Mic preamp or mixer

looking for recommendations

I’m currently using the line out on my amp to line-in on my Sound Blaster Audigy card. I am getting ready to order a new mic (Shure SM57) and I also would like to get a mic preamp or a mixer. I don’t really know which I need. I will be recording my acoustic by a mic and start recording my electric by micing the amp. Will a mixer with a preamp suffice for what I am doing, or should I just get a mic preamp. Also, can you give some recommendations on brands/models I should look at. I would like to get a decent unit but not spend a whole lot of money. The cheaper the better but I don’t want to get junk.

Your choice of mixer or mic preamp depends on how many tracks you need to record simultaneously. If that is just one or two, then dedicated mic preamps are probably the way to go. Several choices are the Studio Projects VTB-1, Bellari MP 105, and the ART MP. These are all single channel units in the $100-$150 range. If you need to record more tracks at one time, then economics take over and make a mixer the logical choice. There are a number of choices in the compact mixer market, but the leading candidates are Mackie, Behringer, and Yamaha. Prices range anywhere from about $50 for a 2 mic preamp Behringer to well over $1000 for the new Mackie Onyx models. Forum users have achieved good results with both solutions.

since it sounds like you’ll just be recording one channel at a time. a dedicated mic preamp would be most beneficial.

if you think you might be recording more than one thing at a time any time soon, you may want to think about a mixer.

I would recommend you get a couple of things.

SM57 for the electric guitar
Large Diaphragm condenser mic for the acoustic and can also be used for your vocals
Mic preamp/channel strip

for the electric guitar, the sm57 is great. but even a large diaphragm condenser mic can work wonders. many engineers use both at the same time actually. sm57 on the grill, LDC mic a few feet out to get the “whole” sound.

IF you were to be interested in this option, you’re going to want a dual channel mic preamp or minimum two channel mixer.

how much is your budget?
Some decent sub $200 LDC mics are the:
Marshall Electronics MXL V67G
and the
Studio Projects B-1
the mxl is highly recommended by many as a inexpensive vocal mic

some decent $200 LDC mics are:
Audio Technica AT3035
Studio Project C-1
the AT3035 is known as a very good all around mic-useful for guitar, vocals, anything
the C-1 is HIGHLY recommended as a inexpensive vocal mic.

for preamps, the Art Tube series are decent-but tend to make the tracks muddy when ALL of the parts are recorded with one.
The M-Audio Audiobuddy is a dual mic preamp for $80 and is often said to be THE best mic pre in that price range.
Some like the Presonus Blue Tube mic pres-they are comparative to the Art series-keep in mind, at that price, any “tube” mic preamp is a gimic. the tube is NOT run at full plate voltages, and even though the tube DOES color the sound a little, you’re not getting the TUBE sound that so many refer to.
The studio project VTB1 is thought to be a very good mic pre for that price.

A channel stip could really help you out since it will have a mic pre, compressor, and an eq all in one package. but this will cost more. the art pro channel is a good choice, but the more you spend, the better they get.

my recommendation would be:

total price:

I’d recommend the AT3035 over the SM57 to save money-since the AT3035 can record everything pretty well, but the SM57 is more “specialized” you could say.

I have to say that I am less and less enamoured of my ART MP. It really is muddy, and this woudl get really annoying if you used it on everything. Plus it is not the quietest preamp ever made. :)

i also have an art tube mp kicking around, thinking of experimenting with tube replacement… anyone here with recommendations on which 12AX7 tube(s) to try out?

the tube mp was decent when it was the only preamp i had… however, it was only being used for bass DI and vocals. guitars were recorded direct through a processor and drums sequenced with fruity loops.

On a ‘normal’ budget: M-audio DMP3 or the Studio Projects VTB-1. On a smaller budget : M-audio Audiobuddy. On a larger budget: Pay your money and take your pick.