB.

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There is a mic preamplifier (or a preamp) and it can boost this signal of a microphone or of an instrument. Therefore, this instrument will be able to be compatible with the recording equipment.

And as you have already understood, mic preamps are crucial in home recording studios. And they are actually irreplaceable in recording studios of all types.

Let’s see which kinds of mic preamplifiers are out there.

Lots of people mistake mic preamp for phantom power. But remember, that the preamp is used to amplify the microphone signal, and what phantom power does is supply power to the microphone for it to work. They are functioning separately.

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In the case of the condenser microphones, the preamp is needed to be used after the device has received the source of the phantom power.

An interesting fact is that all the top-level preamps come with phantom power capabilities.

And nowadays almost each high-quality recording software has a built-in preamp to make the process better. In any device that has a microphone input, there is a mic preamplifier.

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And no matter how many mics you have connected to this device, each channel will have this preamp.

For example, the mic preamps are built-in into the audio interfaces of such popular brands as Focusrite, PreSonus, and Audient. Usually, the more expensive the audio interface is, the better the mic preamp it has.

There are also outboard microphone preamps and they are usually expensive. If you’ve ever been to a professional recording studio, you must have seen those. They are usually mounted inside the rack units.

When an engineer chooses to use a dedicated mic preamp, it bypasses the preamps found in audio interfaces and mixing desks. Usually, each engineer has his own favorite preamp that he prefers to work with.

In general, the mic preamp will help you to achieve higher sound quality. Most recording studios usually have several types of them, so they can compare and use each one that fits better to the different types of sound.

Choosing the right microphone preamp is a crucial part and it will influence the quality of the sound that you will get eventually. Of course, we would recommend buying a dedicated mic preamp instead of a cheaper one with plug-ins.

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But everything depends on your level of experience. If you’re doing studio recording and mixing professionally or looking forward to it, then you should go for a dedicated preamp. If not, then a regular one will be fine, but take into consideration that its gain has a higher level of distortion.

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