Before making our list of top 15 best microphone preamps, we spent a lot of time in searching user reviews and feedbacks on forums and online stores, as well as our editorial team has 10-year experience in recording vocals, instruments and in sound production. In our list you will find microphone preamps of each type and all price categories (the prices are in ascending order). Hope you will be able to choose a microphone preamp which is perfect for your situation, also we hope you’ll like our list. But first things first, let us start with numbers and nerdy words a.k.a mic preamp theory and answers to ongoing questions.
What is a microphone preamp and why is it needed?
The microphone preamp is a device that is designed to amplify low level signals to the linear level. As far as you know, one of important components of a recording process is to obtain the definitive signal level. Under the definitive level, we mean the signal with the maximum value without the appearance of distort overload. It is at a definitive level which provides the best balance of clean signal and noise. But most modern audio interfaces and mixing consoles already have built-in preamps! What’s the point of a separate microphone preamp?
The point is the following: microphone preamps provide better sound than the preamps integrated in devices. Besides, any good preamp has its own unique sound characteristic, which you can pick up for a specific model of microphone. This is especially noticeable on the equipment of a top level.
What kinds of microphone preamps do exist?
Tube and Transistor Microphone Preamps. Tubes are used to give the sound warmth and velvet. It is considered that everything that has tubes is more alive and warm than with transistor counterparts. But this “tube warmth” is often much more expensive. And you can truly notice that feature only on a device of higher price range. We think it makes no sense to take “mediocre” tube preamp.
Hybrid Microphone Preamps. It is the preamp that combines the tube and transistor components. Example: Summit Audio 2BA-221.
Modeling Preamps. In these preamps are used solid state schemes, however, the “warmth” and other “tube” features of sound are modeled using “Digital technologies / Numbers”. In addition, the preamplifiers are divided into “coloring” and “transparent” by the nature of the influence on a signal.
Coloring Preamps. These preamps are used by sound engineers who want to create a unique sound. This type of preamp gives to your audio track a characteristic/saturated sound. Most often these are tube or transistor preamps with a transformer connection of which we will talk later. For example: Universal Audio Solo/610, Groove Tubes Vipre, Tube Tech MP1A, Trident S40, and A Designs Audio Pacifica.
Transparent Preamps. There are also sound engineers who have the task to obtain a pristine sound without any impurities. For them, the best option is a straight wire with an amplifier. Therefore, they need a preamp with the shortest path from input to the recording device. Basically, it is a transistor and non-transistor preamps.
Transformer and Transformerless Microphone Preamps. We can assume that a transformer preamp has a preamp scheme which includes a transformer, a transformerless one does not have it. The transformer ones sound lusher, but they color the sound, so for those who need a transparency such preamps will not fit.
How to choose a microphone preamp and what to pay attention to?
Let’s start with the fact that the main criterion is, of course, the sound quality on output. But there are a few factors that you should pay attention to while choosing a device:
- The Number of Inputs. The more channels microphone preamp has, the more microphones you can record at the same time.
- The Low-Pass Filter. There are microphone preamps with a special filter to cut frequencies below 20-200Hz. This feature allows you to change various low-frequency interferences. This function will be useful if you want to remove unwanted bass.
- Microphone Preamp with a Phantom Power. Almost all preamps have a phantom power. Phantom power is necessary for powering condenser microphones.
- Integrated Limiter/Compressor. In some cases, a microphone preamplifier with an integrated limiter for a dynamic range compression is useful. For example, in the case when a preamp signal is fed to the input of the audio interface. The limiter helps avoid unnecessary overloads. But most often you just overpay for these additional integrated features.
- The Level Indicators. If an overload indicator is a mandatory component of a preamplifier, then the level indicator is not. The thing is very useful and necessary.
- The Phase Switch. When you record with multiple microphones, this switch will be very useful for solution of phase problems.
- Microphone Preamplifiers with Equalizer. On some models, we can also find an integrated equalizer. Its task is to send to the sound interface input an already adjusted frequency signal. The option is rather dubious, and you overpay for it. Consider whether it is necessary to you?
