Best Overall Microphone Preamp Device: Behringer Audio Interface RCA Preamp
There’s no denying Behringer is one of the most reputable and reliable preamps in the audio equipment industry, so as a musician, vocalist, or producer looking to make an impression and get your audio right, this is a preamp solution you know you can trust to perform every time.
Best Budget Microphone Preamp Device: InnoGear 1-Channel Phantom Power Microphone Preamp
If you’re looking for a cheap and cheerful microphone preamp device that ticks all the boxes of what you’re looking for but doesn’t break the bank, the Innogear 1-channel microphone preamp could be precisely what you’re looking for!
Best Premium Microphone Preamp Device: Golden Age Project Pre-73 Jr Mic Pre
Looking for the best of the best when it comes to microphone preamps? The Golden Age preamp pushes the boundaries of preamplification both in terms of performance and quality. With a fantastic sound and a design that’s built to last, this is the only preamp you’re going to need over the next few years!
Our Top Ten
There’s no denying that the vocals of your music are one of the most important factors of the track. This is how you’ll resonate emotions and share your message in your music. It’s how your listeners will enjoy your creations, and it doesn’t matter if you’re a musician, vocalist, or a producer, you’ll know how essential quality vocals are.
One of the best ways to up your vocal quality is to use a microphone preamp. These devices help to optimize your microphone audio signal, keeping everything clean and professional and ensuring that you have the best final product.
However, there are many preamps out there, so it can be hard to know which unit is right for you. This is why, today, we’re going to share with you our top ten recommendations for the best microphone preamps out there, as well as our complete buying guide so you can easily see which one is right for you!
Let’s jump straight into it!
Kickstarting our list, we’ve chosen the super-affordable InnoGear, which has been designed for literally every single budget. This is a fantastic choice if you’re looking to get started in the microphone preamp world and want a quick and easy device.
All Essentials Covered
As standard with modern-day preamps, this device will phantom power your universal microphone up to 48V which is ideal for making sure all microphones you plan on connecting to this preamp will work; no matter where you are, or whether you’re recording or performing live.
Once connected to your microphone, which you can do using the included 10-foot XLR cable, this single-channel device will work effortlessly with condenser microphones, and it optimizes the signal route to ensure no disruptions, distortions, or interferences with your final sound.
Simple Yet Sweet
There’s no denying this is one of the most basic of all microphone preamps we’re going to explore today, and it certainly doesn’t have any of the bells and whistles of other devices, but this is a simple plug-and-play device that gets the job done and for a fantastic price.
Operation is easy using the simple on and off switch, and there’s a simple LED light so you can see whether the device is in use with a quick glance. With the full sound frequency range covered and a quality tested thoroughly by the manufacturers, it’s easy to see why this device has hundreds of highly-rated reviews!
What We Like About It
A standout feature of this budget-friendly unit is the fact it’s made using highly durable steel materials. Of course, your preamp could be used in venues, at home, in the studio, or wherever, so this protective casing will ensure your device can withstand anything you put it through without breaking!
- Incredibly affordable and suitable for all budgets
- Comes with a 10-foot XR cable to connect to your microphone
- Easy operation with an LED power indicator
- Phantom powers your microphone up to 48V DC
Jumping to the opposite end of the spectrum now, if you’re looking for an entirely professional solution where you have all the features and functions you need for the very best microphone preamp experience, you may not need to look further than the ART ProMPAII.
This industry-leading device’s special feature is the fact it allows for variable impedance. This means it doesn’t matter what microphone you’re using, whether you’re using different ones per venue, or you just want to try recording in different ways, this preamp can help you manage and get things done.
Preamp Your Sounds, Your Way
You also have access to many other customization options, including a selectable plate voltage, which can be used to adjust the preamp tone or the overall level of performance of the amp, and low noise gain settings.
While these features can be briefly explained, in reality, they open an entirely new realm of possibilities as to how your preamp can be set up and used. No matter how you want to monitor and adjust your microphone and vocals sounds, in short, the ART Pro MPA II has everything you need.
Optimized Monitoring Opportunities
Of course, as a professional preamp device, you’ll be able to monitor all your levels on the handy and traditionally styled counters, and you’ll receive practically zero distortion or interference, all thanks to every component of this preamp being hand-chosen for their quality features.
As you can see, while a premium option, this preamp does offer a premium experience, and if you’re looking for professional-grade quality, you may not need to look further than this! The list of incredible features and specs is simply too long to list here, but if you need the best of the best, this device is well worth your attention.
What We Like About It
To make things even easier for you, no matter what kind of setup you’re using, the ART preamp comes with a range of mounting and fixture options. This means you can have the device as a standalone preamp, or you can mount it up into your equipment cabinets with next-to-no effort!
