audio tips

Pre-amp is a equipment used in the recording industry. Today article is about preamp, describing it in simple terms what is a preamp and what does it do.

According to wikipedia, a Preamp is “A microphone preamplifier is a sound engineering device that prepares a microphone signal to be processed by other equipment.”

Usually all the consoles are not giving proper gain for all types of microphones especially the dynamic ones, except condenser microphones.

Moreover the acoustic musical instruments needs more amplification.

So for getting an additional amplification (gain) we have to use a mic mixer or otherwise called Preamp.

Preamp gain is interns of voltage. The out of the mic mixer goes to the corresponding channels of audio console whether it is digital or analog.

For getting the appropriate signal-to-noise ratio mic amp provides sufficient gain or usable level.

Mic preamp has got multiple amplification stages, so the total gain of mic mixer is the sum of gain of each stage

Benefits of using an External Preamp

Better sound quality: This becomes most evident at higher gain settings.
More gain: Low output dynamic mics, such as ribbons, may require up to 70 dB, sometimes even more.
Lower noise.
A special sound character: This is perhaps the most common reason to buy an external preamp.
Phase reverse.
Low cut or pad switches.

Types of Preamps

Basically in the older days there were only 2 types of preamps available, one is semi conductor type and the other is vacuum tube.

Now a days with the advancement of technology preamps for various needs has been developed with specific features, some of them are listed below,

Transparent Preamps.
Tube Preamps.
Solid State Preamps.
Hybrid Preamps.
Digital Preamps.
Instrument-specific Preamps

The first important distinction to be made among the different types of preamps available is an aesthetic one: whether they’re designed to add color or deliver a transparent signal. You’ll usually find both types in most studios to meet a range of recording needs. A color preamp can add body or character to a thin voice or instrument, whereas a transparent preamp strives to reproduce the original instrument or vocal sound as accurately as possible.

Even though preamp is being recommend by sound engineers for quality output, not all studios are having pre-mixer or a pre-amp. It is optional and it is being used purely based on the type of microphones being used and the instruments being played.

Pre-Amp is an outboard equipment and a good recordist can calibrate mic mixer and console in terms of toner quality and loudness.