Here is Our List of TOP 15 Best Microphone Preamps:
15. Behringer Tube Ultragain MIC200 Vacuum Tube Preamplifier
Our list of 15 best microphone preamps begins with the microphone preamp from the German manufacturer Behringer. Behringer MIC200 is the cheapest model in our list. Behringer Tube Ultragain MIC200 is a first-class microphone / line preamp with a tube cascade, modeling technology of preamps and with a built-in limiter designed for use at studio, on stage and with recording systems on the hard disk. A very flexible function of modeling preamps gives you the ability to quickly optimize a record by selecting one of the 16 preamp algorithms designed for vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, bass, keyboards, drums, etc. Hand-selected 12AX7 vacuum tubes in conjunction with the UTC provides a warm sound and minimal noise. Behringer Tube Ultragain MIC200 will inform with life into the sterile sound of digital recorders and sound interfaces. It is also a perfect addition to any condenser microphone and can be used as a high quality DI box, providing an exceptional clarity. MIC200 has a phase switch, phantom power +48V, and attenuator of 20dB. Balanced inputs and outputs made on TRS and gold-plated XLR connectors.
- High-class preamp for all types of microphones, instruments and line level sources. The perfect addition to any condenser microphone
- Ideal for use at studios, on stage and with recording systems on the hard drive
- Flexible preamp modeling allowing to quickly optimize recordings
- You have 16 preamp presets designed for acoustic and electric guitars, bass, keyboards, drums, vocals, etc
- UTC technology and hand-selected 12AX7 vacuum tube for exceptional warmth and minimal background noise
- Using as a high quality DI box provides an exceptional signal transparency
- The output cascade is equipped with an advanced BEHRINGER limiter, preventing the output signal from distortion
- Special edging low cut filter eliminates unwanted sounds like stage rumble
- Phantom power +48V, phase switch and attenuator 20dB for maximum flexibility
- High-precision 8-segmenty led indicator
- Balanced inputs and outputs on TRS and gold-plated XLR connectors
14. ART Tube MP Project Series Microphone Preamp + USB Version
ART Tube MP Project Series is a new low-noise microphone preamp with a wide flat frequency response, which operates with quite large number of ranges of input levels with minimal interference in a sound coloring. Connecting a signal source to the 1/4″ instrument input, a microphone input is disabled, which positively affects the sound quality. The tube 12AX7A is used to add the sound a “tube” warmth. Power supply unit ensures the absence of noise and network interference. The input gain knob and a button of a sensitivity switch helps maximize dynamic range by simultaneous control of a level of excitation of the tube. The switch of input resistance on the front panel, allows you to coordinate the preamp operation with a specific microphone. These functions allow more fully reveal the capabilities of the old tape or a studio microphone. Switchable low-pass filter reduces low-frequency noise not to overload the input cascade. The cutoff frequency is 40Hz, thus, low-frequency information is preserved. Phantom power + 48V is supplied to the XLR connector.
There is also a USB version of this preamp
The device ART Tube MP Project Series USB is based on a hybrid preamp Tube MP Project Series, from which it differs by the presence of analog-to-digital converter (bit width of 16-bits, sampling frequency 44.1/48kHz) and outputs to the USB bus 1.1 (uses built-in drivers operating systems Windows 7 and above, Mac OS 9.1 and above). The device can be used with a microphone, instrument or line signals. It has a symmetrical input (XLR) with impedance switches (600 Ohm or 4.7 kOhm) and phantom power (+48 V), unsymmetrical single-ended high-resistance (1MOhm) input (jack), sensitivity controller, attenuator switch (20dB), HF switch (40Hz, -3dB), limiter switch, polarity switch, four led indicators and output knob, dual output (balanced on XLR and unbalanced on the jack, operate simultaneously). All switches are illuminated. The design has the tube 12AX7A. Powered by the included adapter. The device is made in aluminum housing with rubber side panels, dimensions of 44.5 x 150 x 165 mm, weight of 1.14kg.
We have included these two microphone preamps in our list of best microphone preamps since they have a very low cost and at the same time provide with advanced functionality. On Amazon, you can find a lot of positive feedback and we leave the links to these preamps below.
13. Behringer Tube Ultragain MIC500USB Microphone Preamp
Behringer Tube Ultragain MIC500USB is second microphone/instrument preamplifier from Behringer manufacturer in our list of best microphone preamps, which equipped with an integrated audio interface for USB 2.0. The main feature of this model, designed for studio and stage applications, is the use of the lamp 12AX7, which, combined with the technology of the UTC, provides “exceptionally warm sound with extremely low noise”. Another advantage of the product is the presence of sixteen amplification modes with different color of sound and, optimized for vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards etc.
