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I have two mics, an SM58 & a Rode NT1 and am using a Presonus Firebox for recording. I would be recording one input at a time and it would be primarily voice and sometimes acoustic guitar or amped out electric. Could someone please guide me which preamp would fit my budget of $250. I am finding the gain on the Firebox rather low with the SM58 but just about acceptable with the Rode NT1. The room I'm using for recording is reasonably well soundproofed and equalized. Thanks a ton in advance. I must say I stumbled on this forum a few days ago and wish I had found out about it earlier!!

I also have a cheap Behringer UB802 Mixer which has it's own preamps. Should I forget about getting an external preamp and make do with the ones on this?


RemyRAD Tue, 07/22/2008 - 01:50

I can't imagine why, with an SM58, you wouldn't have enough gain for guitar, from a Beringer mixer? Yet your room has been soundproofed & equalized? Then just turn up your input gain on your computer interface. My technically clueless friend, who is a wonderful singer-songwriter has one of those 8 input, powered Beringer thingies. Plug back into my Edirol UA1EX and my M Audio Transit as well as a 24/96 and have had no problems recording guitar amplifiers or acoustic guitars with an SM58. So we must look at your gain staging and how you are going about it.

First you obtain proper level on your Beringer mixer. Then, you tweak either the audio input on your interface or, utilize the mixer applet, in your operating system, "line input" level adjustment. That should get you on the right track. The left track. Or, both tracks. Either way, we shouldn't lose track of what we're talking about here? Whatever that was? Either way, I have to make tracks.

Thankfully, I wiped the dog stuff off of my shoes before recording.
Ms. Remy Ann David

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hierics Tue, 07/22/2008 - 02:47

Thanks Remy. I have seen enough posts where Behringer's so called `budget quality' gear gets taken apart and that's why the doubt. Should I use the preamps on the UB802 or dump it altogether for a dedicated preamp. There are no problems while recording electric guitar or singers with good lung power. It's when I need to record a small child singing or spoken word or acoustic guitar plucking, I feel that I would love to have hotter signals.

I might be sounding slow here, but you are suggesting I plug the mic into the mixer (say channel 1), pan hard left, then take the left output of the mixer into the line in of the firebox. All this is assuming I'm recording a mono vocal/guitar track.

Thanks for the patience. Kindly continue to do so!!

RemyRAD Wed, 07/23/2008 - 00:17

I wouldn't necessarily say you should take your single vocal microphone & pan it hard left just because it is mono. In fact, you could pan to center and track the single microphone as a dual mono, stereo track. This could allow you to take more advantage of stereo plug-ins? Or you can just tell the software to record a single channel of either left or right, of your audio computer interface input.

Yes, the Beringer mixer can provide you with greater gain. Not so much that you overload the Beringer. But so you can turn up the line input sensitivity of your computer audio interface. This is all part of what we call gain staging. So if you need a little extra gain, the mixer & input control to the computer interface allows greater variability, especially for those softer harder to record sources. And with that Beringer, you could utilize some of its EQ to tailor your microphone prior to recording and/or an outboard hardware compressor/limiter could be utilized on the output of the Beringer and before the computer audio interface input. Although many will suggest against doing so since incorrect decisions cannot be easily undone, if at all. But once you figure out your technique, you'll find ways of working at the complement your and product the way you would like it to be.

Beringer equipment while not necessarily being of a highly regarded quality product, is most certainly mostly adequate. It's the build quality & some of his design & business politics/practices that have gotten him the bad rap. But when you see professional equipment reviews in a well regarded trade publication of audio amplifiers in the price range between $3500 & $10,000 and then the reviewer also suggests the Beringer amplifier for a couple of hundred books that compares favorably. "Amazingly good" albeit not on the quality of the PAS & others definitely sends a practical message. I like that. Works for me.

Practical engineer
Ms. Remy Ann David

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hierics Wed, 07/23/2008 - 11:38

Thanks again Remy. I do see your point about Behringer and it's certainly tailored to the countless struggling musicians who also have to worry about how to pay their bills! I should know as I am based in India and each dollar converted really jacks up the price by a big amount here.

Just one more clarification please....Do I take the Behringer outs into the unbalanced Line in inputs on the Firebox bypassing the preamps on it completely? The cables would be short so it shouldn't matter but I find it a bit hard to accept that a $60 mixer would have better preamps than the ones on a $300 interface. I guess I would have to do my own trials to find what works best for me.

This forum is a Godsend!!


Profile picture for user Codemonkey

Codemonkey Wed, 07/23/2008 - 18:08

If you want to record 2 things or less, use the Firebox preamps. If you need the mixer for anything (ie mixing multiple things) then do what you said above.

If you do test it though, I expect you'll notice a day and night difference.

WindyCityMastering Sun, 07/27/2008 - 19:20

$250 doesn't go very far if you want to buy a product off of the shelf. However, if you are good with a soldering iron you could build some truly top notch gear.

Go to and look in the meta thread for the Green Pre. If you double your budget you could look at JLM Audio's "Baby Animal" preamps.