- Contains two large VU output meters to easily see what’s going on while recording
- Boasts industry-leading 48V phantom power to your microphone
- Flexible microphone voicing from 150oHms to 2,400oHms
- Comes with mounts for installing your hardware anywhere you need it
There’s no denying that Behringer is one of the most popular audio manufacturers in the world thanks to their extensive range of products that cover literally every aspect of audio and music. From speakers to microphone preamps, there’s a reason why Behringer is so popular.
This USB audio interface is used in both recording and performance situations and comes with both 2×2 USB connections, which means you can connect both instruments and microphones together at the same time, making this is a complete setup essential.
Connect to Your Computer
While used as a standard preamp, there are also many other technologies to be found in this device. This includes 48kHz professional audio quality signaling that’s ideal for any audiophile, and you can record straight from this device into your computer or output it to a speaker system.
When recording to a computer, it’s very simple to download the drivers and software for Windows and Mac computers or laptops. Just plug it in, and your computer should automatically do the rest! There’s even standard compatibility with third-party software clients like Avid Pro Tools, Ableton, and even Cubase, for effortlessly mastering and processing.
Limitless Connection Possibilities
With two stream inputs and two stream outputs, industry-leading technology that includes 48V phantom power to your microphone, and a range of MIDAS features, it’s surprising that this Behringer preamp sits in the affordable price range that it does. Even if you’re shopping on a budget, this a preamp you can get behind.
Finally, we need to stress that you don’t just need to take our word for it. There are literally hundreds of four- and five-star reviews on this preamp from audiophiles and musicians all over the world. Compact, lightweight, and performing at the highest level, it’s no wonder so many people wanting a microphone preamp turn to Behringer.
What We Like About It
Easily one of the highlight aspects of using Behringer products is the fact the company has been around for so long, as has their technology, ensuring that you’re buying into a quality product that’s built to last. Founded back in the 1970s, Behringer has over five decades of experience you can benefit from.
- Compact, lightweight, and incredibly easy to use
- Comes with computer software for both Mac and Windows computers
- Two USB slots to connect microphones and instruments
- Highly rated and manufactured by one of the most reputable audio brands
For this next entry, we’re going to take a look at something a little different. With the IK Multimedia iRig, you’ll be able to connect this preamp to your smartphone or tablet. This is a unique take on a traditional preamp, but in many cases, it gives you a lot more freedom of use, as well as a huge amount of portability.
Oustanding Mobile Connectivity
What this device can do is connect to your microphone and allow you to connect to a standard XLR microphone input and then amplify any microphone sound to your preferred recording device. This is accomplished using the 1/8-inch headphone output, which connects to the universal headphone socket on your device. As long as you have a supporting app on your device that can handle this input, you’ll be good to go!
Just to be clear, some of the compatible software and hardware of this iRig include the iLine Camera Adapter, used to record audio from your digital camera, and even Apple’s latest lightning to earbud adaptors, so you can still use this mobile device on the newer iPhone models.
As with most professional preamps, you’ll be able to power your microphone using the 48V phantom power, which is what the vast majority of universal professional microphones will use. As a mobile preamp, however, this device is battery powered, but it’s designed in such a way that you’ll have 30 hours of battery life on standby, or 10 hours when using the phantom power feature.
Of course, absolutely everything else you need has been designed into this device to ensure you’re having the very best experience. This includes a 16cm Velcro strap for helping you attach your equipment to practically anything, ensuring your device actually works for you.
Operating with a true analog signal, as well as being one of the most affordable preamps currently available on the market, it’s easy to see why so many people are giving it a go for themselves. The best way to see all these amazing features is to simply try it for yourself!
What We Like About It
In addition to the fact this device can be used anywhere and everywhere, one of the highlight features of this preamp is the fact you can use it so effortlessly. There are simple LED indicator lights so you can check your levels at a glance, turn it on and off with a flick of a switch, and control your volume levels easily.
- Made in Italy, one of the most reputable manufacturing companies for audio products
- Handy LED indicators to show the current status of your device
- Mount anywhere to be used easily and so it doesn’t get in the way
- Runs off a 9V battery to protect your device’s battery life
Our second entry now from the Behringer team, this time we’re focusing on the UM2 version of their microphone preamp. This is a rather special device that’s incredibly affordable for what it is. This preamp is hailed as one of the best-selling preamps in the world right now.
Of course, there are a few similarities to the model we mentioned earlier, such as the fact there are two USB slots for connecting both microphones and instruments, and all the audio processed through the device is transferred at the professional standard of 48kHz.