There are other features of the product below:
- Powerful headphones output with Direct Monitor switch
- “Exceptional clarity” of the signal when used as a direct box
- Advanced limiter at the output, preventing clipping
- Built-in low-cut filter to suppress unwanted noise
- Switches of phantom power (+48V), phase and attenuator (-20dB)
- High-precision 8-segment LED signal strength indicator
- Balanced inputs and outputs on TRS and XLR jacks
- Three year guarantee from the manufacturer
In conclusion, it only remains to add that after registration of this product on the official website of the manufacturer behringer.com you will receive the code necessary to download the full version of the licensed software Tracktion.
12. PreSonus TubePre V2 Microphone Tube Preamplifier
PreSonus develops and manufactures durable preamps, but an audio quality always is in the first place, so its not first and last preamplifier from PreSonus in our top 15 best microphone preamps list. The company has updated the popular TubePre focusing on improving the already high quality sound without increasing the price. Like the original PreSonus TubePre, the new version of PreSonus TubePre V2 is a fully professional tube preamp with a dual servo mode gain, which allows to increase the program signal to an extreme level without a significant increase in background noise. Discrete components and high-voltage provides wide dynamic range and detailing which you will not find in other single-channel tube preamps of this class. In addition, PreSonus TubePre V2 provides a wide palette of sound options and a more saturated tube sound compared to the original one. The preamp is equipped with popular XMAX™ Class A standalone microphone preamp and Drive controller which includes a lamp 12AX7, adding “color” to the sound. You will get sound from gentle and warm to fuzz. The rear panel is equipped with a separate unbalanced ¼” instrumental and balanced XLR microphone inputs and unbalanced ¼” and balanced XLR line outputs. In the preamp, you will find everything you need for professional operation including a high pass filter, phantom power for condenser microphones, polarity switching and analog VU meter with lights. Through the separate instrumental and microphone inputs, you can use a DI-box for guitars and bass guitars. And since it is small, you can take and install to a rack stand. If you already use the original PreSonus TubePre V1, you will love the new and improved version PreSonus TubePre V2, but if you see it for the first time, you will be pleasantly surprised!
11. Behringer Ultragain Pro MIC2200 High-Precision Tube Microphone Preamp
Here is another preamplifier from Behringer company in our list of best microphone preamps, and not last, as Behringer company produces really good quality devices in this niche. Behringer Ultragain Pro MIC2200 is a perfect addition to your mixing console, MIDI-set or the system of records on hard disk. Integrated parametric equalizers provide extra possibilities for working with timbre, while a built-in tube stage signal gives an extra warmth and transparency. Behringer Ultragain Pro MIC2200 can also function as a DI box and a converter of decent level. Among the entire line of mic preamps from the company Behringer – this model is the most technological and the highest quality
- High quality discrete microphone/line preamplifier
- Universal DI-Box
- Each channel has: an adjustable low-cut filter and a single-band full parametric equalizer
- Reverse phase switch
- Switch of microphone/line preamps
- Provides 48V phantom power
10. DBX 286s Microphone Preamp
DBX 286s is a single channel microphone preamp with five dynamic processors, including compressor, de-esser with variable frequency, enhancer of low and high frequencies, and expander/gate. A balanced microphone input on XLR and line (phono jack) inputs, low-cut hi-pass filter at the input (cut-off frequency of 80Hz), phantom power 48V, the gap for connection of external processing, led indicators of input levels, the depth of compression (gain reduction) and overload. Balanced inputs and outputs, internal power supply, discrete regulators.
Five systems of signal processing. Microphone preamps can operate independently or in any combination. Precision microphone preamp has a wide-range adjustment of the input level. The compressor operating in the mode OverEasy, discreetly smooths out all the irregularities in vocal performance and is indispensable for the recording of “close to” rock-vocals. The sounds of hissing in the vocals and high frequency distortion in the cymbal sound can perfectly be removed with de-esser with tunable frequency response. The Enhancer block has precise adjustments in the range of high and low frequencies. Separate controls for threshold and revision level section of the Expander/Gate allow you to completely rebuild from any external interference. A set of measurement and status indicators allows you to visually monitor the entire operation of the device. The additional 1/4″ TRS jack can supply balanced and unbalanced line-level signals for processing electronic instruments or audio material recorded on the tape. The insert between the microphone preamp and processing sections can be used to connect external processing devices (e.g., equalizer, delay, etc.) or to serve as a diversion signal for other purposes.
