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Are you looking for the best mic preamp under 300 bucks?
Then you are definitely in the right place.
Now I totally understand that after getting that great mic, you are probably looking for a great preamp that will make it rock.
Simply put, a microphone preamp is the key to ensuring that your vocal quality is the highest it can get.
A good mic preamp with a good microphone will definitely bring out the best your mic has to offer.
But unfortunately coming up with mic preamps to choose can be a little daunting and frustrating.
There are so many features you need to consider, coupled with the fact that you definitely want something that works with your mic.
Well…In this article, we will be looking at the top 5 best mic preamps that you can get for very cheap, things to consider before you make a purchase, and how to ensure that you get the best from your newest mic preamp.
What is a mic preamp and what does it do?
Before we go into selecting and choosing a preamp, we need to know exactly what one is and whether you need it in your home studio.
A microphone preamp is simply an equipment that enhnces and increases the audio quality of your microphone when reocrding.
Now this is the layman’s definition.
It certainly has some technical twists and turns to it which you can read all about here.
I get really upset when I see most people recording vocals without using any preamps
Simply because spending a few extra dollars to get a preamp will definitely make your vocals sound so much better.
Also because unlike other musical equipments like the guitar or keyboard which produces its own line level signal, your microphone produces its own signal by converting acoustic energy into a low voltage output.
This output can be anywhere between 50dB to 80dB quieter than most signals.
This makes it so much harder to deal with than when you get a preamp.
Here are some ways that a preamp affects your sounds
- It makes your audio vocals sound louder
- It helps to “color” the audio that passes through it
- Depending on the type of preamp used, it can add some harmonic distortion to your signal
Things to consider before you buy a microphone preamp
1. What is the coloration?
This is probably the most important thing you need to consider before buy a cheap mic preamp.
Coloration simply means a type of harmonic distortion that can be very desirable for vocals.
As such you want to make sure that any preamp that you buy has some form of coloration associated with it.
This is because it enhances and brightens your audio signal as it passes through it.
Basically there are two type of mic preamps that you need to look out for when considering coloration.
- Tube preamps
- Solid state preamps with transformers
2. What is the form factor?
This simply has to do with the physical design of the casing that comes with it.
A good form factor will ensure that your product lasts for a very long time and survives all the wear and tear that comes withmost studio equipment
There are three choices you need to make when considering form factor
- 500 series
Whichever one you choose depends on your future plans and the type of studio gear and equipments you wish to purchase in the next 5 years.
3. How many channels does it have
Finally you want to consider the number of channels that your preamp has
The more the number of channels, the more options you have when recording
Basically you want to go for a preamp that has at least 4 channels
This will make your life so much easier and ensure that you can connect as many equipments as you need.
Our Top 5 Best Mic Preamp under 300
1. ART Tube Mic Preamp With Limiter
This is probably the cheapest mic preamp in this list.
Made by the known ART compay, this is a tube mic preamps which adds color and brightens your audio signal considerably.
It comes with unique presets and buttons which were created and fine tuned by some of the best audio technicians in the industry.
It’s knobs allows you to easily make selections for any audio signals passing through it
It has an output protection limiter which helps to maintain and control the output peak signal of your signal.
It can be used as a direct box which means that it has the ability to improve the sound of any instrument that passes through it.
It has a rugged all steel construction which helps to ensure that it is very durable and lasts for a long time.
It can be used for recording both in a home studio and in big professional studios.
2. DBX 286s Microphone Pre-amp Processor
This is a solid mic preamp that delivers exceptional quality when used.
It comes with a classic dbx compression that makes your audio signal sound great
It has a frequency tunable desser that helps you reduce all issues of sibilance and distortion
It’s unique enhancer helps to increase the detail and definition of the high and low frequencies of your signal
It has a nice array of metering and status LEDs which help to visually guide in setting and tweaking your signals to get the right quality
It has an insert jack which helps to connect your preamp to external DAWs which makes it so much easier when recording.
3. PreSonus Vacuum-Tube Preamplifier
This is a high end, well made preamp that combines the technology of a compressor, preamp and an equalizer.
It comes with a wide range of knobs such as a gain, tube drive, HP filter, phantom power, Eq knobs
It comes with a variable VCA compressor which ensures that you audio signal is well treated as it passes through it.
It has a 3 band parametric EQ that also helps to add some color and shine to your signal
This is one mic preamp that is capable of producing big tube warmth especially in small studios.
It has a 19 inch rack mountable rugged chassis
4. Studio Projects VTB1 Microphone Preamp
This is a discrete solid state class A/B design preamp that delivers great quality audio when used.
It has a variable tube blend on dentented pot which helps to give your audio signals a nice color and warmth.
It has a ¼ inch high impedance jack which lets you use it as a direct box
It has a meter switch which gives you an accurate visual representation of your settings and tweaks
It has XLR input and output jacks for easily connecting different equipments and gear.
This is an affordable single channel tube mic preamp that is ideal for home studio owners.
5. Joemeek threeQ half-rack Microphone Preamp
This is a half rack channel strip microphone that has an optical compressor and a 3 band parametric Eq.
It has a burr brown Opamp that ensures that you get some of the best audio quality.
It has a balanced XLR input and output which makes it very easy to connect extra gear.
It has a unique ThreeQ optical compressor and EQ that enhances the audio quality of your sounds giving you that warch rich audio.
It has a compact half rack design that ensures it lasts for a very long time without damages.
How to use a microphone preamp
Knowing how to setup and use your preamp is very important to get the right audio quality.
Here are some tips to ensure that you get a good start
- First know that there is no wrong or right way. You need to do it yourself andd get comfortable with what works for you.
- Always use the recommended cables and jacks to connect your preamp to your mixer
- Next connect your microphone to your preamp
- Finally connect to a recording module.
Here is a Youtube video to help you get started