Compatible with all Software
There’s also the fact that this device is compatible with all your favorite audio management applications and DAWs. From Cubase and Avid Pro Tools to Ableton Live and the Logic Pro line, you can effortlessly plug this device into your Mac or Windows computer and get started in just a few minutes!
Don’t worry about the simplicity of use, as you still get all the benefits of the traditional Behringer preamp, such as 48V phantom powering of your microphone, and professional-grade XENYC mic preamp technology to ensure every aspect and process made within this device is optimized to its full potential.
Endless Preamp Opportunities
While this model we’ve featured has only a single channel, only supporting a single microphone, there are multiple versions available, all the way up to eight channels, giving you every option you need to help ensure this device is one that works for you.
When you take the time to look into this model and consider the price, the quality of the components, the technology inside, how easy it is to use, and how compatible this preamp is with just about any form of technology you want to work with, it’s easy to see why literally thousands of people have rated this as one of their favorites.
With Behringer standards, quality components supplied by MIDAS, zero-latency monitoring, a free DAW application to get you started, and all the help and support you need either through their friendly customer support team or via their online community, this is a powerful preamp solution where you can’t go wrong!
What We Like About It
Perhaps the best aspect of this preamp device is the fact that it goes one step further when it comes to offering you an excellent all-around experience from start to finish. Included with your purchase, you’ll have access to the editing and broadcasting software, as well over 150 instrument and digital effect plugins, allowing you to take your vocal recordings to the next level!
- Available in one to eight-channel variations
- Produced by one of the most reputable brands in the industry
- Zero-latency monitor for the best real-time experience
- Comes with a free DAW application, plus instrument plugins and effects
In the market for a top of the line solution that helps you record and process your microphone audio in one of the most professional ways possible, not only giving you the best results now but also future-proofing yourself for potentially years to come? Take a look at the dbx 286s.
Unlimited Output Capabilities
This studio-grade microphone preamp uses dbx’s classic compression technology to take the sound from your microphone input through the preamp and onto your external output, whether that’s a sound rig using speakers, or a computer system if you’re recording, all while making sure your sound quality is optimized throughout.
With some traditional preamps, especially lower quality ones, you’ll sometimes get some kind of distortion and interference that lessens the quality of your microphone input source and therefore affects your final output or recording. This simply doesn’t happen with the dbx 286s.
Tune Your Preamp Endlessly
While every setting is adjustable and can be tuned to whatever you want it to be, and all programs built into the preamp can be expanded, such as the gate settings, you’ll receive an outstanding frequency response range of 20Hz to 20kHz. This is backed up by the huge 120VAC 60Hz operating voltage, which, we’re sure you’ll agree, is a huge amount of power.
Of course, you’ll be able to connect your microphone any way you like thanks to the integrated inputs of two ¼ TRS inputs and a single XLR. You can even plug in a microphone and two other instruments at the same time since this is a channel strip and has that capability.
In short, whether you’re looking for a dedicated microphone preamp or a channel strip to process all your music and audio, this is a device that can do it all. Everything you need comes with your purchase, including the channel rack mounting equipment and even the screws and washers, ensuring you have everything you need to get started and get the job done effortlessly!
What We Like About It
A standout feature of the dbx 286s is the fact that it comes with a built-in enhancer feature. This takes your microphone audio input and enhances both the high and low frequencies individually. This is a feature you simply don’t get with other channel strips, but the results sound amazing.
- An incredible studio-quality microphone preamp and channel strip rack
- A powerful 120 VAC operating voltage that packs a punch
- Built-in enhancer to ensure both your high and low sounds are perfect
- Comes with everything you need to get set up, and has three microphone input ports
Our third and final entry now from Behringer, and there’s no denying this is one of the top choices out there you’ll want to consider. As the title suggests, this is a high-end preamp device overflowing with features to handle all your microphone, instrument, and practically any other line input you may need amplifying!
Whether you’re performing live, messing around in the studio, or recording your vocals to master and edit on a computer setup, this is the preamp that allows you to do it all effortlessly; as well as all in the highest quality possible.
Nostalgic Tubing Technology
This is because this particular preamp uses hand-chosen 12AX7 vacuum tubes. These are renowned for processing your audio input with the warmest tones, helping to create the lowest amount of noise and interference. In short, you and your listeners get to listen to your vocals in the highest possible quality with no interference whatsoever.
This preamp literally guarantees interference- and distortion-free processing thanks to the way the device is designed using a high-end, premium quality DI box. With a transparent signal throughout, you know your audio signal is retained from start to finish.