DBX 286s is a powerful, user-friendly device, allowing you to quickly and intuitively manage the processing of the microphone signal when recording vocals, acoustic instruments, sample acoustic sounds. DBX 286s also allows an efficient signal processing with electronic instruments, individual mixer tracks, or other mono-sources.
9. ART Digital MPA-II 2-Channel Tube Microphone Preamp with A/D Conversion
ART Digital MPA-II is the second device from ART Digital in our top 15 best microphone preamps list, as this company produces high quality hardware for musicians and sound engineers. ART Digital MPA-II not only performs the same function that Pro MPA model, but is equipped with a digital output. As in the Pro MPA-II model, each input of the device provides a phantom power +48V and the controller input resistance that allows you to connect any high-quality dynamic, condenser or band microphone of wide range of resistances. Digital MPA-II can operate in dual mono or stereo. The input section of the Digital MPA II can operate at high and low voltage of the anode on two hand-selected 12AX7 tubes for natural, warm sound. The device has a large analog indicator hands with lights, to indicate the level of the output signal, and led indicators of lamp voltage and the level of the digital output. In addition to analog outputs XLR and 1/4″, Digital MPA-II hass a high quality ADC with S/PDIF outputs, ADAT or AES/EBU. The selector on the front panel allows you to choose sample rate from 44.1 to 192kHz and 16-bit resolution. There are also two connectors WordClock. Digital MPA-II has a steel housing of 2U rack with front panel of black color.
8. PreSonus Studio Channel Vacuum-Tube Channel Strip
The device of channel processing PreSonus Studio Channel combines a tube microphone/line preamplifier class A, soft VCA compressor and three-band parametric EQ. The device is available in a metal enclosure of 1U, has Neutrik connectors.
The design of the preamps is based on the model BlueTube, which won several industrial awards. Discrete circuitry instead of operational amplifiers and vacuum tube 12AX7 operating at a voltage of 30V (about two times greater than the value used in other amplifiers of this class), and has an exceptionally clean, free from noise, warm sound and good stock level. The sensitivity switch and the Drive control allow to get a wide range of tones, from crystal clear to congested. PreSonus Studio Channel is also equipped with a bass cut filter (80Hz), phase flip button and attenuator (-20dB).
The parametric EQ also contributes in a distinctive musical sound: a sound engineer can achieve exceptionally soft high frequencies, depth, low-frequency spectrum, clarity at medium frequencies. The equalizer can be included before or after the signal processing. The regulator of the quality factor is provided for MF.
PreSonus is known for its high-quality compressors, and Studio Channel is not an exception. The circuitry is based on VCA and provides ultra-short attack time that allows processing of fast transients of the sound. In the compressor section, there are controls Ratio, Threshold, Attack, Release and Make-up Gain, as well as indicators of decreasing sensitivity and signal level at output. Studio Channel can be used for audio programming of any signal source, including bass guitar, snare drum, vocals, etc.
7. ART VoiceChannel Tube Channel Strip With Digital Outs
ART Voice Channel provides sound warmth and transparency. With semi-parametric equalizers, you can make adjustments in a wide range. The studio tube preamp with digital output, compressor, de-esser, equalizer, USB port. Single-channel tube microphone preamp for broadcasting ART Voice Channel includes Compressor, Expander, De-Esser, Gate, parametric EQ with switch Pre/Post Compressor, interfaces, ADAT/AES/EBU/S/PDIF/TOSLink. ART VOICECHANNEL is a perfect tube microphone preamp for broadcasting.
6. Focusrite OctoPre MKII Dynamic Microphone Preamp
The name and appearance immediately suggest that we are dealing with the last model of microphone preamps in this series (MkII), which has a compressor and some more features which have increased functionality of the device. All inputs and outputs are located on the rear panel of the device. When you work in a stationary mod, it is an advantage. When it is necessary to constantly connect the new device – it can turn into a disadvantage.
Two separate sockets can be temporarily disabled by pressing the INST button, which is located on the front panel, so it is not necessary to always climb with a flashlight under the table/stand.
In comparison with the previous model, the MkII Dynamic has best sync with software. The new model can easily sync with Pro tools via ADAT interface. The device can fully operate with analog sound display, with no converters into figures, it has all necessary inputs and outputs. You can work with analog sound and synchronize with the software simultaneously. The device also has an optical slot and can work with digital audio at sampling frequency 96kHz, 24-bit.
