Asked by: Yamel Tosina
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Do I need a preamp for my mic?

Last Updated: 25th March, 2020

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A preamp is one of those essential items for your studio. If you use a condenser microphone, which requires 48v phantom power to work, you'll need a preamp to provide it! The audio signal from microphones is weak, so they need a preamp to translate it into a stronger "Line level" signal.

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Correspondingly, what does a preamp do for a microphone?

A microphone preamp is simply some sort of device that amplifies (makes louder) the microphone signal. Microphones generally have a very low, unusable output. Plugging them into a microphone preamp allows you to bring that level up to a usable (line) level. Any device that has a microphone input has a mic preamp.

Likewise, why is a preamp necessary? Years ago preamps were necessary as there was a standardized voltage output below 1 volt for most sources and most amps require more than that for full output. Today most sources output much higher voltages that can drive amps.

Thereof, do I need a mic preamp if I have a mixer?

The preamp would plug into the TRS (Line in) input on your mixer, that way it would not go through the built in preamp. Preamps, even expensive ones are unfortunately not magic devices that make everything sound awesome, so no, at this point you do not need one.

Does preamp affect sound quality?

Conclusion. The sound contribution of preamps is not so much in its frequency response but in the texture it imparts on the sound. However, a preamp shapes the sound to a much lesser degree than one would think. Usually, its sound character only becomes obvious at high gain settings or when you drive it into distortion

Related Question Answers

Rosen Wohlschiess

Professional

What's the difference between a preamp and an amp?

Power Amps
The basic difference between a preamp and amp is: Preamp is used for boost the input signal to match the line level signal and an Amp or amplifier is used to amplify the line level signal to get sound on speakers.

Sigfrido Isaura

Professional

What does a preamp do for home audio?

A Preamplifier (preamp) is a device in which the user can connect all audio or audio/video source components (such as CD, DVD, or Blu-ray Disc players). The preamplifier can be used to switch between sources, process audio and/or video, and also supply an audio output signal to what is referred to as a Power Amplifier.

Heide Baidyuk

Explainer

What is the best mic preamp?

What are the Top Rated Preamps for Mics in 2019 ?
  • ART Pro MPAII Two Channel.
  • Behringer Ultragain Pro MIC2200.
  • DBX 286s.
  • PreSonus BlueTube DP.
  • Cloud Microphones CL-1. CLICK HERE FOR PRICE.
  • PreSonus DigiMax D8 8-Channel. CLICK HERE FOR PRICE.
  • ART TubeOpto. CLICK HERE FOR PRICE.
  • Solid State Logic Alpha VHD. CLICK HERE FOR PRICE.

Mounina Menlin

Explainer

Do mic preamps make a difference?

Preamps make a difference, but not as much as the earlier parts of the signal chain; mic, instrument, room, and player. Actually, the biggest single difference you can make is swapping out the musician. Nothing contributes to a good recording more than a great player.

Anneke Andronov

Pundit

How do I know if I need a preamp?

Easiest possible answer. If the receiver the turntable is plugged into has a "phono input" you do not need a preamp. If your receiver is newer and does not have a "phono input" you will most likely need a pre-amp unless you are using a turntable that has a built in pre-amp.

Hashim Rossa

Pundit

Why use a preamp and a power amp?

Whereas a preamp strengthens your guitar's weak output signal to line level, a power amp boosts that line level signal even more – so that it can be projected through speakers. As the final stage of an amplifier, the tubes that feature in a power amp section can heavily influence an amplifier's overall “feel”.

Mable Arizpe

Pundit

Can I use a mixer as a preamp?

Yes it can. Most all mixers come with mic pre's and some with phantom power and a mixer will offer far more than a stand alone mic pre. Mixers have their own preamp in every mic inputs, but the quality may be a little less compared to stand alone pre amps. So it depends on your project and budget.

Ampelio Masood

Pundit

What is the difference between a preamp and a mixer?

In audio terms there are two classes of amplifiers, one is called the preamp and the other is a power amp. A mixer is a kind of preamp, it is actually many preamps all in the same enclosure. But a mixer does not select only one source, it mixes multiple audio sources and feeds the combined output to the power amps.

Millie Landaida

Pundit

Do you need an amp with a mixer?

These days, that amplifier can be built into the mixer or the speaker itself, or it can be a standalone unit (power amplifier). So, you want to select one from among a powered mixer, powered speaker, or power amp. You don't need, for example, a powered mixer and a powered speaker.

Silveri Herd

Teacher

What does a preamp do?

A preamplifier (preamp or "pre") is an electronic amplifier that converts a weak electrical signal into an output signal strong enough to be noise-tolerant and strong enough for further processing, or for sending to a power amplifier and a loudspeaker. Without this, the final signal would be noisy or distorted.

Rim Primorosa

Teacher

Can I use a condenser mic without phantom power?

Yes you can use a condenser mic without phantom power, however, its not advised because too many problems will happen if you do this. Its best to always turn phantom power on when you are using the mic so that you can record at optimal levels. Do you and your favorite condenser mic the favor and hit that 48v switch.

Antea Baquedano

Teacher

What is gain in audio?

Gain and Levels. Both gain and levels refer to the loudness of the audio. However, gain is the input level of the clips and volume is the output. In recording audio, gain is the first control that the microphone signal goes through in a mixer while levels are adjusted after that.

Wilford Badiu

Teacher

What is phantom power on a mixer?

Phantom power (labeled as +48 V on most audio equipment) is a method that sends DC voltage through microphone cables. It is best known as a power source for condenser microphones, though many active DI (direct input) boxes also use it.

Mounsef Egorenkov

Reviewer

Does a dynamic mic need a preamp?

All microphones need a preamp. You don't want to use it through a ribbon mic, as it will break the ribbon, but it's usually fine to use it through a dynamic mic. As for how much gain is needed, that's pretty much impossible to answer. If you're recording a jet engine, then you won't need very much gain at all.

Sergi Berntsen

Reviewer

How do you use a preamp?

Turn down the gain control on your preamp. If you still hear distortion, make sure your preamp doesn't clip. Engage your preamp's pad switch to attenuate the signal before it hits the preamp's input stage. If you're sure neither your converters nor your preamp distorts, engage the pad switch on your microphone.

Lilit Nabarniz

Reviewer

Can I plug a mic into a line input?

No. There is not enough gain to amplify a microphone in a line input. Line Inputs are not designed for microphones and although it is possible to use them, the results will not provide optimum. If you have a mic with a jack plug on it you should change it for a XLR connector.

Laimute

Reviewer

How do you set up a microphone?

To install a new microphone, follow these steps:
  1. Right-click (or press and hold) the volume icon on the taskbar and select Sounds.
  2. In the Recording tab, select the microphone or recording device you'd like to set up. Select Configure.
  3. Select Set up microphone, and follow the steps of the Microphone Setup Wizard.

Nancey Weinschenk

Supporter

What is a pad switch on a microphone?

A Pad or Attenuator will reduce the signal. It is often found on condenser microphones and used to step down the output signal if you have an extremely loud source. The 0 dB symbol indicates that the Pad is not engaged and the signal is unaltered.

Dong Yufera

Supporter

How do you hook up a microphone to a tube?

Tube Mic Tear Down
  1. Turn off the power supply and take the mains plug out of the wall (after removing power, let the mic sit 3-5 minutes to dissipate residual power in the line before proceeding)
  2. Remove cable from mic.
  3. Remove mic from shock mount and put it back in the box or case.