Mic preamp?

Different from an effects processor?

Is a preamp simply for giving volume to a mic before recording? If so, will any external effects processor work? (Reverb unit) Thanks.


Not likely. Most effects processors are expecting to receive a line level signal… A preamp boosts a mic level signal TO a line level signal. Effects usually have a trim and output control of some sort, but they are not preamps. If you are concerned about cost, there are a lot of inexpensive pres from ART, Behringer, Studio Projects, PreSonus and many others. If oyu happen to be independantly wealthy, let me know. I’ll have a whole other list for you to choose from. :;):

Thanks Bubbagump. Do you have any suggestions for an inexpensive preamp? I’ve been looking at them, but they all seem pretty much the same.

Try the Art Tube MP


Clean, but you can get all kinds of effects from overloading the tube and using the limiter, especially with electric guitars…

Jon, if you are in the states, I’ll sell you my Tube MP cheap.

Also - you can get some preamps for free, or close to it - old tape recorders, e.g., sometimes have usable or even good pres in them. If you have no money at all, it can be a good way to go.

Thanks everybody. I didn’t see your post TomS before I went ahead and ordered the MP Studio V3. It has some presets I thought might help me. I appreciate the offer. Hopefully this thing won’t be too noisy. I’ll let y’all know.


Presets on these things are pointless IMHO - they are featues folks think will help them get the right setting, but think about the various levels of guitars and mics and such - how could a present labelled “vocal” possible take into account all of the variables in mics and singers? Personally, I think it is a marketing technique - put some dents in the pot, label them “vox” and “guitar” and whatnot, at almost no additional cost, and then jack up the price.

Just my opinion, of course. :)

Anyway, you will find that for the money it really is a bargain. And now youa re on the path that leads to GAS. Gear acquisition syndrome. Within a year or so you will start thinking, “hmmm, that preamp just doesn’t sound as good as that one that costs 200 bucks…and it can’t hold a candle to the one for 750 clams…hmmm”


I recommend the Studio Projects VTB-1, for $100. I also recommend having a number of different preamps for any songs where you’ll be miking a lot of tracks. Every preamp has some ‘tone’ to it, which seems to build up when you use it too much.

Any little mixer like a Behringer UB802 will have preamps built in, and many soundcards have them too. These “mixer-quality” preamps are actually pretty decent, especially compared to mixer preamps from decades past. However, different mikes tend to sound a lot alike through these preamps.

Preamp quality matters. You see, ideally it’s just a signal booster, but it’s boosting a very quiet signal, and this is a tricky matter.

BTW, while there are a number of cheap (under $250) tube-based preamps, where the tubes are “starved plate” designs intended to give tube distortion, these preamps tend to work best on the clean end. (In pro studios, preamps under $1000 or so is generally considered “cheap”, and these generally start around $500. Way over my head!)