Each of the eight channels is equipped with its own compressor. Setting the compressor is on the front panel of the device. The attack time is 1.2MS, the recovery time is 28MS. The level and ratio of compression can be set by knobs. There are also LEDs on the front panel, with which you will be able to see when the compressor is running or not. There are also level indicators of audio level at input, conveniently collected in one place.
5. RME QuadMic 4 Channel Analog Microphone Preamp
Five of the best microphone preamps from our list opens by RME QuadMic model. The excellent ratio of signal to noise, very low distortion level and wide gain range make RME QuadMic a first choice for flawless studio recording. The preamp is powered by batteries and therefore it is ideal for work not only at studio. Each of the 4 channels is characterized by balanced microphone and line inputs with Neutrik XLR/TRS combo jacks, switchable 48V phantom power, phase shift and low pass filter. In addition, all the channels are equipped with LEDs showing the presence of a signal, overload and activation of the phantom power. The gain of the input can be set from 6 to 60dB. The balanced line outputs are located on the rear panel and are represented by 4 x 6.3mm (1/4″) TRS jacks. A maximum balanced and unbalanced output level of +21dBu makes QuadMic fully compatible with RME converters and interfaces that have analog inputs. QuadMic II is ideal for any RME system with line inputs to complement the external microphone inputs. It is possible to work with the QuadMic II from any power supply: power supply 9 – 18VDC, batteries or accumulator.
4. JZ Microphonesspan JZ Track Microphone Preamp
After many successful years of microphone manufacturing, the company JZ Microphones decided to expand the range of products and launched its first preamp JZ Track. JZ Track is rack preamp of 1U that combines a compressor/limiter, de-esser, three-band EQ and indicating unit at output. This device is great for recording vocals and instruments. The preamplifier is made by SPL in Germany with technical conditions of JZ Microphones. JZ Track perfectly matches the impedance of all JZ microphones and even improves their unique characteristics and expands a harmonic range. The preamp can be connected to a second JZ Track for the linked stereo mode. In addition to the preamp, JZ MICROPHONES provides with an optional AD card with ADAT and S/PDIF outputs.
3. DBX 676 Microphone Tube Preamplifier
DBX 676 deserves the “Third” place in our list of top 15 best microphone preamps. DBX is proud of its release of a new tube microphone preamp DBX 676, which represents all the best of 40 years of experience in the dynamic field. DBX 676 has a high voltage, class-A tube preamp section, which operates at 250 volts and, therefore, your signal can be crystal clear or dirty. Furthermore, DBX 676 combines a compressor/limiter from dbx162SL and 3-band parametric EQ. DBX 676 also provides audio professionals with a perfect channel strip for recording and live use, vintage-style controls and VU meter. DBX 676 has a ¼ -inch and XLR inputs and outputs, instrument input on the front panel, insert sockets. Optionally, digital module outputs can be set. Despite a powerful set of features, DBX 676 is very easy to use. Durable metal enclosure takes only 2U of space.
- Class-A tube preamp with high voltage gain
- Vintage VU meter of good visibility
- Design of the compressor from dbx162SL
- 3-band semi-parametric equalizer
- Instrument input on the front panel
2. Universal Audio Solo/610 Classic Vacuum Tube Microphone Preamp
The second place in our list of best microphone preamps we assigned to Universal Audio Solo 610. Universal Audio Solo preamp is very popular among sound engineers around the world. This preamp a must-have device for any prestigious recording studios, and also for advanced home recording studios. Our editorial team confidently assigns a “Silver” place in our list of the best microphone preamps. SOLO/610 transmits a classic sound of the legendary 610 tube console. This microphone preamp is durable and versatile, with a smooth warm sound of the original preamp, which will emphasize advantages of any microphone or instrument. Through a convenient form of the body, it can be easily used at studio, on stage or on the desktop. SOLO/610 has Mic and DI inputs, Gain and Level controls for a wide variety of clean and colorful tones. In contrast to the predecessor, the preamplifier has a constant Gain control with a greater range, allowing you to more accurately structure the gain. SOLO/610 has all the essential features: 48V phantom power, low cut filter, phase reverse and double selectable resistance for Mic and DI inputs. The necessary DI functions: Thru in conjunction with the amplifier, plus ground and universal level switch of Mic/Line output.
