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Can someone suggest a mic preamp?

Discussion in 'Preamps / Channel Strips' started by ejb, Aug 11, 2010.

  1. ejb

    ejb Active Member

    I'm looking for a preamp which is low on the noise and won't bust my budget. I appreciate any suggestions.
    This would be used for recording.

  2. HaHallur

    HaHallur Active Member

    your budget is?
  3. ejb

    ejb Active Member

    under $100
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    oh my goodness. You are posting this in a pro recording forum.

    Think of how much it costs for R&D, casing, design, wall wort and plastic and lead, packaging, shipping, dealer and manufacturer profit and then... think of what a $100 preamp would actually have in it of any value after you add it all up. It might be $5 lol. All you are buying is noise. Go to ebay and pray someone has died and the estate is clueless.

    I'll move this to the budget gear section. Good luck.
  5. ejb

    ejb Active Member

    Thanks for the humorous reply. Obviously, I'm new to home recording and I haven't much money at all. I didn't know there was a budget gear section. I was hoping that someone had found a cheap solution that I could glean.

    Related question: what is wrong with the cheap solution of using a guitar amp and running the out into my recording device? Is there traditionally, too much noise associated with this approach?

  6. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    What is your recording device?
  7. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    These are broad ranging questions you are asking. While Chris indicated that this was the Pro Audio forum, I can safely say that back in the mid-1980s, yup, 20 years ago, I purchased a British made Soundtracs 16-8-16 console. This was a fairly lightweight portable board that was capable of 16 to 24 track recording and mixing. I purchased this particular console back then not for the integrity of its sound but for the features that I needed to have. In this together inexpensive console ($3400 US at the time) it had the world's simplest & cheapest & least expensive microphone preamp ever put in a console. The microphone preamp was a single Signetics 5534AN integrated circuit chip. Less than $5 US. This was a slightly lower noise version of their standard 5534A. By no means what we call today a professional microphone preamp. HOWEVER it was perfectly & completely 100% adequate and noise was really not an issue. Headroom was generally restricted to +18 dbm, into a 600 ohm load, which the load never was. This was also the case in a microphone & preamp audible comparison test on a British Pro audio website record-producer.com. Just search "The worst U87 I ever heard". It's all in how you use it and the application it's being used for. Even cheap crap can be 100% adequate in pop music recording. That might not be what you want to use to record a fine Symphony Orchestra? And that microphone preamp could not generate as much gain as many of the professional preamps such as Neve & API & other similar ones. But you still shouldn't discount the possible use of $5 microphone preamps if that's all you can afford. Of course we would like you to purchase better equipment from many of the commercial manufacturers here at Recording.org. High quality preamps are definitely worth their weight in gold records. Once you've used some of those it's quite hard to go back to the five dollar variety. But nonetheless, you are also here not just to find out what the best or cheapest equipment you should purchase but you will also obtain quality information from highly experienced folks such as myself that will teach you how to deliver a professional product regardless of the equipment you are using. Most of it comes down to technique & experience. There's just no way around that you are either a good engineer or you are a lousy engineer. And that has nothing to do with your equipment at hand. It has everything to do how you have learned to use the equipment you have or can afford. You see, Chris, (audiokid) is building himself a nice studio right now and he is not doing it on the cheap. He's been behind those splendid, vintage quality NEVE consoles. Of course he might be going for some of the more state of the art stuff? I'm not interested in that stuff myself. I am really not into high-end esoteric equipment. Of course, that is basically a lie. I been lucky enough to be able to have some of the world's best recording gear. But I've also owned the 5 dollar microphone preamp. I still enjoy listening to those recordings I made 25 years ago on those 5 dollar preamps. It's not horrible. It's not noisy. Okay, so I also have some of those API American-made preamps but nevertheless, one can make a fine recording with crappy equipment. Although I must say, I really don't know any really good recordings that used such cheap equipment. Not something you typically find in a commercial release. But hey, it's only rock 'n roll and I love it, love it, yes I dew.

    I'm cheap & easy
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  8. ejb

    ejb Active Member

    Thank you Remy. I am using a TASCAM US-122 to USB into my computer. From there, I am using software to record with. I am mostly doing Rock 'n roll so a little noise I think is acceptable. I'm just starting to record again. I don't expect to have a professional sound...not from my current equipment. However, I don't want it to sound so bad that the noise interferes with the ability to listen to it. Right now, my mic is in my small amp and I'm doing a line-out to the TASCAM. It is a bit noisy, but that may be the mic not the amp. Perhaps, I should set my thoughts on the mic first.
    thanks for the help.
  9. JasonAlanJohnson

    JasonAlanJohnson Active Member

    There are plenty of preamps in your price range. Although, most are tube pres, so you'll have the sound of a vacuum tube in the signal. Go to the store and test the ART line. Se what you think of the tube sound. If you would prefer something solid state, you will probably need to up the budget a bit.
  10. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    You realize that the TASCAM US-122 has two preamps in it, correct? Are you looking for a third or are you under the impression that < $100 preamp is going to be better than what you already own?
  11. Shadow_7

    Shadow_7 Active Member

    What are you in need of low noise for to start with?

    Recording a solo flute from 90 paces?

    Mixing 100 tracks and can't stand the cumulative noise?

    Using mics with very low output signals?

    For < $100 not much to gloat about IMO. Art Tube MP was $30-ish, but I doubt it'd be better than what you already have. The most hideous thing I've ever used, but it came in a bundle with a decent mic. A used DMP3 might be had for $100-ish. A used sound devices MP-1 or MM-1 for $200-ish. About the only decent < $500 ones to even look at IMO. But it really depends on how good is good enough. And whether you want to risk used, or go new? Also bear in mind that the preamp isn't the ONLY source of noise.
  12. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Used Aphex 107's can usually be found on eBay for $125 range, that's one (dual channel pre) I can think of near your budget worthy of consideration.
  13. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Those "tube" preamps are in effect solid state with a feed to the tube for distortion. They're not true tube pres. At any rate, they will be fine but as Bob Rogers pointed out, there are already two preamps in the US-122. I doubt any pre under one hundred dollars will be noticeably better. In fact considering that the US-122 probably has attenuated mic inputs posing as line inputs, they will probably add more noise than desired.

    ejb: There is no mic in your amp, it's a direct feed. Probably with speaker emulation. I would guess that it's actually the amp that's adding noise if anything.

    Have you considered going direct? I know that it's not the same but my guess is that you are using a modelling amp of some sort anyway. There are some good FREE amp emulator plugins. Yes. It's true. Check here. Freeamp is a great FREE VST amp. It doesn't sound like a Marshall or a Boogie but it's "close enough for jazz"(who said that?) and the price is right. This is a VST so you need a VST host. Hopefully you are using Cubase LE or AI so that shouldn't be a problem.
  14. ejb

    ejb Active Member

    Yes I realize that the TASCAM has preamps in it. The TASCAM took a tumble recently and some functionality is not working anymore. I can still use it to record, though. Thanks for your help.

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