Best Mic Preamp
The pre amplifier has been around as long as sound has been recorded. For the past 80 years, thousands of different models have been made and manufacturers have enjoyed successful business from this product.
Preamps work by amplifying the signal so it can properly handle further processing. The amplification is done as close to the sensor as possible to decrease any outside noise or interference and how the signal is amplified determines the kind of sound you’ll get. Traditionally, tube preamps add their own color to the signal and solid-state preamps boost the signal while attempting to keep as much transparency as possible. These two lists comprise of the best of both worlds and any preamp discussed here will satisfy any recording situation you may have ahead of you.
Best Mic Preamp Overall:
Though it may be something of an unheralded component of the recording process to the uninitiated, those who know even the slightest bit about that process know that the mic preamp is the absolute key to making audio sound great. Acting as something of a middle man between the microphone and the DAW or recording sequencer that is capturing the signal, this unit boosts said signal and gives users the ability to further shape it, totally transforming the tone and character of the audio. The price of mic preamps can run the gamut of affordable to quite expensive. Here, we’ve gathered the best mic pre amps available today overall, with each one listed here featuring a built-in EQ to help sweeten the sounds you run through it, feature a compressor component to tighten up your audio signal, and have some type of rack component for seamless integration within your pre-existing studio setup.
The Neve name is already legendary, as the company has been behind some of the greatest sounding outboard gear to ever set foot in a recording studio. The Rupert Neve Designs Shelford 5052 Mic Pre/Inductor EQ preamp provides the magic sound associated with the brand, while also introducing some new updated features. Read Full Review
Avalon’s VT-737sp mic preamp works its magic on any kind of microphone it is paired with, so even if you are not working with the best-sounding device alongside it, it can truly make some amazing sounds. With three input selections and a sweepable EQ, you’ll have more control over your audio signal than you could ever ask for. Read Full Review
Universal Audio’s LA-610 Mk II mic preamp revives a classic sound that can only be achieved via tubes, which is exactly what drives this channel strip. With superb compression and a great front-end that is ideal for digital recording, you can’t go wrong with this unit. Read Full Review
Manley’s Core mic preamp was designed to take the focus off of the unit itself and allow its users to direct their attention to the recording process. This unit features a Class A tube mic/line preamp, direct instrument input, compressor, EQ, limiter, and analog VU meter. Read Full Review
Good things can come in small packages, especially when considering the API 3124+ mic preamp. This 4-channel rack mountable unit offers great-sounding API features and components that’s great for microphone signals and instrument signals alike. Read Full Review
Best Budget Mic Preamp:
Most of us who know about the recording process understand the importance that a good mic preamp plays; it’s the step in between sending the signal through a microphone and adjusting it once it’s been captured, and it can truly sweeten and shape the sound that goes in. But we also know that these units are far from cheap; luckily, there are many great mic preamp budgets that can totally fulfill their role while still being respectful of a shopper’s budget. These are the best budget mic preamps available today, with each one listed here featuring built-in phantom power so each can be used with all types of microphones, they're all compact at less than 20 inches wide, and lastly each features input/gain control to specify just how how you want your signal coming into the unit.
The ART Tube MP preamp is compact and affordable, yet still packs a punch where it matters. This unit offers smooth tube sound quality and more than 70dB of gain. Read Full Review
You’re simply not going to be able to get a Neve product at a very budget-friendly price, but what if there was something affordable that was clearly modeled after one of their units? Enter the Golden Age Project Pre 73 MK II, a mic preamp designed specifically after Neve’s 1073 pre/EQ module. Read Full Review
PreSonus is no stranger when it comes to excellent mic preamps, and with their TubePre V2, they have presented a way to get their excellent sound and tone control in a small and compatible package. The fact that it is priced as low as it is should just be even more incentive for budget-minded shoppers to check it out. Read Full Review
If you have an audio interface that is equipped with lightpipe, DigiMAX’s D8 mic preamp provides an affordable and great-sounding way to expand the number of inputs and outputs you can work with. Eight additional channels are included here, with direct outputs and a 20dB pad on each. Read Full Review
The Daking MicPre 500 offers a redesigned take on the single channel from the company’s Mic Pre IV. Now that channel is available in a module format that can easily integrate into their 500 Series racks. Read Full Review