This week, we're looking at external mic preamps and helping you decide if you actually need one or if the answer you're looking for lies elsewhere in your recording setup and process.
Book a free feedback call with Benedikt, the host of the show!
External mic preamps are no doubt a useful tool and can sometimes be the component that lifts your recording from sounding good to great.
Specific models of external mic preamps can offer a unique coloration to your recordings and help squeeze an extra 10% of quality into your recordings. However, preamp choice will likely never be the single factor that miraculously saves a recording.
Wanna record some gentle acoustic guitar with some soft, intimate vocals but the noise floor is making it a pain in the ass? Then maybe an external mic preamp is the answer.
There's one thing however, that always trumps gear choice, and that is performance. Nail your performance, and a phone recording could beat even the most expensive recording chains.
Microphone choice is always an important factor too, and do you know what you're doing with your audio interface when putting that external mic preamp into it?
Also covered is whether it's worth splurging on an expensive external mic preamp or simply hiring one. Not many of us are recording frequently enough to justify the cost, so hiring might be your best bet if you only do this a couple of times a year.
Malcom & Benedikt discuss how using one high-end preamp in one killer-sounding chain can ultimately be a game changer. It's better to have one exceptional-quality chain than several average-sounding chains, right?
Mentioned On The Episode:
I'm right now talking into this mic and it's plugged into a Neve 1073, arguably one of the best mic preamps ever made. Does it sound better than any other podcast on the world? No See, nobody would have ever listened to the show and be like I wonder what mic pre is using. This is the Self Recording Band Podcast, the show where we help you make exciting records on your own wherever you are. Diy style, let's go. Hello and welcome to the Self Recording Band Podcast. I am your host, benedictine. If you're new to the show, this is where we talk about all things home recording and how to get the best results from your home studio. If you're a DIY producer To our returning listeners, welcome back, so stoked to have you. Welcome everyone. If you are listening on your podcast app, please know that this is also available on YouTube. If you're discovering us on YouTube, please know that this is also available on Apple Podcast and Spotify, so you can choose to listen or watch this wherever you want to. Now one final thing before we get into the episode is that on these episodes in this show, we always tell you what we do in certain situations, the tools we use, the approaches we use. Sometimes they are the same. Sometimes they are very different between Malcolm and I, but this just goes to show that it's a very subjective thing and it is what works for us. It doesn't mean it works exactly the same way for you. Every song is different, every situation is different. If you want to know how to actually implement the things we talk about here in your own projects, how to apply it to your own songs, please go to the self-recordingbandcomcom slash call and apply for our coaching program, because in there we'll walk you through all the steps of the recording process. We give you feedback, we listen to your songs and we help you get the best results with your music in your home studio. And it all starts with a free call. Also, go to the self-recordingbandcom slash call and let's have a chat about your next project. All right, today's topic is about gear. We haven't done that in a while. We rarely talk about gear because usually that's not the bottleneck for most people, but today it is the topic, and that's because a few people have asked me recently if they should buy a good mic preamp to put in front of their interfaces, inputs, and so yeah, that's discussive, that is a good idea or not. And, as always, I'm doing this not alone, but with my co-host and friend, malcolm Owen Flutt. How are you, malcolm?Malcom:
Hey, Benny, I'm great man, Dude. I've got something I can't believe we haven't talked about, because they're actually being spotted out in the wild now. But the Evertune bass guitars. Have you seen one?Benedikt:
Yes, yes, I have seen one, not in reality, I have seen them online, but I don't know if they're. You can still not order them, right.Malcom:
No, no, I think they've just kind of been getting like what's that called? I've seen some people out in the field. You know they're giving them to select people to kind of see how they do, I think, and some research and stuff like that.Benedikt:
I've seen Sam Puerra talk post about it and at the Panda Studios and from the yeah, the moment I saw one I was immediately I need it.Malcom:
Yeah, I know I'm like I haven't recorded a band in forever. Neither of us do that anymore, but we still need one Totally, Totally Also.Benedikt:
I'm jealous because the guitar player in my band has an Evertune guitar and I just want to be able to do what he does, which is just take the guitar out, take the bass out of the case. Go on stage, not tune, Tell everyone that I don't have to tune and then just play.Malcom:
Yeah, you have to tell everyone. That's. The best part about owning an Evertune is telling people you don't have to tune.Benedikt:
Exactly that's what he does every single time. And that's the main reason why I want one too, because I want to be able to talk to our other guitarists and then be like, hey, now I don't have to tune as well If the only one left now.Malcom:
Yeah, anyway, that's awesome. Yeah, I want one. So bad, I want to try it.Benedikt:
But you haven't have you seen one in reality yet.Malcom:
No, just online as well. But I'm excited about it because, yeah, bass intonation is the death of me.Benedikt:
Totally, totally so excited. Yeah, even it's even better than the guitar. I mean, it's even to me. It's like I would. If I had to choose, I would probably buy the Evertune bass before I get an Evertune guitar?Malcom:
I think I would too. I think most bands should consider getting one.Benedikt:
Yeah, yeah totally yeah, that's cool. I saw, did you? I don't know where you've seen it, but Sam Pura who posted it, or that was the person where.Malcom:
I saw it. I did see that post yeah.Benedikt:
Okay, did you see the Melodyne screenshot?Malcom:
Yes, yeah, it looks just like how I Melodyne my bassist.Benedikt:
Yeah, but it wasn't Melodyne, it was the raw performance and it just put it into Melodyne to show that it looks like a tuned performance. But it was the raw performance because it's so in tune.Malcom:
Yeah, it's going to sound just as stable as what I do after a Melodyne, but without the weird little artifact that is caused from the Melodyne. It's like such a win. The attack is going to be so much cleaner. Yeah, that's great.Benedikt:
So great. Can't wait to try one of these. Yeah, okay, yeah, anything else, but we're not talking about bass guitars and Evertunes today are we?Malcom:
No, we're talking about. Do mic preamps really matter?Benedikt:
Exactly? Do mic preamps matter? Do I need to get one? Let's discuss this. I want to say that the mic pre is an essential part of the chain, of course, and there are differences in style and character, features, overall quality, so it's not that it doesn't matter at all. So there is a difference. There's completely different designs and different. So, yeah, there is a difference. There's different reasons to use different preamps as well. They can be used to add a certain color or to get huge amounts of super clean noise for e-gain. This is sometimes what you need. It can add a certain perception of size and depth. If it's a really high quality one, it can bring out details in the source material. However, while all this seems to be super interesting and fun and pretty cool, the differences are subtle. So, even when we talk about size and depth and those types of things, it's probably more subtle than you think and we have to consider a few things to determine whether or not it is worth investing in one. And before we do that, let us quickly explain what a mic preamp actually is, and let us also clarify that you listening now, you already have one built into your interface, probably, and so we just need to clarify that, because a mic pre is just a device that amplifies what comes out of your microphone and turns it into a line signal, and the mic input on your interface is a mic preamp. So you already have one. The question is just do you need a different one, an external one, and how do you actually want to use it?Malcom:
Yeah, yeah. The question of should I rent a mic preamp for our when we're recording our album is like people have questions for us when they're recording themselves and they're going to send it to Benny or I for mixing, which is great, that's super awesome and this is not a dumb question. But it is a misinformed question, maybe because if you're recording yourself, you do have a mic preamp. You already do. There's a mic preamp built into any recording interface you would buy today and that is what allows you to record any mic you plug into that interface. So if you have an interface, you have a mic preamp. The question, really, that we're being asked when they say, do I need a mic preamp or do I need to rent a mic preamp, is should I rent a more expensive mic preamp Because you already have one? The question is do you need a really nice one that you see bolted into a wall at your local music store or that you recorded through once when you were at a fancy studio? Is that the thing that is making it professional? And ultimately, if I'm going to call you all out, everybody that asks this question you're hoping we're going to say yes, you want the answer to your problems to be that box. You want that to be what makes it sound magical, but that is not the