1. Avalon VT747SP Premium Microphone Tube Preamplifier with EQ/Compressor
The first place in our list of 15 best microphone preamps we honestly assigned to Avalon VT747SP, this device is like Rolls Royce of microphone preamps. Avalon VT747SP is exclusively the choice of professionals in the field of sound engineering. The device sounds great and almost every preamp from Avalon is made by hands. Avalon VT747SP certainly deserves the first place on our list. It is worth noting that the company is engaged exclusively in the manufacturing of audio preamps, and they are certainly the leaders in this field. If you have not much money to buy this device, you can find cheaper models from Avalon.
VT-747SP is a stereo signal processor that combines the opto-compressor with six groups of EQ. The device has Avalon’s TSP (Twin Signal Path) that allows to choose between the tube output amplifier and a class A discrete transistor amplifier. The compressor has two additional EQ on the side signal path. This feature allows a frequency-dependent compression to be carried out without using an external equalizer. The scheme covers more than 20 separate printed circuit boards, the main of which are securely fastened to chassis using screws with hexagonal head. The compressor is configured around a passive optical attenuator. Vents are placed at the top and bottom panels, and the rear panel has a substantial heat sink. The device can consume up to 55 watts, and therefore must be installed in a well-ventilated case.
+BONUS (Microphone Preamps which were not Included in the Main List, But Deserve Your Attention)
ART Tube MP Studio Mic Preamp
We have not included ART Tube MP in our main list of top 15 microphone preamps, as this model is for super low budget customers. ART Tube MP is one of the most popular budget tube microphone preamps in the world. Tube MP is able to provide professional sound quality at a small price, which is a critical condition for a small studio. The hybrid design of Tube MP allows you to give the sound warmth and density, reducing the noise to a minimum. Despite the fact that the main purpose of Tube MP to be a microphone preamp, the device can also be used to record any musical instrument to line input. Tube MP is a great cheap microphone preamps used in simple mixers. The device contains a lamp 12AX7a, has phantom power and phase inversion.
Behringer Tube Ultragain MIC100 Microphone Preamp
Behringer Tube Ultragain MIC100 was not included in our list 15 best microphone preamps as, since there are older and more quality product models from Behringer that deserve to be on this list. Behringer Tube Ultragain MIC100 like ART Tube MP is very cheap (they are about the same cost). This is a great option for those who have a very limited budget. Unfortunately, we have not included the Behringer Tube Ultragain MIC100 into our main list because we felt it more appropriate to include older models MIC200 and MIC500USB. Behringer Tube Ultragain MIC100 is a microphone/line preamplifier with tube cascade, and a built-in limiter designed for use at studio, on stage and with recording systems on the hard disk. It has a hand-selected 12AX7 vacuum tube and UTC technology, which provide a warm sound and minimal noise, viving a “dull” sound of standard digital recorders and sound cards. The Behringer MIC100 is also a perfect addition to any condenser microphone and can be used as a high quality DI box, providing an exceptional clarity of the signal. Behringer Tube Ultragain MIC100 has a phase switch, phantom power +48V, attenuator 20dB. Balanced inputs and outputs made on TRS and gold-plated XLR connectors.
Focusrite Scarlett Solo 2nd Gen USB Audio Interface
This device has not got to our main list of best microphone preamps because Focusrite Scarlett Solo is not a microphone preamplifier at all. Focusrite Scarlett Solo is a compact audio interface which can be a very good alternative to a microphone preamp. We decided to mention this device as a new generation of Focusrite Scarlett Solo got new microphone preamps with a more linear adjustment of gain. If you want to amplify the incoming microphone signal and record the audio track – it is probably even more convenient than buying audio preamp, so you get the functionality of the audio interface for a small amount of money. It also has a phantom power +48V for condenser studio microphones. Another advantage of the Focusrite Scarlett Solo, it is very compact and you can easily take it along on a tri. But do not forget that Focusrite Scarlett Solo is not a microphone preamp, but an audio interface with a built-in microphone preamp and therefore it does not have XLR output for further analog processing of the sound. As all audio interfaces, it connects via USB to your computer to capture the audio track in your DAW.
