You’re wondering, audio interface has mic Preamp port, so whether we need to buy one external microphone ? You’re not the only one with this wonder, many beginners usually ask me this. Be patience to finish this topic, you’ll have your answer. Let’s begin!
What is the Preamp?
As you know from previous topic, microphones change mechanical vibration from diaphragm into electronic signal from which we can record and deliver to speakers.
However, this electronic signal is very small, extremely small that the most modern audio equipment can’t use it. Putting it simply, signal from microphone is extremely weak! That’s why we need to amplify signal from microphone to “running point” for other audio equipment “understands” this signal.
While amplifying, Preamp uses everything it has to keep the signal “cleanest” as possible which means it doesn’t amplify following noise as well as produce additional noise (self-noise) mixed into signal which needs to be amplified.
Some common functions of Preamp:
- Amplifying signal from microphone
- Changing timbre, sound
- Reducing impedance of signal
- Changing signal from balanced to unbalanced
Note: Amplifying signal from microphone cleanest as possible is the most vital. Because that’s why people produce Preamp. No matter how many functions one Preamp has, if this function can’t run well you shouldn’t use it, because that’s necessary condition, others are just sufficient conditions.
Why Do I Consider To Get A Microphone PreAmp?
Back to the question from the beginning of this topic “audio interface has Mic Preamp port, so do you need to buy additional external Preamp?”
All of low-grade to high-grade audio interfaces have mic Preamp port. But, with low-grade audio interface, this microphone Preamp port is just simple integrated board so it’s hard to produce good and clean sound like external preamp devices.
You get what you pay for isn’t just a saying. The external microphone preamp respond better to frequency at low and high sound, audio signal is usually clean and sharp. Therefore, you have to spend quite amount of money to improve sound by purchasing external Preamp instead of using mic port on audio interface.
However, it’s not that simply when relating to middle and high-grade audio interface. These audio interfaces have very good quality mic Preamp.
But, sometimes what you need is not just improving sound, it’s having another sound different from sound of mic Preamp on high-grade audio interface which is already very good. This is the time that “changing color” audio signal function of mic becomes advantageous.
Some aside from amplifying signal from microphone cleanest as possible, they also change timbre of sound. This means audio signals after running through Preamp become warmer, more solid or changed in some way that know how to “please” the ears. That’s why recording studio folks spend a lot of money on famous like Neve 1073 or API312, et cetera to hear input sound the most satisfied as possible.
Sometimes, you feel that Preamp keeps initial signal purely warm is suitable. It’s all depends on the using conditions, features of original sound sources and your aims. But if you just have one option for Preamp, you should choose the Preamp which keeps the truest sound (clean Preamp or transparent Preamp) because it’ll help you adapt to all working conditions.
There are usually two directions even if it’s microphone, monitor or Preamp:
- One: True, natural, original, honoring original sound.
- Two: Changing timbre in order to give high opinions to each equipment features.
For example: Preamp of Neve like Neve 1073 have very solid, warm and sweet middle tone. If you want deep low voice, or sharp high-pitch voice, you can try API512 or API312.
Consider carefully which sound you want to make to choose the right Mic Preamp.