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Explanation of Microphone Preamp

Discussion in 'Preamps / Channel Strips' started by Josh1115, Jul 14, 2011.

  1. Josh1115

    Josh1115 Active Member

    I know this sounds like a stupid question, but I was wondering if someone could give me a dumbed down explanation of what exactly a microphone preamp is, what its benefits are over plugging directly into to an interface (such as an MBox), essentially how to use it, and what some decent mic pre for not a lot of money.
  2. gdoubleyou

    gdoubleyou Well-Known Member

    Basically it's an amp used to raise the level of a mic up to line level.

    Check this out Tweak's Guide to the Home and Project Studio and more specific How to make sense out of the Microphone Preamp jungle
  3. ToddP

    ToddP Active Member

    If you are plugging your mic into an M-Box, you are plugging into its built-in mic preamp. Some people buy upgraded outboard preamps for better headroom or sound.
  4. Spase

    Spase Active Member

    Yeah, a preamp is not needed if you are plugging into an interface that has a built in preamp. In fact, this can often be a bad thing. It will cause more noise(you get the noise of both preamps) and more coloration - and not usually in a good way. Thats not to say it can never be a good thing. If you have line ins on your interface, that is where a preamp is best used.

    I would guess that in your situation the best thing would be to learn to use what you have before you worry about getting something better. Upgrade when you know why you need that next better piece of gear. When you can use the stuff you have to its full potential, then you will be ready to move on to better things - and able to tell the difference.
  5. Josh1115

    Josh1115 Active Member

    yeah I have an M-Box... so essentially there is a built in mic preamp? I know it has a 48v for both inputs, I didnt realize it was a preamp too. So in other words, if I were to buy a mic preamp, it would be to upgrade from the Mbox preamp? If I did happen to buy one, I would use a cable from mic to new pre amp, from pre amp to mbox?
  6. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    And you're an intern at a full blown studio?????

    Do they let you plug stuff in?

    Not to be snide, but this knowledge is very very basic recording 101.

    1. NEVER plug a mic pre into another mic pre. WHY? Noise floor and you defeat any improvements the second outboard pre might make since its signal will be reduced to the signal of the LAST device in the chain.

    2. M-boxes have LINE INPUTS. Why? They are used as interfaces for outboard devices in some cases.

    3.A mic-pre is exactly what its label says it is. It is a preamp built to 'amplify' a signal from a low output device, (like a mic) into a higher voltage input such as a recorder/console/line input etcetc.....

    4. There are literally HUNDREDS of mic preamps available. In all price ranges, colors, shapes and sizes. They all do essentially the same job, some do parts of this job better than others, some do it differently. Knowing which is best for what your intention is, is the part that becoming a recording engineer encompasses.

    5. Knowing how best to use such a device is parallel to learning what it is and why it does what it does to all sorts of sources of sound.

    Since you are an intern at an established recording studio in the Chicago area, I would hope that you are paying attention to these sort of details when you have the opportunity to witness the goings on in sessions. THIS is the only real way to knowledge about this craft.
  7. gdoubleyou

    gdoubleyou Well-Known Member

    You would be replacing the M-Box, and or bypassing it's preamp by connecting to the digital I/O. ( if it has any. )
  8. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Actually, I frequently have to deal with a microphone preamp that I have to plug into my microphone preamp. A.k.a. line level outputs into microphone level inputs. This is not as thoroughly a bad thing when one fully understands the operational characteristics of the tools you are using. For instance, have you ever tried to change a car tire with just a screwdriver? No? Well, it can't be done unless you can forge the metal into a heavy-duty wrench. But they're generally isn't quite enough metal in the screwdriver to accomplish that regardless of heat and your metallurgy expertise. Actually it's a little more like alchemy but I know how to do that. With pads and proper gain staging, one can reap the benefits of 2 diametrically opposed microphone preamp's into one homogeneous act of genius. Been there done that. You can too if you really really want to. But make no mistake, make no mistake. There, wasn't that simple? Signal to noise decrease? Nope. Distortion increase? Not on your life. I know you can do this.

    We don't drink. We don't smoke. Norfolk Norfolk!
    Mx. Remy Ann David

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