Sweetwater Sales Engineer Nitish Kulkarni gets down to the basics of what a preamplifier is, and explains when you would need one.
Wondering what a preamp is? In simplest terms, a preamp takes a weak signal from a microphone and makes it loud enough for you to send through a mixer or recording interface without introducing excessive noise into the signal. Preamps are often found in mixers and recording interfaces, and there are even standalone desktop preamps as well. When you get into standalone preamps, you can choose between tube mic preamps or solid-state preamps. Tube preamps rely on vacuum tubes to amplify the signal, and as the tubes have signal pushed through them, a pleasing distortion is added to the sound. Solid-state preamps use transistors to amplify the mic signal, and tend to sound cleaner than a tube-driven circuit.
Some preamps are modern versions of classic circuits that are famous for adding a distinct color to the sound, while others are prized for being transparent, passing signal with virtually no coloration to the sound. Whether you’re looking for something that leaves its mark on the tone or lets your sound shine through unfettered, Sweetwater has the right preamp for your studio. Be sure to call your Sales Engineer with any and all preamp questions you have.