Focusrite iTrack One Pre Compact Microphone Preamp and Instrument Input for iOS Devices
Another device from Focusrite in our bonus section to which you should draw your attention. The product range of the British company has a miniature audio interface iTrack One Pre, designed to work with iOS devices. Of course, this is not a full microphone preamp and that is why it did not get to our main list. But Focusrite iTrack One Pre is still can be considered as a preamplifier because it amplifies the incoming signal of your microphone or instrument before the audio signal gets to the track of recording application. This affordable model has one microphone / instrument combo-input and allows you to record audio at resolutions up to 24-bit / 96kHz directly into GarageBand, Auria, Cubasis or other music app installed on iPad / iPhone. To the mobile device, iTrack One Pre connects via a standard Lightning cable and without the need for a separate power source (however, the possibility of connection is provided here). Also the advantages of the new interface include the use of “best of class” branded preamp and phantom power +48V. The gain of the audio signal is made using a green turning button. Focusrite iTrack One Pre is compatible with all relevant in today’s iOS devices. The developer warns that if you connect the device to the iPhone 7 you will be deprived of possibilities of the hardware monitoring of the recorded signal as a separate headphone outputs have neither the one nor the other device. Focusrite iTrack Pre One is a great solution for musicians who like to travel and do not want to give up their home studio or for users who love to record audio sketches to put them then in a full composition.
PreSonus BlueTube DP V2 2-Channel Microphone Preamp
PreSonus BlueTube DP V2 has not got to our main list of best microphone preamps, because we decided to include classic preamp PreSonus TubePre V. PreSonus BlueTube DP V2 can be a perfect solution for those who need two channels for microphones and a unique quality as a single-channel model PreSonus BlueTube DP V2. Popular Class A XMAX preamps are quite demanded for their clarity and precision due to their warm and smooth sound. With the preamp PreSonus BlueTube DP V2, you get two types of high-quality sound in one unit. Blue Tube DP V2 is an improved version of the original Blue Tube DP which has already become a classic one. The preamp has a 12AX7 lamp, which operates at a higher voltage compared to other preamps of the same class, providing an immense amount of power and rich tone. PreSonus BlueTube DP V2 has a very low noise level, clear and soft tube sound. Also all the minor characteristics that can only be obtained from professional grade amps: 48V phantom power, 80Hz high pass filter, – 20dB attenuator and polar switch. Each channel is equipped with a VU meter that allows you to visually monitor the input level. The regulator Tube Drive offers a wide range of sounds: when it’s off, use a standalone preamp for quiet amplification; when it is enabled, your signal travels through the preamp tube, respectively, you can get any sound from soft and warm to distortion. With two combo microphone/instrument inputs and semi-rack space PreSonus BlueTube DP V2 is an excellent choice for guitarists, bassists and vocalists. You can record the vocals through one channel and the guitar through another one, so you do not need a guitar amp. And through balanced XLR and unbalanced ¼ ” output, it can be used as DI box. In addition, PreSonus BlueTube DP V2 features an updated, compact and firm housing with rounded edges and a smooth modern appearance, which can be put on table or set in a rack.
Cloudlifter CL-1 Microphone Activator
Cloudlifter CL-1 has not got to our top 15 best microphone preamps list, because this device cannot be considered a preamp for all types of microphones, but this is a very interesting device that will help you to solve a lot of problem. Cloudlifter CL-1 Mic Activator is an easy to use and compact solution to audio problems with recording on stage or at studio. The device was specially designed for all passive microphones, including belt ones. CL-1 safely uses any standard phantom power from the microphone input to provide additional (up to +25dB) crystal-clear, transparent gain. The device Cloudlifter CL-1 significantly improves the quality of passive microphone signals, making them more sustainable and clean when passing through a long XLR cable that allows you to achieve perfect results in the broadcasting, live or ay studio. CL-1 has a rubberized metal well shielded case. In addition, the device has additional elements of fastening for use on stage and elements of the fastener to the rack. Using patented technology, which uses no transformers, capacitors and resistors, CL-1 is directly connected, discrete circuitry, built on a JFET transistor that provides ultra-clean gain while preserving the original natural sound of the source. Cloudlifter is recommended to improve the signal-to-noise and overall performance of passive microphones in the following situations:
- Recording in the DAW via an audio interface.
- Recording with noisy preamps or preamps with little gain settings
- Recording through mixers, which have a negative impact on a microphone sound with higher gain settings on channel
- Recording using band microphones
- Record using dynamic microphones with low output voltage
- Recording acoustic instruments and vocals
- Using of long microphone cables
We hope that you liked our Top List of 15 Best Microphone Preamps and this will help you make the right choice. If we forgot to mention some microphone preamplifier models that deserves to be in our list or you have any questions – leave them in the comments section. We’ll answer on each of them.