Do I need a Mic Pre-Amp? A question I am often asked, and one that can give two different answers depending on who you speak to.
I have created voiceovers both using a Mic Pre-Amp and without, and to be honest I don’t really see the need for them! Shock! Horror! I imagine that above comment will really upset some audio techno folk! But I’ll try and explain a little my reasoning….
As long as you have a decent audio interface, something with Phantom Power (I use a Scarlett Solo) then you don’t need a pre-amp.
Your fabulous condenser microphone will work with your trusty old computer.
Why would you want one?
- Noise Gate Function – yes most mic preamps come with some form of Noise Gate. People think the old noise gate will sort out their noise floor issues and turn your bedroom into a Professional Recording Studio.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. A noise gate will work pretty well but only if your noise floor is already very low (something like -50db) anything higher and it can sound very un-natural.
BUT most audio editors and DAWs have a perfectly adequate noise gate function, so why the hardware version?
- HPF – high pass filters work by effectively blocking low end frequencies and generally we can’t hear these anyway. Most software packages have this feature.
- EQ – Most pre-amps allow you to tweak some of the frequency range, yes this can make you sound great but software allows you to do this too.
- GAIN – just turn up the gain on your audio interface.
Now, I’m not totally against the use of mic-preamps, I own one.
BUT if you are trying to create a vocal booth on the cheap then you really don’t need one. Everything can be replicated with your Audio Editor or DAW.
I’d personally spend the money you would save on a pre amp into making your recording space quieter!
(Hint! This is the most important bit, not mic, not computer, not fancy hardware)
I still want a Mic Pre-Amp, recommend one please!
I have a DBX 286S, and if you really had to buy one for voice work, then I would suggest this one.
I’ll probably do a review of it at some stage and I have one myself here, but generally I set it to ‘BYPASS’.
I just love recording my voice as is, then playing around with my Audio Editor to get it sounding just right.
Perhaps I’m wrong, who knows!