To complement this quality even further, even the output components of this preamp have been adjusted using an output limiter to ensure absolutely no distortion whatsoever. Of course, this device still has all your essential preamp features, including 48V phantom power to your microphone, and balanced TRS and gold-plated XLR inputs for handling all your microphones and instruments.
A Complete Experience
Onwards from there, even the basic features have been added upon, and the extra little bells and whistles make this a truly exceptional device. This includes features such as a Phase Reverse switch, a 20dB enhancer pad, and an 8-level LED meter so you can see everything that’s going on at a single glance.
Literally every single aspect of this preamp has been designed and hand-chosen with you in mind, and since it’s made by the reputable Germany-based Behringer, you know you’re getting an outstanding, quality experience no matter how you look at it. What’s more, being one of the most affordable preamps on our list, this is one of those devices you’re going to want to put at the top of your consideration list.
What We Like About It
The vintage-styled sound this preamp creates is out of this world, and if you’re looking for a classic 1960s sound from your vocals, this is the preamp for you. The MIC100’s tube system is just so powerful when it comes to crystal-clear processing, and it’s sure to make you and your listeners fill with ecstatic nostalgia!
- Designed and manufactured by one of the most reputable audio companies in the world
- Contains a powerful vacuum tube for the highest quality vocal output
- Gold-plated XLR connection ports for zero interference or loss of quality
- The 8-level LED meter for easy monitoring in an instant
As the title suggests, the Golden Age preamp is a device that aims to give you the classic vocal sound that we all adored during the golden age of music, currently sitting between the 50s and 80s. While a simple device at first glance, this preamp doesn’t hold back.
Big Sound, Compact Design
This is a single-channel preamp that’s capable of handling either a single instrument or a single microphone, but interestingly allows up to a huge 70dB of gain. It doesn’t really matter what microphone you’re using, whether it’s broken and has no volume gain itself, or you’re looking to make an impact, 70dB of gain is going to be all you need.
Of course, the preamp will phantom power your mic up to the traditional 48V of operational power, and there’s even a polarity inverter switch if this is a feature you’re looking for. Everything is easily controlled via the front of the compact device, and there’s no way you’re going to run out of room. Wherever you need it, this device can be set up easily.
Sound Like No Other
However, the most important aspect we need to talk about when looking at the Golden Age preamp is the fact that the sound is simply insane. Look anywhere or ask anyone and they’ll tell you the sound is truly incredible, and when you consider the high-end price, you’re basically investing in yourself and your vocals in the best possible way.
This preamp creates a very unique sound that’s warm, vintage, and nostalgic, and this is backed up by the dozens of four- and five-star reviews that shower any online page where this preamp is available. Just take it out of the box and try it for yourself, and you can rest assured it’s going to blow you away!
What We Like About It
The reliability and durability of this device is outstanding, easily on par with the level of quality it provides. While having been available for several years now, there are many that explain how, even years after purchase, this device is still kicking while retaining quality and hasn’t shown any signs of burnout!
- Simple, easy to use and set up, yet extremely powerful
- Creates a beautifully warm and nostalgic sound you’re going to love
- Comes with a polarity reverse switch for more customizable options
- A single channel preamp with up to 70dB of gain
The Rolls Microphone audio preamp is one of those devices that’s easy to look over and may not seem like much at first glance. It looks basic and simple, and sure, it may not look like the most attractive preamp on our list, but this is all a common misconception you’ll regret making.
Connect and Preamp Everything
This preamp is slightly larger than the single-channel preamps, but that’s simply because it supports so many input types. With MIC inputs, AUX inputs, LINE inputs, and dedicated output, you can connect a huge variety of devices, microphones, and instruments, and pre-amplify your signals to your heart’s content.
There are even a few ways you can adjust your sounds on the way through the process. These include a mic and line input switcher to control which input source you’re using, a release time adjuster, mic level and gain controls, and then the ducker sound adjuster.
Ideal for Beginners
All the adjustable dials are found at the front of the box, ensuring you always have easy access to them while performing and can make any changes you need to make in an instant. Of course, this 12V device supports phantom power to your microphone as standard.
The reliability of this device is simply unparalleled, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a device that can keep up with the output and trustworthiness that this device provides. Released all the way back in 2007 by Rolls, this preamp is still as popular today as it was then, and the fact it’s been out so long and remains popular is a testament to the power and experience that this preamp provides.
What We Like About It
The durability of this device is easily one of the highlight features. There are claims from past customers that this preamp can surpass 12 years, even with regular use, so if you’re looking for a guaranteed investment, here you are!
