Understanding Preamps (Pres)

music production

Preamps Preamplifier: Read more on why you need them, how to use them, and how does it fare compared to the ones available on audio interfaces.

Table of Contents

Guide to Preamps

When buying microphones for your studio, it is also important to consider Preamps.

It is quite exciting to setup a music production studio at home. Though you may start with a basic setup, as you become better at the craft or every time you try to do something different, you may realize the need for additional recording equipment.

One such example is Preamps!

If you started thinking that you would never record live vocals or any acoustic instrument, you may not have felt the need, but the moment you think about recording live sounds, it brings microphones into the picture.

And to record vocals, only mics is not going to be enough, you will need a Preamp!

What is a Preamp?

Here’s a brief explanation of what these things do.

Basically, a microphone turns an analog source into a very minute electrical signal, which needs to be amplified before it can be recorded.

That’s exactly what a preamp does.

These too come in various qualities and forms. You get preamps that are part of the audio interfaces, but sometimes these may not be good enough for your purpose, and that is where you might need an external mic preamp.

Even the external preamps are available in various types, depending on the sounds you need. So you really need to think whether you need a separate microphone preamp, as these can really enhance your sounds.


Here’s a video that talks about some popular preamps.

Get a Clean Sound

Want a nice clean sound when you are recording drums, vocals or any other acoustic instrument? You need a clean mic preamplifier to get the right sound!

You can choose from a variety of preamps but many choose to use a high-end solid state preamp to get this job done. If you play the guitar, you may want to check out tube preamps for your setup.

Adding Gain

You also need to allow for gain settings, through the preamp, going into recording software / D.A.W so that you have enough headroom for adding effects such as equalization, compression and reverb.

Standalone vs Audio Interface

There are several audio interfaces that come with a built-in preamplifier, so why should you consider buying them separately?

It depends on how good you want your vocals and acoustic instruments to sound.

The ones on audio interfaces are good, but you do have the option to buy standalone high-quality preamps. There are many who notice that compared to the ones on the interface, some of the good quality pre give:

  • Better sound
  • A lot more fullness
  • Sense of weight & punch and
  • Headroom
  • Checkout this video that shows a Microphone Preamp Comparison:



    The good quality ones also provide you with features such as low impedance settings, DI input, phantom power and polarity invert (lots of features as you can see).

    Read reviews of some of the best preamps here

    To Conclude

    A microphone turns an analog source into a very minute electrical signal, which needs to be amplified before it can be recorded. That’s exactly what a preamp does, and that is why it’s so important in any recording setup. These too come in various qualities and forms. You get preamps that are part of the audio interfaces, but then sometimes these may not be good enough for your purpose.

    That is where you might need an external mic preamp! Even those are available in various types, depending on the sounds you need. So you really need to give some thought to whether you need a separate microphone preamp, as these can really enhance your sounds.

    If you are new to home recording, you may not even realize that something known as preamps exists, assuming your audio interface already has one built-in. But you may need a separate one for specific purposes and these can be used for recording drums, bass and electric guitars, as well as vocals. In terms of setting these up, a Preamplifier is pretty straight forward to set up.



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