case. I had this hilarious realization. I was thinking about the band Wet Future, which I've brought up numerous times. If anybody that checked out our mixes unpacked volume two, I think I had Wet Future on there and the singer, sean, who Benny met when he was here in Canada and saw them play at the festival I was playing at. He's a great singer, like one of my favorite singers. He's just an incredible vocalist, and it occurred to me that he could record through a cell phone mic on the other side of the room and I could record through literally the best gear on the planet in like the best room in the planet, and his would sound better. You know, like a completely. You could throw a blanket over the phone and you'd get a more usable result out of him than me in the most ideal of situations, because I am not a great singer. So does the mic preamp really matter? That you have an expensive one? In my opinion it's like the most ridiculous. No, but we're going to talk about what is nice about them and all that as well.Benedikt:
Totally, totally. Yeah, it's just a small, tiny part of the entire chain. You got to know that everything that goes into your recording, like if you consider the whole thing, there is the performance more than anything, like the singer or the player or whatever that's always the number one thing. Then there is the room that you're in, then there is the actual instrument if it's not a singer Then there is the microphone, the microphone placement, like how and where you put the mic. Then there is yeah, there is the mic preamp, but then there's also the converters and then there is all the processing you do after the fact and all the other things. So it's just a tiny, actually one of the smallest puzzle pieces in the entire chain. The only thing even more irrelevant would be the converters, in my opinion, but other than that, it's like everything else is more important. However, I still have great, different, great sounding mic preys here and I love to use them for certain reasons. By the way, if you're not convinced that a mic preamp isn't magical, if you think it is, I'm right now talking into this mic and it's plugged into a Neve 1073, arguably one of the best mic preamps ever made. Sounds freaking cool, but does it sound better than any other podcast in the world. No, just a normal, standard, clean podcast recording, nothing fancy. Nobody would have ever listened to the show and be like I wonder what mic pre is using. It's just a very, very fancy mic pre but doesn't add anything magical to my voice here. So it's just an example. But, however, you can get pretty cool sounding results out of this mic pre depending on how you use it, and that's what we want to get into as well today. All right, so I think the first thing you need to know, or you need to ask yourself, is does my interface have line inputs? Because that is what you need if you want to connect an external mic pre. If you only have mic, most interfaces probably have, but if you only have mic inputs and DI inputs like instrument inputs, then an external mic pre doesn't really work, because then you would put a mic pre into another mic pre or a mic pre into an instrument high Z input, and so you need to make sure you have a line input, which means it bypasses the mic pre of your interface and goes directly into the converter. That's what you need because you don't want to stack. In most cases, at least you don't want to stack to mic pre's. If you really want the quality of your nice preamp that you bought or rent, you want to be able to plug it straight into the converter and bypass the internal mic pre of your interface. So that's the question number one.Malcom:
And that is a mistake. That totally happens all the time. People go and rent a really fancy one, but then they end up running that fancy one through their inexpensive mic pre and it's like well, do you think that helps? Yeah, exactly.Benedikt:
And even if you have line inputs, make sure you also use it, because a lot of people do what you just said, Malcolm. They just take the XLR out of the mic pre, go into the XLR end of the interface and then you have your two mic pre's together.Malcom:
Yeah, so yeah, it's easy to get caught on that if you're not looking for it.Benedikt:
Exactly so. Line input first thing you need to make sure you have and use, All right. So that is also how you connect it. You go to the line input of your interface. Or if you have just a dedicated converter, like I have, like my interface is just a converter and plugged into this converter are different mic pre's. So I never had the all in one. I had it in the beginning but for a long time now I don't have an all in one interface. I have the individual components but together they create what is an interface essentially. So if you just have a converter, you need mic pre's anyway. So if that is you, if you don't have a mic pre currently, you need one, but like most of you already have one, All right Now, potential reasons for getting an external mic pre I could think of and maybe you can add more, Malcolm, I don't know I could think of features first and foremost. So a very logical and actually good reason to add a different mic pre is if you need a certain feature that you currently don't have. Could be a polarity switch, a pad, the ability to have an input and an output. If you want to drive it could be an impedance switch or whatever, like a low cut or I don't know. Most things can be done after the fact in the DAW. But maybe there's a really good reason for you to get a different mic pre, just because of some feature that it adds not really the sonics but just because it can do something that your current one can't.Malcom:
Yeah, like this is a huge issue I have with one of the focus right, scarlett racks. It's there like eight input one. I think it doesn't have Polarity, yeah, switches and like if you're recording a drum kit you need to be able to flip polarity on a couple channels. So that's a huge bummer and you know it can be solved in the DAW, but like, it's to me it's worth having that feature. Yeah, a pad is a hugely beneficial feature for a lot of sources as well, because you know, snare drums are really loud. Yeah, so being able to pad that pretty helpful, right, because otherwise it's a distorted, clipped signal. And you can get external pads but they're kind of expensive, honestly, so you might as well just have Preamps that have that feature. Now, all of those features that I can think of that, like you know, pad low-cut is another thing polarity like Features that are nice to have in a preamp. A lot of interfaces also have those too. So again, you could probably get those by upgrading your interface, not necessarily going for a class, a External preamp still yeah, totally, I'm just.Benedikt:
I'm just saying that could be one of the reasons, and I don't know your situation. But if really the feature is, features are the bottleneck, and that's a good reason to change the mic breakers, if then you just need it right. Another reason could be just the color, the sound of it, and there's different designs. So there's solid state preamps, class a preamps like the Neve that I'm talking into right now, or there's two preamps I got a very nice to preamp next to me that sounds different. There is, you know, just different designs that sound differently. I'd say that depends, like, if that makes sense or not, depends on how extreme you wanted your planning to go with that, like if it's just for the subtle difference that the preamp itself gives you. There's pretty sure. I'm pretty sure there's probably other bottlenecks that you should solve first that are more important than that. However, if you want to, if you really intentional and you want a certain distortion characteristic, for example, from a certain piece or whatever, and you really try to, you're really going to use it in Extreme settings, it might be worth it, or at least fun not not really necessary, but fun. So I just know that if I drive my tube, my pre that I have here or my Neve, they sound different. I can run, I can almost use them like guitar amps. They distort really in a crazy way, a very cool sounding way. But it's not nothing essential. It's fun and if you you want to use it in an extreme way, it's cool. But if I only got it, for the subtle difference in in what they sound like when I use them in the clean way Not worth the price for most people. So so yeah. But the color is the second reason why people get, and that this is the main reason why Studios like professional studios, commercial studios, have a selection of different mic pre's, often because they want different mic pre's for different sources, different colors. But that is because they have optimized everything about their recording rooms and chains and so they are going for the absolute best quality. But those people would tell you as well that getting a good instrument first practicing you're playing, optimizing the room and everything else is should come first. I'm always happy to say this.Malcom:
So yeah, definitely, definitely yeah, this. Now this brings up the catch-toying tube. What I just like earlier described of you know a great vocalist being able to do a better job With any gear then I can with. The best gear In a vocal situation Is that if that band does ask me, well, should be rent a great vocal preamp for our vocal recording, I'm gonna say, if you can afford it, yes still, even though you can still get a great result with your built-in one, it will probably be better.Benedikt:
It will yeah.Malcom:
Like better is better, and it might be 1% and like, but that's 1% better, right, it will not be the thing that makes it a good or bad recording, but it can affect the quality and I think it's worth considering if that quality is worth X amount of dollars.Benedikt:
Yeah, exactly, and I'm so glad you brought up the renting thing. I haven't even thought of that because most people and the reason why I wanted to do this episode is that I just got asked by a couple of people whether or not they should invest in that and they all asked me if they should buy one. But actually for most people it makes much more sense to just rent one when you need it, because you don't record for real all the time. There's only a few projects each year or every other year that you really record for real or record an album or whatever. And maybe, if that is you, unless you do it really every day or every week or whatever it makes much more sense to just rent one because you can rent them a lot of times before it costs you the amount it costs to own them and then you have to maintain them and depending on the design and whatnot. So, yeah, glad you brought that up. Might not be available everywhere or you might not have the option to rent one, but if you have, that is a great thing to consider because it doesn't break the bank and it can make a difference. Yeah.Malcom:
Yeah, I actually. I really love the idea of bands renting gear as they need it, because not only because of all the reasons you just mentioned, but also because it puts this little time constraint on them- it's like all right, we've rented it for a month, we gotta get our vocals done. Yeah, Right, and that is so helpful for bands.Benedikt:
Yeah yeah, totally and now, and also we can't redo things after the fact, because then we would have to rent this thing again.Malcom:
Yeah, yeah, these kind of constraints are so handy and, honestly, when I used to still produce bands and go into the studio with them, that, like, I think a lot of the benefit for these bands was that they had rented a studio at my time right, so they had this money on the line. They needed to get things done in a timely fashion and obviously Benny and I are huge proponents of people that wanna self-record themselves. We think that is the future. We think people are doing it great right now and that's what we want you to do as a listener to this podcast. But if there is something that is lost, it is that and it is this too much time problem where, well, there's no reason to not just spend unlimited time on the project so we can just keep going and going and there's no rush, so we'll just record the vocals over the next three years and never release the song. People get stuck in this. Some people need myself included, need deadlines, and when you rent a studio or you hire somebody, there's deadlines that come with that, and renting a preamp could just be the cheapest way to also get what you need but also give yourself a deadline.Benedikt:
Yeah, totally, absolutely Okay. So next reason for getting a preamp might be that you don't need color, you don't need more features, but you just need a high quality preamp that gives you enough of clean gain, and that might be because of a certain source that you record. So, for example, if you record very quiet classical acoustic guitar and you need that to be a very dynamic audio file recording with very subtle, tiny details and everything, it might be worth investing in a high quality preamp because this is a really quiet source. You have to crank the preamp a lot if you want to get a useful signal out of it, and some preamps just are noisy, and so in these situations the difference might not be the sound but just the fact that you can get clean gain without adding to the noise floor. Or same could be said for voiceover or podcast recordings. In fact, all of that goes together with the next point on this list here. If you have a really bad interface preamp, so in the rare case that you're built in preamp is really not good, which mostly means noisy or distorting. When you crank it a lot and you need clean gain, that could be a good reason to get an external preamp, and I have a cheap two channel interface here in front of me that I don't use for the show right now. I use it for other things. But this used to be my podcast interface and I eventually ended up using it. I'm not gonna say which one it is, but I ended up not using it. I stopped using it because the preamp's were just too noisy. Once you get past the halfway point of the gain, especially with an SM7 or a dynamic mic like that, it's almost unusable and there's ways, there's workarounds for that. You can have like a Fet head or a Cloudlifter in between your mic and the preamp to add a little bit of clean gain there. But still, this preamp honestly just wasn't good, especially for quiet spoken word things with a dynamic mic. And if I were to record an acoustic guitar with that in a classical recording or anything really subtle or quiet, that wouldn't be that much fun. So in that case going for a simple but high quality mic pre would be a good idea, and it doesn't have to be crazy expensive in that case. You don't need a lot of features, you don't need the drive, you just need a really good, solid preamp that can give you 70, 80 dBs of gain without adding crazy noise floor.Malcom:
Absolutely. Yeah, that's a great point actually. Like, if all you have is like a dynamic mic and a cheap preamp recording a quiet instrument, it's gonna be pretty disappointing, probably. So like that's where a decent condenser microphone that's more sensitive is gonna really come in and save the day. And yeah, and again, this is like a prioritize. How often do you need this? Can you rent it?Benedikt:
Yeah, exactly, cool. Now things to consider your converters. What I mean by that is usually that is even less important than the preamp. But just in case you have really shitty converters, for whatever reason, maybe you have a I mean some people I've talked to people who still record on a late 90s something sound card or whatever and maybe those converters really aren't good and you should rather upgrade the interface in the converter before you plug in a better mic pre into that thing. But for most people, the converter isn't the bottleneck, but just make sure that you don't have a really crappy one, because even the expensive mic pre will go through that converter, and so you will always be limited by that, if that is your problem. The more common bottleneck, though, or the more common thing that you should upgrade before the converter or the preamp, is the actual mic. So I would rather upgrade the mic and get a better vocal mic than a better preamp, like any day, and only after I found my perfect vocal mic I would even think about the preamp.Malcom:
Absolutely. Yeah, an SM58, great mic, but it sounds like an SM58 no matter what preamp you put it through and also whatever person holds it. Like SM58s are the most colored sounding things. Yeah, yeah, and that you mean, if that's what you have, you can definitely make a record out of that. But yeah, there's a lot of room for improvement from there, especially, and finding the one that suits you and your vocal is. That has meaning that will change the result of your album in ways that are way more important than anything a mic preamp could ever do. Yeah, totally.Benedikt:
The next thing to consider is the actual difference, meaning before you go and buy a pre-amp based on things you've read online or heard people say or you know the. Just go on YouTube, search for like, mike Pre comparison or shootout or whatever, and hear the actual difference for yourself. Like, try to find something where that gives you an idea of how subtle the difference actually is, because there are. If it's a good one, it always depends on how people make these shootouts. Also, some of them are pretty biased but, like, if you find a good one and you close your eyes and listen to the examples, you're going to have a hard time picking out certain pre-amps, even if they are, even if one of them is like twice the money or a few of them, you know, five times the price of a different one. So it is really subtle and what you get essentially is depending on the model. You get sometimes a slightly different frequency response, but most of them are just flat. That's what they designed to do. There's a few exceptions, but, like, most of them are flat. You get a slightly different transient response. You might get a certain perception of size or depth, but that's very subjective as well. Just go find one of those shootouts and figure out for yourself. It is probably more subtle than you think it is, and it can be. If you're excited to get a mic pre-amp now, this can maybe you know, I don't know help you fight the urge to buy one once you hear how subtle it actually is. So, yeah, because it is. It just is Now and again I have some of these, so I'm not saying it doesn't do anything. There is a difference and it's audible. Of course, otherwise I wouldn't have bought these things. But there's other things to consider. First, that's why I'm saying this, and then the most interesting question to me is always are there other ways to achieve what you want? Because maybe there is a good reason for why you're not happy with what you're getting right now and you want a different color, a different, you know, characteristic or something's missing. You compare yourself to other recordings and you feel like I can't get that size or whatever. But maybe you don't need a mic pre for like a thousand bucks or two thousand bucks. Maybe a hundred dollar plugin does exactly what you want and you can do it after the fact. So maybe there are other ways. If you just want grit or distortion doesn't have to be the fancy mic pre. It's maybe a different kind of distortion, but there's so many great tools out there, so many cool colors available in your DAW, that you might be able to find something really cool. That is not your mic pre or, you know. Whatever you want depends on what you're hoping to get from it, but maybe there is a different way to achieve what you want.Malcom:
Hopefully, the takeaway from this is addressing the folks that, like I said earlier, are hoping that the mic pre is answered to the problems, and it's just like I want you to know that it's not. Unfortunately, it's not and yeah, so don't look to gear to solve the quality problems ultimately, which?Benedikt:
is hilarious to say, because that's exactly why people buy gear. Yeah, of course, and I've done that as well, and I still love buying gear. It's exciting, but it can be disappointing. Once you realize it, you know your recordings still don't sound the way you want them to sound after you bought the thing, so we want to save you from that.Malcom:
I do have this funny memory of like when I first started my internship at the Woodshop recording studios, which I've talked about on this podcast Nice studio, fantastic gear there, and I knew the exact chain that this artist, nat Corby, used for a video live video that I saw him do and I thought it sounded incredible. I borrowed that exact gear from the studio, brought it home to my place and was like, oh, this is going to be great, I'll do some live performance stuff. I didn't like how that sounded at all. The difference was me.Benedikt:
Yeah, yeah, totally, Unfortunately it hurts.Malcom:
It really hurt, but it was like such a valuable lesson and it was funny. When I asked Zach if I could borrow the gear he was like okay, man, yeah, of course, go ahead, Like he knew.Benedikt:
Yeah, totally, totally. I remember too with my. The tube preamp that I was talking about is actually a two channel tube channel strip by Thermionic Culture, a fully tube design, a British design, really fancy, amazing thing. Two channels cost about three thousand bucks. It's amazing. It's got two preamps, an EQ, a distortion circuit and when I got that thing I have heard of people plugging it into the mix bus, like you can use a line in two, not just as a preamp, and I've heard it on all kinds of sources of people that I really respect and like. So I tried it once. I was blown away, but because of the EQ mainly. But I just got it, I just wanted it. Basically I didn't need it, I wanted it. So I got it and I remember getting into the studio running and I ran some mix through it, just the mix through the thing, and I expected it to add whatever magic would happen when I run the mix through this thing and I'm like, is it on or you know, it was like no difference at all the first time I ran through it. And then I tried okay, maybe I need to go to extremer settings. And then I tried a few things and I was like blown away how little of a difference these $3,000 just made that I just put on my mix. You know it. You know I love the thing and I use it for a couple of stuff, but it's not that it's like magic right away, even though I wanted it to be.Malcom:
We always wanted to be.Benedikt:
Yeah, of course. Now also one thing that I always tell people that I think is really important to understand is I think it's better to have one really great signal chain than to buy many sort of mediocre chains, hoping you get more quality out of that. Meaning, let's say, you have an eight channel interface or 16 channels or whatever standard interface and you want to upgrade the quality and now you could get out, you could go and buy a different eight channel pre amp. That is some you know supposedly like a little better there, like hybrid designs with a tube in front of it that are not really tube amps. Or there is, like you know, pre amps that claim to sound a lot better than what you have an interface, but actually they're pretty much using the same chips. There's a lot of things in the sort of low to medium price range that look like an improvement but are actually not much different to the interface. And before you go out and buy a pre amp like that and add and like swap out eight of your channels for something like that, I would invest the money into one really good channel and one one really good signal chain. So have one mic, one great pre amp. Maybe you know, the interface probably has good enough converters. But like, like, have one really great signal chain, a great guy, and then you know, for drums, either go to studio or use whatever you already have, because the improvement is not going to be that drastic if you just buy a different eight channel pre or go to studio, program it or whatever. But then you can record your guitars, your bass, your vocals, all that stuff through that excellent chain that you have and that will be a much better way to invest your money compared to having that Little bit of an upgrade, if at all, if there's any upgrade at all, if you, if you like, buy something cheaper on more channels, if that makes sense.Malcom:
Yeah, for most people they generally need one channel at a time. You know, drums are the except the obvious exception to that but, Generally one one's going to do it, so that system does make a lot of sense.Benedikt:
I'd rather have less tools but better tools compared to all the channels in the world that are mediocre. I met that I made that mistake as well, not with pre amps, but with converters, for example, not with compressors, for example. I thought, like everyone does, in the beginning I thought analog gear is always better and outboard gear is cool and so. But I couldn't afford really good and a lot compressors, so I just bought cheap Analog compressors, put them in Iraq and thought that is going to be super awesome. But instead of buying six channels of, like cheap analog compression that maybe works for life sound but not really does anything, doesn't anything do anything for you in the studio, instead of doing that I could have just bought one distresser, and that would have been a much better investment if I wanted to upgrade a compressor anyways. So and with pre amps is the same so maybe After your room spin treated, after you have the perfect instrument for you, after you have the right microphone for you and you have an interface that works and the dog and everything else you need After that, if you really need to upgrade something, get one really good pre amp. If any of the stuff that I just mentioned isn't really good. Upgrade that first and then, once you have one really great, excellent chain, then you can expand and buy more channels of that if you want to. But I think that's the order of things that I would. I would approach this yeah, typically that's. That's pretty solid, cool, all right. Now that's the answer. The question do I need an external mic pre? It depends, as always, for most people mostly.Malcom:
No, for most people no.Benedikt:
And if you're really being intentional and you checked all the boxes that we mentioned, then yes, yeah, but totally. Okay, all right. Anything else comes to mind, malcolm, anything you want to add to this?Malcom:
The only thing I want to add is that, if you do, you're like, screw it, I'm buying one anyways. Those guys are wrong. Remember that you're going to spend like another hundred and fifty bucks in cables. Oh yeah, that really sucks too. Oh yeah, oh yeah, you're right, good to your rest.Benedikt:
Cables suck. Oh yeah, you're right. Oh yeah, that opens a whole other conversation, honestly, if you and then if you add more channels and you bring in a patch bay or something, and then that is cheap when craps out and then there's like more trouble. Or if you're going with a five hundred series system and you buy a bad rack with a bad power supply and like Gear costs more.Malcom:
Yeah, exactly, do it right and make wise choices there, and maybe, if it's nothing, I just thought of that, because I my first external preamp I bought, I got home and didn't have the cables to hook it up, I was like what was I thinking?Benedikt:
Yeah, such a bummer. And then yeah.Malcom:
More money. I got totally totally All right.Benedikt:
Really hope this. This was helpful. By the way, we have another episode on a similar topic and I hope people don't confuse this. We have an episode where we talked about ADET and how to expand your interface with more channels. That might be a great thing to listen to after this episode, if you haven't already, because when we talk about an external mic pre, we don't mean anything digital. We don't mean a converter or anything you plug via ADET into your computer, via ADET into your interface. We just mean the mic pre itself, which is usually an analog device where you plug in the mic and then you go from on the back there is an XLR out or something and you go into a converter. That's what we've been talking about today.Malcom:
But it could be an ADET preamp. It's confusing.Benedikt:
That's what I'm saying. What we're talking about today is not about the ADET, it's about the preamp. But some of those have a digital interface built into them, so you could either take, grab the analog out or the digital out and go digitally in your into your interface. If that is the question, then if that is the case, then you'd have two components that you have to think about the preamp and the built in converter. And whether or not that is good or you know, but like the really high end stuff though typically doesn't have the converter in it, the real high end stuff is just an analog preamp that you plug into your interface. And but if you want to know, if you want to learn more about that and how that actually works there's an episode About expanding your interface with more channels and about what ADET is and how to connect things like that. Just know that the most ADET preamps fall into that category that I mentioned, where it's like cheaper gear that you only want to consider just for the reason of adding more channels, but not really for a quality upgrade in most cases. So that, and that is perfectly fine if you only have eight channels but you need 16, by all means go for that preamp, but if it's about pure quality and you have enough channels, you know it's about the preamp itself. Absolutely, just go, go listen to that episode. That's going to be less confusing than for you. Two different things. Yeah, all right, that's it All right. Yeah, thanks for listening everyone. Yeah, thank you. Talk to you next week, bye, bye.
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