- Can be used as a microphone preamp and as a ducker device
- 12V operating with phantom power capabilities
- Released back in 2007 and remains popular today
- Can last for over a decade, even with extensive use
To conclude our list of the best microphone preamps currently available today, we’ve chosen the Focusrite Scarlett interface, another top-rated, best-selling preamp interface that’s capable of satisfying even the most pedantic of audiophiles, guaranteed.
The Professional Standard
This is a natural-sounding preamp that allows you to connect a single microphone via an XLR connection, or via USB. There are plenty of options to apply more gain to your sounds, and different controls for your outputs, whether your signal is going out to a speaker system, headphones, or even a computer via USB.
All the conversion and output rates are managed in the studio-grade quality of 192kHz (24-bit) and guarantee a super low latency to ensure your plugins or real-time monitoring processes are completely optimized.
However, while all this is great and exactly what you need your preamp to do, the standout features here comes with being able to connect your preamp to your computer, making things so much easier when mastering, recording, and editing your vocal sounds.
Let Creativity Flow
The plug-and-play technology is compatible and supported by both Mac and Windows computers, and comes with a range of DAW applications to get you started. That’s right; if you need a DAW application to edit and record your vocals, this device comes with Pro Tools, Ableton Live Lite, Focusrite Create Pack, Softube Time and Tube bundle, and over 2GB of Loopmasters samples.
This is actually only scraping the surface of what’s included with this interface, and there are a ton of samples and plugins for each DAW application. This ensures you’re not just getting a preamp that sounds great, but rather a complete audio production package ideal for both beginners and experienced producers alike!
What We Like About It
Want to ensure you’re spending your preamp investment in the right place, but not sure where to go? Don’t worry; the Focusrite interface comes with a two-year, no questions asked warranty, so you know that for the first 24 months, you’ll have a preamp that works when you need it to!
- Comes with free DAW applications for editing and mastering your vocal sounds
- Can be used for live performing or studio/home recording
- Operates to an insane audio quality of 192kHz
- Connect using multiple connection ports
The Definitive Microphone Preamp Buying Guide
As you can see, there are plenty of different preamps to choose from, but as a musician, vocalist, or producer, you’re going to have different needs, and therefore a different preamp. In this buying guide, we’ll look at everything you need to know to ensure you’re making the right choice!
There are many ways a microphone may connect to your preamp, so you’re going to want to make sure the preamp you invest in is capable of supporting the connection type you’re going to use.
This could be anything from USB and XLR to LINE, AUX, or TRS. Always check before you buy, or make sure you look into getting an adapter to ensure your microphone can plug in.
Phantom power is essential to power your microphone while it’s in use. Make sure your preferred preamp has the capability to power the voltage of the microphone you’re using. Not enough power means your sound will be distorted, whereas too much power could damage your microphone.
Signal Processing Types
Some preamps will keep your sounds exactly how they are recorded and output them in the same way. However, some preamps will use tube amplification technology to enhance or in some ways adjust the output of your sound to make it sound warmer or suitable for a certain year or style.
Make sure you’re checking to see what your chosen preamp does in terms of processing and adjusting your signal to ensure it fits what you’re looking for.
Audio Input Controls
There are many preamps that will allow you to make quick adjustments to your sound input and output, and these controls are essential if you want the best vocal preamp experience.
Some of the key features you want to look out for include volume control, a gain control, and an output limiter, all in all ensuring the final sounds you’re producing are sounding exactly like you want them to sound.
LED Light Indicators
An extremely handy feature to have with a preamp is an LED light indicator of some kind. This could be something simple like a small light to show that your preamp is on, or that it’s receiving some kind of signal.
A more advanced option would be a leveled indicator that can easily show you how much input and output levels you’re dealing with. These make it very easy to quickly glance down at your preamp to make sure everything is in check, which is especially helpful if you’re using your device to perform live!
Frequently Asked Questions When Buying Microphone Pre-Amp Devices
Will I need to buy anything else with my preamp?
It depends on the preamp you opt for. Some preamps will come with cables you need to power the preamp, as well as cables to connect your microphone and instruments. Always read the product description to find out whether you need to buy cables.
What is Phantom Power?
Throughout this guide, you’ll have seen the term ‘phantom power’, but if you’re unsure of what this actually is, here you go. Phantom power refers to the process that a preamp takes when sending the right amount of power from the preamp itself to your microphone to power it.
The industry standard is around 48V capability, which should be able to power pretty much any microphone you plug into it!
And there we have it; our complete guide to finding and buying the best microphone preamp for you comes to an end, and now it’s all up to you. Make sure you’re aware of why you need a preamp and what you need as an individual musician, and with this information, you’re sure to find the device that’s right for you!